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Extension > Source > Fall-Winter 2014 > Helping Minnesota businesses discover energy-saving technology

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Helping Minnesota businesses discover energy-saving technology

Turkey farmers examine LED lights that are used to lower costs and energy use in turkey barns.

Clean Energy Resource Teams (CERTs), a partnership of five organizations including Extension's Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships, is helping Minnesota's businesses discover new energy-saving technology.

Turkey growers are one interested audience. Minnesota is No. 1 in turkey production, and CERTs is encouraging hundreds of turkey growers to install LED lighting to lower costs and energy use. The campaign grew out of a pilot study on LEDs in turkey barns that indicated significant energy savings and rapid payback on investment.

"Obviously, anything we can do to save money while still producing a nutritious product is of interest," says John Zimmerman, former president of the Minnesota Turkey Growers Association. "More efficient lighting is a ‘no-brainer.'"

But a "no-brainer" on paper does not yield immediate adoption. Questions arise about durability in moist, warm turkey barns and bulb life, and the implementation costs are also a factor. "We're educating farmers about utility rebates and federal financial assistance for LED upgrades, helping them determine their eligibility and projected cost-savings," says Joel Haskard, CERTs co-director.

"A lot of farmers think of energy as a fixed cost, but it doesn't have to be," says Haskard. "We want to help them reduce those costs and contribute to Minnesota's clean energy future."

CERTs has a similar campaign underway for service stations' canopy lighting, and in the past has worked with Minnesota resort and lodge owners to reduce their energy use.

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