Skip to main content

Speak Up To Protect Successful Renewable Energy for America Program

March 20, 2012

Audio with Tom Wind, professional engineer and owner of Wind Utility Consulting (MP3 2.5 MB) Download Windows Media Player. Time: 00:02:39.

The next deadline for grants under the Renewable Energy for America Program (REAP) is quickly approaching. REAP has been successful in spurring several wind projects across the nation. Wind Utility Consulting owner and professional engineer Tom Wind has seen REAP success in his state, Iowa. Wind says the program has inspired people to move forward on projects and motivated them to take the first steps in pursuing projects.

"In my state, I think there's probably been about 10 projects that have had REAP grants. And, in every one of those cases that the REAP funding has been instrumental in the project achieving their financial goals. In other words, being able to make a profit, make a reasonable level of profit, and to reduce the risk a little bit."

As an engineer, Wind is involved with REAP applications from the technical perspective. The applications contain guidelines, which he says are important to do even if not applying for a grant.

"We found that the guidelines are really helpful for many people in figuring out all of the aspects of the project that are important. And it could be from where are you going to get your money, where are you going to put the wind turbine, how is the wind turbine going to be connected up to the grid, where is the power going to go, who's going to pay for it. All of those basic questions, it makes you analyze it very carefully. All of this is necessary to determine if a project is feasible and how much you're going to make on the project."

Wind encourages people wanting to apply for a REAP grant to start early. Grant applications take a lot of time, Wind says, and coordination with several people.

"If you're looking at a grant deadline that's looming, you need to consider that not everybody's going to be able to maybe do their part of it when you need them to do that. Some people get busy and can't always respond right away to information that you need. So it's always best to start way early and to contact the various people ahead of time, say hey I need you to help me do this, so that they can put it in their schedule and get it to you in good order. I don't know how many times I've worked right down to the wire on these grants, had to pull all-nighters just to get the grants done. It's really difficult, hard to do that."

The deadline for renewable energy system feasibility study applications is March 30th. If anyone is interested in completing a REAP application, Wind says it's important to start now. Also, he says it's uncertain if there will be any funding for REAP in the next Farm Bill. Wind says it's important for people who are interested in this program to contact their congressmen and let them know why REAP is important and to include REAP funding in the next Farm Bill; otherwise, he says the program may go away.

—Julie Jones