Energy Audit Can Cut Bills, Lead to Incentives
Running a farm operation is a constant numbers game, with farmers continuously evaluating the costs of replacing equipment, fertilizer, feed and labor against market prices. Another significant cost comes in the form of monthly energy bills for electricity, gas, diesel and natural gas, which can climb to thousands of dollars, depending upon the size of the farm.
Farmers can significantly cut those energy costs - anywhere from 20 percent to 40 percent, in many cases, under an audit offered by Purdue Extension. Chad Martin, the Renewable Energy Extension Specialist in Agricultural and Biological Engineering at Purdue University conducts these audits for farmers in Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky, Illinois and Michigan.
The comprehensive energy audit can reveal ways to cut energy costs with various parts of the farm operations, including lighting, heating, irrigation systems and grain-drying equipment. It also addresses the specific needs of dairy farm operations, livestock confinement systems, greenhouse growing facilities, and aquaculture systems.
An energy audit ranges from $125 to $350, depending upon the size of the operations. Those costs along with those related to energy-efficient upgrades can be offset by grants offered through the USDA Rural Development’s Rural Energy for America Program (REAP). It provides financial assistance to agricultural producers and rural small businesses in America to purchase, install, and construct renewable energy systems, make energy efficiency improvements to non-residential buildings and facilities, use renewable technologies that reduce energy consumption, and participate in energy audits and renewable energy development assistance.
Several utility companies also offer incentives for electrical efficiency upgrades as well as metered natural gas systems. Many farm operators are unaware they qualify for commercial and industrial financial incentives, according to Martin. In 2015, producers and rural businesses throughout the United States were awarded a total of $63 million in grants and loans through the program.
Farmers interested in taking advantage of this program can contact Chad Martin at: 765-496-3964 or firstname.lastname@example.org.