EERE Success Story—Colorado Dairy Industry Boosts Energy Efficiency

December 21, 2015

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Historically, the U.S. dairy industry has been one of the most energy-intensive forms of agriculture. Colorado is at the forefront of the fight to increase energy efficiency in this sector.

In 2014, the Colorado Energy Office invested $240,000 of State Energy Program funds to help reduce the dairy industry’s electricity demand.  Through the Colorado Dairy and Irrigation Efficiency Pilot, eight dairies received a free energy audit and energy-saving recommendations.  If the farms followed the recommendations, the Energy Department covered 75% of the retrofitting costs—up to $25,000 for each farm. The free audits resulted in all eight dairies implementing recommended improvements. The upgrades saved an estimated 3 million British thermal units and 742,000 pounds of greenhouse gas emissions annually.

Cottonwood Dairy, a 32-year-old facility in Fort Lupton, Colorado, saved more than 25% in monthly electricity costs largely due to the pilot.  The dairy installed a plate cooler, which greatly enhanced the energy efficiency of its milk cooling process.  Water heating, space heating, and lighting upgrades were also made at the facility.

In March, the Colorado Dairy and Irrigation Efficiency Pilot expanded statewide. The Colorado Energy Office expects the initiative to save 10 million kilowatt-hours of electricity over three years.  In this new phase, the U.S. Department of Agriculture helps dairies with the cost of recommended retrofits.

The Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) success stories highlight the positive impact of its work with businesses, industry partners, universities, research labs, and other entities.