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Energize Ohio

Ohio State University Extension


Peak Demand Energy Management Strategies in Agriculture

As agricultural systems have become more sophisticated and automated, the electrical demands of many farms have increased, requiring enhanced needs for high quality electric to power equipment1. Due to increased electrical usage, many farms are now on a commercial rate structure. Unlike residential rates, which are based primarily on total energy usage measured in kilowatt hours (kWh), commercial accounts are also charged for the highest peak demand usage spike over a short time period measured in kilowatts (kW). 

To better understand how peak electric demand affects agricultural facilities, we are collected energy usage data for individual motor loads across three swine, three dairy, and two grain storage facilities experiencing high energy demand costs.  To collect the data, we installed multifunction energy meters capable of recording energy usage for up to 24 critical loads on the farm.  By collecting granular electric usage data, we were able to analyze trends of energy consumption, peak demand, and power factor for each measured circuit.  


Literature review and assessment of preliminary results indicate:        

  • Many farmers are aware they are on a demand rate, however do not fully understand how their demand charges are calculated.
  • There appears to be targeted motor loads that can be shifted to perform work during non-peak times to reduce demand charges.
  • Energy management strategies will likely include conservation, energy efficiency, load shifting, and on-site generation.  
  • Specific details of the farms rate tariff such as demand ratchets and power factor correction formulas will influence the economic payback of possible solutions.


Additional Resources

Ohio Soybean Council Study - Impact of Power Factor with On-Farm Grain Storage Facilities

Energy Management in Agriculture: Understanding Implications of Power Factor in Grain Handling

Excel Calculator: On-Farm Energy Analyzer Tool

OSU Connect and Collaborate Study – Peak Demand in Swine and Dairy Facilities

Peak Demand Energy Charges In Agriculture: Understanding Electric Demand Charges 

Peak Demand Energy in Agriculture Case Study: BFEM Swine Farm Demand Energy Monitoring

Peak Demand Energy in Agriculture Case Study: SDEM Dairy Farm Demand Energy Monitoring


1 Hoppe, Robert A. Structure and Finance of U.S. Farms: Family Farm Report, 2014 Edition, EIB-132, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service, December 2014.

This study was conducted with funding support from the Ohio Soybean Council, the OSU Connect and Collaborate Grant Program, Ohio State University Extension, the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center, and the OSU College of Engineering.  Special appreciation is expressed to the six farms who cooperated in this study by permitting the metering of their facilities, and by furnishing information on their farming operations.