If you’re a part of the agriculture industry, you know how much energy it takes to power a farm. With margins tight and constantly changing variables of climate and the environment, operating a successful agriculture business means keeping costs as low as possible. One area where businesses can turn to for savings is solar energy.
Thanks to San Isabel Electric Association (SIEA) and new clean energy programs from the Colorado Energy Office, agricultural producers can receive assistance to cut the amount of their energy usage, receive renewable assessments, and free energy audits. One such recipient was DiSanti Farms, located in Charles Mesa, Colorado.
One Colorado Farm’s Solar Solution
After obtaining a free Agricultural Energy Efficiency (AgEE) audit and grant funds from the state and federal government, DiSanti Farms has installed a 32-kilowatt solar system. Having this new solar system saves the farm over $6,000 a year in energy costs. Justin DeSanti, co-owner of the farm, stated that the AgEE program offered solutions to help manage their high electricity bills and even helped them apply for grant funding for the project.
According to the SIEA, the state energy office has created several clean energy programs in the agricultural and industrial sectors. This has helped reduce carbon emissions and commercial energy burdens statewide.
These types of programs are seeking to achieve higher energy efficiencies in these sectors, which typically account for about 30% of the energy consumption across the state of Colorado. They also support Governor Jared Polis’s goal to reduce greenhouse gas pollution by 50% by the year 2030, and 90% below 2005 levels by 2050.
The Agricultural Energy Efficiency (AgEE) Program
Colorado farmers spend approximately $400 million per year on energy. This is around 7% of the agriculture industry’s total expenses. In response to this high energy demand, the state partnered with the Colorado Department of Agriculture (CDA) and created the Agricultural Energy Efficiency program. This initiative offers farmers a preliminary renewable energy assessment, free energy audits, and technical and implementation support. The San Isabel Electric Association is looking forward to expanding participation and has helped many farmers and agri-businesses benefit from this program.
The Colorado Industrial Strategic Energy Management (I-SEM) Program
The I-SEM program was also launched by the state’s energy department and they provide energy management coaching sessions and free workshops for any eligible industrial companies to direct energy performance improvements.
I-SEM assists participants to implement energy management system components like team and employee processes and policies. This generates savings facility-wide for many companies. These programs have created savings in the U.S. between 5% and 20% each year without any need for capital improvements. The state energy office has been enrolling several industrial companies to participate in their Southern Colorado division which began back in September of 2020.
The Colorado Cultivators Energy Management Pilot Program
The San Isabel Electric Association has worked with the Colorado Cultivators Energy Management Pilot program to develop an initiative that provides free technical energy assessments to cannabis cultivation companies operating in rural electric co-op areas. This program also assists with cost-effective management opportunities and recognizes energy usage by these businesses. These energy assessments observe control systems, dehumidification, HVAC, fans, and illumination. These appraisals show any high usage sectors and create opportunities for investment into more efficient equipment and any operational changes that need to be made. These types of changes don’t affect production levels but reduce energy use daily. They also offer several options for renewable energy applications and utility rebates. Eight cultivators in the state already benefit from these programs making the SIEA’s service territory the highest in the state.
Steel City Solar Is A Solution For Farmers and Agri-Businesses In Colorado
More and more agricultural businesses and farms are turning to solar energy to power their daily operations. The cost of choosing solar power has declined significantly over the years, allowing more solar arrays to appear on farms in the state of Colorado. Going solar on your farm has become more attractive than ever before. But what are some of the other benefits?
The potential increase of PV performance. Crops and vegetation under modules will increase the solar system’s performance and will contribute to lower soil temperatures.
Reduction of any legal risk. Solar installers will reduce the risk of any up-front litigation during any environmental review by utilizing previously disturbed land.
A reduced price on installation. Using agricultural land that’s already tilled may negate any additional need for expensive grading to flatten out the land to be utilized for solar power.
Reduced upfront risk. The cost of solar installation can be increased due to any geotechnical risks because of additional testing needs. But because agricultural land is previously tilled it’s seen as the least risk option during surveys performed by solar installers.
The Benefits For Land and Agricultural Managers
- The potential to extend the growing season
- The potential for reduction in water use
- Allows for nutrient recharge of any degraded lands
- During solar generation, crop production is maintained at optimum levels
- The increased ability to grow valuable shade-resistant crops that can create new markets
- Diversification of the stream of revenue
- Reduced energy costs
Traditional power sources such as fossil fuels are finite resources. But the sun is here to stay! Solar power has become more popular as a solution for many farmers across the country. Coupled with the provincial rebates and greater accessibility, the time to switch to solar power for your agri-business is now.
The advantages of having your farm powered by solar energy are just about as great as the money you’ll be saving on your energy bills. There are so many benefits available you may wonder why you haven’t made the switch sooner! If you’ve been thinking about taking the first step towards a sustainable, energy-efficient source for your productive farm, then solar power is the solution! Steel City Solar is an award-winning industry leader who has been serving the families of Southern Colorado for years. We’ve built a local reputation as a trusted partner with cutting-edge technology and stellar service. If you’ve been thinking about learning more about solar power for your farm, look no further. Reach out to our trained team, experienced in agricultural solar installs around Colorado for a free estimate at 719-569-5166 or by visiting our contact page today.