Solar: Federal Incentives Grow Local Businesses

Will Federal incentive programs help change the agriculture industry by encouraging more farms to install solar energy systems? Reports suggest they will for some firms in Virginia.

A federal incentive program could forever change the face of Virginia’s agriculture industry by encouraging more farms to install solar energy systems.

That’s the hope of Blue Crump, owner of Fan-based Cityspace Construction and Cityspace Solar. Crump recently started pitching solar installations to local farms using government grants and credits as a tasty carrot.

Cityspace’s first agricultural project is the new wine-tasting room at Cooper Vineyards in Louisa County. Fifty-five percent of the cost for the facility’s 5.8 kilowatt solar array will be covered by federal incentives.

That’s because the federal stimulus bill extended a renewable energy incentive program to businesses and provides a 30 percent grant or tax credit toward the cost of wind, solar or other systems. In addition, a grant offered by the USDA through the Rural Energy for America Program offers agriculture-based business a 25 percent credit.

“The idea of renewable energy and sustainable agriculture just go hand in hand,” Crump said, adding that the investment pays off in seven to 10 years. (Read Al Harris’ full article at Richmond Biz Sense here)

The U.S. Dept. of Energy is another resource for funds and the Virginia Department of Mines Minerals and Energy is seeking $15 million plus in stimulus funds for renewable energy grants and rebates for both households and businesses.