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Agriculture Solutions

Affordable Alternative Energy Solutions

Affordable Alternative Energy Solutions for Agriculture

Solar for agriculture is a natural choice and one of the most practical uses of solar power. Farms, ranches, vineyards and orchards are naturals for using Solar power from the sun that shines down on them every day.

If you are interested in offsetting costs and helping the environment at the same time, here are just a few of the offerings from ASAE that you should explore today.

Solar Power for Light and Heat

Being used in homes, barns and outbuildings to save money. You can renovate or remodel to take advantage of passive sunlight (add skylights) and then augment this design with a solar energy system. These systems can be used to power lighting, fans, heaters, air purification systems and water pumps . ASAE provides systems for each of your applications.

Solar Power Systems for Remote Electricity

Solar can be cheaper than having the utility company run new power lines for your locations. There are no moving parts in solar systems and they last for over 30 years, so they often outperform the use of diesel or gasoline generators. ASAE can show you the pro’s and con’s so you can make a decision based on your needs and the costs involved.

Solar Electric Fences

Used to keep livestock in and predators out on many farms and ranches. You may find yourself in a situation where you need an electric fence in a remote area and a basic solar electrical system can keep it charged and working with no moving parts to break or wear out. We can also supply systems with battery backup that can go work during nighttime hours. Ask us for details.

Solar Water Pumps

In operation they number over 10,000 and are used successfully around the world. Windmills are being replaced by solar energy-driven water pumps simply because the maintenance is so much less. Solar water pumps are used to water livestock, to drive irrigation pumps, and to provide water for homes and outbuildings. It’s the choice more and more people are making, and ASAE can give you all the details you need to make an intelligent decision.

Greenhouse Heating

Commercial greenhouses often rely on the sun for lighting, but on gas or oil heaters to maintain constant temperatures. A solar greenhouse uses building materials to collect and store solar energy as heat. Insulation retains the heat for use during the night and on cloudy days. To capture the most sunlight, a solar greenhouse generally faces south, while its northern side is well insulated, with few or no windows. Solar power is an excellent way to power efficient electric heaters, fans and greenhouse irrigation systems.

Financial Benefits of Solar Energy

Substantial Energy Savings!

Electricity expenses are a sizable part of any farm’s overhead. By installing a solar system from ASAE you will eliminate a substantial part of that expense in two ways:

  1. Once your system is installed, solar energy will help offset your power bill. As energy rates increase, your system becomes a greater performing asset, one that will last over 30 years.
  2. Depending on your Electricity provider, you may have an opportunity to be credited for any surplus electricity you generate. This is called Net Metering. With Net Metering, your electric meter will actually spin backwards when your solar system produces more power than you are using, in turn creating a credit from your provider that can be used against future billing.

The impact of net metering will depend on your pattern of electrical usage. This is affected by your energy requirements during peak hours, how much surplus you generate during daylight hours, and how much electricity you use at night. At the end of the year, your usage will be averaged and your utility company will give you credit for all the surplus electricity in excess of what you used.

CO-GENERATION SOLUTIONS ARE GREAT!

Many farms produce methane from Manure making them an ideal candidate for Co Generation Applications. Today’s Co-Gen solutions last longer, produce more power, have lower maintenance costs and often produce more electricity than you need giving you the opportunity to sell it back to the grid. Please see our Co Generation page to learn more about these solutions

Federal Tax Credits and Grants

In 2008, Congress enacted a significant federal policy for the solar industry. This monumental legislation gives you an incredible 30% federal tax credit for installing a solar electric system for your home, farm, or business! The credit is equal to 30% of expenditures, with no maximum credit. Better yet, you have until the year 2016 to take advantage! Newer legislation now allows you to receive a grant from the U.S. Treasury Department instead of taking the tax credits through the end of 2011.

Rebates and Incentives for Agriculture Solar Energy

(There are numerous and vary from State to State, Utility providers and Local Municipalities)

Solar incentives come in many different forms and differ in timing, eligibility, and value! ASAE can help you make sense of them and show you how to capitalize on the ones that work for you. Most programs can be combined with various other incentives to dramatically reduce the cost of a renewable energy investment!

USDA Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) Grants and Loans

The REAP Grant Program provides grants for renewable energy development assistance. It also provides funds to agricultural producers and rural small businesses to purchase and install renewable energy systems and make energy efficiency improvements. Aimed at small business and farm customers, the typical size of a REAP Grant is $20,000 based on a project cost of $80,000.

For larger projects, the Grant/Loan combination is designed to work with local lenders to cover up to 25% of the solar system cost. The REAP Guaranteed Loan Program encourages the commercial financing of renewable energy projects. Under this program, project developers will work with local lenders, who in turn can apply to USDA Rural Development for a loan guarantee up to 85 percent of the loan amount. For some larger grants a “Needs Analysis” needs to be completed to qualify for the grant. ASAE has someone on staff that can complete the “Needs Analysis” in a timely and cost affective manner. Call us to see if you qualify for any of these Grants!

Both programs can be combined with various other incentives to dramatically reduce the cost of a renewable energy investment!

State Grants

States offer a variety of grant programs to encourage the use and development of renewables and energy efficiency. Most programs offer support for a broad range of technologies, while a few programs focus on promoting a single technology, such as Photovoltaic (PV) Wind or Bio Gas systems . Grants are available primarily to the commercial, industrial, utility, education and/or government sectors. Most grant programs are designed to pay down the cost of eligible systems or equipment. In recent years, the federal government has offered grants for renewables and energy efficiency projects for end-users. Grants are usually competitive.

Corporate Tax Incentives

Corporate tax incentives include tax credits, deductions and exemptions. These incentives are available in some states to corporations that purchase and install eligible renewable energy or energy efficiency equipment, or to construct green buildings. In a few cases, the incentive is based on the amount of energy produced by an eligible facility. Some states allow the tax credit only if a corporation has invested a minimum amount in an eligible project. Typically, there is a maximum limit on the dollar amount of the credit or deduction. In recent years, the federal government has offered corporate tax incentives for renewables and energy efficiency. ASAE can help you sort out the myriad of credits and incentives while designing and installing systems that help you exceed your goals.

Performance Based Incentives (PBIs)

Performance-based incentives (PBIs), also known as production incentives, provide cash payments based on the number of kilowatt-hours (kWh) or BTUs generated by a renewable energy system. A “feed-in tariff” is an example of a PBI. Payments are based on a system’s actual performance not on a system’s rated capacity.

Rebates

States, utilities and a few local governments offer rebates to promote the installation of renewable energy systems and energy efficiency measures. The majority of rebate programs that support renewables are administered by states, municipal utilities and electric cooperatives; these programs commonly provide funding for solar water heating and/or photovoltaic (PV) systems. Most rebate programs that support energy efficiency are administered by utilities. Rebate amounts vary widely by technology and program administrator.

Solar Renewable Energy Credits

In certain states, a single SREC represents one megawatt hour (1,000 kilowatt hours) of electricity generated by a solar photovoltaic system. Renewable portfolio standards (RPSs) require utilities to use renewable energy or renewable energy credits (RECs) to account for a certain percentage of their retail electricity sales — or a certain amount of generating capacity — according to a specified schedule. Some U.S. states have established an RPS. The term “set-aside” or “carve-out” refers to a provision within an RPS that requires utilities to use a specific renewable resource (usually solar energy) to account for a certain percentage of their retail electricity sales (or a certain amount of generating capacity) according to a set schedule. Values vary greatly by state and market rates.

Whether you have a single location or are interested in solar throughout a national portfolio of properties, ASAE can help you determine the most advantageous programs available. Contact us to see if these programs will work for you.

USDA Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) Grants and Loans

The REAP Grant Program provides grants for renewable energy development assistance. It also provides funds to agricultural producers and rural small businesses to purchase and install renewable energy systems and make energy efficiency improvements. Aimed at small business and farm customers, the typical size of a REAP Grant is $20,000 based on a project cost of $80,000.
For larger projects, the Grant/Loan combination is designed to work with local lenders to cover up to 25% of the solar system cost. The REAP Guaranteed Loan Program encourages the commercial financing of renewable energy projects. Under this program, project developers will work with local lenders, who in turn can apply to USDA Rural Development for a loan guarantee up to 85 percent of the loan amount. For some larger grants a “Needs Analysis” needs to be completed to qualify for the grant. ASAE has someone on staff that can complete the “Needs Analysis” in a timely and cost affective manner. Call us to see if you qualify for any of these Grants!
Both programs can be combined with various other incentives to dramatically reduce the cost of a renewable energy investment!

Benefits to Businesses

Benefits include higher loan amounts, stronger loan applications, lower interest rates and longer repayment terms that can assist businesses that may not qualify for conventional lender financing.

Benefits to Lenders

Lender benefits include expanding lender’s loan portfolio, allowing lenders to make loans above loan limits, protecting guaranteed portion of loan against loss by the Federal Government, existing secondary market for REAP guarantees, helping to satisfy Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) requirements, and allowing lenders to use their own forms, loan documents, and security instruments.

Eligibility: Borrowers, Lenders, Location

New definition being determined. Borrowers must be an agricultural producer or rural small business. Agricultural producers must gain 50% or more of their gross income from their agricultural operations. An entity is considered a small business in accordance with the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) small business size standards NAICS code. (http://www.sba.gov/size/index.html). Most lenders are eligible, including national and state-chartered banks, Farm Credit System banks and savings and loan associations. Other lenders may be eligible if approved by USDA.

Eligible Project Costs

Eligible project costs include:

  1. Post-application purchase and installation of equipment
  2. Post-application construction or improvements
  3. Energy audits or assessments
  4. Permit or license fees
  5. Professional service fees
  6. Feasibility studies and technical reports
  7. Business plans,
  8. Retrofitting
  9. Construction of a new energy-efficient facility only when the facility is used for the same purpose, is approximately the same size, and based on the energy audit will provide more energy savings than improving an existing facility
  10. Working capital
  11. Land acquisition

Who is eligible?

The program is designed to assist farmers, ranchers and rural small businesses that are able to demonstrate financial need. All agricultural producers, including farmers and ranchers, who gain 50% or more of their gross income from the agricultural operations are eligible. Small businesses that are located in a rural area can also apply. Rural electric cooperatives may also be eligible to apply.

What types of projects are eligible?

Eligible renewable energy projects include projects that produce energy from wind, solar, biomass / co-generation, geothermal, hydro power and hydrogen-based sources. The projects can produce any form of energy including, heat, electricity, or fuel.
For all projects, the system must be located in an approved rural area, must be technically feasible, and must be owned by the applicant.

How to Apply

ASAE can help with your REAP application as part of our turnkey development service. Let us help you determine if your project is eligible under the USDA guidelines and get you on your way to owning a renewable energy system for your Farm or Rural business.

Call or email ASAE to set a time for us to come to you, review your operation, provide our “Free Energy Audit”as well as what Alternative Energy solutions will work for you!