Energy Trust of Oregon 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 to Oregon’s farmers and ranchers and all Oregonians.
For generations to come, these investments will deliver pressurized water for our vital agricultural industry as well as clean, renewable energy. They will also help the economy and the environment by creating jobs, generating revenue that stays in Oregon, saving energy and safeguarding water for fish and wildlife.
Aging infrastructure + drought = expensive losses
Most irrigation systems in Oregon were built nearly 100 years ago. Oregon has changed much since then, and as drought, water shortages and wildfires become increasingly common across the west, irrigation systems must evolve to serve the needs of the 21st century. Open canals and ditches lead to so much evaporation and leakage that up to half of the water diverted from rivers for agricultural use is lost before it ever makes it to a farm or ranch.
21st century solutions for farmers and ranchers
Energy Trust offers funding and strategic support to help irrigation districts and farmers update their irrigation infrastructure, both along irrigation lines and on farms. We also offer services and cash incentives for energy-efficient 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 modernization projects in cooperation with irrigation districts and the farmers they serve. They tap state, federal and other nonprofit funding to bolster and accelerate long-term irrigation system investments.
These organizations help reduce the cost and time required for updating irrigation systems through public communication, outreach, project planning, environmental studies, engineering, permitting and implementation. By leveraging funding and addressing key barriers, they help make irrigation modernization possible and transform the antiquated irrigation paths of yesteryear into sophisticated and efficient irrigation “super highways” of the 21st century.
Irrigation modernization benefits
|Energy savings||Instead of relying on electric pumps, updated designs use gravity to pressurize and move water through the system. Pressurized systems also help farmers save money and allow them to upgrade to higher-efficiency sprinklers and other 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. Leaving more water in streams improves fish and wildlife habitat and increases drought resiliency.
|Renewable energy generation||Where pressure is created, hydropower can be incorporated to generate fish-friendly, renewable power that will be sold to Pacific Power or Portland General Electric. The revenue stream—which will continue for years 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 overall electrical grid and increase community resiliency across the state.
|Economic boost||Money saved from conservation and generation turns into local investments and creates local jobs and economic activity.
|Community resilience||Local hydropower projects can provide electricity for critical infrastructure within the community during public safety power shutoffs triggered by wildfires.
|Improved wildlife habitat||Irrigation modernization means more water is left in streams for fish and wildlife and improved fish habitat.
If you’re interested in learning more about how hydroelectric generation can help your farm or your community, contact Dave Moldal at 503.445.2476.
Contact Dave Moldal