A. The Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) Energy Initiative is one part of a comprehensive Washington Farm Energy Program that is being developed to help Washington's agricultural producers reduce on-farm electricity use, fuel use and other farm energy costs.
A. Energy is a major business expense for Washington's agricultural producers. This program can help producers learn how to reduce those costs and make their operations more efficient and profitable. Plus, consumers increasingly value producers who integrate conservation – including energy conservation – into their business operations.
A. This effort currently focuses on energy used by dairy facilities. The Washington dairy industry – a key partner in developing the Washington Farm Energy Program – volunteered to participate in the on-farm testing associated with the Environmental Quality Incentives Program Energy Initiative.
A. An Energy Conservation Activity Plan (Energy CAP) will be developed for each participating dairy facility. A qualified energy management consultant will use specialized software – designed for Washington producers – to evaluate energy use, evaluate energy conservation options and identify potential energy savings at dairy facilities.
A. Producers who apply and are accepted into the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service EQIP Energy Initiative will receive approximately $3,100, which can cover the cost of developing the Energy Conservation Activity Plan.
A. The Energy Conservation Activity Plans (Energy CAPs) that are produced will include a summary of current facility and field operations, practices and energy use, as well as a list of recommended energy savings measures and associated paybacks. While not obligated to do so, producers will likely want to implement some or all of the measures described in the Energy CAP for their facility. Some measures (such as new pumps, cooling systems or lighting) will require capital expenditures. Producers may be eligible for financial assistance from the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service EQIP Energy Initiative to make those upgrades. Other energy conservation programs, including those available through utility companies, may also provide assistance to help reduce farm energy costs.
A. Initial estimates of average energy savings from implementing energy conservation measures range from 10 to 30 percent. On-farm testing of the energy assessment tool will provide more accurate savings estimates.
A. The Washington Farm Energy Program could expand after the on-farm testing associated with the EQIP Energy Initiative is launched and other funding sources are identified to help offset the program costs.
A. The Washington Farm Energy Program is supported by energy and agricultural experts from the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service and Rural Development, the Washington State University (WSU) Energy Program and the WSU Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources, Washington State Conservation Commission, Washington Association of Conservation Districts, Washington State Department of Agriculture, Washington State Dairy Federation, state agricultural associations and participating utilities.
A. If you are interested in participating in the on-farm testing phase of the Washington Farm Energy Program, contact your local USDA Service Center and ask about the EQIP Energy Initiative.
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