Workshops will focus on reducing costs through conservation
By SEAN ELLIS
BOISE -- Farmers and ranchers can learn about ways to reduce their costs during a rural energy conference designed to connect Western farmers with clean energy industries.
The goal of the 11th annual Harvesting Clean Energy Conference is to advance rural economic development while helping farmers save money.
The conference, which will be Oct. 23-25 at the Boise Center, will present farmers and ranchers with a host of ideas for reducing energy costs and improving the profitability of their operations.
Industry experts, researchers, scientists and farmers and ranchers will present the latest information on dairy digesters, wind, solar, biodiesel, geothermal, biomass, small hydro, energy efficiency and waste-to-energy projects.
During a series of workshops, experts will provide specific details about successful projects and offer practical suggestions on how others can adopt these technologies.
The conference will include clean-energy tours that provide an up-close look at successful projects and feature discussions with the people who created them.
"It is the preeminent conference in the Pacific Northwest for agriculture and clean energy people to come together to look at (these types of) opportunities," Clark Gilman, an event organizer, said.
The conference will focus on projects and technologies that have already proven themselves and outline the practical steps necessary to start a clean energy project, including financing, technical expertise and partners that can help.
"I think it's an excellent chance for dairymen and other producers to find out how they can reduce their ... costs through clean energy projects," said Idaho Dairymen's Association Executive Director Bob Naerebout, who will moderate a discussion about how dairies have slashed their energy costs.
"There's a huge amount of interest in clean energy projects," he said. "I think a lot of ideas on how to (reduce) energy costs will be generated during the conference."
For the first time, the conference will present farm energy innovator of the year awards to producers in Idaho, Oregon, Washington and Montana who have developed integrated energy strategies for their operations. The award winners will participate in a panel discussion about complete farm energy strategies.
One of those award recipients, Mike Garner of Heglar Creek Farms near Declo, Idaho, will speak about two solar thermal projects installed at his dairy. The goal of the projects is to cut propane use at a calf raising facility and a dairy by 60 percent.
Garner said the project is designed to pay for itself within five years.
"We're definitely on target for that," he said. "After that, the savings all goes in your pocket. We should have some pretty good savings for a long time."
The conference is open to anyone and people can register up to the day of the event.
Visit www.harvestcleanenergy.org/conference or call (253) 507-8506.