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Cedar City — Utah’s Office of Energy Development (OED) has created the new Agriculture Producer Energy Efficiency program, which is directed at assisting Utah’s agriculture producers. The program was unveiled at the recent Utah Rural Summit in Cedar City.
“We are excited to reach out to Utah’s agriculture community to offer this program that could potentially save farmers and ranchers significant money, water, and energy,” said Samantha Mary Julian, director of OED.
The program, now in its first year, will reach out to agricultural industries around the state, including farmers, ranchers, and all the other major agricultural users of water and electricity with a mission and directive to lower their energy or consumptive costs. The end goal of the program is accomplished by providing energy efficiency audits for the agriculture producers at a very low cost or for free. The Office of Energy Development (OED) has teamed up with the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food (UDAF), and other entities to complete the energy audits and provide potential grants and funding for the audits’ recommended upgrades.
"The program is designed to provide energy efficiency education, management, best practices, equipment upgrades via grants and utility rebate programs," said Perry Thomson who is the program manager for the Agriculture Producer Energy Efficiency program for OED and an associate director of USTAR.
Audits began in 2012 with dairy farmers in Northern Utah and will be expanded statewide to include outreach and training. Additionally, the OED is working with a technical service provider, EnSave, to create case studies that will illustrate the merits of an energy audit.
Agriculture producers eligible for an energy audit include those who have outdated fluorescent lighting, plate coolers, ventilation fans, motors, transfer pumps, scroll compressors, irrigation systems and pumps, washers, heat recovery, vacuum pumps, high-pressure lighting, and more.
An agriculture energy efficiency committee, which will meet quarterly, will be convened to discuss best practices and to further any collaborative opportunities.
“Goals for the second year of the program will focus on expanding the energy audits to additional agriculture producers,” said Thomson. “OED will also try to initiate new and additional programs and incentives for municipals and cooperatives and look for funding to make the audits part of a long-term, sustainable program.”