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A&I Electrical Inc. Helps Farmers Stave Off Grain Shortages

A&I Electrical personnel install grain-drying equipment and controls in downstate Illinois. Photo courtesy of A&I Electrical.
Published On
Aug 16, 2022

The World Food Programme, a humanitarian organization that provides food assistance to millions throughout the world, billed 2022 as “a year of unprecedented hunger.” Topping the list of reasons the organization blames for growing food insecurity is the war in Ukraine, a major grain-producing region known as the world’s breadbasket. Other causes include climate change, COVID-19 and resulting economic shocks.

Last June, Bloomberg News cautioned, “in order to keep food inflation at bay, every bushel of every U.S. acre will need to see maximum yield potential. And every bushel will count.”

A&I Electrical Inc., Steeleville, Ill., is helping Illinois farmers achieve maximum yield for their grain harvests. In recent years, the company has installed grain-drying equipment and controls for farmers downstate.

The effort has brought about more consistent quality for grains harvested, including wheat, corn and soy. This equates to products that are nutritious and safer for human and animal consumption. A&I Electrical’s efforts also have enabled farmers to dramatically curb energy use and reduce crop loss due to mold and overdrying.

“A farmer wants the grain dry enough, but not too dry as to get docked on the weight,” said Steven Tanner, vice president of A&I Electrical. The drying systems they installed were equipped with moisture and temperature sensors that automatically control a fan drying system and regulate gas heat, much like a furnace.

“Up until this point, farmers have been leaving the systems on and monitoring things manually,” Tanner said. “These automated systems pay for themselves in the first year.”

Some of the larger grain processing operations involve silos in Centralia, Ill. A utility provider serving the area offers state-regulated energy efficiency incentives for installation of controls that curb electric and natural gas use.

The variable-frequency drive controls in the grain-drying and storage operations installed by A&I enable farmers curb electrical and natural gas use.

Besides Illinois, other states maintain similar incentive programs that enable utilities to reimburse customers for the cost of installing energy-saving controls. Those utilities set aside money for reimbursements based on customer usage.

Besides agricultural controls, A&I also helps commercial customers in Illinois achieve energy savings through installation of LED lighting and lighting and manufacturing controls. Those clients include manufacturers, warehouse operations, municipalities and school districts.

For commercial entities not served by utilities keyed into Illinois’ energy efficiency program, A&I investigates other potential savings.

“Even without these incentives, installation of controls is well worth doing in terms of curbing energy usage,” Tanner said.

About the Author
Susan DeGrane

Susan DeGrane

Susan DeGrane is a Chicago-based freelance writer. She has covered electrical contracting, renewable energy, senior living and other industries with articles published in the Chicago Tribune, New York Times and trade publications. Reach her at sdegra...

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