The event is designed to help local small businesses and farms take advantage of the incentives available for solar power projects

When it comes to solar power generation, several financial incentives exist that farmers and business owners in rural communities can utilize.

The only problem is they may not know what is available.

Bend-based E2 Solar is teaming up with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to change that with a workshop scheduled for Prineville next week.

The workshop will focus on a variety of incentives that locals businesses and farms can take advantage of, including the Rural Energy for America Program offered by the USDA.

“It is not something that the USDA necessarily goes out and advertises themselves,” said Sean Micken, sales director for E2 Solar so we are kind of helping spread the word about this particular program.”

The intent is to incentivize business enterprises in rural areas to choose to generate solar power. For the purposes of this program, rural has been defined as every location outside the city limits of a metropolitan community. In Central Oregon, that means any farm or small business outside of the Bend city limits is eligible.

Micken noted that the USDA program offers some low interest loans, but that the most enticing part of the program is a grant offered to cover 25 percent of the solar power project costs.

“As part of this (workshop) effort, we have brought in one of, if not the best, most successful grant writer,” he said, “which is an organization called Resource Consultants, which is based here in Oregon.”

The grant writing group has enjoyed a 95 percent success rate, Micken said, because they are able to talk with farm or small business owners and develop an overview of the size and specifics of the operation. They then match that information with the criteria the USDA uses for their program.

“Before moving forward with the application process, they will know within a high likelihood if the business is a good candidate,” he said. “They will actually write the grant for the business or the farm.”

In addition to the USDA program, the workshop will raise awareness of some other incentives available including one offered by the Energy Trust of Oregon to all Pacific Power and Portland General Electric customers.

“They are receiving an incentive that is anywhere between about 25 percent and 35 percent of the project cost.”

Another carrot dangled in front of businesses and farms is a tax incentive. Micken said that the federal government provides a 30 percent tax credit on whatever money is spent on a solar power project.

The workshop is free and E2 Solar is hoping that by shining a spotlight on what they consider a plentiful collection of resources, it will encourage people to give the renewable energy source a try.

“We are trying to put all of that information in one place,” Micken concluded.

The free E2 Solar and USDA workshop will be held at the Crook County Library, on Tuesday, March 4, from 5:30 to 7 p.m.

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