The Baker-Polito administration has awarded 38 grants totaling $908,259 to Massachusetts farmers to implement renewable energy systems and improve energy efficiency on farms. According to a press release, the farms receiving funding are projected to save over $200,000 annually and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by over 660 tons each year. The grants are funded through the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources’ Agricultural Energy Grant Program (AgEnergy) in partnership with the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources.
“Massachusetts continues to lead the nation in clean energy, and these grants will provide our farmers with the opportunity to continue adopting clean energy technologies,” says Gov. Charlie Baker, R-Mass. “Their ensuing savings from the clean energy projects can easily be reinvested into farms across the commonwealth and eventually lead to even better products for consumers.”
According to the release, the grants are part of two agricultural energy programs, namely Traditional and Special Projects. Traditional projects focus on conventional energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies. Special Projects focus on technologies that typically require higher capital cost but could potentially yield greater savings and/or positive agricultural impacts in an effort to improve the farm’s energy efficiency and to facilitate adoption of less conventional, alternative clean energy technology applications.
“By working together across agencies, these grants contribute to the Baker-Polito administration’s commitment to protecting our commonwealth’s natural resources and supporting our clean, renewable energy,” says Massachusetts Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Matthew Beaton. “The clean energy technologies funded by these grants will help Massachusetts meet our ambitious Global Warming Solutions Act emissions reductions target and create a clean, sustainable environment for our farmers.”
This year’s AgEnergy Program will fund 29 Traditional Projects: a combination of energy efficiency and renewable energy projects including over 20 roof- and ground-mounted solar photovoltaic systems for a variety of farm sector operations, including vegetable and fruit, cow dairy cheese-making, vegetable and horticultural, year-round greenhouses, cut flowers, livestock, aquaculture, malting, and vineyard operations.
The Special Projects portion of the program, now in its second year, will fund nine projects, including for the first time, two co-location solar PV projects. The release explains this technology emphasizes optimization of both farm land use for crops, grazing, etc., and energy generation, whereby solar PV panels are mounted high and spread apart enough to allow for adequate sunlight penetration for continuous crop production and human labor and farm equipment usage beneath the panels. One project will be for a vegetable farm operation; the other, a creative use of co-location to support a fresh water raceway and tank production aquaculture system. Other Special Projects include zero net energy structures and centralized walk-in coolers/freezers.
For a full list of the winning projects and additional details, check out the announcement here.