Renewable energy initiatives and opportunities are growing in Wisconsin, Illinois, and throughout the Midwest. Municipalities, solar developers, and utility companies are evaluating agricultural lands, under-utilized brownfields, and closed landfills for the potential installation of ground-mounted solar energy projects.
Community-scale solar farms may be eligible for construction financing grants, especially if the projects are being developed in cooperation with rural utility cooperatives, school systems, and municipalities. These smaller-scale energy facilities are typically 2 megawatt (MW) or less and require 10-20 acres of land, depending on the size of the solar array.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development (RD) agency provides loans and grants through the Rural Energy for America Program for eligible Renewable Energy Systems and Energy Efficiency Improvement projects. Financial, technical, and educational assistance is offered to rural communities and cooperatives to help improve quality of life with sustainability, infrastructure, and economic opportunities.
Rural communities interested in implementing solar energy projects may be eligible for this type of assistance. Applicants will need to submit environmental and engineering details for proposed projects, since funding by the USDA is subject to National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).
In addition to siting assistance (assessment of natural resources, use of drone technology to quickly assess site conditions and topography, zoning and permitting guidance, boundary and tile line surveys), our team can help with NEPA compliance required by the USDA applications by preparing the necessary Environmental Assessment (EA) reporting.
The EA reporting evaluates, summarizes and presents the benefits of the project, and explains how impacts to the environment will be avoided through careful siting and planning.
For more information on construction financing grants, please contact our experts today.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Ginny M. Plumeau, REM
Environmental Team Leader
Ginny is a Senior Ecologist and Registered Environmental Manager with extensive experience managing projects in the Midwest. She is a regional leader for ecological services and permitting, leading teams engaged in siting, permit planning, environmental assessments, and all aspects of critical issues analysis related to development. Ginny has been with R/M since January 2019.