Partnership Plugs Resources into Electric Irrigation Systems for
interested in converting their irrigation motors from diesel to electric
have an opportunity to save energy and serious money. A collaborative
effort is underway by Delaware’s state, federal, and private partners to
streamline resources to move farmers forward with electric-powered
irrigation systems. Together, this energy-saving partnership is
providing landowners with direct technical and financial assistance to
conserve on-farm energy while reducing gas emissions for improved air
developed by the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS)
compares and analyzes the energy costs differences between diesel and
electric systems. To irrigate 100 acres of corn at 15 inches of water
per acre with diesel at $3.30/gallon, energy costs equate to
$11,060/season. Using the exact scenario but switching power source to
electric at an average of $.10/KWH costs $4,735/season. The estimated
cost savings in energy alone are approximately $6,000/season.
Although a beneficial switch, it is one that is quite involved�from the
installation of the proper electric lines, to new motor installation, to
disposal of the old engine. The energy-saving partnership offers a
range of available funding that combined could cover the majority of
your total costs, if eligible.
Delaware NRCS is offering technical and financial assistance to eligible
farmers toward the cost of an electric motor, when converting from
diesel, and associated installation costs through the Environmental
Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). In FY2012, the estimated cost for an
electric motor greater than 15 horsepower was $18,000. The EQIP payment
was $9,000. Depending on the farmer’s situation, the estimated payment
percentage could be more. Although farmers cannot be ranked for a
contract until the new 2012 Farm Bill policy is passed by Congress, NRCS
is encouraging landowners to apply now to ensure the required steps are
completed. The first application and cutoff date is October 19, 2012.
Delaware Electric Cooperative (DEC) has an Irrigation Grant Program that
helps farmers install electric service to new or converted irrigation
systems. Farmers can receive up to $15,000 to help pay for the cost of
running power to new irrigation systems. Once aimed at systems with a
minimum of 40 kilowatt (kW) load, DEC is looking to expand its program
to include farmers with smaller irrigation systems from 20 kW load.
This expansion project includes a new effort to convert single-phase
service to three-phase service using Variable Frequency Drives, for
which DEC offers grant monies to help absorb the costs of conversion.
the program began, DEC has provided $600,000 in funds to bring 120
irrigations systems electric power. Of those, 45 have been conversions
from diesel. To get DEC funding, producers must agree to a load program
that allows DEC control of the availability of electric power during
high peak hours.
Division of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) has
grants available to DEC members for conversion of the irrigation motors
from diesel to electric. The grant provides 30 percent of the total
non-utility cost of the conversion. Costs covered include parts and
labor associated with electric motor and starter installation, removal
of existing gear head and components, and electrician costs. This
Cooperative program is funded through the State of Delaware’s Energy
Efficiency Investment Fund.
Rural Development (RD) has a grant available through the Rural Energy
for America Program (REAP) to help agricultural producers purchase and
install renewable energy systems and make energy efficiency improvements
in rural areas. Recipients can receive up to 25 percent of the total
cost of the project through REAP. An eligible project under REAP would
include landowner costs associated with the installation of three-phase
transmission power lines. REAP grants can only be combined with EQIP
financial assistance if there is no duplicative funding for the same
Jeff and Glen Wells of Carlton Wells & Sons irrigate approximately 3,500
acres of corn in Milton, Delaware. They have had diesel motors on their
sprinkler irrigation system for 20 plus years, but within the last 12-15
years have converted several of their irrigation systems to electric.
According to Jeff Wells, electric is definitely cheaper, cleaner, and
more convenient. However, the issue with conversion was always the cost
to get the electric lines where needed. Jeff and his brother Glen
recently used DEC’s irrigation program. He says with DEC paying for
half the installation costs, “that’s a big help.” In terms of
operational differences, he hasn’t noticed a difference in his crop
production, but has in his wallet. “I save at least a third of my
operating costs now.”
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