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Agriculture Sector



BPA and northwest public utilities recognize that energy efficiency is the premier low-cost source of new energy, and work together to bring energy savings to the agriculture industry. By saving energy, farmers may be able to reduce costs, increase irrigation uniformity, decrease the amount of water and fertilizer required and, according to one study, even increase yield.

BPA sponsors incentives that enable northwest public electric utilities to offer services and financial reimbursements to farmers for energy efficiency measures. Below are a few of the agriculture sector priorities.

For technical information related to irrigation, wineries and dairies, visit the BPA Agricultural Resources page.

Scientific Irrigation Scheduling (Also known as Irrigation Water Management)
Scientific irrigation scheduling is a process growers of agricultural products can use to improve irrigation water management. When used properly, scientific irrigation scheduling provides information on when to irrigate, how much water to apply, and how to apply water to satisfy crop water requirements and avoid plant moisture stress. When used appropriately, irrigation scheduling saves water, energy, labor, and fertilizer, and in many cases improves crop yields and crop quality.

BPA offers utilities one option for irrigation management: Scientific Irrigation Scheduling (SIS). Under the SIS, participation applies to agricultural systems for which there is a pumping capacity beyond what is needed to meet normal crop irrigation needs.

BPA is also collaborating in the development of an Irrigation Management Online planning tool (IMO). This web-based tool will provide a utility, irrigation district, extension agent or farmer/irrigator the ability to plan and apply the optimal amount of water on particular crop to maximize yield and quality while reducing the amount of water and energy used.

Variable Frequency Drives
Variable Frequency Drives (VFDs) can control the start up and operational characteristics of a motor or pump/motor combination and are proven to substantially reduce energy use. In an effort to streamline the custom proposal process, BPA recently simplified installation of VFDs in spud and onion sheds. This effort removes the requirement for measurement and verification. BPA also has rebates for turbine pumping applications

Irrigation Pump Testing and System Analysis
BPA offers irrigation and pump testing and systems analysis. The purpose of pump testing is to identify ways to improve irrigation system efficiency and performance.

The irrigation pump must be electrically powered, 20 hp or greater and must not have been tested through BPA-sponsored pump testing services within the past five years. The irrigation pump must have been in operation for the two previous years.

The irrigation pump test must be performed by an individual possessing pump testing knowledge and experience.

Customers and qualified vendors must use the BPA Screening Tool in EE Central to limit the amount of dry holes (i.e., pump tests that do not result in a BPA-approved custom project).

Dairies
For several years, BPA has worked with regional dairy producers to improve the energy use on their farms. BPA supports utilities through measures that include barn and area lighting, flat plate chiller improvements, and variable frequency drive applications.

Wineries
With nearly 1,000 wineries and vineyards in the Pacific Northwest, wineries are the fastest growing segment within the agriculture community. Energy saving enhancements such as lighting upgrades, HVAC, pipe insulation, compressed air, VFDs and refrigeration are all eligible opportunities for BPA incentives. Learn more about winery incentives.


1. The test is the process to measure various aspects of the pump’s operation including pumping lift, discharge pressure, power input, and water flow. The results of the pump test estimate the overall efficiency of the pumping plant under the test conditions.
2.Pump tests performed by BPA engineers do not qualify for reimbursement.


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