Morgantown Solar Co-op Reaches Out to Local Small Farmers/Businesses on May 30

MORGANTOWN – The newly formed Morgantown Solar Co-op is encouraging small farmers and businesses in Monongalia County to apply for special US Department of Agriculture grants to fund construction of solar panels on their roofs.

On Saturday, May 30, just after the Morgantown Farmers Market, the co-op will host a special information meeting geared to small farmers and businesses in Monongalia County on these USDA’s Renewable Energy for America Program (REAP) grants, as well as basic info on the co-op. The deadline this year for applying for REAP grants is June 30.

Solar co-op members will also have a table with information throughout that morning’s farmers market for anyone interested in knowing more about the co-op, which is still actively seeking member for this summer’s installation of solar panels.

Farmers and other small businesses in Monongalia County could save a great deal on the upfront cost of installing solar power if they qualify for these grants. Grants from the USDA’s Renewable Energy for America Program (REAP) cover 25% of the cost of solar power systems. The USDA also has loan guarantees available to bring down the cost of financing investment in solar power.

On top of this, membership in the Morgantown Solar Co-op also provides a group bulk discount on solar panels and installation. Federal tax credits available through 2016 and the decreasing cost of solar equipment are also making solar power an attractive investment.

Jesse Gandee, the USDA representative in West Virginia, will work with small businesses to obtain these REAP grants. Mr. Gandee can also be reached by email (jesse.gandee@wv.usda.gov) or phone (304-284-4882).

The Morgantown Solar Co-op now has enough members to issue a request for proposals (RFP) to interested solar installers. But new members are still welcome until just a couple days before co-op members need to make a commitment, probably in June or early July.

WV SUN, a nonprofit that helps make solar more affordable and accessible, is supporting the process. WV SUN is part of the Community Power Network, which has helped hundreds of citizens organize solar co-ops in their communities. WV SUN recently helped homeowners in Monroe and Fayette Counties go solar. New co-ops are starting to form in Charleston and Wheeling.

The Morgantown Solar Co-op is sponsored by Downstream Strategies and the Morgantown Municipal Green Team. For more information, contact Joey James of Downstream Strategies at 304-292-2450 or jjames@downstreamstrategies.com.

If you cannot attend any of these meetings and you want to join the Co-op, contact Emily Stiever (Emily.stiever@communitypowernetwork.com or fill out a simple form on the co-op’s

WV SUN webpage (www.wvsun.org/solarcoops/morgantown-solar-co-op) to see if your roof qualifies for membership.

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