By M. Charles Gould and Aluel S. Go
There are six primary fish hatcheries in Michigan, each dedicated to preserving the wild fish populations of Michigan’s inland waters and Great Lakes. These hatcheries also serve to educate the public about local ecosystems and the impacts on the wild fish populations.
Fishing is the third-largest tourism sector in Michigan, and these hatcheries play an important role to ensure there are wild fish available to be caught.
Hatcheries are heavy users of electricity, and recently three hatcheries — Harrietta State Fish Hatchery, Platte River Fish Hatchery and Wolf Lake State Hatchery — completed an energy audit by a certified agricultural energy auditor to determine how they could reduce their energy consumption.
Energy audits are used to identify energy conservation measures that will result in increased productivity and money savings. Some of the recommended conservation measures for the hatcheries included furnace replacement, lighting improvements, room occupancy sensors, insulation, VFD pumps and a heat exchanger.
The short payback period for each hatchery proves the recommended energy conservation measures were advantageous to implement. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources recognized this and many of the recommended measures were implemented at all three hatcheries. The savings realized by Harrietta State Fish Hatchery, Platte River Fish Hatchery and Wolf Lake State Hatchery has motivated the remaining three hatcheries to schedule their own audits so they can reduce their energy consumption and expenses.
PAYBACK: The short payback period for the energy saving measures at each hatchery proved the recommended measures were advantageous to implement.
These energy savings are not unique to fish hatcheries. Analysis of more than seven years of energy audit data from Michigan farms has consistently proven the same thing: Implementing energy conservation measures saves money.
Farms operate on such thin profit margins that the only way to increase profits is to become more efficient. Therefore, efforts to increase farm income should include conducting an energy audit and implementing recommended energy conservation measures. If you’re interested energy conservation on your farm, contact a certified agricultural energy auditor to schedule a visit.
There are many utility, state and federal government funding sources available to farmers to implement energy conservation measures, including covering the nominal cost of an energy audit. Multiple combinations of rebates, grants and loans can be used to pay for the recommended energy conservation measures. This year, Consumers Energy increased their rebate offerings on many of the agricultural energy-efficient upgrades listed in their catalog. Consumers Energy is also working to implement time of use pricing options for farms where it makes sense.
Gould and Go write for Michigan State University Extension.