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Newdale farm wins award for energy efficiency

A Newdale Farm is being honored by Rocky Mountain Power as the utility company’s “Wattsmart Business Partner of the Year” in Idaho.

Walters Produce took so many steps to conserve electricity, it’s efforts will save more than 300,000 kilowatt hours every year. That’s enough to power almost 30 Idaho homes.

“We just looked at them one by one and never added them up or thought it was that significant,” said Walters Produce co-owner Shawn Walters.

However, the 10 efficiency projects do add up and so do the incentives from Rocky Mountain Power. Walters Produce has spent hundreds of thousands to implement the projects, but Rocky Mountain Power has given them $125,000 worth.

“A couple of other farmers and operators have talked to me about it,” said Walters. “I’ve encouraged them to look into it.”

The projects, like 5 Variable Frequency Drives for water pumps, will help cut the farm’s utility bill by $24,000 a year.

“We can pump exactly the amount of water that we need,” said Walters. “We never have too much pressure, we never worry about blowing up a mainline and we don’t worry about operating our circles with inadequate pressure.”

Savings are also being made in the farm’s many potato cellars, where smaller VFDs cut down on energy costs. Once the potatoes are cooled down they don’t need as much air.

“It only provides what’s needed,” said Walters.

The energy-saving measures come at a cost and the incentives to build only cover a fraction, but Walters said the investment should hopefully pay itself off in a few years.

“After that, it’s all savings to us, and not only is it economic savings for us and power savings, we use less water and this aquifer is pretty important,” said Walters.

Eastern Idaho’s Basic American Foods won the Wattsmart award last year.

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