Pilot Projects Around Connecticut
Connecticut Renewable Energy Assessment and Assistance Project
Through support from USDA Rural Development through a REDA grant secured by CT RC&D, the CT Farm Energy Program implemented a new Connecticut Renewable Energy Assessment Assistance Project in 2022. This No Cost assistance program provides eligible agricultural producers and rural small businesses who want to implement renewable energy system projects techinical guidance.
A customized resource assessment for your farm or business helps you determine what type of renewable energy is best for you. Energy analysts will design a renewable energy system that optimizes your operation's resources and energy consumption patterns to reduce or eliminate your electric bills.
Program representatives can help those who are eligible apply for incentives to help fund your renewable energy system through USDA Rural Development.
>>You can learn more about this project here: CT REAA Project.
Anaerobic Digester Initiative
Aiding CT Farms as they seek to implement anaerobic digester technology on their farms. CT RC&D created an Anaerobic Digester Road Map you can view here.
Compost Heat Recovery Project
CT Farm Energy Program has recently installed the 1st Compost Heat Recovery System in CT at Collins Powder Hill Farm located in Enfield, CT. This project is being made possible by support from CT Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) and the US Department of Energy (DOE). CT Farm Energy Program has been working in conjunction with the Collins Family who own and operate Collins Compost along with Agrilab Technologies who designed, installed and is monitoring the system during the first year of the pilot project period. Shown above: CT RC&D hosted an Open House and Tour with farmers, federal, state and agency staff and interested stake holders on March 29, 2018. To follow the stages of installation and operation, please visit our Facebook page.
CT Farm Energy Audit Program
Connecticut Greenhouses can cut energy use and costs with the Connecticut Farm Energy Audit Program.
CTRC&D’s Connecticut Farm Energy Audit Program provided funding to cover 75% of the cost of energy audits for Connecticut greenhouse growers and agricultural producers. The program evaluated cost-effective technologies to solve energy challenges faced by today’s growers, with a focus on innovative technologies. Examples of projects that were analyzed through the energy audits include dynamic temperature controls, waste heat recovery systems, thermal energy storage, adaptive lighting controls, and more.
Funded through a REDA grant from USDA Rural Development, CTRC&D partnered with EnSave, Inc., an agricultural energy efficiency firm, to deliver the energy audits. The goal of this project was to examine innovation in greenhouse energy efficiency and agricultural operations.
Two types of audits were provided to farms and ag based rural small businesses, based on their needs:
- Comprehensive: This detailed energy audit analyzed the entire operation and provided recommendations for all cost-effective energy efficiency technologies for the farm.
- Targeted: This energy audit focused on one or two specific technologies the grower wished to investigate.
Both types of audits included energy and cost savings and anticipated payback period for the recommended equipment. Once an audit report was complete, growers can make sound business decisions and apply for funding through the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) to complete the recommended energy efficient projects.
Program flyer. This pilot program concluded in 2022.
CT Farm Energy Geothermal Pilot Project
Through support from USDA Rural Development through a REDA grant secured by CT RC&D, the CT Farm Energy Program implemented a new CT Farm Energy Geothermal Pilot Project. CT RC&D implemented this pilot (2018-2022) project by offering education, outreach, workshops and renewable energy assessments specifically focused on geothermal opportunities for farms and agriculturally based rural small businesses in Connecticut. The goal of this project was to reduce barriers to alternative renewable energy resources by providing eligible farms and agriculture based rural small businesses with a free geothermal energy assessment and corresponding report. This would allow for consideration of another alternative form of energy in operations at no obligation to implement.
>>You can learn more from our educational Geothermal handout.
Completed On-Farm Energy Projects
The Connecticut Farm Energy Program works with a variety of farm operations, with project sizes and types also varying. Below is a sample of the type of projects CFEP has provided assistance to Connecticut farms in implementation of energy efficiency measures and renewable energy projects. Many of the projects below have received assistance through the securing of a USDA REAP grant.
Ace Begonias in 2013 replaced inefficient HID lights with 72 EE LED agriculture lights called LumiGrow Pro 325. The estimated savings from the upgrade will result in 39,640 kWh saved annually. While the owner was interested in this upgrade to save energy he was equally interested in the production value these lights offered. Ace Begonias will be able to produce a better plant quicker because of these new lights. In addition to the USDA REAP Grant the farm received an incentive from the Energize CT Small Business Energy Advantage (SBEA) program.
>>If you would like to learn more about Greenhouse LED lighting visit EnergizeCT.com for program assistance and check out this link to lighting results done in Minnesota.
Bishop’s Orchards Solar Project is the largest CT Farm Energy Program project to date. The system installed on 1.1 acres is 1 of 2 solar arrays the farm installed, consisting of 1108 panels in 17 rows. The second array is on the roof of the Farm Market, consisting of 381 panels. The combined systems are 477 kW DC and are expected to produce 596,700 kWh per year, which will offset 80+% of the farm’s annual electric usage. Total annual farm usage is 668,000 kWh with an annual cost of approximately $106,000. The site selected for the ground mounted system is a hillside with shallow soils and rock ledge that is not agriculturally viable land. The solar array adheres to Bishop’s Orchards Vision: Preserve and enhance the value of the land for current and future generations and provide exceptional products and services to our customers that emphasize "family, food, and recreation."
>>View the project fact sheet to learn more.
The Freund Family farm is a third-generation dairy farm that stewards 600 acres of land with 300 Holstein cows. The farm has taken steps to ensure sustainability of the operation for the next generation. The farm owners have installed many energy efficiency measures on the farm as well as installed two solar arrays, one ground mounted and the other roof mounted on their new robotic milking barn. Putting farm’s most abundant byproduct, cow manure to good use as a renewable source of power, the family actually built an early methane digester prototype. The only operating digester on a CT farm to this day. With decades of hard work, the Freunds have been recognized as national leaders in sustainable practices and received the inaugural U.S. Dairy Sustainability Award for Outstanding Resource Stewardship.
Full Bloom Apiaries
After receiving an Agriculture Energy Management Plan (AGEMP) from USDA NRCS in 2014 Full Bloom chose to insulate their honey house, installed a ductless heat pump and a heat pump water heater. After the energy efficiency upgrades, Full Bloom installed a roof mounted solar PV array on the honey house to offset 100% of their current electrical usage. Full Bloom in addition to receiving a USDA REAP grant also received an incentive from Eversource through the ZREC program for the solar project.
Gilbertie’s Herb Farm
With aging oil furnaces that needed constant maintenance and an old lighting system owner of Gilbertite's Herb Farm took steps to make his operation more efficient. Gilbertie’s Herb Farm has implemented 2 energy efficiency projects on the farm. The most recent projectupdates are expected to save Gilbertie’s an estimated $7,207 in annual electricity bills, or about 41,184 kilowatt-hours. Additionally, because of furnace upgrades it’s estimated that the farm will see annual natural gas savings of $7,797 or 7,088 Ccf. By converting from oil to natural gas heat, annual fuel bills are expected to drop from $42,968 to $15,680 for an annual savings of $27,280. You can learn more about a recent project they installed with assistance from Energize CT program and United Illuminating by viewing the Case Study.
Lost Acres Vineyard
Installed a 12.4 kW roof mounted solar array in 2016. This system is estimated to offset 80% of the Vineyard’s current electrical usage. Lost Acres in addition to receiving a USDA REAP grant also is receiving an incentive from Eversource through the ZREC program.
Prides Corner Farms
Prides Corner Farms is a family owned regional wholesale plant grow for over 30+ years. The farm installed a 240 kW roof mounted solar array on their new greenhouse tops. The system consists of 735 SunPower panels and 18 inverters that will offset 100% of two of the farm's meters and 25% of their overall farm electrical usage
Oakridge Dairy is a 5thgeneration farm located in Ellington, CT. The farm with assistance from the CT Farm Energy Program received a USDA Rural Development REAP grant to install a rooftop solar array on their dairy barn. The goal was to reduce energy costs associated with the farm that include manure pumps, milk pumps, water pumps, fans and lighting all which use a lot of electricity. The project has an added financial benefit to the farm since they were able to secure a ZREC contract with their utility company. Oakridge installed a 245kW solar pv system consisting of 752 panels equivalent to powering approximately 45 homes annually.
Paley's Farm Market & Garden Center
Paley’s Farm Market is a family run operation in Sharon, CT with 5 growing greenhouses and 1 retail greenhouse with produce grown on 22 acres right at the farm. The majority of energy use on the farm is electrical for keeping produce refrigerated, and farm store use. Paley’s installed a 36 kW ground mounted system that has 3 arrays and 144 panels offsetting 94% of their annual electric usage.
Shagbark Lumber & Farm Supply
With C-PACE financing of $485,000, Shagbark Lumber & Farm Supply installed a 157 kW solar photovoltaic system. The upgrade is expected to save $68,620 annually in net operating costs (after payment of the C-PACE charge) and $1,215,205 over the financing term, allowing Shagbark to efficiently and sustainably serve its customers for years to come. In addition, Shagbark secured a ZREC contract with Eversource.
White Flower Farm
As part of a sustainable operation White Flower Farm has implemented 2 energy efficiency projects at the farm and distribution center. The farm also recently installed a 325kW ground mounted solar array at the farm to offset 80% of their annual electrical usage.