Electricity for Farmers Skews ‘Industrial’ Energy Stats
Farmers make up a significant share of industrial electricity customers in certain states, according to the Energy Information Administration.
This is because of demand from farm irrigation systems, which are categorized by electric utilities as industrial load. For example, Nebraska is largely rural and agricultural, but it has the third-highest count of industrial electricity customers in the United States. The same factor drives up the number of industrial electricity customers in Idaho and Kansas, which are also among the top 10 states in number of industrial electricity customers. States with a large agriculture industry also tend to have among the lowest industrial sales of electricity per industrial customer.
Irrigation load from farm irrigation systems can be costly to serve, because of the high cost of connecting these dispersed systems to the electric grid and the high cost of having enough capacity available to meet seasonal irrigation load. Dawson Public Power District, a rural electric cooperative in an agriculture-heavy region of Nebraska, accounted for less than 3 percent of statewide industrial electricity sales in 2012 but had one of the highest average prices for industrial power.
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