Utica, NY (WIBX) - NYSERDA is announcing another energy cost savings program for farmers. President and CEO Francis J. Murray said the company is making available $3.2 million for the new energy efficiency program targeted specifically to the agricultural sector. He said the first step of the program is to conduct an energy audit to identify opportunities where the operations of the farm could be altered to reduce its energy cost.

He said, "Once that audit is completed then there's a second part of the program, which is financing to help cover the cost of installing some of the technology devices that have been identified in the energy audit. And in that case we will pick up, up to 75% of the cost of those devices." He said the funding cap is set at $250,000 per farm.

Murray said the program will cover devices such as lighting, ventilations, motors and other agricultural processes that are employed in farming. However, he said the program is being implemented on a first come first served basis. He said signing up for the program is a simple one that requires applicants to fill out a 1 page application. "I'm really excited about it. I think there's some real opportunities to reduce energy costs for the farm community and help them reduce their cost of doing business. It's a tough life as a farmer and if we can find ways of making it just a little bit easier so that these farms can remain in productive use that's something we would be very pleased with."

Murray said the funding for the new Energy Efficiency Program for Agriculture comes from a charge on National Grid energy bills. He said, "This is not NYSERDA's money--it's your money and you should take this opportunity to put it to good use to help reduce the cost of doing business, to reduce the cost of your electric bill in your home." The money that goes towards funding these energy savings programs is listed on customers energy bill as the Energy Efficiency Portfolio Standard charge.

A few years ago, the Public Service Commissioner adopted a policy that aimed to reduce electric use in New York State by 15% from projected demand level by the year 2015. And in order to do so, the Commission assessed a small surcharge in electric and gas bills called the Energy Efficiency Portfolio Standard Program, (EEPF). Murray said those funds are then distributed to NYSERDA and to the State's Electric and Gas Utilities to implement a wide range of energy efficiency program. "In NYSERDA's case much of that was used to expand the existing energy efficiency programs that we already have in place. But as part of that we carved out specifically $3.2 million with the Commissions approval, to target needs in the agricultural sector," Murray said.

According to Murray the new energy efficiency program is projected to complete between 300 and 350 projects throughout the state. To sign up and fill out the 1 page application, farmers can call NYSERDA at (800) 732-1399 or visit the group's website at www.nyserda.org. He said some of the savings reported are up to 75% for some farmers, and added that although the program is in its first annual stage, it will continue in years to come.

Murray announced the new energy efficiency program in Liverpool yesterday. He was joined by Lieutenant Governor Robert Duffy, NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets Commissioner Patrick Hooker, Dean Norton, President of the NYS Farm Bureau, and Mike Haycook, President of the New York State Agricultural Society.