Cost-share program to enhance energy efficiency a ‘bright idea’

By Katie Gibb for the Ontario Soil & Crop Improvement Association
Glenn and Deb Harrison, who run a broiler chicken operation outside of Uxbridge, are pleased to talk about how recent changes to the lighting used in their barns has resulted in many benefits apart from energy savings alone. Last year, the couple participated in a cost-share program called Farming Power, which provided farm businesses with funding to improve on-farm energy efficiency in the Greenbelt.

Before applying to the program Glenn took his time and did his research carefully to find the bulbs with the best fit for his two barns. He tested about fifteen different types of Light Emitting Diode (LED) lamps, and states that there were four reasons he went to LED rather than compact fluorescent lamps.

First and foremost, he says, was the electricity savings. The LED lamps are expected to save approximately 119,246 kWh or $19,000 per year at $0.16/kWh. Apart from the energy savings and economic benefit, the LED lamps last longer than fluorescent lamps: 15,000 hours for a compact fluorescent versus 25,000 for LED lamps. “Changing the lamps is just one less job I will have to do,” he adds.

In addition, Glenn points out that the LED bulb is self-contained, meaning he will not have to remove them when he washes down the barn, making cleaning easier. And, while compact florescent lamps lose their brightness over time, the new LED lamps do not.
“When I was considering making the switch to LED lamps the benefits were just too obvious,” he remarks. “So I jumped in and made the plunge.”

Since transitioning to broiler chickens in 2002, Glenn and Deb have been looking for ways to optimize production and their bottom line. They have installed solar walls on both barns to pre-heat the incoming fresh air and, since lighting is one of the biggest energy users of all, he and Deb see this Farming Power project as a very bright idea.

Glenn reflects how he found applying for the Farming Power program through the Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association to be straightforward and simple. As stated previously, his electrician was involved in the application process to verify the amount of energy savings the new lamps would provide.

The pair is quite satisfied with the results as well and sees the benefits the lights will have for the farm’s bottom line. Knowing Glenn, Deb smiles when she says that she expects he will continue to explore and research other energy saving projects in the future.

Overall, the lighting project implemented by the Harrisons will result in an expected 91% reduction in energy consumption of on-farm lighting, the highest amount of energy savings of all the projects completed under the Farming Power program. The Greenbelt Foundation is pleased to present the Harrison’s with a $2,000 prize to applaud them for their efforts as one of the top energy saving farms within the program.

“Greenbelt farmers, like the Harrisons, are on the cutting edge when it comes to innovations that help protect the environment and help grow their business,” said Burkhard Mausberg, CEO of the Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation. “By partnering with the OSCIA, we are providing the solution to keeping our environment healthy, while also supporting substantial, long-term economic benefits for farmers.”

The Farming Power program provided cost-share opportunities for farm businesses in the Greenbelt to implement select Best Management Practices focused on lighting, refrigeration, cooling and heating upgrades to increase energy efficiency within agricultural operations. The program was funded by the Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation and delivered though the Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association in the 2013 cropping season.

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