According to a spokesman from the Bonneville Power Administration, over 700 irrigators in the Pacific Northwest have signed up for the utility or Banks Lake irrigation "buy-down" programs.
This will total over 90,000 acres, most located in central Washington.
The BPA estimates the savings in electricity for the growers giving up their pump irrigation in lieu of a per-acre payment will be 100 Megawatts.
What effect the buyout will have on potato production will be minimal, it is believed. However, the Pacific Northwest Sugar Company located in Moses Lake, WA, will not offer contracts this year in an energy-savings effort.
The PNSC will idle its factory to save on electrical and natural gas use. In addition, 25,000-30,000 acres of beet land will be taken out of production. Growers will realize a $475-per-acre payment in lieu of running pumps.