Enhancing the Exploring Energy Efficiency – Alternatives (E3A) Curriculum

2015 Annual Report for EW13-014

Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 2013: $42,277.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2015
Region: Western
State: Montana
Principal Investigator:
Milton Geiger
University of Wyoming Extension
Dr. Glen Whipple
University of Wyoming Extension

Enhancing the Exploring Energy Efficiency – Alternatives (E3A) Curriculum


The PDP project has the following goals:

1) Develop additional content that is required to address specific agricultural producer needs,

2) Offer additional training opportunities for other states desiring to utilize the E3A curriculum, and

3) Enhance support options for currently trained educators to improve the effectiveness of programing for producers.    


These goals are progressing well, including the incorporation of new training techniques and open source publication practices. With the loss of several key partners, Montana State University Extension is no longer actively involved in the project.  Per the grant proposal, the products continued to be co-branded by MSUE and University of Wyoming Extension (UWE).  The no-cost Extension approved in April 2015 enabled exciting changes to information-sharing, primarily the ability to make the E3A curriculum open source by altering images and text to allow for non-commercial licensing in Creative Commons.


The project has also incorporated new partners, including University of Nebraska-Lincoln and the University of Alaska-Fairbanks.


The E3A material continues to be utilized by states across the country.

Objectives/Performance Targets

The objectives/deliverables of the project fit into three broad foci:  1) Develop additional content that is required to address specific agricultural producer needs, 2) offer additional training opportunities for other states desiring to utilize the E3A curriculum, and 3) enhance support options for currently trained educators to improve the effectiveness of programming for producers.    


The four folders will address:

  • Wood Heat – Use of wood energy in home, farm, and ranch properties.  Complete
  • Ground source heat pumps (geothermal) and Direct Use Geothermal – High and volatile heating costs (e.g. propane or electricity) are the reality for many producers; Direct-use geothermal is a very site specific opportunity for specialty agriculture production (e.g. greenhouses, aquaculture) that exists in some locations throughout the West.  In final review
  • Irrigation efficiency – The largest non-transportation use of energy on many farming operations with significant opportunity for a rapid rate of return.  In publishing/editing
  • Solar/wind-powered livestock watering systems – Often the most cost-effective use of renewable energy on livestock operations.  In draft version

All folders will be finalized by June 15, 2015


In addition, the existing folders will be revitalized and made open source, including images.  This will allow other institutions and entities to use the material more readily.  A protocol for sharing, including citation and reference guidelines related to SARE support, will be completed by May 15, 2015.  The solar photovoltaic, home energy, and micro-hydroprower folders will be completed prior to June 15, 2015.


The remaining folders will be made open-source by September 15, 2015.  


State level trainings will be completed at the most opportune (effective) time as determined by the recipient states.  Ideally it will occur after the development of the enhanced support infrastructure and additional folders – Two additional trainings will be completed by February 15, 2016


As the E3A toolkit already has infrastructure to support video creation and webinars, the enhanced support tools can also be created rapidly.


Additional webinars (5), devolved into on-line conversations, will be completed by December 31, 2015.


The creation of at least two videos (depending upon funding), focusing on specific, teachable topics focused on agriculture, will be completed by October 15, 2015


 The Skype-an-Expert platform will be operational by June 15, 2015.  At least two events utilizing the process will be completed by December 31, 2015.


Final evaluation will be conducted from March 15, 2016 to May 15, 2016.


Folder Development:


All folders received a University of Wyoming Extension bulletin number and are posted at both www.e3a4u.info and  http://www.wyoextension.org/publications/


The folders are available as PDF, ePub, webpage, and In-Design to allow for ready use and alteration by Extension educators and natural resources professionals across the country.


New folders released in 2015 –


Daran R. Rudnick, Suat Irmak. Milt Geiger, ed., 2015. E3A: Irrigation Efficiency. University

of Nebraska-Lincoln, University of Wyoming Extension. B-1264.

  • Nine part factsheet series


Robbin Garber-Slaght, Vanessa Stevens, Molly Retting, and Art Nash; Milton Geiger

editor E3A: Ground Source Heat Pumps. E3A-GSHP.0. 2015.

  • Eight part fact sheet series


A new seven part series, titled E3A; Solar-powered Livestock Watering Systems is currently being copyedited and is expected by March 2016.


Conversion to open source in 2015 –


Sarah Hamlen, Mike Vogel and Milton Geiger, eds. E3A: Energy Management for Home.

E3A-EMH.1. 2011.

  • Fifteen part series

Sarah Hamlen; Mike Vogel, and Milton Geiger, eds. E3A: Small Wind Energy Applications. E3A-SW.0.


  • Eleven part series

Bilo, Susan; Sarah Hamlen, Mike Vogel, and Milton Geiger, eds. E3A: Solar Electricity for the Home,

Farm, or Ranch. E3A-SE.0. 2011.

  • Ten part series

Bilo, Susan; Sarah Hamlen, Mike Vogel, and Milton Geiger, eds. E3A: Solar Hot Water for the Home,

Farm, or Ranch. E3A-SH.0. 2011.

  • Nine part series

Hamlen, Sarah; Mike Vogel and Milton Geiger, eds. E3A User Guide. E3A-UG.0. 2011.

  • Nine part series


In addition, Wood Heat for Home, Farm, and Ranch, Micro hydropower for Home Farm, and Ranch, Biodiesel for Home, Farm, and Ranch have also been converted to open source and awaiting posting to the webpage.




June 16-18, 2016 – Lander, WY


Twelve Extension and natural resource professionals participated (attendance was capped at 14) with several late cancellations in an in-depth 2.5 day training.  Three states were represented.  The training received a “perfect” review, with educators commenting that it was the most effective training they ever attended. 


Over 20 unique handouts were developed for the event.


Two webinars were offered:

  • E3A – Understanding incentives: A key to a viable renewable energy project

Thursday, September 17, 2015 at 2:00 pm MDT – Presented by Milton Geiger

  • Using the National Renewable Energy Lab’s PVWatts: Building interactive learning experiences

Thursday, August 20, 2015 at 2:00 pm MDT – Presented by Milton Geiger

The webinars were sparsely attended, so no further webinars were offered.


The Distance Learning Tool (Skype-an-Expert) is operational, although the response from field educators has been lukewarm.


Website and Media products:


The E3A website has undergone significant fortifying to make the open-source present robust after the grant expires.


Five solar electric videos, concerning site evaluation, were filmed and are currently being edited.  They too will be open source. 


Collaboration with NESARE Energy IQ PDP Project:

After a cordial initial conversations, the Energy IQ project team proceeded to create their own New England-specific curriculum.  They share the content with the E3A project. 

Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes

Despite the loss of keep personnel, the WSARE PDP funding is continuing to keep the E3A project relevant and expanding the available resources for Extension and natural resource professionals, which ultimately benefits ag producers.  The renewable energy and efficiency information is especially timely, as the rapidly declining costs are open up new opportunities for agricultural producers.


At its core, this project will allow western agricultural producers to make more informed decisions about the utilization of energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies in their operations.  With an emphasis on outreach impacts to ag producers, the E3A project seeks to:


  1. Educators are increasing their training and educational outreach to agricultural producers. This outreach takes a variety of forms, including informal one-on-one discussions, formal workshops, and/or references to materials and tools.  Participants in the trainings can now implement programming in their own counties to further leverage this investment. 
  2. A support system for energy educators in the Western SARE states exists through the National Energy Extension Summit and personal relationships. This support system enables greater education capacity and leverages resources available in MT and WY throughout the WSARE region.  In the long term, these relationships will cultivate a structure that enables educators to adapt and respond to emerging energy issues. 
  3. Producers and educators are able to more easily access unbiased, research-based information through traditional agricultural educator networks.
  4. Producers apply the information in their decision-making processes. This does not necessarily result in more installations, but it does empower more cost-effective and efficient actions.
  5. Evaluations have indicated which materials and resources available are relevant to meeting producer decision-making needs. Some materials and outputs, such as webinars, are not perceived as beneficial.

Ultimately, the project aids producers in making informed energy decisions and encourages them to seek out the trained educator network when faced with new energy concerns.  The E3A effort increases the relevance of agricultural professional in the burgeoning agriculture/energy nexus.

These outcomes are being delivered.  Educators are increasingly engaging in energy extension efforts, with the E3A curriculum serving as the base of their knowledge. 


Sarah Hamlen

Energy Education Associate Specialist
Montana State University
705 Osterman Drive
Bozeman, MT 59715
Office Phone: 4062097679
Dr. Glen Whipple

Associate Dean/Director
University of Wyoming Extension
1000 E. University Ave.
Dept 3354
Laramie, WY 82071
Office Phone: 3077665124