There has been speculation as to when some of the funds dedicated to developing renewable energy will come to fruition. It looks like this is finally happening. 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). These grants will cover 25% of the total installed cost of the small wind turbine system, and 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.
These incentives, when coupled with the cost savings from generating your own electricity, can result in impressive investment prospects. For example, according to David Shirkey of Renewable Options & Investments (ROI), in locations with 11 mph average wind speeds and with utility rates of $0.12 per kWh, a farmer could realize a 12 percent annual rate of return on his investment and a payback of eight years. In addition, some local utility cooperatives are also offering rebates to its members installing wind power.
Applications must be submitted to local USDA Rural Development offices by July 31, 2009. You can get more information on the grants by visiting www.rurdev.usda.gov or you can contact the American Wind Association.