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LED Lighting for Turkeys: Why We’re Doing This

August 30, 2013

 

Back in 2007, the Minnesota Legislature passed a bill, the Next Generation Energy Act, to establish energy savings goals for electric and gas utilities (Minn. Stat. Sec. 216B.241).  Under the mandate, each electric utility must develop an energy conservation plan to accomplish 1.5% average retail energy savings over a three year period.

Right now, you’re probably thinking “What utility company in their right mind would want to reduce their energy sales?” Well, the Minnesota Legislature had an answer for that: Let the utilities recover the expenses of their conservation improvement plans and recapture their lost revenue in rate making proceedings and bill riders at the Public Utilities Commission (Check out Minnesota Statute Sections 216B.241, subdivision 2b and 216B.16, subdivision 6b if you don’t believe me).  In other words, rate payers are still paying for the energy we are not consuming, but it’s still a lot cheaper than paying for new power plants.

In practice, utility conservation improvement programs (CIP) manifest in rebate packages for residences and businesses – new lighting, efficient fans and water heaters, improved building controls, etc.  But agriculture has been largely left behind in the development of CIP programming.  To complicate matters further, rural electric cooperatives have had difficulty meeting the 1.5% retail energy savings mandate; they are not able to capture the economies of scale from large manufacturers and dense populations that investor-owned utilities can.  After all, they’re rural and cooperative for good reason: They serve their neighbors.

Fortunately, the Next Generation Energy Act of 2007 also included money for research and development grants.  The Minnesota Project seized the R&D opportunity to work with poultry producers to lower their production costs with technology, and do the leg work toward CIP agricultural rebates for rural electric cooperatives to facilitate achieving the 1.5% retail energy savings goals.  And that, my friends, is why The Minnesota Project is working with poultry farmers on LED lighting.

 

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