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Helping Make Energy Efficiency Affordable

By Kale Scarff and Vern Steinborn

There are many technologies and practices farmers and ranchers can implement on their operations to reduce their energy footprint and protect (and possibly even increase) profit margins. Carbon emission reduction and energy sustainability can both be practiced while also running an economically sustainable farm.

Increasing energy efficiency often requires an up-front investment in order to obtain equipment that will save energy and money. Unfortunately, the initial costs of energy efficient products can be prohibitive for some producers. The Government of Alberta, through Growing Forward 2 (GF2) a federal, provincial, territorial initiative, offers two incentive-based programs aimed at helping Alberta farmers and ranchers reduce energy consumption and thus costs.

The GF2 On-Farm Energy Management Program (OFEMP) and the GF2 On-Farm Solar Photovoltaic (OFSPV) Program offer farmers and ranchers the opportunity to become energy efficient by sharing the cost to purchase energy efficient or renewable technologies. These initiatives are intended to make energy efficient technology as affordable as current technology, making the environmentally friendly choice also the economically sensible choice.

Eligible projects of OFEMP include:

  • Construction projects that install high-efficiency equipment from the program’s Funding List;
  • Retrofit projects that improve operation energy usage per unit of production; and
  • Installation of submetres to monitor on-farm electricity and/or natural gas usage.

Eligible OFSPV systems must be:

  • Grid-tied, not off-grid;
  • Approved under Alberta's Micro-Generation Legislation;
  • Positioned to optimize sunshine and minimize shading;
  • Have manufacturer-warranties on: Solar modules, Racking, Inverters and/or Micro-inverters; and
  • Producing power that is used in the production of a primary commodity.

The government has partnered with three grassroots organizations staffed with Energy Outreach Officers whose role is to promote the OFEMP and the OFSPV Program to Alberta communities. Energy Outreach Officers are available to attend community events, talk about energy efficient technologies, as well as answer questions about the OFEMP and OFSPV Program and explain the benefits of these programs to farmers and ranchers. The Outreach Officers are also more than happy to meet one-on-one with farmers and ranchers to help them find potential energy efficiency solutions for their operation. You can get in touch with your regional Outreach Officer by contacting your municipality, or by calling your regional representative directly.

Regional Contact Information

  • North-central Alberta, from the MD of Mackenzie down to Wetaskiwin County. Gateway Research Organization (GRO). GRO’s mission “Provides cost-effective applied agricultural research, demonstrations, and extension for producers in order to facilitate greater returns to farms by providing economically and scientifically sound information that enables our clients to make informed decisions.”
    Energy Outreach Officer – Kale Scarff
    Phone: (780) 307-7849
    Email: groextension@telus.net
  • Eastern Alberta, from Lac La Biche County to the Special Areas
    Lakeland College. Founded in 1913, Lakeland College’s mission is “To create a model of rural community development through collaboration in research and learning.”
    Energy Outreach Officer – Lyle Lawrence
    Phone (780) 853-8482
    Email: lyle.lawrence@lakelandcollege.ca
  • South-central Alberta, from Clearwater County to Cypress County.
    SouthGrow Regional Initiative. SouthGrow’s mission is “To accelerate and enhance quality of life, development and sustainability for the communities of the SouthGrow region of Alberta.”
    Energy Outreach Officer – Vern Steinborn
    Phone: (403) 894-0050
    Email: vern.steinborn@southgrow.com

To learn more about the OFEMP and the OFSPV Program, including program status, visit www.growingforward.alberta.ca.

Posted in: Agriculture

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