Member businesses and farms can apply for review process targeting energy efficiency

EnergyLines November 2020


Hoosier Energy and member cooperatives, in partnership with GDS Associates, are relaunching the Rural Energy Audit pilot program. This is an opportunity for rural farms and small businesses to take part in an American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (ASABE) Tier II Energy Audit.


Through this process, GDS Associates will audit and analyze energy consumption, facilities, equipment and run-times during on-site visits to determine the best ways to reduce energy use.


The cost of the program is subsidized using United States Department of Agriculture grant funds. Member-consumers are required to pay 25 percent of the cost. Hoosier Energy Manager of Energy Management Solutions Blake Kleaving says having the consumer pay a portion of the audit is important for follow-through.


“When a member-consumer invests money into the audit, they are more likely to make the recommended changes to help reduce their overall energy use,” said Kleaving.


This program targets rural farms and small business but that doesn’t leave out larger operations.


“I’m excited that co-ops can look at larger operations. While the entire farm or business doesn’t have to be audited, member-consumers can focus on a smaller part of their operation to get the best return on their investment,” said Kleaving.


No matter the scale or level of efficiency desired, audits frequently consist of HVAC and lighting review, but can include analysis on a variety of efficiency measures from motors and grain drying to air compressors and insulation.


To help member co-ops promote the pilot program, marketing materials have been created, including member co-op expectations and guidelines for the pilot project. Member co-ops will be provided an outreach script with answers to common questions that consumers have.


This includes topics such as: What is an energy audit? Why should the consumer have an audit? What are associated costs and the result timetable? A step-by-step guide allows the cooperative to stay on track throughout the audit process.


“We have member-consumers who are really interested in participating, willing to spend money and make upgrades. The marketing resources available are helping communicate this program effectively,” said Kleaving.


Co-ops and GDS Associates will determine eligibility based on the information submitted and feasibility of having an audit performed. Member consumers who use 10,000 KWh or more at their farm or business are eligible to apply for the program.


After implementing upgrades, consumers may be able to apply for additional USDA & NRCS grant funds and low-interest loans allowing them to be more active participants through the audit process.


Through programs like this, co-ops are able to provide valuable resources for member-consumers. This helps show how they are working to be a trusted energy partner.


“When member consumers think about energy consumption, such as natural gas, propane, electricity, programs like this let them clearly know they can go to their co-op for a variety of resources,” said Kleaving.


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