For Immediate Release: March 9, 2011
For further information contact:
Mark Schwantes, Manager of Corporate Services, 970.382.3511 or
Sue Maxwell, Project Specialist, 970.382.7170
LPEA seeking irrigators/water companies interested in reducing
energy usage/costs as part of Rural Energy for America Program
DURANGO, Colo. – La Plata Electric Association (LPEA) is now accepting applications from rural small businesses – primarily irrigators and water companies in La Plata and Archuleta counties – interested in taking an active role in reducing their energy usage and costs. Applications can be downloaded from the cooperative’s web site, www.lpea.coop.
LPEA is the recipient of a $100,000 USDA-Rural Development Grant to assist in financial support of what is known as the “Rural Energy for America Program” designed to promote energy efficiency in small businesses, as well as provide information for renewable energy options. LPEA is providing a $50,000 partial match to the program.
“Once a business applies, LPEA will perform an energy audit of their facility,” said Sue Maxwell, LPEA project specialist overseeing administration of the grant. “The USDA does require that a business contribute $200 toward the audit, but we expect that this will easily be off-set by the dollars saved with energy efficiencies.”
Maxwell explained that the energy audit process includes compilation of historical electrical usage data to establish a baseline, and enable LPEA to track reduction in consumption going forward. Energy monitoring equipment will be installed, and LPEA energy management specialists will meet regularly with the facility manager(s) to assess the progress of the program.
“Energy efficiency measures that we will look at include shifting the electrical load to take advantage off-peak hours through our WattWatcher Time-of-Use rate, as well as suggesting ideas for the business to reduce its overall demand for electricity,” said Maxwell. “As appropriate we will also suggest upgrades of motors and pumps to higher efficiency equipment as well as retrofit of facility lighting to save energy.”
LPEA officials estimate that program participants will realize a 5-10 percent reduction in their energy usage, plus a reasonable pay back on any investment they might make in equipment upgrades. Once all energy efficiency measures are taken, and electrical consumption reduced, LPEA will provide options for installation of renewable generation, which could include micro hydro, solar or wind power.
“We would look to see if such renewable generation was reasonable based on the location of the facility and the ‘power’ of the natural resources available at the site,” said Mark Schwantes, LPEA manager of corporate services. “Some of these rural water companies may be able to install renewable generation to off-set their usage at a given facility. For others, it won’t be feasible. We will weigh all the factors and provide our members with information they need to make a decision.”
The Rural Energy for America Program will continue through December 2012, and rural businesses may apply at any time during the two-year grant period. LPEA anticipates performing some 80 energy audits, with half of those taking next steps toward renewable energy generation. Initial applicants will begin receiving their audits in April 2011.
“The USDA does a great deal to assist economic development and help small businesses,” said Schwantes. “At La Plata Electric we have been increasing our efforts to help our members learn more about energy efficiency through our complimentary assessments, as well as educating and promoting renewable generation options. This grant gives the community much needed funds and allows us to help many more members in a shorter period of time.”
For additional information on the Rural Energy for American Program, contact Sue Maxwell, 970.382.7170 or firstname.lastname@example.org. To receive on-going email notification about the program, visit www.lpea.coop, click on the Email sign-up box and opt in for “USDA Grant for Energy Assessment and Renewables.”
LPEA, a Touchstone Energy Cooperative established in 1939, provides to its more than 30,000 members, with in excess of 40,000 meters, safe, reliable electricity at the lowest reasonable cost, while being environmentally responsible. For additional information, visit www.lpea.coop.