91.7 Ann Arbor/Detroit 104.1 Grand Rapids 91.3 Port Huron 89.7 Lansing 91.1 Flint
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

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

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.

Tracy Samilton covers energy and transportation, including the auto industry and the business response to climate change for Michigan Public. She began her career at Michigan Public as an intern, where she was promptly “bitten by the radio bug,” and never recovered.