Maryland Horse Council
Farm Stewardship Summer Meeting
August 14, 2014
Chesapeake Bay Foundation Headquarters
Jane Thery, Chair, Maryland Horse Council Farm Stewardship Committee
The day was quite beautiful, with a hint of fall in the air. About twenty people attended the meeting entitled, “Energy Use on Your Horse Farm.” Our light-filled conference room faces the Chesapeake Bay. Jane Thery opened the session, noting that the Maryland Horse Forum had just been held and that results of the Forum would be available within the next couple of months, the next Farm Stewardship meeting will be held on October 13 and will focus on composting, and naming the eighteen horse farms now recognized under the Farm Stewardship Certification and Assessment Program (FSCAP) – well on the way to meeting the twenty horse farms goal for 2014.
Dan Johannes, Maryland Agriculture Coordinator of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, welcomed the group to the Philip Merrill building which is designed for the highest level of energy efficiency. He noted the importance of addressing energy use on horse farms and stated the Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s support for the environmental awareness of the horse community.
Dean Fisher, Program Manager at the Maryland Energy Administration (MEA), presented his track record in matching funding sources to successful energy efficiency project on Maryland farms. He emphasized the dissemination of “best practices” in energy savings through case studies and videos available on the MEA website. Dean recommended energy audits to identify areas on a farm that could benefit from upgrades. Unfortunately, these audits can cost in the thousands of dollars. There may be funds available for reducing demands on the energy grid. He noted that the large energy suppliers such as PEPCO, Dominion and BG & E have energy efficiency program that could be used by horse farms. The Maryland Horse Council is looking forward to including horse farms in future MEA farm energy efficiency programs.
John Blackburn, Senior Principal of Blackburn Architects, presented his work on building natural light and ventilation into stable design. He showed the group a diagram of how roof design, including roof venting, could promote updrafts in stables to provide healthy, fresh air for the horses and reduce the need for fans. Sky
are also added to provide light throughout the stable and to reduce the risk of
electrical fires. He also promotes the
use of solar panels to generate on-farm electricity. John has designed a series of “green stables”
for a variety of climates, including low-cost options. He noted that existing stables can undergo
modifications to significantly improve their natural light and
Wayne Brechtel, Senior Field Energy Consultant from SolarCity, explained how his company installs solar panels that generate energy for farms and provide energy to the existing electrical grid. He explained that the combination of federal and state incentive programs and high-quality available technology make this an excellent time to install solar panels in Maryland. His company will meet with potential clients and review where solar panels could be located and the saving in monthly electrical costs. The company is fully responsible for maintaining the solar panels over their lifetime. Agreements with the company are made with a 20 year time horizon and include energy savings over time. One important issue for horse farms is the designation of your electrical meter as residential or commercial. The rates are higher for commercial meters. SolarCity is enthusiastic about offering their services to more horse farms.
Last but not least, about half of our group took a canoe tour of the inlet next to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation headquarters and received a briefing from Claire Cambardella on the life in the Bay and how to measure water clarity and oxygen content. We also saw many ospreys, blue heron and native plants. Doug Myers, the senior Chesapeake Bay Foundation scientist, joined our canoe group and noted that the main threat to the Bay is too much nitrogen and phosphorous that leads to algae blooms and die-offs which cut off oxygen and light to the natural Bay flora and fauna.
Many thanks to the sponsors of our refreshments, Piedmont Insurance and SolarCity, as well as the meeting host, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.
Dean Fisher, Jane Thery, Dan Johannes, John Blackburn, Wayne Brechtel
(Photo from the Maryland Energy Administration)