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3 Letcher County businesses go solar with grant support

Solar panels can be seen on the roof of Breeding’s Plumbing & Electric of Isom, one of three Letcher Countyfirms that have obtained grants to go solar.

Solar panels can be seen on the roof of Breeding’s Plumbing & Electric of Isom, one of three Letcher Countyfirms that have obtained grants to go solar.

Three Letcher County businesses are among nine firms in eastern Kentucky that recently received more than $100,000 in grant funding from the United States Department of Agriculture’s Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) to install solar panels.

The Mountain Association worked with the nine businesses to apply for the grant funding in 2020. REAP allows USDA to provide financial assistance to rural small businesses and agricultural producers to purchase, install and construct renewable energy systems, make energy efficiency improvements to non-residential buildings and facilities, and participate in energy audits.

The Letcher County businesses that were awarded funding with the Mountain Association’s assistance are Breeding’s Plumbing and Electric and Mountain Truck Parts, both located at Isom, and SouthDown Farm at Craft’s Colly, Ermine.The other sixfirms receiving the funding are Long’s 1 & Up/ Pro Hardware in Bell County, Silver Run Ceramics in Boyd County, Longview Estate in Garrard County, London Tower Properties in Laurel County, and Red River Gorgeous in Powell County.

The awards total $106,683 and cover approximately 25 percent of the cost of each energy project for each business or farm. With the current 26 percent in federal tax credits for renewable systems, many business owners will be able to cover more than half of the costs for their energy savings projects.

Since 2015, the Mountain Association’s energy team has worked in partnership with Midwest Clean Energy Enterprise, LLC, and Berea College to bring more than $500,000 in REAP funding for energy efficiency and solar projects to 19 eastern Kentucky businesses.

For 2020 deadlines, the team submitted applications to REAP and GOAP for 10 additional businesses totaling more than $100,000, and they are looking forward to the agency’s decisions. Interested businesses should contact Mountain Association before the next REAP grant application deadline of March 31, 2021.

The Mountain Association is encouraging any eastern Kentucky-based business looking to make energy efficiency and renewable energy upgrades to contact Carrie Ray, Energy Program Coordinator, at carrie@mtassociation.org or (859) 544-0023.

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