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OSU studies farm energy loads to help manage peak demand and control costs

DW Keefer's picture
Journalist Independent Journalist and Analyst

DW Keefer is a Denver-based energy journalist who writes extensively for national and international publications on all forms of electric power generation, utility regulation, business models...

  • Member since 2017
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  • Apr 8, 2021
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As agricultural systems have become more sophisticated and automated, the electrical demands of many farms have increased. With their increased electrical usage, many farms are now on a commercial rate structure that are also charged for the highest peak demand usage spike. 

Ohio State University Extension is collecting energy usage data for individual motor loads across six swine and dairy facilities that are experiencing high energy demand costs.  To collect the data, researchers installed multifunction energy meters capable of recording energy usage for up to 24 critical loads on the farm. Collecting granular electric usage data means that energy consumption trends, peak demand, and power factor for each measured circuit can be analyzed.  

Preliminary results indicate:        

  • Many farmers are aware they are on a demand rate, however do not fully understand how their demand charges are calculated.
  • Targeted motor loads can be shifted to perform work during non-peak times to reduce demand charges.
  • Energy management strategies will likely include conservation, energy efficiency, load shifting, and on-site generation.  
  • Specific details of the farms rate tariff such as demand ratchets and power factor correction formulas will influence the economic payback of possible solutions.

Next steps include developing energy management strategies to reduce peak demand costs and share project findings and recommendations through OSU Extension outreach and education programs.  Plans also call for a multi-state effort to address additional agricultural sectors such as poultry, grain handling, irrigation, and greenhouses.

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