Free workshop helps farmers, businesses be energy efficient

Topics include grants and incentives to help pay for sustainable energy programs.

STANWOOD — Farmers and small-business owners in rural areas of Snohomish County can seek advice on energy conservation during a free workshop Wednesday evening.

Though geared toward farms and small businesses, the event is open to the public, said Nicholas Cusick, a conservation assistance specialist with the Pierce Conservation District who is helping coordinate the workshop.

The Stanwood gathering, from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Snohomish PUD office on 271st Street, is the last in a series of presentations around the state. They’re put on by the Washington Conservation Commission and Spark Northwest.

Topics include grants and incentives to help farmers and business owners pay for sustainable energy programs. In particular, presenters plan to talk about the Rural Energy for America Program. They can help applicants with the paperwork, too, Cusick said.

“Energy costs are often higher in rural areas and the whole messaging of energy efficiency and self-sustainability really resonates with rural landowners,” he said. “It really helps them cut their costs and can get them off the grid, and in some cases they can sell extra energy back into the grid, as well.”

Most projects done in Washington with the grant money are solar panel installations, he said. Rising energy costs and concern over climate change have increased interest in renewable energy, he said, but putting in solar panels can cost tens of thousands of dollars. Grants may make that possible.

Some programs can be used for smaller, simpler projects than installing solar panels, according to a news release. The money can go toward replacing insulation to cut back on energy used for heating or cooling, or toward upgrading old lights to more efficient LED bulbs.

Decreasing energy consumption isn’t just a cost-saving measure, Cusick said. It can be good for marketing.

“A lot of these farms and businesses are trying to create an image of sustainability that resonates with their customers, as well,” he said.

People should come to the workshop with questions and ideas for projects. Those planning to attend are asked to RSVP to

Kari Bray: 425-339-3439;

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