This fall, farmers may be eligible for 50 percent in cost-share funding for energy projects ranging from solar panels, renewable biomass heating, greenhouse efficiency upgrades, and more. The Western North Carolina (WNC) Energy Cost-share Assistance Program (energyCAP), a nonprofit program of Carolina Land & Lakes Resource Conservation and Development Council, is able to directly assist farmers with the application process for various grants available.
In this year’s spring round, the program helped to fund eight farm energy projects across WNC, from solar panels at Hyatt Farm in Brasstown to an innovative wood boiler and solar hot water system at Carolina Heritage Vineyard & Winery in Elkin.
“It’s been great to see such a wide range of energy projects be able to find funding,” said Alex Arnold, the program’s coordinator. “It really shows you how no two farms run exactly the same way in our area. We’ve built the program to try to work with that to a positive end.”
Interested farmers can contact energyCAP (828-649-5115, firstname.lastname@example.org) to get free advice, connections with energy professionals, and guidance on the steps toward grant funding and making the project a reality. The two grants the program works with are the USDA Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) and its own AgEnergy grants, which is funded exclusively by the NC Tobacco Trust Fund Commission. The two 25 percent cost-share grants can be stacked for a total of 50 percent off a project’s cost. The deadline for the fall round is October 31, 2017.
WNC energyCAP is a nonprofit partnership project of four WNC Resource Conservation and Development Councils: Blue Ridge RC&D, Carolina Land & Lakes RC&D, Mountain Valleys RC&D, and Southwestern RC&D. The coalition seeks to preserve farms, reduce carbon emissions, stimulate economic development, and conserve natural resources in WNC. For more information, visit www.energycap.org/farmers.