Massachusetts Farm Energy Program
Why the Mass Farm Energy Program?
Electricity and fossil fuel costs have increased by 30% or more in the last few years. The impact on farms has meant a dramatic increase in costs related to power, refrigeration, heating, ventilation, lighting, transportation, fertilizer and feed. Rising energy costs reduce the profit margin for all farmers and directly threaten the viability of farms across the Commonwealth.
There is a tremendous loss of energy savings in the agricultural community because
- many Massachusetts farmers are unaware of current energy programs available to them;
- farmers do not have access to a simple, streamlined process of applying for technical and financial assistance; and
- the current pool of financial incentives is not large enough to encourage widespread implementation.
What does the Massachusetts Farm Energy Program do?
The Massachusetts Farm Energy Program is a statewide collaborative effort, bringing together federal, state, industry, and private support to streamline technical and financial assistance available to Massachusetts farmers for reducing their energy demand and increasing their profits. The Massachusetts Dept. of Agricultural Resources (MDAR) and the USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) provided funding and significant in-kind assistance for the pilot phase and current implementation of the program.
- provides technical assistance to increase use of existing energy programs
- assists agricultural producers in leveraging funds for project implementation
- helps to obtain, and in some cases provide, energy audits and/or renewable energy assessments
- provides incentives for implementation of audit recommendations, and
- identifies and promotes best management practices for farm energy systems.
Federal, state, and industry investments in farm energy audits must be tied to energy savings and generation accomplished through implementation. This is the focus of the Massachusetts Farm Energy Program.
How the Program is structured
Berkshire-Pioneer Resource Conservation and Development (RC&D) Area, Inc. developed and implements the program, under the guidelines adopted by the Steering Committee made up of MDAR, NRCS, Berkshire-Pioneer RC&D, and Patriot RC&D. The program partners (listed separately) and the Technical Advisory Group (made up of partners that provide energy conservation, efficiency, or renewable energy programs to their constituents) make recommendations to the Steering Committee.
The Technical Advisory Group is charged with:
- working together to maximize financial and technical assistance opportunities available to agricultural producers;
- developing and implementing a streamlined approach for the Massachusetts Farm Energy Program and its partners to assist agribusiness; and
- identifying and recommending energy conservation and efficiency best management practices (BMPs) and renewable energy measures that will be encouraged by this program.
Berkshire-Pioneer RC&D administers MFEP and, working with the MA Department of Agricultural Reources (MDAR), provides direct technical assistance for energy-related projects to farmers across the Commonwealth. In addition, technical support is also provided from NRCS.. Energy audits and renewable energy assessments are conducted by MFEP technical assistance consultants, utility companies, and independent consultants hired by the agricultural producers. MFEP incentives are paid by Berkshire-Pioneer RC&D with MDAR (state) funding.