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Community Energy Advisors and Viridi, the trusted partners of Ohio Farm Bureau’s Energy Program, can help members with more than savings on utility bills.
Kevin S. Lauterjung, president and co-founder of Viridi, recently spoke to members in Hancock County about energy efficiency and renewable energy incentives also available to them.
“The Inflation Reduction Act has many incentives for energy efficiency efforts,” Lauterjung said. There are tax credits available on solar installations and electric vehicle charging stations for commercial and residential properties. There is also a direct payment in lieu of the tax credit for non-tax paying entities.
The USDA’s Rural Energy For America Program (aka REAP) also has grants for renewable energy systems and energy efficiency projects, such as upgrades of motors and HVAC systems, worth up to 50% of the project cost. Applications for these grants can be taken care of for members through the Farm Bureau Energy Program and the results can add up to real savings.
Lauterjung gave an example of a client who will invest in a $2 million solar energy installation and in the end only pay about $200,000 after the REAP grant and tax benefits. The project reduces the facility’s electric bills by $90,000 per year. So the solar project will pay off within about one year, and then the client will continue to save the $90,000 per year in electric bills for the remaining 25 or more years of the solar project’s life.
“There is a lot of money available for solar installations and energy efficiency projects right now, so we’ve created a special report for Farm Bureau members to help them understand what might be available for their unique situations,” he said.
Getting started with the Energy Program is simple and an easy first step is to share your current electric and gas bill for a free analysis. Beyond understanding available grants and incentives, one of the benefits of a utility bill review is signing up with the Energy Program for an energy supply contract where the program partner CEA keeps track of when it is time to review and renew that contract.
“CEA maintains the renewal timeline for the customer and knows what steps to take when the contract ends,” he said, noting that members also can combine commercial and home meters to see what savings may be realized by doing so.
According to Lauterjung, when an energy supply contract ends, the contract rolls over to a month-to-month rate and then all bets are off on what rate will be charged. “The customer has no control over the rate that can be charged once that happens, making it critical to manage your contract expiration date,” he said.
Ed and Connie Sander, members in Ottawa County, are First Energy customers who own farmland east of Toledo. They started their farm in 1990 and assumed when they retired they would farm their 150 or so acres and that would be it. Since retirement, their business has grown to 3,300 acres with a whole host of utility needs.
“I am very interested in what I heard tonight,” Ed said at a recent energy program meeting in Hancock County. He noted his energy costs in his various farm locations are putting a strain on the business. “I hope this helps us get a handle on it. It’s getting out of control.”
Energy savings details
The Farm Bureau program can serve members in contracting for electric and natural gas supply in the following utility regions: AEP Columbus Southern, AEP Ohio Power, AES, CenterPoint Energy, Columbia Gas of Ohio, Dominion Energy, Duke Energy, Illuminating Company, Ohio Edison and Toledo Edison.
Farm Bureau members who are served by energy cooperatives are already receiving lowest prices and are not eligible for the supply contracting component of the program.
The grants and incentives mentioned in the article are available statewide, in all utility regions, including co-ops and municipalities.
All members can receive a complimentary bill review. Within a few business days of sending your electric and/or gas bills, the Ohio Farm Bureau Energy Program team will:
- Review your supplier.
- Determine your contract term and when your contract will end.
- Verify your rate to make sure that it is consistent with your contract.
- Show you where to find the supply rate on your bill.
- Evaluate the available options for you to lock in a new fixed rate at a start date that works with your existing contract(s).
- Evaluate available grants and incentives for energy efficiency and energy generation.
- Continue to be a resource for all of your energy-related questions.
If after the review you choose to sign up for the Ohio Farm Bureau Energy Program, there will not be any disruption to your utility service. You will continue to receive the electricity or natural gas through your local utility but will now receive rate protection on one of your bill’s big line items, supply or generation.
To request a utility bill review:
1) Download, print and submit the second page of this flyer along with your bills via:
Mail: 3725 Medina Road, Ste. 112, Medina, Ohio 44256
Email: [email protected]
Labor has always been an issue, mainly because we are a seasonal operation. So that's a challenge finding somebody who only wants to work three months out of a year, sometimes up to six months.Farm Labor Resources
I appreciate the benefit of having a strong voice in my corner. The extras that are included in membership are wonderful, but I'm a member because of the positive impact to my local and state agricultural communities.Strong communities
I see the value and need to be engaged in the community I live in, to be a part of the decision-making process and to volunteer with organizations that help make our community better.Leadership development
Farm Bureau involvement has taught me how to grow my professional and leadership experience outside of the workforce and how to do that in a community-centric way.Young Ag Professionals program
With not growing up on a farm, I’d say I was a late bloomer to agriculture. I feel so fortunate that I found the agriculture industry. There are so many opportunities for growth.Growing our Generation
Knowing that horticulture is under the agriculture umbrella and having Farm Bureau supporting horticulture like it does the rest of ag is very important.Groovy Plants Ranch
If it wasn't for Farm Bureau, I personally, along with many others, would not have had the opportunity to meet with our representatives face to face in Washington.Washington, D.C. Leadership Experience
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