Powering Michigan Agricultural Conference panel speaker: Geothermal and solar PV systems

Panel member will address utilizing geothermal, solar and energy efficiency technologies to reduce energy dependence at the Powering Michigan Agriculture with Renewable Energy Conference.

20 kW solar photovoltaic system at the Refsal/Marteniuk Farm. Photo credit: Al Go
20 kW solar photovoltaic system at the Refsal/Marteniuk Farm. Photo credit: Al Go

Agriculture is energy intensive. Implementing energy conservation practices and renewable energy technologies recommended by an agricultural certified energy efficiency audit significantly reduces energy consumption and expense. From 2010-2014, Michigan farms that implemented recommended energy conservation practices (231 farms) and renewable energy technologies (122 farms) experienced, on average, a 43 and 74 percent reduction in energy expenses respectively. Michigan farmers have a unique opportunity at the Powering Michigan Agriculture with Renewable Energy Conference to learn how one farm is using geothermal and solar technologies to become less dependent on energy and sell electricity to the grid.

In order to become as energy independent as possible, Refsal/Marteniuk Farm owner Judy Marteniuk invested in a number of energy-efficient projects. By 2010, the entire farm had geothermal heating. Four years later, the farm completed an energy audit through the Michigan Farm Energy Program. In 2014 the farm was awarded an $18,538 USDA Rural Development Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) grant to purchase a 20 kW solar photovoltaic system. Annually, the farm is saving nearly $4,000 in heating and cooling and more than $2,000 in electricity costs.

The Refsal/Marteniuk Farm was chosen to participate in Consumers Energy’s Experimental Advanced Renewable Program (EARP). The farm entered into a long-term offer agreement to sell electricity from their solar photovoltaic system to Consumers Energy at a fixed rate. The farm was also a finalist for the 2015 Governor’s Energy Excellence Award in the Agricultural category.

The Refsal/Marteniuk Farm is one of four farms participating in the panel discussion of on-farm applications of energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies at the Powering Michigan Agriculture with Renewable Energy Conference. Judy will share her experience with the farm’s geothermal and solar systems during the panel discussion. There will be a variety of other sessions at the conference to help farmers learn about implementing renewable energy technologies on their farm.

The conference will be held Thursday, March 10 at the Kellogg Hotel and Conference Center in East Lansing, Mich. This daylong program will begin at 8:30 a.m. and conclude at 4 p.m. The $35 registration fee for the conference includes lunch. Preregistration is preferred. Online registration closes March 6. More details about this conference and registration can be found online.

Questions about the conference can be directed to Charles Gould at gouldm@msu.edu or 616-994-4547 or Al Go at goaluel@egr.msu.edu or 517-214-6128.

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