Here are a few more quick tips for understanding grants and subsidies.
Solar: Solar panels are eligible equipment for the REAP program, which pays up to 25% of project costs. In addition, solar qualifies for accelerated depreciation (net 20% in the first year) and a 30% tax credit under the federal tax law. Local utility programs may also offer incentives, which will pay you for any electricity generated. In some states, the credit for the energy you generate and use can be sold as a commodity called “SRECs”, which stands for Solar Renewable Energy Credits. If all of these opportunities came together at the same time, you would make money on the solar installation and get free energy on your farm for the next couple of decades. Internet searches can help you find installers for solar panels and obtain estimates. EIM can complete the paperwork for the REAP grant for a reasonable fee once you have an estimate. You should submit the REAP application to the USDA before you pay the installer any down payment, but EIM can coach you on the proper sequencing of events to increase your chances of success.
TSP: Technical Service Providers must pass rigorous training and testing to become certified to work with NRCS to help agricultural producers plan and apply conservation practices on the land. TSPs develop conservation plans including “Conservation Activity Plans”, otherwise known as “CAPs”. They plan, design, lay out, and install conservation practices and inspect completed practices for certification. Bruce Everly, MSA, BSME, TSP, CEM and General Manager of EIM has completed numerous on-farm energy audits. He can be reached at (317) 228-0134.
More in our next issue, where we’ll continue untangling the alphabet soup of acronyms and jargon related to grants and subsidies.