The Alliance has identified various strategies to overcoming the barriers expressed by agriculture producers when considering energy and water efficiency improvements. The Alliance supports increased utility involvement. Strengthening the relationship between the agriculture producer and the utility helps minimize the time and knowledge barrier that prevents agriculture producers from participating in efficiency programs. Many agriculture producers don’t even know that financial incentives are available to them through their utility. Then, incentive applications can be daunting, presenting yet another program participation barrier. Time constraints limit the amount of research agriculture producers can do to learn about the various technology options available. If a utility representative is able to meet with the agriculture producer, lay out the various options available, and streamline the application process, these activities lower the barrier to program participation.
Greenhouse Growers Sustainability Forum
On November 6, 2013 the California Sustainability Alliance held a forum for the Southern California Gas Company’s (SCG) greenhouse, floriculture and horticulture customers in Santa Barbara, CA. Fourteen participants from twelve growing operations participated at the forum. The half-day forum included a presentation on the science of sustainable soil, three best practices presentations by growers, and break-out discussion sessions.
The primary goal of the forum was to “listen” to the growers to A) determine what is their current level of use and acceptance of energy efficient practices, and B) assess which of their needs are opportunities that SCG could address.
The Alliance report entitled Sustainability Forum for Greenhouse, Floriculture and Horticulture Customers documents the presentations, discussion and general conclusions of the forum. The report documents key recommendations from participants regarding potential improvements to utility programs. These recommendations include:
- Streamline the paper work and reduce the processing time needed to qualify for and receive utility rebates and incentives
- Provide more technical and design information, including pre-engineering support, and increase financial support for advanced energy and water efficiency technologies
- Provide more support to qualify cogeneration and alternative energy projects
- Increase utility support of agriculture customers by increasing account executive support and offering regular grower forums
- Team up pump and irrigation specialists with utility account executives to conduct more audits and field operation reviews
- Provide help to perform financial analysis for energy efficiency projects
Download the full report for more recommendations and additional details.