Solar Energy Adoption helps Indiana Farms Cut Electric Costs and Gain Independence with Clean Power
For many farms in Indiana, electricity is one of the largest fixed-costs and one of the most difficult expense to control. Annually, utility electric rates increase by an average of 3%, while on-farm electric consumption usually increases as well. Farm expansion, increased production, new facilities and machinery all work to increase farms electric costs. These factors leave Indiana farmers with few options to mitigate this cost, because electricity is a business necessity, and most Indiana utilities and rural electric CO-OPs operate as monopolies in their respective district without alternative competitive options.
On-farm solar power is an energy solution option that Indiana farmers may want to consider closely. Solar installation costs have dropped significantly in the past few years and now farm projects are producing some compelling economics. The average solar installation for a Midwestern farm payback period is now at 7 years. This economic metric alone is attractive, due to the fact that the power production lifespan of a typical solar array is 30 years. The second most important metric in the solar agriculture calculus is the levelized-cost-of-energy (LCOE). This metric is the cost of electricity, after the implementation of solar, calculated over the life of the solar array. This is a number that factors in the cost of the solar system, along with the avoided utility cost of power that a system owner would have otherwise paid, and demonstrates an energy rate over the life of the system. Many times the LCOE is less than half of the cost of doing nothing.
Another item for Indiana farmers to consider while weighing the benefits of switching to solar is the USDA's Rural Energy for America Program, also known as a REAP grant. This is a merit based grant which is scored by the USDA's system that considers many factors in the solar project, such as type of farm grant applicant, solar project feasibility, energy offset, financing and total solar project economics. If the REAP application is strong and the project numbers are favorable, it increases the chances of being awarded. The maximum REAP grant for a Indiana solar project is a 25% reimbursement of the project cost. If awarded, this makes the implementation of solar for the farm very compelling.
Lastly, the solar Investment Tax Credit (I.T.C.) is an important considerations for the farmer to consider before making the decision to implement solar. The ITC is the federal 30% business tax credit for adoption. This is the IRS solar incentive that credits back to a business up to 30% of the cost of the solar project in a dollar per dollar credit against a federal tax obligation the business would have paid otherwise. This means that in order to make use of this tax credit, the business would have to have a tax appetite. The credit can be retroactive for the previous tax year or spread out over future tax years in order for businesses to claim the full 30% credit. 2019 is the last tax year for the full ITC, and the credit amount drops incrementally over the next few years until it drops to 10%. at which time it will remain at that percentage indefinitely.
Emergent Solar Completes 155kW Indiana Farm Solar Project
Emergent Solar Energy just completed a solar project for a large hog operation in northern Indiana. The project was a 155kW system that offset near 80% of the farm's electric consumption. The project was award a USDA REAP grant and the farm utilized a term loan at a favorable interest rate from their AG lender, which helped the project cash flow and greatly improved the project economics. The CAFO farm had a very high monthly electric cost due to the hog barns exhaust fans which made the electric load steady and without spikes. Since the local utility allows for a net-metering agreement, not yet reaching the Indiana renewable energy cap, the farm was able to maximize the net-metering program at the retail rate. This means that the farm gets credit for the energy it pushes back over the meter at the same rate the utility charges it for power pulled off the grid.
These factors made going solar an easy choice for this farm and most farms in Indiana with high electric costs, can utilize solar in the same manner to save money, gain independence from their utility or CO-OP, and power their farm with clean energy for decades to come. Confined Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) such as hog, poultry, dairy farmers, are great candidates for solar energy. Other farms such as growers of corn and soy beans, can utilize solar to power their grain storage bins, shops and out-buildings. Agribusinesses such as feed mills, seed processors and cold storage can enjoy the financial benefits and independence of producing their own clean power with solar energy in a similar manner as farm producers.
You can lean more about our latest Indiana agricultural solar project by clicking on the links below:
Emergent Solar Energy is proud to announce that our work has been featured in several nationally respected news sources, including PV Magazine, Solar Professional Magazine, PHYS.ORG, National Hog Farmer Magazine, and Purdue University Research Foundation news press. Read about our recent Resler Feeder Hog solar project in Mishawaka, Indiana in the linked articles below:
Learn more about our largest Indiana agricultural solar project to date.
Technology from Emergent Solar Energy, based in the Purdue Research Park, is helping to reduce energy costs on a northern Indiana hog farm
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – A Purdue University alumnus is using clean, solar energy to drastically reduce the electric bill for his northern Indiana hog farm with the help of a company based in the Purdue Research Park. (Image provided) Download image
Kraig Resler, an alumnus of Purdue’s College of Agriculture, partnered with Emergent Solar Energy to find ways to reduce energy costs, protect the environment, gain energy independence and invest in the long-term benefits of on-farm solar.
“We are always discussing how to make our 7,000-pig operation more cost-efficient and environmentally friendly,” Resler said. “We are excited that our completed solar array will have a positive impact on the environment and save us money on electricity for years to come.”
The project is one of the state’s largest confined animal feeding operation solar arrays. The solar array is rated at 155 kilowatts DC and will produce more than 200,000 kilowatt-hours of energy per year. This will cover approximately 75 percent of the farm's energy demand and reduce energy costs by the same amount. This equates to a reduction of 3,500 tons of carbon emissions over 25 years.
“This was a challenging site,” said Chris Rohaly, engineering and operations manager of Green Alternatives Inc., an Emergent Solar subcontractor involved with this project. “Space was limited for the desired system size, and the tie-in to the utility feed required a long trench. But we iterated design until we reached the optimum between the farm's goals and site constraints. This system will produce strong results."
This project was awarded a Rural Energy for America Program grant by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which helped reimburse some of the farm’s initial investment. The USDA grant and federal tax incentives, along with net-metering, will produce savings that will defray the costs of the project by more than 65 percent overall.
"This is our largest farm solar project to date, and I couldn’t be more pleased with the result,” said Jeremy Lipinski, managing partner of Emergent. “The project economics and production numbers are quite remarkable, and this will be a great investment for our farm client."
The Reslers are a Boilermaker family. Kraig’s son, Tyler, is also an alumnus of Purdue’s College of Agriculture and works on the family farm, which is in Mishawaka, Indiana, just east of South Bend. Kraig’s two daughters are undergraduate students at Purdue.
Resler worked with Emergent Solar Energy, headquartered at Purdue Research Foundation’s Purdue Research Park of West Lafayette.
The work aligns with Purdue's Giant Leaps celebration, celebrating the university’s global advancements in sustainability as part of Purdue’s 150th anniversary. Sustainability, including through energy conservation, is one of the four themes of the yearlong celebration’s Ideas Festival, designed to showcase Purdue as an intellectual center solving real-world issues.
About Purdue Research Foundation
The Purdue Research Foundation is a private, nonprofit foundation created to advance the mission of Purdue University. Established in 1930, the foundation accepts gifts; administers trusts; funds scholarships and grants; acquires property; protects Purdue's intellectual property; and promotes entrepreneurial activities on behalf of Purdue. The foundation manages the Purdue Foundry, Purdue Office of Technology Commercialization, Purdue Research Park and Purdue Technology Centers. The foundation received the 2016 Innovation and Economic Prosperity Universities Award for Innovation from the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities. For more information about funding and investment opportunities in startups based on a Purdue innovation, contact the Purdue Foundry at email@example.com.
About Emergent Solar Energy
Emergent Solar Energy is one of the leading commercial solar construction firms in the state of Indiana. Headquartered at Purdue Research Park, in West Lafayette, Indiana, the company provides solar solutions to the commercial and industrial, municipal and agricultural sectors across the state of Indiana. Emergent Solar seeks to bring renewable energy to the communities it serves and to help organizations gain energy independence while achieving their sustainability and stewardship goals.
Source: Jeremy Lipinski, 765-753-9155, firstname.lastname@example.org