Farm Audit Options and Scope
A number of different types of agricultural energy audits are available to producers. Audits can be conducted with vastly different scopes—ranging from a narrow focus on one type of equipment such as irrigation pumps, to an in-depth analysis of all energy uses—both at a producer’s facilities and in the field. Audits do not typically look at the potential for renewable energy development, but this service might be provided by some auditors upon request.
Another difference between the various types of audits is that some auditors will only conduct an analysis via a telephone conversation with the producer and not visit the site. Using utility bills provided by the producer (one year’s worth is typical) and site maps, these auditors are able to make recommendations to increase the efficiency of the operation. Other auditors employ ‘data collectors’ that visit the site, collect information about the different kinds of equipment found at the site such as tractor horsepower and lighting types, and relay that data back to the auditor who then makes recommendations. Still other auditors will visit the site themselves in order to talk with the producers and assess the energy using equipment firsthand.
The end result is that audits can provide agricultural producers with varying levels of confidence when considering which recommendations to implement. In-person audits conducted by professionals in the field that go on to conduct in-depth engineering and financial analyses could be considered ‘investment-grade’ in that the payback periods associated with the recommendations are reliable enough to be acted upon. Telephone audits or quick walkthrough assessments may not give producers enough information or confidence to invest in the recommendations.
The different scopes of audits and techniques for conducting them all come with different price tags. Utility company-provided walk-through assessments are sometimes provided free of charge; investment-grade audits covering all aspects of an operation may cost thousands of dollars (before incentives). Each type of audit has its own set of benefits as well. Aside from giving producers some degree of confidence in making potentially expensive energy investments, it is also important to consider whether the audit will qualify the operator for further funding.
In Colorado, free, investment-grade energy audits are provided through the Colorado Energy Office’s Agricultural Energy Efficiency (AGEE) Program. This program also helps participants take advantage of federal funds designated for energy improvements after their audits are completed.Last updated: September 10, 2017 at 13:46 pm