Program makes renewable energy more affordable for farmers

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Alabama’s farmers are learning how to go green and save their green.

Officials say using solar power on farms is catching on and a new program could make it easier for you to do.

“Did you say you haven’t had an energy bill in how many years?” asked WZDX News.

“Oh I don’t know, said Mike Roden. “It covers us. Our energy bill is covered.”

Roden is the executive director of Alabama’s Mountains, Rivers, and Valleys Resource Conservation and Development Council.

He’s one of the people doing free energy assessments on rural small businesses and farms to qualify them for a USDA program. It would pay for a quarter of the cost to set up a renewable energy system.

When you think about renewable energy you might think about saving natural resources, but the idea here isn’t just about saving the planet. It’s for farmers to save a buck.

“People that have their head down, working hard every day,” said Craig Metz, CEO at EnSave. “So if we can help them to be able to reduce their operating cost and put more money in their pocket then we can help them to be more sustainable, more viable for the future.”

That more viable future is one Cydale Smith came to the first Alabama meeting to check out.

“If it’s really expensive but it’ll pay off in the long-run do you think you’ll go for it?” WZDX News asked him.

“Yes, I do because I think that’s one of the things you have to weigh,” Smith replied.

Roden says other people have this answer because it means money flowing in after retirement. Then there’s national security…

“I don’t like the idea of us ever being held hostage by some foreign country that produces oil and gas, Roden said. “So why not be energy independent? It’s a security issue for this nation.”

“I think one of the incentives is being more responsible,” added Smith. “There’s only limited supplies of certain things. At some point we’ll all be accountable for it.”

Learn more about the program here.

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