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Colorado Dairy and Irrigation Efficiency Pilot Program

The Colorado Energy Office (CEO) is conducting a pilot program to advance energy efficiency in Colorado dairies and powered irrigation systems. This pilot follows a CEO agricultural market study, completed in 2013, which determined that energy costs account for 7% of the Colorado agricultural industry’s overall expenses; powered irrigation accounts for 50% of total electrical costs. Dairies while fewer in number, are also very energy intensive and operate on a 24-hour basis.

The pilot program was developed in collaboration with numerous stakeholders, including the Colorado Department of Agriculture; the Colorado Rural Electric Association and its member co-ops; CSU Extension; industry trade groups including Western Dairy Association and Colorado Corn Growers; and the US Department of Agriculture: NRCS and Rural Development. CEO’s pilot program will bring existing resources and partners together while leveraging new funding and a turnkey approach that makes achieving energy efficiency attainable.

CEO will conduct the pilot in two phases. For Phase I, CEO has engaged EnSave, Inc, an experienced third party contractor, to perform no-cost energy audits and technical support for 12 participants (8 dairies and 4 producers with powered irrigation). Phase II will focus on implementation of efficiency improvements with a goal of at least 4 producers completing implementation. To support implementation, CEO and CDA will fund 75% of the cost improvements (up to $25,000 per participant). The pilot will be offered in 4 co-op territories: Highline Electric, Morgan County REA, Poudre Valley REA, and United Power.


The pilot closely resembles the program CEO plans to launch statewide in Fall 2014, with one important difference: while CEO and CDA are funding the majority of the pilot costs, it is expected that at scale the program will leverage existing resources, in particular USDA’s Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP) and Rural Energy for America Program (REAP).