By Mark Anderson
The state of California is offering $57 million in grants to help the food processing industry cut emissions and energy use.
“This type of support not only helps the industry reduce operating costs and greenhouse gas emissions, but it helps the industry remain competitive so jobs associated with food production remain in California,” said California Energy Commission Chairman Robert Weisenmiller, in a news release.
Food processing is one of largest users of energy in California, according to the California Energy Commission. That use included 7 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity and 500 million therms of natural gas in 2015. That scale of energy use is not surprising since agriculture is a $46 billion industry in California that generates $100 billion in related economic activity, according to the energy commission.
The grant program is the result of last year’s Assembly Bill 109, which created the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund.
“We have had a lot of interest from the industry,” said Cyrus Ghandi, energy analyst with the California Energy Commission. “We expect a good turnout.”
There are two tiers of grant money available: one for drop-in replacements and another for emerging technology. Applications are due Aug. 31.
Up to $33 million is available for tier-one grants for commercially available, energy-efficient equipment upgrades that are drop-in replacements or additions to existing equipment. The awards will range from $100,000 to $3 million, and require a minimum 35 percent match.
Up to $24 million is available in tier-two grants for emerging technologies not widely employed in California but proven elsewhere to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Those awards will range from $2 million to $8 million, and require at least a 15 percent match.