Funding available to save money on energy
Building in energy programs for irrigation, nutrient management, pesticide efficiencies, tillage and more, growers can not only hedge their bets for greater income, but are able to launch viable programs with government funding.
“There are cost savings and a potential to produce renewable energy on the farm,” claims Stephanie Page, Oregon Department of Agriculture renewable energy specialist.
With the help of government funding through a variety of resources, producers can rebuild irrigation pump motors and downsize to smaller, more efficient pumps in some cases, she says.
• Cost sharing and loans can help with your energy projects.
• Some resources will pay 50% of project costs.
• Oregon Ag Department offers help in getting started on energy options.
“Properly sizing valves, using soil moisture monitoring to save energy, and simply by using more efficient irrigation equipment than they may have now can all result in cutting costs,” Page explains.
Funding initiatives to tackle these tasks and others exist in the Oregon Business Energy Tax Credit program which provides a 50% credit for some renewable energy projects, she says.
There’s also Oregon’s Biomass Producer/Collector Tax Credit, which offers per-unit credits for biomass produced in the state and converted into biofuel.
ODE can help
Additionally, the Oregon Department of Energy can help finance renewable energy projects through its Energy Loan Program, Page adds.
The Energy Trust of Oregon “provides incentives and in some cases, feasibility and grant-writing support, to help businesses evaluate and install qualified renewable electricity projects,” says Page. Oregon customers of Pacific Power and Portland General Electric are eligible for this assistance.
The Rural Energy for America Program, through USDA Rural Development, can also be of help, offering competitive grants of up to 25% of the costs of renewable energy projects, and loan guarantees of up to half the cost of projects.
Another federal program, the Investment Tax Credit, covers about 30% of costs for many types of renewable energy projects. “In addition, projects begun in 2011 can take the credit as a grant through the U.S. Treasury Department,” she notes.
List of contacts
Page provides this list of contacts for those thinking about new energy projects in agriculture:
• ODA. Stephanie Page, 503-986-4565; www.oregon.gov/ODA/energy.shtml
• ODE. 503-378-4040 or 800-221-8035; www.oregon.gov/ENERGY/index.shtml
• Energy Trust of Oregon Inc. 866-368-7878; energytrust.org
• USDA Rural Development. 503-414-3366; www.rurdev.usda.gov/or/energy.htm
• Soil and Water Conservation District. Find local offices at www.oacd.org
• Resource Conservation and Development Council. Find local offices at www.rcdnet.org/rcd-councils
• Federal tax incentives. Find information at www.dsireusa.org. Click on “Federal incentives”
Growers may not be aware of the energy options they have that can save them money, says Page. In dairies, for example, “producers could use variable speed drives on vacuum pumps, or use refrigeration heat recovery systems.”
Greenhouses can also patch up or upgrade walls to preserve heat, or use under-floor or under-bench heating to save energy and money, she says. Programmable thermostats are also worth considering, Page says.
In animal housing, upgrading lighting to T8 is one way to save money, she adds.
In nutrient management, she recommends sampling soil to determine fertilizer needs, using precision approaches to farming, considering slow-release nutrient products, and trying nitrogen-producing legumes in rotations or adding some cover crops.
This article published in the March, 2011 edition of WESTERN FARMER-STOCKMAN.