NRCS Partners to Improve Agricultural Energy Efficiencies
Contact: Petra Barnes
NRCS State Public Information Officer
Office Number: 720-544-2808
Fax Number: 720-544-2965
Pilot program focuses on Colorado dairies and powered irrigation systems
April 14, 2014, Denver, CO – USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in Colorado recently announced its participation in a pilot program aimed at sharing information about the numerous resources available to producers interested in increasing energy efficiencies. The collaborative effort will bring existing resources and partners together while leveraging new opportunities slated at making energy efficiency easy.
A white paper regarding the pilot reports that, “According to the Colorado Energy Office’s (CEO) 2013 Market Research Report, energy costs account for 7% of the Colorado agricultural industry’s overall expenses. The dairy and irrigation sectors represent the greatest potential for savings as irrigation was responsible for 50% of the total electric expenses in 2008 for Colorado’s agricultural sector; and dairies, while fewer in number, are very energy intensive and operate 24/7/365.”
As a result of these findings CEO strategized opportunities for improvement thru collaboration and partnerships. NRCS was one of the many organizations contacted to participate. “Contributing to an activity like this fits perfectly within NRCS’ mission and vision,” shares Gene Backhaus, NRCS State Resource Conservationist, Denver, CO. “In our efforts to get more conservation on the ground, we want to do it in a manner that increases the number of conservation practices that address emerging issues like improve energy efficiency.”
The pilot will be implemented in two phases. The first will consist of a series of energy assessments and audits on 12 agricultural operations around the northeastern portion of the state, and the second phase will consist of the implementation of energy efficiency improvements identified in the assessment and audits on at least two dairy operations and two powered irrigation systems. Phase one is slated to be complete by September 2014.
“As phase one gets in full swing, NRCS provides technical assistance to the effort ensuring that the current activities fit within NRCS programs so that within phase two we may transition and provide financial assistance utilizing our Environmental Quality Incentives Program,” Backhaus goes on to say.
Other organizations participating in the pilot include Colorado Department of Agriculture, Colorado State University, Colorado Rural Electric Association, Tri-State Generation and Transmission, Rural Development, and the Western Dairy Association. For additional information about NRCS please visit www.co.nrcs.usda.gov and for more information on the agency’s participation in the energy pilot please contact Gene Backhaus at 720-544-2868.