The number of solar panels, wind turbines and methane digesters on America's farms and ranches has increased significantly over the past decade and there are now more than 8,500 operations producing their own renewable energy. These facts are gleaned from the first-ever On-Farm Renewable Energy Production Survey conducted in 2009 and released by USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service.
According to survey results, solar panels were the most prominent way to produce on-farm energy. In 2009, farmers on nearly 8,000 operations nationwide reported using photovoltaic and thermal solar panels. The use of wind turbines was reported by farmers on more than 1,400 operations across 48 states. And the use of methane digesters was reported by 121 operations in 29 states.
On the state level, California leads the nation with 1,956 operations producing renewable energy. Texas, Hawaii and Colorado were the other major states where farmers on at least 500 or more operations were producing their own renewable energy.
Farmers in nearly every state reported savings on their utility bills. The savings were especially noticeable in New York, where utility bill savings topped $5,000 for 2009.