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Agricultural Energy Efficiency

If your business is growing crops or raising livestock and poultry, your energy profile looks a lot different than a manufacturer or commercial building owner. You might need to move air, liquids or food around large areas. You may need to refrigerate fruit, milk or eggs. Your barn or greenhouse may need heating in winter, or you need specialized lighting for your plants or animals. There's increasing consumer interest in local food, native plants, organic and related certifications, and embodied energy – for example the energy used to get from seed to table. There's also climate change: The Pennsylvania Climate Action Plan 2018 shows the impacts that climate change will likely have on agriculture, including altered growing seasons for crops, increased heat stress for livestock, and intensified stormwater runoff and flooding issues. Ag best practices, including energy conservation and renewable energy generation, can help offset some of these negative impacts. For all of these reasons, it's vital that you know your operation's energy profile and manage it to conserve and save energy, thus saving money.

Funding Options for Energy Efficiency Improvements

Farming and Energy Use: Funding For Your Energy Projects -- Thinking of investing in an energy-efficient grain dryer, LED lighting, or other equipment, or a cleaner fuel vehicle? Yes, there's likely funding help available. Here are a few state and federal funding sources and other options.

Please note that DEP’s agriculture energy efficiency rebate program closed to applications permanently on December 31, 2023. During the 3 years this program was administered with funding support from the U.S. Department of Energy’s State Energy Program, DEP issued 71 rebate vouchers to ag producers, resulting in energy savings for the ag sector, including this success story: Small Business, Big Difference: Pennsylvania Pilots Energy Efficiency Rebate Program for Farms.

Farming and Energy Use: Solar Power on the Farm -- Learn why it's a great time to consider solar energy in Pennsylvania and some of the basics and benefits of installing solar panels to provide electricity for your farm or the grid.

Energy Use, Energy Savings, and Energy Efficiency Policy Recommendations for Pennsylvania Agriculture -- This research report examined energy use on farms as of 2017, the latest data available. Those farms analyzed in Pennsylvania were found to spend a whopping $54.4 million annually in electricity costs! The good news is there are ways to cut energy use and costs as outlined in more detail in the “Farming and Energy Use” handouts above.

Ways to Increase Your Operation's Energy Efficiency

Energy costs are one of the few operational expenses that farmers have some control over. By reducing your energy costs, you can improve your operations and profit, while guarding the natural resources your farm depends on. Whether your operation is large or small, if you're interested in reducing your energy costs, check out these flyers from the DEP Energy Programs Office. They're a great first step.

Farming and Energy Use: Energy Efficiency on the Dairy Farm -- As one of the most energy-intense agricultural sectors, the dairy industry has multiple opportunities to reduce energy use through utilization of more efficient equipment. Learn about a few of the top energy-savers to help lower your operational expenses.

Farming and Energy Use: Understanding Energy Efficiency -- The number one priority of an energy efficiency project is to cut the amount of energy you use yet still complete a task successfully. Find out the top six ways to do this on your farm.

Farming and Energy Use: Finding Hidden Opportunities for Energy Savings -- From a simple utility bill analysis to a full farm operations assessment, several types of technical assistance are available to help Pennsylvania farmers uncover hidden potential energy savings, while maintaining or even improving operations.

Farm Energy Day Webinars

DEP in partnership with Penn State Extension held an 8-part Farm Energy Day webinar series. Topics included High Efficiency Lighting, Analyzing Your Farm’s Utility Bills, Dairy Farm Energy Efficiency Opportunities, Poultry Farm Energy Efficiency Opportunities, Solar Power on the Farm, Energy Answers for Beginning Farmers and Ranchers, Making the Most of Your Heating Options and Biogas Digesters for Heat and Power. The webinar recordings are posted here.

Additional Resources

The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture encourages, protects and promotes agriculture and related industries throughout the Commonwealth. PAgrows was created to help agribusinesses access the money they need to begin, continue and expand their business.

The Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development’s PA Business One-Stop Shop provides resources and financing information for small businesses.

Penn State Agricultural Extension Office is an educational organization providing technical assistance and training to the ag community through energy assessments, in-person learning experiences and on-demand access to articles, videos, and online courses. Your County Extension Office is a great resource.

USDA has numerous programs to assist farmers and growers with energy management.

The USDA also runs the Rural Energy for America Program Renewable Energy Systems & Energy Efficiency Improvement Loans & Grants for ag producers and rural small businesses.

AgStar provides energy funding for the agricultural industry in the form of loans and financing.

Act 129 provides for incentives and rebates for energy efficiency projects through your electric distribution company (Act 129 excludes REC’s, but if you are located in an REC territory, we suggest inquiring with them about any possible incentives).

DEP’s Small Business Advantage Grant provides 50% matching grants, up to a maximum of $7,000, to enable Pennsylvania small businesses to purchase energy efficient or pollution prevention equipment, to adopt waste reduction processes, or reduce nutrient and sediment pollution in our waterways.

DEP’s Pollution Prevention Assistance Account provides low-interest, fixed-rate loans to small businesses undertaking projects which reduce waste, pollution or energy use.

The Alternative and Clean Energy Program (ACE) provides financial assistance in the form of grant and loan funds for the utilization, development and construction of alternative and clean energy projects in the state.

On-site energy assessments are provided through DEP’s State Energy Plan assessment program as well as through USDA’s Renewable Energy Development Assistance (REDA) program, through which the REDA grant recipients assist farmers with energy assessments. Please contact your USDA State Rural Development Energy Coordinator for more information on this program.

Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) is an on-farm energy initiative through NRCS that provides financial assistance for the development of an Agricultural Energy Management Plan (AgEMP). The AgEMP, or energy audit, is completed by NRCS-certified Technical Service Providers. NRCS can also cost-share equipment upgrades that result from the audit.

Pennsylvania’s four Sustainable Energy Funds offer varying levels of financing in the form of loan and grant programs to promote deployment of energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies:

Not finding what you are looking for? Additional questions may be directed to Michelle Ferguson, DEP Energy Program Specialist, at 570-327-3783 or