Two ways farms can save money on energy: use less and pay less
There are two simple things farmers can do that will not cost them any money but can result in significant energy savings.
There are two ways to save money on energy: Use less and pay less. Utilities and electric co-ops offer two free services to farmers that result in opportunities to use less electricity and pay less for it. These two services are a utility rate analysis and an energy audit.
A rate analysis evaluates at least three years of electric bills to uncover errors, overcharges and different rate options to reduce the cost of electricity purchased by a farm. Dairy farms and farms that use a lot of power for short periods of time for a specific purpose during specific times of the year (i.e. grain dryer, irrigation, etc.) stand to greatly benefit from a rate analysis, but all farms should do it anyway. For example, a dairy farm may discover that changing the milking time to a time that coincides with a cheaper rate may significantly reduce their power bill. A rate analysis is something Consumers Energy is really emphasizing at this time. Farmers in the Consumers Energy service area should contact Sanju Guinn at (517) 395-8172 to schedule a rate analysis. Farms serviced by DTE and electric co-ops should call the customer service number listed on their electric bill.
An energy audit is the study of energy usage, conducted for the purpose of saving energy and money. Consumers Energy, DTE and electric co-ops have individuals who conduct agricultural energy audits on their behalf. The audits they conduct are not the Type 2 audits required for USDA Rural Development REAP or Natural Resources Conservation Service EQIP grant funding. Rather, they are basic, simple audits that identify areas where energy consumption can be reduced through more energy efficient technology such as lighting and motors. Auditors use the audits they complete to maximize the amount of rebate dollars coming to a farm to implement the energy efficient technologies recommended by the farm’s audit. The audit they conduct does not cost the farm any money because it is a service provided by the farm’s utility or electric co-op. Going through an audit takes a few hours (depending on farm size), but it is a relatively painless process that can yield tremendous financial benefits. Contact the following individuals for more information about conducting an agricultural energy audit:
Farmers in the Consumers Energy service area
Duane Watson | Agricultural Program Specialist/Energy Advisor II
Hollie Whitmire | Agricultural Program Specialist
Farmers in the DTE service area
Sean McCoy | Outreach Account Manager
Farmers in an electric co-op service area regardless of location around the state
Jim Kunisch | Agricultural Field Outreach Manager | WECC (for the MI Energy Optimization program)
A list of agricultural energy efficiency rebates offered to Consumers Energy customers can be found here starting on page 38. A list of agricultural energy efficiency rebates offered to DTE customers can be found at http://dtetradeally.com/. Click on “2017 Applications & Worksheets” and then click on “2017 Agricultural Application” to access the full list. A list of agricultural energy efficiency rebates for co-ops can be found at http://www.michigan-energy.org/. Click on the “Farm Programs” button on the right side of the front page.