Idaho Power offers incentives for irrigation efficiency

Idaho Power is offering incentives to ag land irrigators in its Irrigation Efficiency Rewards program. One option pays a portion of the cost of repairs and replacements to improve system efficiencies and the other option pays irrigators to retrofit their existing pressurized irrigation system or replace gravity irrigation systems with a new system.
Carol Ryan Dumas

Capital Press

Published on February 28, 2014 11:32AM

Last changed on February 28, 2014 12:07PM

SHOSHONE, Idaho — Idaho Power’s Irrigation Efficiency Rewards program offers two incentive options for its ag irrigator customers to make improvements to their irrigation systems.

The company is looking for energy efficiency, and the program offers a way for irrigators to lower their power bill, said Gerald Orthel, Idaho Power regional ag representative, during a water efficiency workshop in Shoshone on Monday, Feb. 24

The Custom Incentive option pays irrigators an incentive based on an estimated annual reduction in energy use from extensive retrofits to an existing pressure-irrigated system or installation of a new system for gravity irrigated ground or a soft conversion.

The Menu Incentive option is designed to cover a portion of the costs of repairing or replacing any of 11 specific components of a system, including: nozzles; flow control nozzles; impacts; levelers; drains, riser caps and gaskets; wheel line hubs; goosenecks with drop tubes; press and weld pipe; and pivot base boot gaskets.

Improvements through either program can save water and power costs, Orthel said.

The power cost to pump a gallon per minute of water through a pivot is $5.74 for the typical 2,000 hours of operation over the irrigation season. Saving 100 gallons per minute of wasted water could save an irrigator about $600 a season in power costs, he said.

That type of water loss is common with pivots more than 5 years old, predominantly due to the regulator, which loses the ability to control water pressure. Hand and wheel lines, with four lines could easily lose 100 gallons per minute through leaky gaskets, he said.

End guns are another area of water loss and generally show little production. At a power cost of $30 an acre higher than the pivot acres, end guns are only 60 percent to 65 percent efficient, due to drifting, evaporation and irrigation of non-targeted ground.

An irrigator could get more water on his crop and save $600 a season by eliminating the end gun, Orthel said.

Decreasing pressure in the system could also save costs. The power cost each pound per square inch of pressure is $77.42 over the 2,000 hour irrigation season. Lowering pressure by 5 PSI would save $400 a season, he said.

“For every one (system) under pressure, I find 50 to 100 over pressure,” he said.

Irrigators could trim the impeller in their pump at the pumping station to reduce pressure inexpensively and get that money back relatively quickly and lower their power costs, he said.

They could also make major changes, such as switching from hand and wheel lines – which require higher pressure – to pivots. But they also need to change the pump at the pumping station to realize a power savings. That would reduce pressure by 20 PSI to 30 PSI, saving $1,500 to $2,000 a pivot, he said.

With the Custom Incentive option, irrigators making improvements to existing systems will be paid $0.25 per annual kilowatt hour saved or $450 per kilowatt saved. Idaho Power will pay the higher of those two amounts but will never pay more than 75 percent of the project cost – which happens very seldom, Orthel said.

Irrigators installing new systems will be paid $0.25 per kilowatt hour saved, not to exceed 10 percent of the project cost. The incentive is based on a system Idaho Power determines to be more efficient than standard.

To participate in the Custom Incentive, irrigators must contact their Idaho Power representative and submit an application for approval before initiating the project. They must also submit supporting documentation, including an itemized bid from the supplier for the project, an irrigation system drawing, the pump curve (showing the flow rate delivered at a given resistance), a topographical map of the system area, and an aerial map of the irrigated acres.

To participate in the Menu Incentive, irrigators need to fill out an application and submit it along with invoices for any parts they’ve purchased and replaced within one year of the purchase. Reimbursement for items in the Menu Incentive option is limited to two per acre or 50 percent of the invoice cost.



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