Because of the Recovery Act grants from the Department of Transportation, South Carolina-based Proterra was able to move beyond a research and development company to the manufacturer of the world’s first battery-operated electric bus “EcoRide BE-35” in 2010. Producing no greenhouse emissions and charging in only 10 minutes, “EcoRide BE-35” averages 24 miles per gallon compared to less than 4 miles per gallon with the traditional diesel bus. This is a 600 percent improvement, which saves thousands of dollars in fuel savings. This example illustrates the impact that a federal agency grant can have on a green business. Other federal agencies that provide green business grants include the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), U.S. Department of Treasury, and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as reviewed.


U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) - High Energy Cost Grant Program

Existing since 2000, “High Energy Cost Grant Program” is one of many ongoing green energy grants provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The eligible applicants must reside in an area where the minimum energy costs are 275 percent above the national average. This grant program is open to businesses programs that will benefit the community by implementing “green” programs such as solar thermal electric, solar space heat, solar water heat, biomass, and wind. The grants range from $75,000 to $5 million.

U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) - Solid-State Lighting Core Technologies Round 8

“Solid-State Lighting Core Technologies Round 8” is one of nine green business grants listed on the U.S. Department of Energy’s website. This grant focuses on reducing the cost of lighting through innovations in manufacturing processes, techniques, and machines. Open until November 11, 2011, this green grant program anticipates giving 2 to 6 awards depending on available funding and the amount of the awards. The maximum award size will be $600,000 per year for up to three years of effort.

U.S. Department of Treasury - Renewable Energy Grants

The U.S. Department of Treasury offers a renewable energy grant as an alternative to its Federal Business Energy investment tax credit (ITC) for “green” businesses. As part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, these renewable energy grants award 30 percent of the basis of solar, fuel cell, or small wind turbine properties and 10 percent of the basis of microturbines and combined heat and power properties. Up to $1,500 is awarded for fuel cell property and $200 per KW is awarded for microturbine property. The application close date for this grant is December 31, 2011.

Environmental Protection Agency - Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR)/EPA & NSF Opportunities for Environmental Technology

The Environmental Protection Agency awards green business grants to small businesses that develop and market innovative environmental technology that include green building, sustainable utilization of biomass, sustainable drinking water, green manufacturing innovation, and waste pollution. Phase I awards of $80,000 for six months are awarded for “proof of concept;” phase II awards of up to $300,000 for two years are awarded for further development of the technology.

In addition to these federal grants, more green business grants are available on websites such as Some of the listed grant programs with late fall deadlines include “Innovative Manufacturing Initiative” that closes on November 17, 2011 and “Agriculture and Food Research Initiative: Sustainable Bioenergy” that closes on December 15, 2011. Also, some state agencies provide grants to businesses that develop energy-efficient technology. An example is one’s states Department of Commerce, from which Proterra was awarded $3 million while manufacturing the “EcoRide BE-35”.


Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy. (2011). US Department of Energy.

Federal US Department of Treasury-Renewable Energy Grants. (17 Dec. 2010). US Department of Treasury.

Find Grant Opportunities-Search Results Grant Opportunities. (2011).;jsessionid=f2CnTDrh28D0DKvqTybrcm4kbpnMp52223ZpzGTdQrdQb0B1WjWK!1014668544?mode=PAGECHANGE&pageNum=4

Grant Search. (2011). U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Small Business Innovation Research/NCER/Research/US EPA. (2011).U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Winning the future, Proterra style-Welcome to the Fast-Lane. (2011). The Official Blog of the U.S. Secretary of Transportation.