$500K in USDA Grant Available for Colorado Agriculture

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Published Friday, June 23, 2017

Funds help finance energy and water savings for irrigators, dairies, greenhouses, nurseries and cold storage facilities

The Colorado Energy Office (CEO), in partnership with the Colorado Department of Agriculture and the U.S Department of Agriculture (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service, is releasing $500,000 in project assistance funds through the USDA Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP). The funding is available to Colorado agricultural irrigators, dairies, greenhouses, nurseries, and cold storage facilities. The deadline to apply is July 21, 2017.

Applicants must be enrolled in the Colorado Agricultural Energy Efficiency Program and complete an energy audit to receive funding for projects. Interested participants can enroll in the CEO program through its online application. The Colorado Agricultural Energy Efficiency program provides free energy audits and technical support to Colorado producers, along with assistance in selecting and implementing cost-effective improvements that reduce energy use, environmental impacts, and operating costs.

CEO was selected for a $1.1 million USDA RCPP award to help finance energy efficiency improvements for Colorado farmers. The award is matched through a $1.3 million cash and in-kind combined contribution from CEO, the Colorado Department of Agriculture and utility and industry partners. The funds will help finance energy and water saving projects identified through CEO's program. Over the two-year grant period, the efficiency improvements are expected to achieve over 5,250 MWh of electricity savings and 524,000 gallons of water savings annually, and will provide additional environmental benefits to Colorado's agricultural producers.

In 2015, CEO launched the Colorado Agricultural Energy Efficiency program that makes achieving energy efficiency and renewable energy projects easy for agricultural producers.  More than 135 producers have participated and 50,000 MWh of potential electricity savings have been identified through the audits. The program will expand to 200 producers within the next year and is expected to generate over $4.5 million in potential savings in only five years.

Colorado's agriculture industry faces direct energy expenses of more than $400 million annually that account for 7 percent of the industry's overall expenses, according to CEO's 2013 Agricultural Energy Market Research Report. The report identifies 90,000 MWh of potential electricity savings annually and identifies dairies and irrigators as the most energy intense sectors with the greatest opportunity for savings.

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