Agricultural Energy Audits

This document describes how a farmer can get an energy audit, starting on the path for energy savings. Note that a lot of the language on this page assumes you know about the Natural Resources Conservation Service programs. There are links below to the program descriptions to help you understand how they work. Also do not hesitate to contact your local NRCS office to get more information about the programs. 

Audits are performed under the Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resource Conservation Service’s Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). Irrigation system audits can also be done under the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP).

CSP irrigation pumping system evaluations are conducted to comply with the WQT03 enhancement. You can click on that link to find out more about this enhancement.

The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) requires a Level Two audit for the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). EQIP provides cost share of energy audits and for implementation of energy saving measures for agricultural producers. For more details contact us, and check out the EQIP page Here: (This will open the EQIP page in a new tab)

Information I need before I can do an audit

  • Contact information for the client, Name, Address, Phone, email address, fax number.
  • All utility account numbers for locations we are dealing with.
  • We will need to know what enterprises we will be covering, and how many animal units there are in each enterprise. Call us, and we can figure this out, unless you have already done this with the NRCS.
  • Energy consumption (utility billing data) from energy suppliers. We need to know how much energy you buy for the buildings, irrigation systems or other facilities being audited. Normally these data come from the electric utility, the natural gas utility, the propane dealer, etc. We have to have a minimum of 12 months billing, but if we can get three years or so that is helpful.  Just ask your utility provider when you ask for the data. If you want me to get the necessary information, you will need to fill out a consent form, which you can get from the utility. This is what we will need:
    • Electric energy and electric demand for all metered electricity to the farm
    • Natural gas – separated farm from residence if possible
    • Propane– separated farm from residence if possible
    • Gasoline, diesel and any other fuels for transportation and on farm use
    • Also, other energy use information from the farmer, Self-production by month
    • Solar, wind or other electric generation
    • Heating fuels made and consumed at the farm (this is like wood or coal burned for heat)

Farm Energy Audit Process

Farmer initiates contact with me.

Initial conference (telephone) is to obtain the following:

All contact information for agreement development.

I ask the farmer to sign a utility consumption history release form to fill out, sign and return.

I develop a cost based on the farm location, number of enterprises, and expected scope of work.

The farmer and I sign a one-page agreement spelling out what will be done and the cost.

I screen the project

I procure the energy consumption history for the farm.  I analyze the available consumption data, and produce charts of energy use over the last cycle for the audit report, and may provide additional charts based upon available data. Load factor is calculated for each month, rates are checked to be sure the farmer is on the right rates.

(If the energy consumption is low (for example, farmer is on a residential rate, consuming perhaps 1,000-2,000 Kilowatt-Hours of electric energy per month total) I will send the farmer a letter indicating that the potential for significant energy savings is low, and that the farmer should pursue energy audit services from their local utility.)

I travel to farm, and thoroughly go through the buildings being audited. I get a tour of the farm and take photographs of all of the major energy using machinery. I talk to the farmer to find out operating schemes and schedules.  I look for ways the farmer can change schedules or decrease the amount of time machinery is run. I look for energy conservation opportunities like variable frequency drives, high efficiency lighting, and control improvements. The list of potential energy conservation opportunities is long, but the discussion focusses on the opportunities that will pay back the soonest. All through this farm tour, I talk to the farmer about any ways that the farmer can save energy with little or no cost.

Based on the energy consumption history analysis and the on-site visit, I develop the economics for each attractive energy conservation opportunity identified.  I will develop a cost estimate for each attractive energy conservation opportunity.  Dave may use catalog prices and RS Means data to calculate the cost of energy conservation measures. I may obtain cost estimates from equipment vendors and installers to pin down the cost of an energy conservation measure.

I write a comprehensive report and provide the report to the NRCS area Engineer (if applicable) and to the farmer. We discuss the results and address any concerns the farmer might have. If the report needs revision, this revision is done. When the farmer is satisfied with the report, the audit is complete, and payment is made per the agreement.

If you want to see a template for the agreement, it can be seen Here.

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