Energy Trust supports irrigation modernization because it puts energy savings and renewable energy in the hands of local communities. Modernized irrigation systems are long-term investments that pay dividends not just to Oregon’s farmers and ranchers, but to all Oregonians.
Aging infrastructure + drought = expensive losses
Most of Oregon’s irrigation systems were built nearly 100 years ago. As drought, water shortages and wildfires become increasingly common across the west, irrigation systems must evolve to serve the needs of the 21st century. Diverting water in open canals and ditches means significant evaporation and seepage loss—up to half of the water diverted from rivers for agriculture never actually makes it to a farm or ranch.
21st century solutions for farmers and ranchers
Energy Trust offers key early-stage funding and strategic support to help irrigation districts and farmers update irrigation infrastructure and explore hydroelectric technology to generate clean energy, both along irrigation lines and on farms. We also offer services and cash incentives for energy-efficient irrigation equipment upgrades, as well as incentives to generate clean, renewable hydropower using the pressure in irrigation pipes.
But the irrigation modernization story is even bigger. It’s a story of collaboration and cooperation. We’re leveraging the expertise of nonprofit groups such as Farmers Conservation Alliance and Wallowa Resources to initiate projects in cooperation with irrigation districts and the farmers they serve. They tap state, federal and other nonprofit funding to accelerate long-term irrigation system investments.
These organizations help reduce the cost and time required to complete these projects through outreach, project planning, environmental studies, engineering, permitting and implementation. By leveraging funding and addressing key barriers, they help make irrigation modernization possible.
Irrigation modernization benefits
|Energy savings||Instead of relying on electric pumps, updated designs take advantage of gravity to pressurize and move water through the system. Pressurized systems also help farmers save money and allow them to upgrade to higher-efficiency on-farm irrigation equipment.|
|Water savings||Modern pipes replace open canals and old, leaky systems, so all water diverted from streams makes it to farms—instead of being lost to evaporation and seepage.|
|Renewable energy generation||Where pressure is created, hydropower can be incorporated to generate fish-friendly, renewable electricity. The revenue stream—which will continue for decades into the future—stays local and can be used to help pay for the cost of these projects. Incorporating small-scale hydroelectric generation can also help Oregon meet its renewable energy goals, strengthen the electric grid and increase energy resilience across the state.|
|Economic boost||Money saved from conservation and generation turns into local investments, create local jobs and generates additional economic activity.|
|Energy resilience||With components designed for resilience benefits, local hydropower projects can provide electricity for critical infrastructure within the community during public safety power shutoffs triggered by wildfires and other natural disasters.|
|Improved wildlife habitat||Irrigation modernization means more water is left in streams for fish and wildlife.|
If you’re interested in learning more about how irrigation modernization can help your farm or your community, contact Kyle Petrocine at firstname.lastname@example.org.