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Powering Michigan Ag Conference focuses on renewable energy

EAST LANSING, MI -- The Powering Michigan Agriculture with Renewable Energy Conference -- March 10 at the Kellogg Hotel and Conference Center in East Lansing, Michigan -- will help farmers learn about renewable energy technologies -- how to identify the most suitable technology to meet their energy management goals, and how to obtain the resources and tools necessary to implement these technologies on their farms.

“Energy expenses account for approximately 34 percent of a farm’s total expenses,” said Charles Gould, Michigan State University (MSU) Extension educator on agricultural bioenergy and energy conservation. “Implementing energy conservation practices and renewable energy technologies can significantly reduce energy consumption and expense.”

The conference will kick off with a presentation by Jim Byrum, president of the Michigan Agri-Business Association. He will focus on energy in rural Michigan and the importance of implementing renewable energy.

Once attendees have gained an overview of Michigan’s energy climate, they will have the opportunity to learn about the renewable energy technologies available to them -- solar, geothermal, wind energy, anaerobic digestion and biomass.  Presentations include:

Wind Power as a Renewable Energy Source for You – Steve Harsh, MSU Extension, will discuss the various small wind technologies available and their appropriateness in various situations.

Anaerobic Digestion in Michigan -- Dana Kirk, MSU, will review the current on-farm systems and their positive and negative operation experiences while examining the role that off-farm feedstocks have played in on-farm digesters.

Exploiting the Free, Renewable Energy Above and Below your Farm – Timothy Schultz, Terra Caloric, LLC. will explain how solar and geothermal systems work. He’ll review the latest technical developments; financial benefits, including energy savings and investment/financing; and environmental impacts and other benefits.

Why Solar Energy – Ken Zebarah, Harvest Energy Solutions, will outline the technologies available and how participants can determine if solar power is right for them.

Growing Fuels: Biomass Opportunities for Farmers – Gould will discuss the prospects for farmers to grow biomass for fuels and the opportunities available for farmers in Michigan.

Dan Schrauben, Schrauben Associates, LLC, will discuss the role of energy audits in renewable energy projects. Energy audits provide agricultural operations a prioritized list of energy- and dollar-saving opportunities and allow farmers to determine what energy savings measures are most cost-effective.

“Energy audits are extremely important for any renewable technology project,” Gould said. “These audits qualify improvements for funding assistance from utility companies, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the state.”

Attendees will also discover how to implement these projects on their farm and the funding pathways that are available to farmers. They will hear from a panel of farmers who will discuss their experiences with on-farm applications of renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies.

Closing out the day will be Laura Campbell, Michigan Farm Bureau, who will challenge farmers to go through an energy audit, determine which technologies are best suited for their farm and implement these technologies on the farm.

During vendor breaks throughout the day, participants will be able to visit with companies that sell or service various renewable energy technologies.

This daylong program will begin at 8:30 a.m. and conclude at 4 p.m. The $35 registration fee for the conference includes lunch. Preregistration is preferred. Online registration closes March 6.

Visit for more information or to register online.