Renewable Energy Becoming More Feasible

Energy...It's an important part of food production. Whether you're talking natural gas, petroleum, or electricity, the the US Department of Agriculture reports 15 percent of all ag expenses are directly tied to energy. If an ag producers can reduce their energy demand this will immediately improve a producers bottom line.

Renewable energy is growing in popularity with new technology, but is feasible for the region? Sun and wind are robust renewable energy sources across Wyoming and Nebraska. In speaking at the Southeast Wyoming Beef Production Convention in Torrington, University of Wyoming Energy Extension Coordinator Milt Geiger told KNEB/Rural Radio Network that both renewable energy alternative have their strengths.

Maintenance should also weigh into a person decision as well. With new advancements, Geiger says wind is becoming quite reliable, but there are moving parts that are working in a hostile environment. With solar electric there are less moving parts working in a more controlled environment.

Before switching to renewable energy alternatives, not only does it have to provide a consistent source of power, but it also has economically make sense. Geiger says the most cost effective option is solar powered livestock watering systems. He says if a ground water pump is located more than a quarter of a mile from the power pole than it economically makes sense to install a solar panel.

With high energy costs, producers may consider less expensive alternatives to heat or cool their home. Geiger recommends renewable options like geothermal and ground source heat pump that uses the ambient temperature of the earth to heat the home.

As producers consider switching to any of these renewable alternatives, Geiger says the government is offering incentives through 2016. Other incentives are also available for ag producers and land owners. Geiger says the Natural Resource Conservation Service is making a big push toward renewable energy as well as other other USDA agencies.

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