January 27, 2021

Program to help farmers save energy recognized

BANGOR – The Kennebec County Soil and Water Conservation District was named 2008 Partner of the Year last week by Maine Rural Partners, a statewide public-private organization devoted to fostering effective collaboration among tribal, federal, state, local and private sector interests.

In announcing the award, Mary Ann Hayes, executive director of Maine Rural Partners, cited the district’s innovative leadership in developing a nationally recognized energy efficiency pilot program called Farm Energy Partners whose goal is to help “farmers save energy, improve the environment and strengthen their bottom lines.”

“The district’s initiative in developing and leading the partnered farm efficiency program secured its first place finish among many deserving contenders,” Hayes said.

First-year results of the program include:

. Intensive training of Efficiency Maine auditors in agricultural efficiency technologies.

. Creation and distribution of a best practice “Farm Energy Field Guide” to more than 600 farmers and farm advisers.

. Thirty on-farm energy audits.

. Audit implementation assistance featuring matching state and federal incentives to help farmers afford investments in identified energy saving technologies.

Seven individual merit awards were also conferred on Farm Energy Partners members for leadership in particular areas. Those recognized were:

. John Blais, Kennebec County Soil and Water Conservation District, for audit program development.

. A.J. Ballard, Efficiency Maine, for audit program development.

. Caragh Fitzgerald, University of Maine Cooperative Extension, for Farm Energy Field Guide.

. Susan Gammon, Androscoggin Valley Soil and Water Conservation District, for Maine Soils Carbon Program.

. Sue Jones, Community Energy Partners, for community wind-capacity building.

. Tanya Swain, Western Mountains Alliance, for model outreach partner and team building.

. Ron Desrosiers, Time & Tide Resource Conservation & Development Council, for strategic initiatives and relationship building.

At its annual meeting held at Merrill Bank headquarters in Bangor, Maine Rural Partners also named its executive committee for the coming year.

Members of the committee are Mike Bush of Penquis CAP, Jim Page of James W. Sewall Co., Jonathan Sprague of Rocky Coast Consulting, Bill Lucy of Merrill Bank, Jake Ward of the University of Maine, Pauline Pare of the Natural Resources Conservation Service and state Sen. Kevin Raye, R-Perry.

For information about Maine Rural Partners, call 581-4520 or visit www.mainerural.org.

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