Michigan Farm Energy Program

A certified farm energy audit can show farmers ways to become more energy efficient, and save money.

Before the Michigan Farm Energy Program (MFEP) started conducting farm energy audits in 2009, farmers in Michigan were faced with a major challenge- they could not find certified farm energy auditors and the costs were prohibitive. Agricultural enterprises consume a considerable quantity of energy each year, so a certified farm energy audit can show operators ways to become more energy efficient, and save money. The Michigan Farm Energy Program (MFEP) was launched in 2009 to train certified farm energy auditors to conduct audits that meet ASABE/ANSI S612 standards for type 2 audits as required by Federal and State funding programs. The unavailability of auditors who understand agricultural operations and can conduct affordable audits led to Michigan languishing at the bottom in USDA energy efficiency projects from 2003-2009. Renewable energy did not fare well either, so the program developed a report format with USDA and expanded into renewable energy assessments in 2010.

As can be seen in the table below, according to the Energy Investment Report, energy efficiency and renewable energy assistance for farmers and rural businesses has elevated Michigan from forty- sixth place to the top ten in states qualifying for energy efficiency funding. From 2003-2009 the highest ranking Michigan ever achieved in number of USDA funded energy efficiency projects was forty-sixth. After just three years of auditing by MFEP, Michigan climbed to a ranking of fifth in 2012-2013. This is due in part to the funding made available through Michigan Energy Office, USDA, Herrick Foundation and Utility Providers. Farmers can have access to these funds after a certified Type 2 farm energy audit is conducted on their operation.

USDA Energy Efficiency Project State Rankings

 

2003-2009

2012-2013

2014

 Iowa

1

1

1

 Nebraska

2

2

2

 Minnesota

3

4

3

 Illinois

4

7

4

 North Carolina

5

3

5

 Michigan

46-50

5

10

A MFEP ANSI/ASABE S612 Type 2 audit identifies areas for reducing energy costs and improving energy efficiency. An energy audit report will categorize this compiled information, and will show areas for improvement in each category. Each energy use improvement recommendation will include the current cost, potential energy savings, potential cost savings, cost to implement, and payback period. Auditors are not looking to tell operators what’s right or what’s wrong. Instead, they conduct audits ‘with eyes on-site’ to identify ways to improve energy efficiency and the costs to upgrade or replace current equipment or processes. The auditor takes a ‘whole enterprise’ approach when developing recommendations. The operator’s management practices are taken into full consideration since an operator will never implement an energy efficiency recommendation if it negatively affects his/her management strategy.

The key is, farms must first have an independent certified farm energy audit. Certified Tier 2 audits usually identify funding and assistance options from State, Federal, University and Utility energy efficiency programs/sources.

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