PEI announces details for on-farm renewable energy programs
April 6, 2010, Cornwall, P.E.I. - The Governments of Prince Edward Island and Canada today announced details of two new programs to help farmers reduce energy costs and generate new income opportunities through renewable fuels. The announcement was made during a farm energy conference in Cornwall organized by the Federation of Agriculture.
In January, the federal and provincial governments announced an investment of $9.9 million under the Agricultural Flexibility fund for two initiatives. Under the Renewable Energy Initiative, funding will be provided for energy audits and the installation of agriculture-based renewable energy sources and equipment. The BioEconomy crop initiative will evaluate the economic and environmental benefits of crops such as fall rye, perennial grasses and hybrid willows. The initiatives are part of the provincial government’s Rural Action Plan which aims to increase the competitiveness of the agriculture industry and demonstrate the potential for agriculture-based renewable energy.
Agriculture Minister George Webster, in cooperation with the Office of Energy Efficiency, announced that the department will begin receiving applications on April 1.
“With energy costs representing such a major concern for our most important industry, it made sense to create a renewable energy initiative tailored to agriculture,” said Mr. Webster. “This is a win-win situation for producers, helping to deal with high energy costs while opening up new market opportunities.”
“I’m pleased to see these programs up and running,” said federal Fisheries and Oceans Minister Gail Shea on behalf of Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz. “These programs supported by Canada’s Economic Action Plan will boost our economic recovery by helping farmers find new markets, adapt to current economic challenges and make their businesses more energy sufficient and environmentally sustainable.”
The Renewable Energy initiative will entail a three-step process. The completion of an on-farm energy audit will determine where energy costs are incurred and identify possible efficiencies as well as opportunities for alternative systems, whether solar, biogas, wind or biomass. Funding of up to $1,500 per audit is available. During the second phase, producers are eligible for funding of up to $50,000 for the purchase and installation of renewable energy systems. A post-installation audit, funded by the initiative, will measure the impact on energy consumption and the environment.
Under the BioEconomy Crop initiative, producers and farm organizations are eligible for funding from 50 to 100 percent of eligible project costs to evaluate the environmental, economic and energy potential of biomass crops. Funding will also be available to assist with the development of novel crops and products.
“These initiatives benefit all Islanders by reducing the environmental impact of some of our activities and by reducing the outflow of dollars to purchase fossil fuels,” said Mr. Webster.
Application forms for both initiatives will be available from the department on April 1 by calling 1-866-PEI-FARM.
The Agriculture Flexibility fund, part of Canada’s Economic Action Plan, is aimed at improving the profitability of producers and improve their economic sustainability. It is cost-shared 60:40 between the federal and provincial governments.