Allen Brothers Market to go solar – The Vermont Journal & The Shopper – Vermont Journal

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WESTMINSTER, Vt. – Allen Brothers Market, a deli, bakery, farm stand, and garden center located on Route 5 in Westminster, has been awarded a $780,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Rural Energy for America program to construct a solar array on a parcel of land that the Allen family owns in nearby Rockingham. The grant will cover roughly 50% of the project’s overall costs. This comes after the Allens had sold their fuel oil business in order to go with green energy.

A solar array. Stock photo

Tim and Stacey Allen, owners of the popular local market, have been working towards executing this solar array project for nearly two years, and the land known locally as Barber Park, in between Saxtons River and Interstate 91 (southbound), is where the array will be constructed. With construction set to begin in March, the installation will cover 2.4 acres of the 66.2-acre lot; however, because they will be installed on the northern edge of the property, it will not be overwhelmingly visible from Interstate 91 or Route 121.

“The Allens had been considering going solar for some time, even before contacting us,” Ryan James of Solar Strategies said in a recent interview. “It was this exact time last year when I told Tim and Stacey that I’d like to help get the grant for them, and we started working with the grant writers to meet the March 31 deadline.

“We felt if the grant was awarded that the Allens could build and own the system with a very short payback period, as opposed to the leasing structure that leaves the land owner with very little in financial benefits.”

The Allens have owned the parcel of land for a few years, and already utilize most of it as farmland to grow for their farm stand operation at their market. However, Tim Allen recently stated that no “prime farmland” would be used for the constructing of the solar project – a factor he stressed throughout the planning of the solar installation.

Additionally, the Allens, who are multigenerational family farmers, are also making sure that the construction of the solar project is being handled by local builders, and that all the panels and equipment required are American-made products.

Based in Grafton, Vt., Solar Strategies has over 25 years of experience in the industry, and will be constructing the solar installation. Their clients include businesses, municipalities, nonprofits, and multi-unit housing, they hire local electrical contractors, and offer the highest-rated solar panels and power inverters in the industry.

Ryan James, who is working with the Allens on the solar project, has stated that being awarded federal money to build renewable infrastructure for small businesses is a major victory for the local community. He also said that there is currently a substantial amount of federal incentives and tax credits available to assist with creating more green energy projects in the area.

“This grant is a crazy opportunity for small businesses and farmers, and we’re some of the best in the business when it comes to securing grants for our customers,” James said. “There are quarterly deadlines for the grant submittals, and the funds are on a first come, first serve basis.”

Any local business looking to improve energy efficiency or create a renewable energy project is eligible to apply for grants and loans through the Rural Energy for America program. This could include solar, biomass, wind, and geothermal renewable energy projects, as well as energy-efficient projects such as insulation, lighting, heating and cooling, or even replacement doors and windows.

Other Windham County businesses that are receiving federal grant funding include the Whitney Blake Co. in Rockingham, WW Building Supply in Newfane, and the Black Mountain Inn in Brattleboro.

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