Governor Beshear announced in 2009 the partnership of the Energy and Environment Cabinet and the Governor’s Office of Agricultural Policy (GOAP) which implemented two energy-related programs by using federal stimulus funding for Kentucky's energy-agriculture partnership. The two programs that were created were the On-Farm Energy Efficiency Initiative and the Multi-County Agricultural Energy Initiative.
On-Farm Energy Efficiency Initiative
In October 2009, Governor Beshear announced the availability of ARRA funds for on-farm energy efficiency improvements in Kentucky. As a result of the DEDI-GOAP partnership, on-farm energy efficiency and production incentive grants were created. Three funding cycles funded awards totaling almost $1.4 million.
Dairies are one of the most energy-intensive farm industries. An average dairy uses between 800 - 1,200 kWh’s of electricity per cow annually. Crist Dairy in Metcalfe County is one of many dairy producers who, after making energy efficient upgrades, can testify to dramatic energy savings; they received funding ($10,000) that helped purchase and install automatic take-offs which preset the flow level at which milking claws are removed, preventing over-milking and reducing the run-time of the vacuum system. Mr. Crist (owner) has said that he is already seeing a $1,500 reduction to their electric bill each month.
Poultry growers generally use a lot of energy, often second only to dairy, and have ample opportunities to reduce their energy use. Allen Creek Poultry’s project was completed in August 2011. An energy audit conducted by George Stamper, Certified Energy Manager indicates an estimated annual energy savings of $10,647. They have already seen an 80 percent reduction in the energy bill and are saving 575,240,000 BTU’s of energy.
Many of Kentucky’s grain producers are incorporating energy efficiency by purchasing and installing energy-efficient grain drying systems on their farm. Phillip and Marsha Garnett of Garnett Farm in Christian County upgraded their dryer that used low temperatures and dried grain over a period of “weeks” to a new system that dries in “hours”. An energy audit performed by Bruce Everly, Certified Energy Manager, estimates a projected annual natural gas energy savings of $110,629. Garnett Farm’s operation will be saving almost 6 billion BTI’s each year.
Energy efficiency upgrades to greenhouses are essential to keep operating costs at a minimum. James Cook, the owner of Cook’s Greenhouse in Daviess County replaced two outdated natural gas furnaces with high-efficiency models. He received funding during the 2011 cycle of the On-Farm Energy and Production Program and installed new furnaces with a power exhauster feature. The exhaust routing is expected to vent inside the greenhouse (versus outside for the older model) which raises the furnace efficiency to 93%. Cook’s Greenhouse is saving 1,012 mm BTU’s each year due to this upgrade.
While federal funding for this initiative has expired, the Kentucky Agricultural Development Board was so impressed with the results, that the board members unanimously approved two million dollars to implement a state funded program modeled after the federal program.
The benefits of these projects, and future projects will be recognized for generations to come.
For more information, visit the Governor's Office of Agricultural Policy's
Multi-County Collaborative Agriculture Energy Initiative
The Multi-County Collaborative Agriculture Energy Initiative program, a GOAP-DEDI partnership, received $1 million in stimulus funding to encourage regional collaboration by providing a 1:1 match with ARRA funds and state Agricultural Development funds for agriculturally related renewable energy projects. Farmers were able to use grant funds to pay for professional services or equipment, to expand renewable energy crop production, or the preparation of grant applications to U.S. Department of Agriculture to obtain additional funding.
Commonwealth Agri-Energy, LLC, in Hopkinsville is 100 percent farmer owned and is one of the 204 ethanol plants in 29 states across the United States. Commonwealth Agri-Energy, LLC applied for funding under the Multi-County Agricultural Energy Initiative to fund the Quarry Lake Water Project which reduced energy consumption and increased competitiveness by reducing costs per gallon of ethanol produced. The plant produces approximately 33 million gallons of ethanol, utilizing 33,000 bushels of corn per day, and 12 million bushels per year. The Quarry Lake Water Project was designed to use the cold water from the onsite quarry lake to replace water from the cooling tower previously used in the production process. A 5,000 gpm pump was installed, with sufficient pipeline to bring the 50 degree water from the lake into the ethanol production facility.
Western Regional Center for Emerging Technologies, Inc.
Western Regional Center for Emerging Technology, Inc. encouraged private industry to partner with our higher education community and farmers to advance the opportunities for agriculture by developing a farm-based agri-energy infrastructure. The objective of this project was to develop, commercialize, and network new energy crops in western Kentucky. The primary focus was on stimulating industry investment and biofuels/biopower.
South Kentucky Rural Electric Cooperative
This feasibility study was conducted to determine the viability of constructing a 5-50 megawatt biomass facility in the Lake Cumberland region. The report evaluated the primary feedstocks within the area and the negative impact of bio-mass utilization to existing businesses and industries in the region.
A bioenergy interest across Kentucky prompted more than 50 individuals representing the state’s government, academia and bioenergy industry to embark on a multiple-stop, three-day bioenergy tour in May 2011, transforming that interest into some considerable enthusiasm. Participants visited the International Biomass Conference and Expo in St. Louis, the Show Me Energy facility in Centerview, Missouri, the Monsanto research facility in Chesterfield, Missouri; with the final stop being a tour of the Abengoa ethanol plant in Mt. Vernon, Indiana. The tour provided a well-rounded overview of the biomass industry and the issues that face the industry as a whole. Going into the tour, attendees all had different interests that they were hoping to pick up information about. The group was able to see firsthand, the different angles of the industry, and everyone realized there are still questions that need to be addressed about the future of the industry and what we can do as a state to move it forward.
The Governor addressed the group, via video, while on the road
"Whether you are motivated by improving our environment, creating economic growth for your community, establishing an affordable, dependable supply of energy for your business, or reducing our dependence on foreign crude from hostile nations, your seat on this bus shows your concern."
- Governor Steve Beshear