USDA Small Wind Grants Cover 25% of Costs

Farmers, ranchers and rural business owners have until July 31, 2009 to apply for the USDA Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) grants. The grants provide funds to purchase and install small wind turbines (or other renewable energy systems).

For those that are eligible, the grants cover 25% of the total installed cost of a small wind turbine system. These USDA grants, when used in conjunction with the Federal Investment Tax Credit (ITC), can help a farmer install a small wind turbine system for roughly 50% of the normal cost.

According to David Shirkey of Renewable Options & Investments (ROI), in locations with 11mph average wind speeds and with utility rates of US $0.12 per kWh, a farmer could realize a 12% annual rate of return on her investment and a payback of 8 years.

The incentive package may even be more attractive in certain locations where the local utility cooperative or rural electric association offers a rebate to its members. In these cases, farmers could realize an even greater return on investment and a shorter term payback.

Applications must be submitted to local USDA Rural Development offices by July 31, 2009. It may take up to 2 weeks for a farmer to fully complete an application.

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