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Farm Bureau Energy Program Can Help With Significant Savings
Ohio Ag Connection - 12/07/2023

Community Energy Advisors and Viridi, the trusted partners of Ohio Farm Bureau’s Energy Program, can help members with more than savings on utility bills.

Kevin S. Lauterjung, president and co-founder of Viridi, recently spoke to members in Hancock County about energy efficiency and renewable energy incentives also available to them.

“The Inflation Reduction Act has many incentives for energy efficiency efforts,” Lauterjung said. There are tax credits available on solar installations and electric vehicle charging stations for commercial and residential properties. There is also a direct payment in lieu of the tax credit for non-tax paying entities.

The USDA’s Rural Energy For America Program (aka REAP) also has grants for renewable energy systems and energy efficiency projects, such as upgrades of motors and HVAC systems, worth up to 50% of the project cost. Applications for these grants can be taken care of for members through the Farm Bureau Energy Program and the results can add up to real savings.

Lauterjung gave an example of a client who will invest in a $2 million solar energy installation and in the end only pay about $200,000 after the REAP grant and tax benefits. The project reduces the facility’s electric bills by $90,000 per year. So the solar project will pay off within about one year, and then the client will continue to save the $90,000 per year in electric bills for the remaining 25 or more years of the solar project’s life.

Getting started with the Energy Program is simple and an easy first step is to share your current electric and gas bill for a free analysis. Beyond understanding available grants and incentives, one of the benefits of a utility bill review is signing up with the Energy Program for an energy supply contract where the program partner CEA keeps track of when it is time to review and renew that contract. 

“CEA maintains the renewal timeline for the customer and knows what steps to take when the contract ends,” he said, noting that members also can combine commercial and home meters to see what savings may be realized by doing so. 

According to Lauterjung, when an energy supply contract ends, the contract rolls over to a month-to-month rate and then all bets are off on what rate will be charged.  “The customer has no control over the rate that can be charged once that happens, making it critical to manage your contract expiration date,”  he said.

Ed and Connie Sander, members in Ottawa County, are First Energy customers who own farmland east of Toledo. They started their farm in 1990 and assumed when they retired they would farm their 150 or so acres and that would be it. Since retirement, their business has grown to 3,300 acres with a whole host of utility needs. 


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