Evan Barton has been a dairy farmer for about six years. The Licking County Farm Bureau member has a 1,500-head, three breed dairy farm and sells his milk to a cheese plant in eastern Ohio.
He’s trying to grow South Fork Dairy to 2,000 cows and recently built a new cross-vent dairy barn in order to do so. He wanted to purchase the most energy efficient equipment he could for his new building. The decisions to be made about what to purchase became easier when he learned about AEP Ohio’s Agricultural Energy Efficiency Program. The program is designed for AEP Ohio’s agricultural customers across the state.
“Next to labor, energy is the largest single expense for farm and agribusiness operations,” said Dale Arnold, OFBF director of energy, utility and local government policy. “We’ve been working directly with AEP to create programs that address specific, on-site energy requirements. Regardless of an operation’s size, production activity or utility billing classification, there is probably an AEP program feature that can help them control their energy costs.”
According to the program’s Field Engineer Dana Koppes, farmers are eligible to have a free energy assessment completed on their current or new agricultural buildings to help identify energy inefficiencies. AEP Ohio is offering rebates to customers who take advantage of making the changes they need to become more energy efficient.
Those changes can include updated lighting, ventilation, motors, fans and overall equipment unique to the agricultural industry.
“Farmers taking advantage of the program can save time and money, but it also makes farms more productive,” Koppes said. “There is less management on their end to, for example, move air more efficiently, making animals more comfortable.”
Knowledge of the program and what it could offer was helpful to Barton.
“The biggest benefit was choosing the right fan,” Barton said. “The cross-vent barn has 154 52-inch fans that use a lot of electricity. There’s a huge difference in the CFMs (cubic feet per minute) per watt and I learned we could save $20,000-$50,000 a year depending on which fan we chose. The upfront (purchasing) costs way outweighed the cost difference (in operating) the fans.”
Only buildings used in agricultural production are eligible; however, Koppes said whether a farmer’s electricity is metered residentially or commercially, he or she can qualify for the program.
An AEP Ohio Ag Energy Advisor helps “every step of the way,” according to Koppes, including evaluating potential equipment upgrades and prioritizing energy efficiency at the farmer’s facility. The advisor guides those eligible through the application and pre-approval processes.
According to Tuscarawas County Farm Bureau member Bill Deetz, the program operated just that way. He and his wife, Christina, are owners and operators of Four Pines Farm, a fifth-generation family dairy farm located in Sugarcreek. They made energy-efficient choices with lighting, compressors and fans as participants in the AEP Ohio Agricultural Energy Efficiency Program.
“Honestly, the program has been easy for me,” Deetz said. “I had to make the decisions on what type of equipment to use for the facility, but after seeing the energy savings…that made for an easy choice even though initially the cost of the equipment might have been a little more. My contractor and Dana Koppes with AEP did most of the work for me.”
Visit AEP online for more information or call an AEP Ohio Ag Energy Advisor at 866-276-9491 to schedule a free consultation.
Caption: Working through the AEP Ohio Agricultural Energy Efficiency Program saved Licking County dairy farmer Evan Barton thousands of dollars by learning what the best energy-efficient fans were to install in his new cross-vent dairy barn.