Ballard Family Dairy and Cheese

Location: Gooding, ID
Grants: $23,213 & $30,922
Technologies: Energy Efficiency & Solar


In the face of an economic downturn and rising energy costs, Steve Ballard at Ballard Family Dairy and Cheese in southwest Idaho decided to take action to lower his energy costs. Without access to natural gas, propane to heat water and space cost them about $30,000 per year. Energy was the second highest cost of production, after feed for their 100 dairy cows, and the cost they could best control.

In 2008, Ballard began researching and consulting with the USDA and received an energy audit from Idaho Power to identify the best energy improvements. Ballard chose a five-prong strategy that included three-phase power, a highly-efficient variable speed vacuum pump, a geothermal heat pump and solar thermal system, and LED lighting at the dairy and cheese plant. To help fund this project, Ballard received a $23,213 solar REAP grant and a $30,922 REAP grant for energy efficiency in 2011.

In total, Ballard’s business reduced its annual energy consumption by 67%, carbon footprint by 121,500 pounds, and utility bills by $15,000. For this achievement, the Ballard Family Dairy and Cheese received the USDA’s Dairy Sustainability Award in 2013.

According to Ballard, REAP is essential to project development: “You can do all the research in the world, but to get projects up and operating, that funding is the next step. If it isn’t there, you aren’t going to get the technical knowledge to make it work.”