March 8 2013 06:00 AM

Award-winning farmstead cheesemaker will show its comprehensive new energy conservation system.

A firsthand look at what dairies are already doing to make, save and reduce energy use will be on display March 19 at Ballard Family Dairy and Cheese in Gooding, Idaho. The 80-cow Jersey dairy will host an open house at its big red barn at 520 S. 800 E. from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

The focus of the event will be the energy conservation and production systems that the dairy installed last year with the help of USDA's Rural Development and Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) programs, Idaho Power, EnSave, D.L. Evans Bank, and Site Based Energy. Dairy producers who attend the open house will receive a free Level 1 energy audit of their farms.

Energy conservation steps taken by the dairy include a comprehensive energy audit and a project feasibility study that included identification of state and federal cost sharing, grants, utility rebates and tax incentives.

New high-efficiency equipment that was installed, including a roof-mounted solar thermal tube system (pictured above), have cut electricity and propane use at the dairy so significantly that projected payback time is just 6.8 years via cost savings and after all rebates, credits and incentives.