BEREA, KY — Several Eastern Kentucky businesses recently received more than $100,000 in grant funding from the United States Department of Agriculture’s Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) to install solar panels.
The Mountain Association worked with nine businesses in Eastern Kentucky to apply for the grant funding in 2020. REAP allows that USDA to provide financial assistance to rural small businesses and agricultural producers to purchase, install and construct renewable energy systems, make energy efficiency improvements to non-residential buildings and facilities, and participate in energy audits.
The businesses that were awarded funding with the Mountain Association’s assistance are:
- Long’s 1 & Up/Pro Hardware in Bell County
- Silver Run Ceramics in Boyd County
- Longview Estate in Garrard County
- Breeding’s Plumbing and Electric in Letcher County
- Mountain Truck Parts in Letcher County
- London Tower Properties in Laurel County
- Red River Gorgeous in Powell County
Two farms received funding:
- Lazy Eight in Garrard County
- SouthDown Farm in Letcher County
The awards total $106,683 and cover approximately 25 percent of the cost of each energy project for each business or farm. With the current 26 percent in federal tax credits for renewable systems, many business owners will be able to cover more than half of the costs for their energy savings projects.
“The solar installations are bringing vital energy savings to these business owners. With most systems paying for themselves within seven to 12 years, businesses are reducing their operating expenses and leveling out their seasonal electric bills,” said Josh Bills, Commercial Energy Specialist at the Mountain Association,. “In addition, planning, building and maintaining these systems requires high-skilled, good-paying jobs — jobs that many hardworking Eastern Kentuckians desperately need.”
Since 2015, the Mountain Association’s energy team has worked in partnership with Midwest Clean Energy Enterprise, LLC, and Berea College, to bring more than $500,000 in REAP funding for energy efficiency and solar projects to 19 Eastern Kentucky businesses. They’ve also helped farmers receive more than $47,000 in on-farm energy funding from the Governor’s Office of Agricultural Policy (GOAP).
For 2020 deadlines, the team submitted applications to REAP and GOAP for 10 additional businesses totaling more than $100,000, and they are looking forward to the agency’s decisions. Interested businesses should contact Mountain Association before the next REAP grant application deadline of March 31, 2021.
In addition to grant application support, the non-profit organization continues to provide technical assistance to facilitate the projects, including solar installation design support, review of contractor proposals, and more.
The Mountain Association encourages any Eastern Kentucky-based business looking to make energy efficiency and renewable energy upgrades to contact Carrie Ray, Energy Program Coordinator, at or (859) 544-0023.
About the Mountain Association:
The Mountain Association invests in people and places in Eastern Kentucky to advance a just transition to a new economy that is more diverse, sustainable, equitable and resilient. The Lending team offers loans to existing and startup businesses and organizations. We are a Community Development Financial Institution and a non-profit, so we can offer greater flexibility and lend to those who may not otherwise qualify. Our Business Support program connects business owners and nonprofit leaders to consultants who can help them succeed. Our Energy experts help businesses, nonprofits, public agencies and homeowners find much-needed energy savings through utility bill analysis, on-site energy efficiency and solar assessments, financing and grant application support. The Mountain Association also engages in research, communications and advocacy for policy and narrative change, and works with partners on a variety of projects to demonstrate what’s possible in Eastern Kentucky. For more information, visit www.mtassociation.org.