Consumers Energy agreed last week to expand access to energy efficiency programs for Michigan's agribusinesses. The decision comes in response to a request by the Michigan Agri-Business Association for the company to address the needs of agribusiness operations in its Energy Optimization Plan.
"Agriculture is one of the biggest drivers of Michigan's economy, and controlling our electricity costs is critical to the competitiveness of Michigan's agribusinesses," says Jim Byrum, president of MABA. "Implementing more energy efficiency measures is one of the most cost-effective ways that agribusinesses can reduce their electricity bills. Energy efficiency programs that specifically address the needs of agribusinesses will allow this sector to take advantage of new opportunities, and continue creating jobs and economic growth in Michigan."
The Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) approved the settlement with Consumers Energy that includes specific energy optimization initiatives for agribusinesses. These initiatives include economic incentives for the installation of variable frequency drives on agricultural fans and pumps, high efficiency grain dryers and grain storage temperature and moisture management controls.
According to Byrum, utility energy optimization programs have not been widely accepted by agribusinesses, largely due to a lack of information about their specific energy needs. In October of this year, MABA took members of the MPSC and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation on a tour of farms and agribusinesses in Michigan to discuss these specific needs as well as other energy issues and challenges facing Michigan's agriculture sector.
The decision comes on the heels of Governor Snyder's energy address, which laid out his priorities for the state's energy policy based on a series of reports released by the MPSC. In its energy efficiency report released earlier this year, the MPSC said Michigan could reduce its energy use by one-third over the next ten years through energy efficiency measures. Energy efficiency programs were found to be cost-effective, saving consumers more than $4 for every $1 invested in energy efficiency.