Incentives for modernizing

Incentives & education for modernizing irrigation pumps in California

By Bill Green

The Center for Irrigation Technology at California State University, Fresno, takes to the road to deliver its water and energy efficiency messages. The journey began over 16 years ago with a grant through the California Department of Pesticide Regulation and continues with California Public Utilities Commission incentives and educational funding.

CIT staff travel throughout California, engaging with farmers, water purveyors, municipal water personnel, pest control professionals, college students and others on a variety of water-related topics. Mixing lecture with dynamic equipment displays, topics such as chemigation, water-use efficiency, energy efficiency and groundwater protection integrate into a message focused on using California’s natural resources responsibly. Best management practices are promoted and audiences around the state have increased their knowledge base.

The original program funding through CDPR educated farmers about chemigation and groundwater protection laws and

regulations. A static display trailer with chemigation equipment traveled California highlighting the legal requirements to safely and effectively inject pesticides through irrigation systems including backflow prevention, automatic injection shutdown and irrigation system uniformity. In 2007, CIT built an updated dynamic mobile chemigation demonstration that is still a key component of Fresno State’s agricultural education programs.

In 2003, CIT established the Agricultural Pumping Efficiency Program that later became the Advanced Pumping Efficiency Program. APEP is an energy efficiency program for irrigation and water pumps, primarily in the service territory of Pacific Gas and Electric Company. CIT staff designed and created the Mobile Education Center, or MEC, pump demonstration trailer to carry the APEP educational messages into the field. Seminars are conducted remotely at various locations including wineries, farms, parking lots or anywhere the audience can easily travel. Most events are between

two to six hours long, so busy farmers can quickly learn about pump efficiency and get back to their daily work.

APEP focuses on four basic components:

1. Subsidized pump efficiency tests — Money is available to electric and natural gas pump ratepayers to promote wire-to-water pump testing and establish overall pumping efficiency. The money is procured on ratepayers’ electric utility bills under the heading: Public Goods Charge or Public Purpose Program. That line item helps fund energy efficiency programs all over California. Over 40,000 pump efficiency tests have been performed in APEP.

2. Incentives for pump retrofit/ replacement — Once the pump test audit establishes overall pumping efficiency, cash incentives are available to farmers for improvements through repairs or retrofits to install more efficient pumps. Pacific Gas and Electric has paid farmers several million dollars in pump upgrade “incentives” through APEP.

3. Technical assistance — CIT manages this program for Pacific Gas and Electric. APEP personnel, who are CIT employees, assist participants through the process — filling out paperwork, helping them contact APEP pump testers and attaining the cash incentives.

MEC equipment

4. Education — The MEC live pump efficiency demonstrations travel to electric and natural gas pumping customers all over the Pacific Gas and Electric service area, instructing them on a variety of pump-related subjects including overall pumping efficiency, pump curves, operating conditions

18 Irrigation TODAY | July 2017

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