Alberta program to cost-share grain dryer upgrades

Applicants under previous FEAP plan eligible

Alberta plans to use federal and provincial funding to help grain growers cut the energy bills from grain drying with more fuel-efficient equipment.

The provincial government on Friday announced what it’s dubbed the Efficient Grain Dryer Program, backed by $2 million from the Canadian Agricultural Partnership federal/provincial funding framework.

Applicants can get 50 per cent of eligible expenses covered for grain dryer and grain drying system components that “significantly improve energy efficiency above standard configuration.” (See examples below.)

Similar costs for boosting dryer efficiency had been eligible for grants under the previous provincial government’s Farm Energy and Agri-Processors (FEAP) program, which was accepting applications into early 2019.

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A provincial spokesperson said Tuesday that the new CAP-backed program is “not a direct replacement” for FEAP but will be retroactive back to April 1, 2018 “to accommodate nearly 100 applicants who have been waiting since that time.”

Making the program retroactive will also help farmers “who may not have known about the program and purchased eligible equipment in the last two years,” the province said.

Expenses incurred before April 1, 2018 are not eligible, the province noted. Farmers aren’t guaranteed funding until an application has been approved; they can proceed with eligible upgrades before they get approval, but run the risk of not getting funding.

An applicant must be an active Alberta farmer who either has a current Alberta Environmental Farm Plan (EFP) certificate or letter of completion from an EFP technician; or is now working on an EFP and will get the certificate before the end of the project term.

Active Alberta farmers who submitted grant applications under FEAP but didn’t get funding through that program are also eligible, the province said.

Applications under the new program will be reviewed on a “first come, first served” basis, and will be accepted and reviewed as they’re received, the province said. More details and application forms are available online.

What’s eligible?

Eligible parts can be either factory options on new equipment or retrofits installed on existing equipment. Installation and labour costs aren’t covered.

Examples of eligible costs include:

  • a new enclosed dryer roof, or enclosed dryer top cover;
  • automatic moisture-based controllers;
  • high-efficiency burners;
  • variable speed drives for electric motors;
  • converting a grain dryer PTO to an electric motor;
  • insulated plenums;
  • exhaust air recirculation systems or heat exchangers;
  • gravity-fill roofs;
  • electrical or gas submeters on dryers;
  • temperature and moisture monitoring cables for in-bin drying systems;
  • thermostats or thermometers for plenum or burner temperature control on in-bin drying systems; or
  • adapter plates for efficiently fitting external heaters to in-bin drying systems.

Not all grain dryer upgrades are covered under the program, the province noted. It won’t cover costs for standard grain dryer configurations, nor for conversion from propane to natural gas. Other ineligible costs include:

  • aeration fans and ducts;
  • supplemental bin heaters;
  • grain elevators and conveyors;
  • grain legs or grain pumps;
  • hopper bins;
  • additional tiers; or
  • readers, software or data subscriptions for interfacing with moisture and temperature cables.

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