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Uncle Sam – aka the federal government – has created several grant programs to support solar power farms and other solar energy projects. These include grants from the Department of Energy and the Department of Agriculture. You can find additional financial support programs in the form of tax incentives and loans from federal sources as well as from state and local government programs.
Rural Energy for America Program Grants
REAP grants are available from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to support solar energy projects, as well as other forms of alternative energy such as wind power and geothermal energy. Grants are available to farmers and to small businesses in rural areas. Grant amounts vary up to a maximum of $500,000 and generally cover only a portion of the total cost of a solar power project.
Tribal Energy Program Grant
Administered by the U.S. Department of Energy, the Tribal Energy Grant Program offers funding to federally recognized Native American tribes for solar energy projects, as well as other forms of alternative energy. Grant amounts vary widely from year to year and are available only to tribal governments through a competitive grant process.
High Energy Cost Grant Program
This program, administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, targets areas of the country with unusually high energy costs, typically in fairly remote and near-wilderness areas. Solar power farms, other solar projects and alternative energy sources are all eligible for grant funding. Maximum grant amounts have ranged as high as $3 million and are available to local governments, schools, nonprofit organizations and other eligible applicants.
Other Grant and Financial Assistance Sources
States and local governments offer a wide variety of assistance programs in support of solar energy projects. These include direct grants, such as the Green Communities Grant program in Massachusetts, as well as other types of incentives, such as the Sun Loan Program offered by New York State.
The Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency, known as DSIRE, maintains a comprehensive and up-to-date list of solar energy, and other energy, financial incentive programs offered by states and local governments as well as federal programs. A few private-sector funding programs are included as well.