Alabama Alpaca Farm Gets $40,648 Fed Grant, $142,500 Fed Loan to Go Solar

September 11, 2013 - 8:57 AM

Alpacas AP file photo

Alpacas (AP File Photo)

( To fund a solar power system for his alpaca farm, an Alabama farmer combined a $40,648 U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) grant, federal tax credits, and a $142,500 federally funded loan with a 1-percent interest rate.

Cozy Cove Alpaca and Llama Farm in Gurley, Alabama is now generating its own power and is selling the excess electricity at above-market prices to a corporation owned by the U.S. government.

Alpaca farm owner Tony O’Neil received a USDA “Rural Energy for America Program” grant of $40,648 as part of his effort to install a solar power system to generate electricity for his farm. Cozy Cove is now generating its own power and selling the excess power to the Tennessee Valley Authority, (TVA) which is owned by the federal government.

“The TVA had a program going,” O’Neil tells “There’s an incentive if you put solar panels on your farm or on your house, they would buy all the power from you for 12 cents (per kilowatt hour) above the normal rate that you pay.”

“In our case, that equates to about 22 cents a kilowatt hour, as we would pay about roughly 10 cents a kilowatt hour for power. So, they would agree to purchase the power for 10 years at 22 cents,” O’Neil says, “Then it was explained to me that you get a 30 percent federal income tax rebate as part of the incentive to go solar.”

O’Neil also received a 1-percent interest rate loan of $142,500 using funds from the AlabamaSAVES program for his solar project.

The AlabamaSAVES website says, “The program, funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, provides extraordinary financing solutions for commercial and industrial energy-efficiency and renewable-energy projects in Alabama and is administered by Abundant Power Solutions, LLC.”

O’Neil expects to earn about $15,000 per year by selling his electricity to the TVA.

“It’s roughly going to be $15,000. So far, since it’s been in operation about six months now, it’s generated about $8,000. Of course, it’s been the longest days of the year. As it's towards the winter time, it’s going to get less and less, hopefully it will all turn out to be close to $15,000 per year.”

O’Neil says projects like his benefit American taxpayers in several ways. “Basically, we can get off generating power from coal or oil or even natural gas. We are putting less CO2 into the atmosphere, which helps all of us breathe better and slows down the rate of the warming of the planet.”