Renewable energy has a lower environmental impact than energy generated by burning fossil fuels. Connecticut has a goal to secure 27% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020.
Recently, four videos on farm energy were produced to showcase different options available to Connecticut Farmers. Ace Begonias in Bethany has an energy-efficient lighting project. Full Bloom Apiaries in Franklin installed solar panels and an energy-efficient project. Oakridge Farms in Ellington installed solar panels on their dairy barn. Paley’s Farm Market in Sharon also installed solar panels.
Farmers considering improving energy efficiency or generating renewable energy on the farm should first address current equipment performance. The highest cost savings comes from energy efficiency: the cheapest power is power not used. A farm energy audit can help a farm determine if equipment upgrades will save energy and money through greater energy efficiency.
However, investment in reducing energy use or converting to renewable sources can often be costly. Maintenance, repairs, and costs to replace components such as the inverters should be estimated. Producers need to work through the income tax deductions, depreciation benefits, and the sale of renewable energy credits to determine if the investment is financially feasible. There are several funding sources for audits, feasibility studies, loans, and grants for energy efficiency and renewable energy projects on Connecticut farms.
The Connecticut Farm Energy Program (CFEP) serves as a resource for information about funding, incentives and financing on-farm energy projects. CFEP provides technical assistance to eligible Connecticut producers in applying for USDA Rural Development Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) grants. REAP is a federal program to foster economic development and growth through grants and guaranteed loans.
UConn Extension funded production of the videos in partnership with Connecticut Farm Energy Program, USDA Rural Development, and Energize CT. The videos can be viewed online at http://s.uconn.edu/farmenergy.
Dr. John Bovay joined the ARE Department in August as Assistant Professor with 60% extension, 25% research, and 15% teaching responsibilities. We are excited to learn more about his extension and research interests.
Can you share any prior Extension and outreach experience you have?
Engaging with farmers and the public through outreach and extension has always been one of my goals as an agricultural economist. I’ve spent the last 4½ years working at the University of California Agricultural Issues Center and the USDA Economic Research Service, both of which publish reports designed to reach a wide audience, including policy makers, farmers and agribusinesses, as well as hosting conferences. Below, I post some links to outreach publications I’ve written on food-safety regulations and the safety of imported food.
What are your plans for your Extension program? Will this tie into your research, or past work?
I plan to create an Extension program that covers three broad topic areas. The first builds on my existing research on food labeling, food-safety regulations, and food loss/waste. Second, I will work with farmers to evaluate their on-farm energy production and use, and make sure that farmers are aware of all options and incentives available for energy conservation and generation. I expect to work closely with the green industry in this area. The third extension area will entail cost of production estimates for Connecticut farm commodities and marketing studies for local foods.
What course will you be teaching in ARE?
I’m teaching a course on Sustainable Agribusiness Management this fall. My students will apply economic principles to analysis of issues faced by agribusiness managers, evaluate the sustainability of existing agribusinesses, and develop a sustainable plan of operation and marketing for template Connecticut farms.
Anything else you want us to know?
I’ve been thrilled to discover that Connecticut has such a wealth of natural resources and open spaces to explore, including the state forests of the Last Green Valley and the UConn Forest (just a quick jog away from my office), the beaches at Bluff Point and Rocky Neck State Parks, and the magnificent Ray Tompkins Memorial Golf Course in New Haven.
– Patterns in FDA Import Refusals Highlight Most Frequently Detected Problems. By John Bovay. Amber Waves, USDA Economic Research Service, 2016. http://ers.usda.gov
– Strict Standards Nearly Eliminate Salmonella from Ground Beef Supplied to Schools. By John Bovay and Michael Ollinger. Amber Waves, USDA Economic Research Service, 2015. http://ers.usda.gov
– How Does the Food Safety Modernization Act Affect Farms and Food Marketing Firms? By John Bovay and Daniel A. Sumner. ORECAL Issues Brief No. 007, 2013.