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The USDA funds this program to help increase American energy independence by increasing the private sector supply of renewable energy and decreasing the demand for energy through energy efficiency improvements. Over time, these investments can also help lower energy costs for small businesses and agricultural producers.

The Center for Wind Energy applied for a grant to assist rural businesses and agricultural entities to integrate renewable energy on their property.
The Distributed Wind Assistance Program for Virginia will soon be underway!

In September 2015, the CWE was contracted by the DMME to develop a concept for and pilot a Distributed Wind Assistance Program. This support has enabled the CWE, within a limited scope, to develop and distribute marketing materials that describe the DW concept and associated opportunities and attributes; solicit and screen applications to determine those candidate sites most suitable for DW project development; and provide technical assistance leading to applications to DMME for state financial assistance through the Energize Virginia – Revolving Loan Fund (EV-RLF).

The State of Iowa presents a case study for how, on a larger scale, Distributed Wind can stimulate a thriving wind industry in a largely rural, agricultural state, one that is fairly balanced politically and that presents a generous wind resource. During 2003-13, Iowans took advantage of the generous program of grants and loan guarantees from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) through the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP). This program supported 647 wind projects through grants totaling $69,640,803, loan guarantees totaling $45,422,876, all associated with a cumulative project cost totaling $741,972,182. The total installed wind capacity in Iowa today is 5,177 MW which ranks third among all states in the U.S. We believe that Virginia can follow this model, and that DW will stimulate significant growth in the wind industry while providing exceptional benefits to small businesses in rural areas and agricultural producers throughout Virginia.

The Distributed Wind Assistance Program for Virginia will enable a network of rural small business owners and agricultural producers to serve as early adopters of distributed wind systems, by presenting to them a streamlined approach to attaining energy independence and reducing energy costs by installing clean energy generation.

The assistance provided by CWE will include:

(i) appropriate wind resource assessment

(ii) analysis of applicable permitting ordinances

(iii) engagement with local officials and power provider

(iv) development of a robust financial model that considers all applicable local, state, and federal tax credits, grants, loans, and other mechanisms, to secure the lowest possible capital expense and levelized cost of electricity

(v) assistance with the development of a REAP proposal for grant and/or loan guarantee through USDA

(vi) engagement with local communities to dispel misconceptions and to present in a fully informed fashion the opportunities and benefits associated with distributed wind development

Many small businesses can utilize electricity generated by a distributed-scale wind turbine installed on site. These systems are frequently grid-connected, behind the meter, and in most cases in Virginia the host can sell back to their power provider any excess energy they produce. Small businesses and agricultural producers, which typically present highly predictable electricity loads, can benefit financially by producing some of their own power on site.

Agricultural and dairy producers, in particular, have many loads that can be met with energy from a small wind system. These include water pumps, heaters, blower fans, vacuum devices, and myriad other systems that in some cases operate continuously. On-site power production not only can reduce costs by offsetting power purchased, but can also serve as the core of a cost-effective system backup power delivery system in order to offset risks associated with power outages. Each small business and agricultural producer that is targeted during this effort will present a different set of circumstances and attributes. The Center for Wind Energy has the appropriate expertise, experience, and resources to provide technical assistance required to conduct analyses and develop recommendations that are appropriate to advance distributed wind systems, and to assist with the development of a REAP application.

Click here to visit the USDA Property Eligibility Interactive Map to see if your property is eligible for REDA assistance.

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