Boston, Massachusetts [RenewableEnergyAccess.com] Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs Ian Bowles recently announced a Massachusetts Farm Energy Program that will provide Bay State farmers with energy audits and offer incentives for on-farm conservation and renewable energy projects across the Commonwealth.
Funded through the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources’ (DAR) Agriculture Innovation Center and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service, the new program is expected to jumpstart energy efficiency measures at 100 Massachusetts farms initially.
DAR awarded a $250,000 grant to Berkshire-Pioneer Resource Conservation and Development Area, Inc. of Amherst to develop and implement the program. The DAR grant will be used in conjunction with $150,000 in USDA Conservation Innovation Grants recently awarded to two non-profit organizations, Berkshire-Pioneer and Westford-based Patriot Resource Conservation and Development Area Council, Inc.
“From cranberry growers on the Cape to dairy farmers in the Berkshires, farmers across the state are contending with escalating energy costs,” said acting DAR Commissioner Scott Soares. “The potential to reduce those costs will help improve farm viability and—where on-site renewable energy generation can be used—provide long-term energy sustainability.”
Under the two-year program, the Berkshire-Pioneer and Patriot Resource Conservation and Development Area councils will collaborate with both DAR and USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, the utility industry and other organizations interested in supporting farm energy projects. The program’s initial goal is to provide on-farm energy audits and renewable energy assessments, and then work with farmers to implement conservation and renewable energy recommendations.
“The new Massachusetts Farm Energy Program will pursue two key goals of the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs—strengthening the financial condition of Massachusetts farms and boosting clean power and energy efficiency in all sectors of the economy,” Secretary Bowles said.
By encouraging energy conservation and greater use of renewable energy sources, the Massachusetts Farm Energy Program represents another EOEEA initiative aimed at decreasing overall greenhouse gas emissions, as well as reducing air and water pollution. In the coming months, DAR will work closely with its federal partners and the Berkshire-Pioneer and Patriot Resource Conservation and Development Area councils to launch the new program.