Massachusetts announces $1 million expansion for AgEnergy grants

By Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs | April 03, 2015

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker recently announced that Massachusetts farmers will soon be able to apply to the expanded Department of Agricultural Resources' AgEnergy Grant Program, thanks to new funding from the Department of Energy Resources. As a result of the efforts of Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Matt Beaton, DOER Acting Commissioner Dan Burgess and MDAR Commissioner John Lebeaux, DOER will provide $1 million to support a two year expansion of the existing AgEnergy Grant Program.

“A vibrant agricultural community in Massachusetts is essential to building healthy communities and a stronger economy across the Commonwealth,” Baker said. “As we celebrate the impact agriculture brings to our economy and history today, the expansion of the AgEnergy Grants will help our Commonwealth’s farmers address their energy needs and increase their future opportunities for competitiveness in the global marketplace.”

Baker was joined by Beaton, Burgess and Lebeaux for the announcement at a State House celebration proclaiming March 31, 2015 as Massachusetts Agricultural Day, where the Massachusetts Farm Bureau Federation was also recognized with a citation from the governor for 100 years of service.

“The AgEnergy Grant Program is an important part of keeping Massachusetts farms operational and competitive, while ensuring safe, long-term local food production,” Beaton said. “This program is beneficial both economically and environmentally, and will help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions across the Commonwealth.”

The AgEnergy program is an annual competitive program for Massachusetts agricultural operations seeking funds to build energy projects to improve energy efficiency and facilitate adoption of alternative clean energy technologies. By implementing these projects, agricultural operations can become more sustainable and the Commonwealth can maximize the environmental and economic benefits from these technologies.

"Supporting local agricultural operations through clean energy investments and equipment upgrades is beneficial for the Commonwealth’s farmers, local consumers, and our clean energy industry," Burgess said.

Since its inception in 2009, the AgEnergy Program has helped 156 farms build a variety of energy efficiency and renewable energy projects, providing funding of over $2.2 million d toward $12.3 million of total project construction costs, achieving over $900,000 in either annual energy savings or energy generation.

Projects have included installations of variable speed drive vacuum pumps and heat recovery for dairy operations; thermal curtains, biomass boilers and high efficiency heaters for greenhouses; cold storage and high efficiency refrigeration for vegetable farms and orchards; high efficiency arches, heat recovery and reverse osmosis equipment for maple syrup operations; anaerobic digesters; and a variety of photovoltaic projects for all farming sectors.

"These new funds will provide a tremendous boost toward strengthening MDAR’s resources and our ability to serve the Massachusetts' farm community in its own efforts to become more sustainable in their energy use and choice," Lebeaux said.

MDAR’s current funding, with DOER’s partnership, will provide the AgEnergy Grant Program with the ability to increase the number and amount of grants while providing additional funding for special targeted activities with typically higher costs and higher energy savings impact.

These opportunities will be identified in coordination with DOER. DOER funding for this program comes from Alternative Compliance Payments paid by electric retail suppliers if they have insufficient Renewable or Alternative Energy Certificates to meet their compliance obligations under the Renewable or Alternative Energy Portfolio Standards programs.