Grants are generally available only to companies or institutions, not to individuals. The exception is individuals whose income is from agriculture. For each of the grant opportunities listed here, NWES is eager to help you win approval. We can provide technical details about the system and projected energy generation; you will need to determine if your entity is eligible and has the capacity to complete the grant application.
USDA REAP – Rural Energy for America Program
Through grants for renewable energy and energy efficiency projects, the US Department of Agriculture helps businesses and agricultural producers reduce their operating costs.
To qualify, a business must be located in an eligible rural area. To find out if an address is rural, USDA offers a handy online map (select REAP program). An agricultural producer may be located anywhere.
A REAP grant can be used for solar power, biomass (biodiesel, anaerobic digesters, etc), wind energy, or for energy efficiency projects such as lighting, HVAC, refrigeration units, new doors and windows, switching from diesel to electric, etc.
The application form requires a short description of the business, some financial info (such as earnings for the past three years) as well as details about the renewable energy project and how much energy it will save. NWES will supply the energy savings and technical details for the application form while you focus on the business details.
- Grants are awarded twice per year with spring and fall application deadlines. If awarded, the grant is paid as a reimbursement of 25% of the total project cost, after the project is complete.
- Low-interest loan guarantees are awarded for up to 75% of eligible project costs. Loan applications are considered year-round.
USDA representatives in Mount Vernon, Yakima, and Olympia are eager to help you define your project and apply for grants or loans. NWES knows the people in each of these three offices. We encourage you to contact us and your local USDA officials early in the process to make sure your business and your project meet eligibility requirements.
Past REAP award recipients include Skagit Valley Food Co-op, Lefeber Turf Farm, Edge Analytical, Monroe Business Services, Camano Island Coffee Roasters, Hamilton Cellars Winery, and many more.
USDA Community Facilities Program
A building or facility, located in a rural area, that is considered to be essential community infrastructure may receive a grant to help offset electricity costs or for resiliency. Grants are available to tribes, community centers, police departments, fire stations, health care clinics, libraries, child care centers, museums, etc to pay for solar systems, solar with battery backup, energy efficiency and other improvement or expansion projects. This program prioritizes small communities and low-income communities in rural areas. The local contact in the Mount Vernon USDA office can assist with exploring this program.
WA Dept of Commerce
Our State’s Department of Commerce oversees two programs for funding Clean Energy projects:
Grants may be awarded for government-owned buildings such as:
- Local city or town, county, tribal government, special district, municipal corporation, port district or authority, etc.
- Public higher education institutions
- K-12 School districts
- State agencies
Program parameters change annually so it is important to study the grant requirements early as you consider your project. Solar and Energy Efficiency project applications must be submitted separately. Energy Efficiency and Solar applications will be scored separately. All contracts are performance-based, with payment made upon successful completion and commercial operation of the project.
Bonneville Environmental Foundation (BEF)
BEF helps utilities and businesses design and build small-scale renewable energy projects that support local economic development and achieve renewable energy goals. By serving as an expert advisor and project consultant, BEF has helped dozens of partners build renewable energy projects using financing models and turnkey REC management services for project success.
BEF also offers classroom educational tools and activities for teaching students of all ages (K-12) about renewable energy.
Grid Alternatives Tribal Program
Grid Alternatives sponsors the Tribal Solar Accelerator Fund which aims to catalyze the growth of solar energy and expand solar job opportunities on tribal lands across the United States. The Fund supports solar demonstration projects, builds workforce development resources, and develops long-term tribal energy plans in alignment with their energy sovereignty goals. Selected tribes may receive:
- Technical assistance on solar project development and renewable energy strategy
- Direct installation of solar PV systems on tribal homes and community buildings
- Tribal workforce development partnerships with tribal colleges, high schools and tribal enterprises
- Community outreach services and connections to energy efficiency resources
One of the first grants goes to the Spokane Tribe of Wellpinit, WA.
US Dept of Energy (DOE) Office of Indian Energy
With a mission to maximize the development and deployment of energy solutions for the benefit of American Indians and Alaska Natives, the US DOE Office of Indian Energy Policy and Programs provides technical assistance, training, and financial assistance to tribes for clean energy, energy-plus-storage, and resiliency projects.
Why go solar?
Because sunshine is free and because we have a responsibility to our children and their children.