Reference Type: Electronic Resource
Title: Impacts on irrigated agriculture of changes in electricity costs resulting from Western Area Power Administration's power marketing alternatives
Primary Authors: Anonymous
Abstract: Irrigation is a major factor in the growth of US agricultural productivity, especially in western states, which account for more than 85% of the nation's irrigated acreage. In some of these states, almost all cropland is irrigated, and nearly 50% of the irrigation is done with electrically powered pumps. Therefore, even small increases in the cost of electricity could have a disproportionate impact on irrigated agriculture. This technical memorandum examines the impacts that could result from proposed changes in the power marketing programs of the Western Area Power Administration's Salt Lake City Area Office. The changes could increase the cost of power to all Western customers, including rural municipalities and irrigation districts that rely on inexpensive federal power to pump water. The impacts are assessed by translating changes in Western's wholesale power rate into changes in the cost of pumping water as an input for agricultural production. Farmers can adapt to higher electricity prices in many ways, such as (1) using different pumping fuels, (2) adding workers and increasing management to irrigate more efficiently, and (3) growing more drought-tolerant crops. This study projects several responses, including using less groundwater and planting fewer waterintensive crops. The study finds that when dependence on Western's power is high, the cost of power can have a major effect on energy use, agricultural practices, and the distribution of planted acreage. The biggest percentage changes in farm income would occur (1) in Nevada and Utah (however, all projected changes are less than 2% of the baseline) and (2) under the marketing alternatives that represent the lowest capacity and energy offer considered in Western's Electric Power Marketing Environmental Impact Statement. The aggregate impact on farm incomes and the value of total farm production would be much smaller than that suggested by the changes in water use and planted acreage.
Ag Matters Catalog ID: 74