Opportunity for Energy Cost Savings on Dairies

Dr. Ronald L. Boman
USU Extension Dairy Specialist

Utah Power in Utah and Idaho and Pacific Power in California, Oregon, Washington and Wyoming are offering �The Energy FinAnswer Program� to help dairies control electrical costs. Dairy producers can receive incentives for up to 50 percent of the agreed upon improvement costs for electric energy efficiency upgrades in new and existing facilities. The program also provides free technical expertise on the evaluation and installation of proven energy efficient technologies and concepts. One of the main ways of improving energy efficiency on the dairy is associated with �Variable Frequency Drive (VFD)� vacuum pumps. According to information that I have, the annual electric cost for extracting 1,000 lbs of milk was reduced from $0.20 to $0.06. These savings were achieved with the installation of variable frequency drive (VFD) controls on milk extraction vacuum pumps. On average, the dairies that have already participated in this program have saved roughly 71% of vacuum pump energy consumption and costs. With the financial incentives provided by these power companies, the payback time for this energy efficiency improvement was reduced from an average of 4.5 years down to only 2.3 years. In addition to energy cost savings, Energy FinAnswer brought dairy operations greater vacuum stability, significantly reduced noise levels, reduced equipment maintenance and extended equipment life. These power companies are also working with dairies on other energy-efficiency opportunities. Examples include energy-efficient lighting, well water milk pre-chiller systems, and VFDs on milk transfer pumps and well pumps.

How to take advantage of this incentive program:

Start with a phone call, for both Utah Power and Pacific Power, to the Energy Services Hotline at 1-800-222-4335. The companies will work with each individual dairy owner to determine the goals and economic criteria for a successful project. If it appears a project can be successful, the power company contracts with a consulting engineering firm to complete an analysis. The engineering firm makes a site visit and collects the operation�s essential operating characteristics including measuring the vacuum pump motor power. Next, they prepare an energy analysis report (which includes energy efficiency recommendations), estimates of savings, costs, and incentives, and commission guidelines which helps the dairy be sure that the system is working as designed and achieving maximum energy savings. The power company then reviews the report with the dairy owner, and if the owner is ready to implement the project, the power company provides an incentive agreement. The dairy owner signs the incentive agreement and chooses the equipment suppliers and contractors. Once the new equipment is installed and commissioned to the power company�s guidelines, Utah Power or Pacific Power reviews project costs and completes an inspection to review the installation. After the inspection report is finalized, the power company issues an incentive check based on the final energy savings and project costs. ©