For Immediate Release - October 18, 2010

National Energy Efficiency Council Honors Massachusetts Agricultural Program

American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy names Bay State farm energy program as one of the nation's best

BOSTON - October 18, 2010 - In recognition of the Patrick-Murray Administration's nation-leading energy efficiency efforts, the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) honored the department's Farm Energy Program as one of a handful of exceptional state-led energy efficiency programs in the nation, Department of Agricultural Resources (DAR) Commissioner Scott Soares announced today.

"Projects carried out under DAR's Farm Energy Program improve the economic viability and environmental sustainability of our farms. I congratulate Commissioner Soares and his staff on this achievement," said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Ian Bowles, whose office includes DAR.

ACEEE honored projects in 14 states, including Massachusetts, which was one of two states recognized for their work to promote energy efficiency on farms. Maryland won honors for a farm energy audit program.

"This program, a partnership between businesses and the state, not only helps agricultural businesses cut operating costs, but protects the environment," said Commissioner Soares. "We thank ACEEE for their acknowledgement of what we consider a successful agricultural energy program that exceeds our goals of providing long-term farm economic and environmental sustainability through energy efficiency projects."

The program awards grants and assistance to Massachusetts farmers for reducing energy demand by providing support from project concept through implementation, with emphasis on providing technical and financial assistance, leveraging of financial resources, and energy savings and/or energy production. Since 2009, the program has funded 44 energy efficiency projects at an estimated total cost of $3.7 million, 68 percent of which was leveraged from other funding sources, including $990,000 from federal programs. Of the total, 28 were energy efficiency projects resulting in an average annual savings of $12,700 per farm.

"We are delighted - and not surprised - that our colleagues at the Department of Agricultural Resources have been recognized nationally for their ambitious commitment to energy efficiency and renewable energy at farms," said Phil Giudice, Commissioner of the Department of Energy Resources. "This is one more acknowledgment that Massachusetts is leading the nation in its investments in energy efficiency and creating clean energy jobs."

ACEEE recognized a second Massachusetts effort - the Department of Housing and Community Development for its Smart Growth Zoning projects - in its emerging programs category.

In addition to DAR, the Massachusetts Farm Energy Program (MFEP) is supported by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Berkshire-Pioneer Resource Conservation and Development Area Inc., and nonprofit organizations.

"Energy efficiency efforts are thriving at the state level in ways that most people may not be aware of today," said David Terry, executive director, National Association of State Energy Offices. "The program winners demonstrate how state governments can implement successful, cost-effective energy efficiency programs aimed at a variety of customer types. Rather than creating unnecessary competition, these programs complement and expand upon the existing energy efficiency program landscape offered by utilities and third-party program administrators."

"As new funding sources become available to states through the Recovery Act, regional cap-and-trade initiatives, and other state and federal sources, state governments are stepping forward to take on important responsibilities implementing energy efficiency programs," said Michael Sciortino, lead author of the national report at ACEEE. "Our report highlights programs recently developed with these new sources of funding as well as many well-established programs that have been saving energy costs for consumers for decades."

"This review of state-led energy efficiency programs offers further evidence that cost-effective investments in energy-saving technologies and services improve economic competitiveness," said ACEEE Executive Director Steve Nadel. "Simply put, energy efficiency works. These state programs benefit customers in numerous ways, generating significant energy savings, training thousands of professionals, lowering energy costs and reducing the negative environmental impacts of energy use."

The top five award-winning programs were located in Colorado, New York, Hawaii and Maryland. Massachusetts' Farm Energy Program received honorable mention along with programs in Alaska, Connecticut, Louisiana, Minnesota, New York, South Carolina, Texas and Washington.

Read the full ACEEE report and review the complete listing of the state energy-efficiency programs in all three award categories.

ACEEE is an independent, nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing energy efficiency as a means of promoting economic prosperity, energy security, and environmental protection.

DAR's mission is to ensure the long-term viability of local agriculture in Massachusetts. Through its four divisions - Agricultural Development, Animal Health, Crop and Pest Services, and Technical Assistance - DAR strives to support, regulate and enhance the Commonwealth's agricultural community, working to promote economically and environmentally sound food safety and animal health measures, and fulfill agriculture's role in energy conservation and production. For more information, visit DAR's website at www.mass.gov/agr, and/or follow us at http://twitter.com/MDARCommish. For your gateway to locally grown products, specialty foods, and fun ag-tivities go to www.mass.gov/massgrown.