Southwest Wisconsin dairy honored for reducing energy waste
Langmeier Dairy is known for its commitment to sustainable agriculture and for producing food products free of pesticides and antibiotics. But it is the fourth-generation, family-owned farm’s commitment to energy efficiency, however, that earned its most recent award.
FOCUS ON ENERGY®, Scenic Rivers Electric Cooperative, Senator Howard Marklein and Lieutenant Governor Mandela Barnes presented the Langmeier family an Energy Efficiency Excellence Award on Monday, June 24.
“We are honored to be selected to receive Focus on Energy’s 2019 Energy Efficiency Excellence Award,” said Joe Langmeier. “We support practices that make economic sense, help the environment, and are socially responsible to our community and our world by reducing energy use while producing a nutritious product. Thank you to everyone at Focus on Energy for your assistance in helping us achieve our sustainability goals.”
“In my office, we’re promoting the core issues of equity and sustainability, and this ties right in with that work,” Lieutenant Governor Mandela Barnes said before presenting the award to Langmeier. “And especially with the work of my office and the governor’s office [is doing] using the three “S”’s, which [are] science, sustainability and stewardship; making sure that we are protecting the land we have right now and using it as best as we can possibly use it, in an efficient way that benefits everybody.”
The award recognized energy efficiency projects at Langmeier Dairy’s new facility, where it processes and packages organic Brussel sprouts. Those projects included energy-efficient LED lighting and variable frequency drives (VFD’s) to control the motor speed of the conveyor systems and packaging equipment used on the assembly line. The VFD’s minimize system agitations and increase efficiency while also cutting energy use by thirty to forty percent.
“My senate district is the most agricultural-dependent senate district in the state of Wisconsin. We’ve got a lot of agriculture in this part of the state. And I’m just happy for this kind of investment to keep agriculture going well. You know, fourth generation [farm], this kind of investment, I hope, lays the groundwork for the fifth generation down the road.”
“These investments in energy efficiency, over the long term, help control the growth of energy demand in the state, which can reduce the need to build expensive new energy infrastructure and keep rates down for everybody,” Focus on Energy Program Director Erinn Monroe-Nye said at the award presentation.
The dairy received a financial incentive of more than $4,500 from Focus on Energy to help offset the initial cost of its investment in energy-efficient equipment. In addition, the upgrades will save an estimated 1,474,621 kilowatt hours of electricity over the life of the equipment, which is enough to power 125 homes for a year or charge about 133 million cellphones. Those kilowatt-hour savings also equate to around $161,000 in saved energy costs for the Langmeiers over the life of the equipment.
“It feels pretty cool. An award was the last thing on our mind when we were thinking of doing it,” Langmeier said. “It ties to just how we farm, you know, switching to organic twenty years ago and our beliefs, trying to be as environmentally responsible as we can be. The last thing we wanted to do was not be thinking of the future. After everything we’ve done in the past already, we wanted to make sure we built this to be as clean as possible and protect the environment as best we can, and hopefully we can do even more. It’s just something we really believe in.”
Langmeier Dairy is a 100-head organic dairy and crop farm based in southwest Wisconsin. It is one of eighteen statewide Energy Efficiency Excellence Award winners Focus on Energy is honoring this year.
Scenic Rivers Electric Cooperative is one of 107 Wisconsin utilities that partner with the Focus on Energy program. Customers of those utilities are eligible for the energy expertise and financial incentives Focus on Energy provides.
A recent third-party evaluation of Focus on Energy noted it runs the most-cost-effective statewide energy efficiency programs in the nation. The evaluation also found every $1 invested in Focus on Energy generates more than $5 in benefits for the state of Wisconsin, including economic benefits, reduced energy costs and reduced pollution.