For at least a week each fall, longtime farmer Jerry Sparks would end his day exhaustingly climbing into each of five grain bins to ensure that his corn was drying properly. A new grain dryer system upgrade in 2020 led to energy savings while he skipped out on steps – literally.
Sparks received a Power Moves® rebate of more than $3,500 from Carroll White REMC, his local electric cooperative. The rebate was for variable frequency drives (VFDs) installed on his farm’s new grain dryer system. VFDs control the amount of electricity going to a motor to only provide the power that is needed, which allows for more efficient energy use. Sparks, who is general manager of the 1,100-acre Southern Liberty Farms in Camden, Ind., bought and installed a new dryer that heats up the corn to dry it before moving it into connected storage containers.
The new system replaced four of the five previous in-grain bins, which push air from the bottom of the bin through the top to remove moisture from the corn along the way. With the upgraded system, Sparks no longer needs to climb into and check the old grain bins – which posed injury risks while climbing into and out of the bin.
“This was my wife’s dream to see this happen. It was the best move I’ve ever made,” said Sparks, who started farming alongside his father on the farm that his dad started in the late 1940s. “I was stunned after the first season. I would never dream that they would ever be that efficient.”
When Carroll White REMC employees learned that the equipment would potentially lead to new infrastructure being installed on Southern Liberty Farms property, they worked with Sparks to ensure that the VFDs minimized the farm’s cost. They also upgraded a transformer so that the farm had the electricity needed for the new system.
“They were fantastic to work with,” Sparks said of Carroll White REMC. “The crews were very professional and very knowledgeable. Once they got here, they didn’t mess around.”
Carroll White employees informed Sparks about the Power Moves rebates that would be available for the VFDs. They even worked with the contractor installing the equipment to ensure that it qualified for the rebate, as well as completing and submitting the application.
“A lot of people know Jerry, and his family farm has been serving the community for a long time,” said Randy Price, president and CEO of Carroll White REMC. “We always enjoy working with farms and businesses on our lines to meet their energy needs.”
More than 90 percent of the corn grown by Southern Liberty Farms is sold to a local business that makes hog food. Sparks, who has been a Carroll White member since the 1970s, also grows soybeans and alfalfa. He even raises cows for beef along with his daughter, who he is teaching with the hope that she one day takes over the farm.
“It makes me feel good. I don’t know what else I’d do,” Sparks said of the family farm. “I love this land. I love this way of life.”
• Installation of variable frequency drives (VFDs) in new grain dryer system that replaces four in-bin dryers storing corn for 1,100-acre family farm
• Carroll White REMC
• Installation of VFDs in new grain dryer system saves 17,709 kWh annually
• Cooperative engineers supported farm with upgraded transformer to support grain dryer system
• More than $3,500 Power Moves® rebate for energy efficiency improvements
• Additional savings in annual energy costs
Download the full Southern Liberty Farms Case Study.