There are incentive programs available to businesses, including farms, for reducing their energy consumption and peak demand:
Act 129 Electric Company and Other Utility Energy Efficiency Programs and Rebates
The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) implements Act 129 that guides businesses and electric utilities toward achieving reduced energy consumption and peak electric demand.
To find out more information about energy efficiency programs eligible to businesses from each electric distribution company, click below:
Small Business Advantage Grant Program
The Small Business Advantage Grant (SBAG) provides matching grants, up to a maximum of 50 percent or $9,500.00, to enable a Pennsylvania small business to adopt or acquire energy efficient or pollution prevention equipment or processes. Well-designed energy efficient or pollution prevention projects can help small businesses cut costs and reduce the risk of regulatory issues, while simultaneously protecting the environment.
For more information, visit SBAG.
Pollution Prevention Assistance Account (PPAA) Loan Program
For information about low interest loans to Pennsylvania small businesses (100 or fewer full-time employees) undertaking projects that reduce waste, pollution or energy use visit
Pennsylvania Energy Development Authority (PEDA)
PEDA is an independent public financing authority whose mission is to finance clean, advanced energy projects in Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania projects that could potentially qualify for funding from the authority include solar energy, wind, low-impact hydropower, geothermal, biomass, landfill gas, fuel cells, integrated gasification combined cycle, waste coal, coal-mine methane, and demand management measures. The authority presently can award grants, loans, and loan guarantees.
For more information, visit PEDA.
Commonwealth Financing Authority (CFA)
CFA provides grants and loans for clean and alternative energy projects including buildings, equipment and land development activities; grants and loans to individuals and small businesses for high-performance, energy-efficient building projects; grants and loans for geothermal and wind energy projects; and grants and loans for alternative energy production projects involving solar technologies. These Commonwealth Financing Authority (CFA) programs are managed within the DCED Office of Business Financing. Currently the High Performance Building and Renewable Energy Programs are open.
For more information, visit CFA.
Alternative Fuels Incentive Grant Program (AFIG)
Pennsylvania provides grants to companies making the switch to compressed natural gas (CNG), propane, or electric for medium to light-weight fleet vehicles.
For more information about the AFIG Rebate Program visit AFIG.
Environmental Education Grant Program
DEP offers grants for educational opportunities for projects ranging from creative, hands-on lessons for students, teacher training programs and outdoor learning resources to conservation education for adults. Projects that include subjects such as sustainable living, Chesapeake Bay and watershed education, air quality, climate change and energy education are eligible.
For more information, visit EE Grants.
USDA Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) Program
Funding is available to assist agricultural producers and small business owners (in eligible rural areas) in applying for resources to purchase and install renewable energy systems or make energy efficiency improvements. Eligible renewable energy systems include wind, solar, renewable biomass (including anaerobic digesters), small hydro-electric, ocean, geothermal, or hydrogen derived from these renewable resources. The applications are due May 2, 2016. For more information, visit REAP.
PA Green Energy Loan Fund (GELF)
GELF provides financing for energy efficiency retrofits and the installation of energy conservation measures and high-performance energy systems in buildings throughout Pennsylvania. GELF is managed by The Reinvestment Fund TRF and is supported by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection and the U.S. Department of Energy.
For more information, visit GELF.
PA Sustainable Energy Funds
Through the making of loans, investments, and grants, the funds promote the development and use of renewable energy and clean energy technologies, energy conservation and efficiency, sustainable energy businesses, and projects that improve the environment in the companies’ service territories.
For more information, visit& PASEF.
Rebates for Energy Star Products
To encourage customers to buy energy efficient products, ENERGY STAR partners occasionally with sponsors to provide special offers, such as sales tax exemptions, credits, or rebates on Energy Star certified products. Visit Energy Star and enter your zip code to see what offers may be available in your area.
Federal Business Energy Investment Tax Credit (ITC)
For information about available tax credits for products such as: geothermal heat pumps, small wind turbines, solar energy, fuel cells and other systems visit ITC.
Plug-In Electric Drive Motor Vehicle Federal Tax Credit
A federal tax credit is available for the purchase of a new qualified plug-in electric drive motor vehicle that draws propulsion using a traction battery. Eligible vehicles must have a battery capacity of at least five kilowatt-hours (kWh), use an external source of energy to recharge the battery, have a gross vehicle weight rating of up to 14,000 pounds, and meet specified emission standards.. For more information, visit MVTC or call the U.S. Internal Revenue Service at 800-829-1040
Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency
Visit DSIRE for a list of additional incentives that may not be included above.
Be a good neighbor to your waters
Nutrient Management on the Farm Increases Soil Health
Implementing a well-developed nutrient management plan ensures the proper balancing of plant nutrients in farm fields. Ensuring the proper balancing of the necessary plant sustaining nutrients in fields provides for healthy soil that increases crop production, environmental protection and farm sustainability.
Nutrient Management On the Farm Increases Animal Health
Implementing a well-developed nutrient management plan ensures that pastures, barnyards and stream side areas are properly maintained to protect livestock and poultry from injury, sickness, disease and the effects of poor water quality.
Nutrient Management Planning, Know What Your Obligations Are
Every farm in Pennsylvania that generates or applies manure to the land, regardless of size, is required to have and implement a written Nutrient or Manure Management Plan. These plans not only provide for soil and animal health, but they protect the environment.
- If you are a farm with a high animal density you are obligated to develop a Nutrient Management Plan meeting the criteria of Pennsylvania’s Nutrient Management Act.
- If you are a larger animal operation meeting the definition of a Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation, you again need to implement a written Nutrient Management Plan meeting the criteria of Pennsylvania’s Nutrient Management Act.
- If you are any other type of animal farm or if you import manure from another farm, you need to implement a Manure Management Plan following the criteria outlined in DEP’s Manure Management Manual
Pennsylvania's Nutrient Management Program
An interagency nutrient management website is currently housed under the Penn State Extension website Penn State Extension. This website is an excellent resource to help you better understand nutrient management planning benefits, criteria and obligations. Included here are nutrient management planning tools and resources, educational materials, DEP’s manure management manual and workbook, upcoming trainings and events, and a list of certified specialists who can assist you.
Pennsylvania Conservation Districts
Conservation districts implement a variety of programs and provide assistance for a range of issues unique to their county, such as agricultural land preservation, environmental education, erosion and sedimentation pollution control, stormwater management and other topics. Of particular interest is information on The Pennsylvania Farm Evaluation Program (Pennsylvania Farm•A•Syst) is a voluntary farm evaluation that can be used to confirm that a farm is being managed in an environmentally sensitive way. Some of the many things you can assess are pesticides and fertilizer storage and handling, barnyard conditions and management, milkhouse wastewater management, streams and drainageway management and overall farmstead ranking. For more information, and locate your conservation district, visit PACD.
Keep more of your money on the farm
Farmers depend on energy for production. Energy reliability as well as ease of control is a necessity. Below are tips for farmers to manage on-farm energy use and energy costs to increase their profit margin. Check with your electric utility which may offer an energy audit to get a detailed assessment of your farm's energy use and identify specific energy-saving recommendations. The following information is from the Rural Electricity Resource Council and PPL Electric Utilities Agricultural Education Program.
See RuralElectricityResourceCouncil and PPLElectricUtility for more information about the tips below.
Light only work areas instead of the entire building if it is large. Keep tubes, lamps, reflectors and lamps clean at all times. Use occupancy sensors that turn off lighting in occasionally used spaces like storage areas and bathrooms. Use LED lighting when replacing old lighting systems. Add switches to allow group control of lamps and lamp circuits.
Energy Efficient Irrigation
Agricultural irrigation is an energy intensive operation. You can save energy by checking for pipe leaks, installing efficient engines and pumps, and properly maintaining wells. Maintain pumps regularly, including proper greasing and filling oil reservoirs every year. Use of a consistent method of irrigation scheduling can often reduce energy use.
Set the water heater thermostat as low as permissible according to sanitation requirements to reduce tank and pipe losses. Check the water temperature in heated livestock and poultry waterers monthly and adjust the thermostat accordingly. Disconnect electric service from heated livestock waterers during non-winter months. Turn off livestock/poultry brooders when not needed. Keep elements of electric heaters clean at all times.
Select the right size motor for the job. Avoid over-sizing or under-sizing a motor. Locate motors in the coolest, cleanest and driest environment possible. Maintain proper pulley alignment. Check thermostats frequently in buildings that require both ventilation and heat to ensure most efficient operation. Keep controls free of dirt and dust.
Keep fan blades and shutters clean. Dirt increases the resistance to air flow. Check for belts that are too loose, too tight or misaligned. Check for weeds and other obstructions near the fan discharge that blocks airflow.
Grain Drying Applications
Check moisture content frequently to avoid over-drying of grain. Keep grain free of dirt and chaff. Inspect drying floors and related facilities regularly to ensure free air flow.
Another kind of farm
Agricultural operations can utilize renewable energy sources like wind, solar and anaerobic digesters to stabilize or reduce energy costs, decrease greenhouse gases, and supplement agricultural income.
Alternative Energy Portfolio Standards (AEPS) Act of 2004
The AEPS was designed to foster economic development, encourage reliance on more diverse and environmentally friendly sources of energy. The AEPS requires that a certain percentage of all electric energy sold to retail customers be derived from alternative energy sources such as solar, wind, hydropower, geothermal, biomass, waste coal and demand side management resources. To learn more information about the possibility of earning renewable energy credits, visit AEPS.
Farmers and rural landowners can benefit from wind energy in many ways, including generating their own power or leasing land to wind developers (landowners can earn a payment each year for each wind turbine installed on their property). One wind turbine occupies only a small amount of land, including access roads. Farming, ranching, forestry, and other land use can continue freely on land occupied by wind turbines. To learn more about wind energy in Pennsylvania, click here. For small wind information, click here.
Early on, solar electric made economic sense for a number of low power agricultural needs when running utility lines to a specific location was either not possible or too expensive. Today, distributed generation backup in the case of utility grid outage, and net metering present further opportunities for grid-connected solar energy use in agricultural settings. Solar energy systems have low maintenance costs, and the fuel is free once the higher initial cost of the system is recovered through subsidies and energy savings (from reduced or avoided energy costs). Solar energy can be used for lighting, ventilation, refrigeration, water/space heating, pumping, and fanning for aeration and crop drying. Solar thermal (low-temperature thermal) can be used in agricultural operations for hot water needs or for space heating. For more information, visit USDA Solar Energy Use.
Anaerobic digesters on livestock farms and the biogas they produce have benefits over traditional manure storage systems. They can:
- Result in cleaner air and water by destroying pathogens, controlling odor, stabilizing organics, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and providing opportunities for enhanced nutrient management.
- Provide a source for distributed energy generation in rural areas.
- Produce renewable energy to generate electricity and be used as a fuel for boilers or furnaces, offsetting fossil fuel use.
For more information, visit EPA.
Educators are rapidly expanding their focus in cropping systems research and demonstrations to develop strategies for development of new cropping systems that not only meet our needs for food, feed and fiber, but also fuel. Switchgrass, miscanthus, canola, sugarbeets, sunflowers, soybeans, corn, and sorghum are all sources of bioenergy.
One of the most promising uses for field crop biomass is combustion - to produce heat, steam, electricity, or any combination of those three. Pellet fuel is a convenient, economical way to provide renewable heat for homes, businesses, and facilities in Pennsylvania and beyond. Penn State is working to help farmers and small scale operators understand how to successfully produce high quality pellets from crop residues, perennial grasses, and other biomass feedstocks. For more information, visit PSU Biomass and Pellet Biomass.
Biofuels are derived from biological materials such as food crops, crop residues, forest residues, animal wastes and landfills. Major biofuels are biodiesel, ethanol and methane. Biofuels,by their very nature, are renewable over a period of less than one year for those based on crops, crop residues and animal wastes or about 35 years for those based on forest residues, as compared to the hundreds of millions of years for fossil fuels. This fact sheet explores biodiesel as one of our nation's "homegrown" energy sources. For more information, visit PSU Biofuels.
Locally grown foods
- Local food supports the local economy. The money that is spent with local farmers and growers stays close to home and is reinvested with businesses and services in your community.
- Local food benefits the environment. With local food there is fewer food miles (that is, decreased transportation) that saves energy and has less environmental impact.
- Local foods promote a safer food supply. The more steps there are between you and your food’s source the more chances there are for contamination. Food grown in distant locations has the potential for food safety issues at harvesting, washing, shipping and distribution.
- Local growers can tell you how the food was grown. You can ask what practices they use to raise and harvest the crops. When you know where your food comes from and who grew it, you know a lot more about that food.
- Local food has more nutrients. Local food has a shorter time between harvest and your table, and it is less likely that the nutrient value has decreased.
Good Food Neighborhood® (GFN)
GFN is a community of people who care about sustainable food systems and is aimed at growing and supporting the local foods community by connecting people to their local farmer and to each other.
Buy Fresh Buy Local® (BFBL)
(BFBL) is the premier trademark of the local foods movement in the United States. PASA coordinates BFBL efforts not only statewide, but nationally with FoodRoutes Network, LLC a subsidiary of Pennsylvania Association of Sustainable Agriculture PASA.