The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is providing Small Business Advantage Grant to help small business owners in Pennsylvania improve energy efficiency to save money and prevent pollution.

The Advantage Grant program will provide a maximum of 50% matching grants of up to $7,500 to enable the businesses to adopt or acquire energy efficient or pollution-prevention equipment or processes.

The grants are available for manufacturers, retailers, service providers, mining operators or agricultural businesses that are under sole proprietorship or formed in partnership, LLCs and other legal entity with 100 or fewer full-time employees.

The eligible projects, including HVAC and boiler upgrades, high-efficiency lighting, solvent recovery systems, waste recycling systems and auxiliary power units used as anti-idling technology for trucks, must be located within a Pennsylvania facility and save the business at least 10% annually in energy costs.

DEP, which will accept the applications till 5 November 2010, will provide the grants to eligible candidates on a first-come, first-served basis until funds are exhausted.

The Small Business Advantage Grant Program is claimed to have provided more than $5.8m to 1,041 businesses across the state since its launch by Pennsylvania governor Edward Rendell in 2004.

DEP secretary John Hanger said that well-designed energy efficiency projects can help small businesses to cut costs, increase productivity and profitability, and reduce potential regulatory problems while protecting the environment.