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Energy grants target ag industryEnergy grants target ag industry

The Colorado Energy Office, Colorado Department of Agriculture and USDA are releasing $500,000 in project assistance funds.

July 5, 2017

2 Min Read
SUPPORTING EFFICIENCY: Colorado officials and USDA have teamed up for grants aimed at helping farms improve how they use energy in their operations. July 21 is the application deadline.imacoconut/iStock/Thinkstock

Boosting on-farm energy efficiency is no easy task. Yet there are a number of identifiable areas where, with a little assistance, a farm operation can cut the power bill. That's what is driving news in Colorado about the release of $500,000 in project assistance funds through the USDA Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP).

The Colorado Energy Office, Colorado Department of Agriculture (CDA) and USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service are releasing the funds, and the deadline to apply is July 21. To be eligible, applicants must be enrolled in the Colorado Agricultural Energy Efficiency Program and complete an energy audit to receive funding for projects. You can enroll in the energy audit program online. The Colorado Agricultural Energy Efficiency program provides free energy audits and technical support to Colorado producers. There is also support for selecting and implementing cost-effective improvements that reduce energy use, environmental impacts and operating costs.

The Colorado Energy Office (CEO) was selected for a $1.1 million USDA RCPP award to help finance energy efficiency improvements for Colorado producers. The award is matched through a $1.3 million cash and in-kind combined contribution from CEO, CDA, and utility and industry partners. The funds will help finance energy- and water-saving projects identified through CEO's program. Over the two-year grant period, the efficiency improvements are expected to achieve more than 5,250 megawatt-hours (MWh) of electricity savings and 524,000 gallons of water savings annually, and will provide other environmental benefits for Colorado's ag producers.

CEO launched the Colorado Agricultural Energy Efficiency Program in 2015 to make it easier for farmers to improve efficiency and use renewable energy. More than 135 producers have participated, and 50,000 MWh of potential savings have been identified through the audits. The program aims to expand to 200 producers in the next year, and will generate more than $4.5 million in potential savings in five years.

According to the CEO's 2013 Agricultural Energy Market Research Report, Colorado's ag industry faces direct energy expenses of more than $400 million annually that account for 7% of the industry's overall expenses. The report identifies 90,000 MWh of potential electricity savings annually, and it identifies dairies and irrigators as the most energy-intense sectors with the greatest opportunity for savings.

Source: Colorado Energy Office, Colorado Department of Agriculture

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