Focusing on Energy-Efficient Future Grows 55-Year-Old Wisconsin Family Farm
The 100-year-old stanchion barn at Roehl Acres in Clark County is the quintessential Wisconsin barn, the idyllic image of the Dairy State’s rich agricultural history.
That’s just from the outside.
Inside, tradition becomes innovation as four robots help Dennis and Suzie Roehl and their three children milk their 250 registered dairy cattle. The milking robots each handle 60-65 cows a day when working at peak efficiency. Efficiency is how the Roehls are keeping the family farming tradition alive in the largest dairy county in Wisconsin.
“Transitioning to robotic milking is a big change for any farm,” Said Dennis Roehl. “Since the major remodel, we have decreased our number of cows by 15%, even though we are shipping the same amount of milk per day. We are planning to increase the number of cows to where we were before the robotic milking facility.”
Before renovations began that would bring Roehl Acres into the robotic tech space for agriculture, Dennis Roehl made sure his utility, Xcel Energy knew what was about to happen. Tom Bachmeier of Xcel Energy contacted FOCUS ON ENERGY® Advisor Kevin Weiler to meet with Roehl to discuss all the energy-efficient options he could add-on to help support this new facility.
“I have always been interested in energy efficiency at the farm,” said Roehl. “Installing energy-efficient equipment makes sense. The financial incentives make installing the equipment more affordable when doing a large project.”
To create a more efficient milking process in the robotic facility, Focus on Energy provided incentives to help Roehl incorporate:
- A plate cooler.
- LED Lighting.
- VFDs on the vacuum pump.
“Installing LED lighting has been a game-changer for the farm,” Roehl said. “Our electric bill never seemed to be able to go down. Since working with Focus on Energy we have noticed a large decrease in our electric bill.”
Roehl also had a new propane boiler installed with incentives via the Focus on Energy partnership with the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin Office of Energy Innovation (PSC WI-OEI).
Xcel Energy also provided their own incentives as part of their Mid-Market Program and Farm Rewiring Program. Roehl Acres and Xcel have worked on five farm rewiring projects since 2010. The most recent totaled $20,000 and Xcel has provided a total of $47,076 to the farm via that program.
Xcel Energy’s Mid-Market Program provided $3757.50 in additional incentive.
Focus on Energy Trade Ally contractors Anderson Electric, RZ Builders, and Joe’s Refrigeration working directly with Focus Energy Advisor Kevin Weiler, handled all the implementation of the energy efficient products as well as completing the processes needed to maximize incentives.
“Being the host of this year’s Wisconsin Farm Technology Days is an honor,” Roehl said. “I can get pulled in many different directions while still needing to run my business. My Focus on Energy Advisor and dealers provided the support we needed to complete the projects.”
Roehl Acres hosting this year’s Wisconsin Farm Tech Days wasn’t a coincidence. This agribusiness event focuses on “where tradition and technology meet.” The Roehl farm exemplifies that motto and continues to use innovation to create energy efficiency while maintaining the farming tradition.
“In 1983, I went to my first Farm Progress Days Show. I was 14 years old, and I thought it was the greatest thing I had ever been too,” Roehl said in a recent interview. “Now, 36 years later I will be the host farm for Farm Technology Days 2022. In a way, I have been preparing for this all of my life.”