Where Ag, Clean Energy and Farmworkers Intersect

California's agricultural sector is a powerful economic force that contributes greenhouse gas emissions. The result is a clean energy equity issue for farmworkers and the communities they live in.

California’s agricultural industry comprises approximately 77,500 farms and ranches that produce more than 400 different commodities.

Emissions from agricultural equipment is a significant source of air pollution, especially in the San Joaquin Valley. Statewide, producers, custom operators, and processors in the agricultural industry own and operate approximately 160,000 pieces of off-road, diesel-fueled, mobile agricultural equipment. That is in addition to stationary equipment, such as agricultural pump engines.

To address this, the California Energy Commission has established the Renewable Energy for Agriculture Program (REAP). The program aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, with an emphasis on funding projects that have positive impacts on the environment in disadvantaged agricultural communities.

The program, signed into law in 2017, is receiving almost $6 million for fiscal year 2017-2018 from California Climate Investments Program funds. The Energy Commission, which anticipates only one funding cycle, is developing guidelines for adoption.

A program goal is to ensure at least 50 percent of the funds are allocated in disadvantaged communities. The funds are for renewable energy technology that shows a net greenhouse gas reduction benefit.

An eligible project can include removing or replacing diesel agricultural pumps with solar powered water pumps, which would reduce local criteria air pollutants. Efforts that support local community development, reinvestment of energy cost savings into the local community, or use local workers to install equipment that reduces greenhouse gas emissions are also eligible under the program.

Research and development projects are excluded from the program.

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California Energy Commission

The California Energy Commission is the state's primary energy policy and planning agency created by the Legislature in 1974.
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