By now, you probably already know the benefits of using solar panels. But while most people want to install them, it’s a fact that acquiring them requires a substantial amount of money. And when you’re a nonprofit, you need as much assistance as possible to keep the organization running. At Simple Solar, we have helped many nonprofits install solar panels. In this article, we will be explaining how to find solar panel grants for nonprofits.
How to Find Grants for Solar Panels as a Nonprofit
Nonprofits are used to doing fundraising to raise funds. However, finding grants for solar panels is a different field. These grants can be available through private organizations, energy utilities, national programs, and local governments. When looking for solar panels, we advise you to start with federally available options and work downward to local incentives and private organizations. With that said, here are some options you should consider.
Federal or National Nonprofit Grants
Start by looking at EERE (Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy) funding opportunities. Applying for EERE funding involves many steps and often takes several months to finish. However, many have applied for this funding and received grants throughout the United States.
The first step is to know the available funding opportunities. The EERE Funding Opportunity eXCHANGE is like a home base for people interested in applying for financial assistance. You register yourself and monitor the platform for funding opportunity announcements.
Once an opportunity presents itself, you can prepare for the application process. Applicants must have a UEI number generated by the government and a registered account with the EERE Funding eXCHANGE. Navigating the application process for solar grants for nonprofits takes a lot of commitment because of the many steps involved. Be prepared to put in the work to increase the chances of getting funding.
The Energy Foundation
This is a foundation where major donors come together to solve some of the world’s energy problems. It aims to advance renewable energy and energy efficiency in the USA and China.
This is another organization where you can apply for a grant for your nonprofit. The foundation has been operating for over a century, serving those in need. Because one of their programs is a sustainable environment, they offer grants to people who share the same passion.
For both the Surdna Foundation and the Energy Foundation, you have to be invited to participate in their grantee programs.
Green Retrofit Grants
Green Retrofit Grants are available through the U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Department. The program sets aside a budget of about $250 million to provide solar panel installation opportunities for low-income areas. Once approved, you have to use the funding within two years of the date you receive it. Therefore, ensure you have a solid plan to retrofit your nonprofit with solar panels by the time you apply for this funding.
High Energy Cost Grants
If your nonprofit spends too much on energy, consider applying for the high-energy cost grants. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) offers this grant to rural communities struggling with high energy-related costs. The funds can be used to purchase, install, repair, or replace solar panels.
This funding is available to organizations in areas with extreme energy costs. If your nonprofit is in an area where the local conditions cause your energy costs to exceed the national average (275%), you can apply for the grant. It’s the ideal solution for your needs. The program aims to boost the quality of life of people in rural opportunities by ensuring they enjoy a smooth electric network like other Americans.
Renewable Energy Grants
The U.S. Department of Treasury provides this grant. You don’t get the money before installing the system for this one. Instead, you install a solar system in your nonprofit first, then apply for the grant to reimburse your incurred costs. In other words, the grants help cover some of the cost of installing the system.
The downside of this grant is that you need to have cash beforehand to cover the purchase and installation of the panels. Once sorted out, you can apply for a grant to cover part of that cost. Consider this when seeking solar grants for nonprofits if your budget allows you to cover that installation cost. But if not, you may look at the other options we discussed.
The United States Department of Agriculture also offers REAP (Rural Energy for America Program) grants. However, to qualify, your nonprofit must be producing agricultural products. The program offers as much as $20,000 to help purchase and install these panels.
Unfortunately, you also need to foot about 75% of the costs associated with installation. Again, this is an excellent option if your nonprofit has the funds to pay part of the cost.
Tribal Energy Programs
The Indian Energy Policy and Programs under the U.S. Department of Energy handles the grants programs. With over $15 million in funding, the program aims to help American Indian tribes access renewable energy.
If your nonprofit operates on tribal land, check out this option when looking for solar panel grants for nonprofit organizations. You may be able to access funds to buy and install a solar system to help you cut down energy costs.
All those we have mentioned are mostly government initiatives. However, there are also plenty of private organizations that offer solar panels to nonprofits. Check the ones available near you and see if you can get the funding you need. As you have noticed, these government grants mostly apply to rural areas, which can disqualify nonprofits in urban areas.
Enjoy Clean Energy for Your Nonprofit
Solar panels and nonprofits have the same purpose: to improve our world. And with the various solar panel grants available, now more than ever, it’s easy for nonprofits to install this renewable energy source. For any questions you have about solar panels, Simple Solar can answer. Call us today for a quote on installation.