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Environment & Climate Change

Agribusiness gets access to utilities' energy efficiency programs for first time

kenneth_spencer.jpg
Kenneth Spencer
/
Flickr http://ow.ly/NWGyK

DTE Energy and Consumers Energy have energy efficiency programs for just about everyone.

Individuals can apply for free energy audits that include the installation of energy-saving light bulbs.

Most small businesses can use the programs to offset the cost of installing more efficient lighting systems.  Manufacturers have access to the programs, too.

But until now, agribusiness was left out.

"We're seasonal users of utilities," says Michigan Agribusiness Association President Jim Byrum, noting that grain dryers and grain elevators, for example, are intensive users of natural gas or electricity, but for only part of the year. "So we just didn't fit with some of those other programs."

That's going to change. 

DTE Energy has agreed to design energy efficiency programs specifically for agribusiness. 

The programs may offset the cost of purchasing more energy-efficient motors, for example.

Under the terms of the settlement agreement announced by the MPSC:

In Case No. U-17762, the amended plan includes, for the first time: outreach programs for commercial and industrial customers that would be implemented in 2016 and verified by a third party; and the adoption of efficiency measures for agricultural customers, including the development of a pilot project that would explore the potential for geographically targeted energy efficiency to defer a distribution upgrade and the promotion of the sale of residential heat pump dryers.

Consumers Energy is working on a similar deal.