Ag Producers’ Solar Co-op

Are you an agricultural producer in West Virginia? Ever thought about going solar? WV SUN can connect you with the resources you need to bring solar energy to your farm!

WV SUN is excited to launch a new statewide solar co-op for agricultural producers in West Virginia. The goal of this program is to help West Virginia farmers access the benefits of solar energy with technical support from WV SUN. Let WV SUN explain how solar can benefit your farming operation and help guide you through the process of going solar!

This program is open to West Virginia agricultural producers for whom at least 50% of gross income comes from on-site agricultural operations.

Members of the Ag Producers’ Solar Co-op will gain access to helpful resources and regular email updates, as well as individualized support and assistance from WV SUN Solar Co-op Coordinator Autumn Long throughout the process.

WV SUN will connect participants with funding resources, including grant opportunities and guaranteed loan financing programs, available for West Virginia agricultural producers.

WV SUN will assist members in soliciting proposals from qualified local solar installers and will help you select the option that best fits your needs. We support, advise, and advocate for you throughout the entire process of going solar.

Ready to go solar? Sign up here!

How much does it cost to go solar? 

Below are estimates for the costs and incentives available for three farm-sized solar installations — a small 10-kilowatt system, a medium 20-kilowatt system, and a large 40-kilowatt system. Your cost is likely to fall within this range, depending on your farm’s energy needs and what you’re able to afford.

A word on aggregate net metering

Net metering is a policy that allows you to provide power to the electric grid when your solar panel system’s energy production is greater than your usage, and to use power from the grid when it isn’t. When your solar panels produce more electricity than you are using on site, your electric meter runs backward. When you’re using more power than your solar panels generate, your electric meter runs forward. At the end of the month, your electric bill reflects your total usage minus the electricity that your solar panels produced.

West Virginia’s net metering policy allows for what is known as “meter aggregation.” In short, this means that a single solar array can offset multiple electric meters on your farm. The value of the energy your solar panels produce can be applied to another meter on any property you own or lease that is within two miles of your net-metered solar system.

Meter aggregation can be completed virtually, so it is not necessary to physically connect your solar panels to more than one electric meter. For virtual meter aggregation, credits are first applied to the meter through which the solar system supplies electricity to the grid, then prorated equally to the remaining meters for the account.

Aggregate net metering benefits farmers and other property owners with multiple electric meters. To find out more about net metering, visit WV SUN or the U.S. Department of Energy.

 

How can I pay for a solar installation on my farm?

West Virginia farmers who want to go solar have access to excellent funding opportunities. The following resources will get you started:

USDA Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) Renewable Energy Systems & Energy Efficiency Improvement Loans & Grants

USDA REAP provides guaranteed loan financing and grant funding to agricultural producers and rural small businesses for renewable energy systems or energy efficiency improvements.

Agricultural producers with at least 50% of gross income coming from agricultural operations are eligible to apply for competitive grant funding and guaranteed loan financing through REAP.

Competitive grants are available for up to 25% of total eligible project costs. Loan guarantees are available for up to 75% of total eligible project costs. Combined grant and loan guarantee funding is available for up to 75% of total eligible project costs.

Annual REAP Deadlines:
Projects with costs totaling more than $80,000 – March 31
Projects with costs totaling less than $80,000 – October 31

To find out more about REAP financing opportunities:

Visit the USDA REAP website

Or contact Jesse Gandee, USDA Rural Business Specialist, jesse.gandee@wv.usda.gov, 304-284-4882

The Conservation Fund’s Natural Capital Investment Fund (NCIF) Energy Initiative

The Conservation Fund’s Natural Capital Investment Fund (NCIF) finances and advises small to mid-sized enterprises, primarily in rural and under-served communities, including in West Virginia. NCIF’s Energy Initiative promotes sustainable economic development in rural Appalachia through energy efficiency and renewable energy programs.

As a nonprofit lender, NCIF provides financing to farms and agricultural producers for energy efficiency and renewable energy projects. NCIF’s Energy Initiative also connects borrowers with a regional network of service providers and capital and funding sources, and coordinates technical assistance, including grant writing and energy audits.

To find out more about NCIF funding and assistance:

Visit the NCIF website

Or contact Hannah Vargason, NCIF Energy Project Manager, hvargason@conservationfund.org, 301-870-2238

 

Questions?

Learn more about solar, incentives, etc. here.
Still have questions? Email Autumn Long at: autumn@wvsun.org.

Ready to go solar? Sign up here!