ALSTEAD, NH – Bascom Maple Farms is not your grandfather’s sugar shack…unless your grandfather gathers sap from 105,000 taps and uses reverse osmosis machines to produce 45,000 gallons of maple syrup a year. That kind of production takes energy, and lots of it. That’s why energy efficiency has become nearly as important to Bascom’s bottom line as the syrup and maple sugar products that have made them famous.
Since 2011, the Alstead-based operation has worked with New Hampshire Electric Co-op (NHEC) to install energy efficiency measures that are saving 177,577 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity per year. At an average price of 15 cents per kWh, that’s an annual savings of more than $26,000. Much of that savings was achieved by switching to LED lights.
“The LED lighting seemed like a no-brainer,” remarked Kevin Bascom, who, with his brother David and cousin Bruce Bascom, has turned the seven generation family farm into America’s leading independent supplier of pure and organic private label maple syrup, the owner of the country’s #1 organic brand, as well as the leading purveyor of bulk maple syrup and bulk maple sugar products. The farm’s newest building features LED lighting and controls that are saving 29,113 kWh per year – an annual savings of about $4,300 over conventional fluorescent lighting. At another building, a lighting retrofit in 2018 replaced T8 fluorescents with LEDs, which saved an additional $5,800 a year. The cost of both projects was offset by a $32,459 rebate from NHEC’s Commercial & Industrial Retrofit Program.
Also in 2018, the Bascoms installed high-efficiency air source heat pumps to heat and cool the office space, which is attached to a large warehouse. After a full year of operation, “I haven’t heard any complaints, and I would if there were,” noted Kevin Bascom.
Bascom Maple Farms employs 75 people, making it one of the largest employers in rural southwest New Hampshire. Powering the regional economy takes a lot of power. Large motors drive two steam boilers to heat pasteurizing syrup for retail containers; bulk syrup storage requires 24/7 refrigeration in warehouses; granulated maple sugar production consumes large amounts of electricity; and vacuum pumps in the surrounding woods need power to collect sap from the lines that connect 105,000 tree taps.
When it became clear that the farm’s growing need for power was threatening future growth, NHEC worked with the Bascoms to replace the single-phase electric line serving the facility with a new, two-mile long three-phase power line. Without three-phase service, the farm had been supplying power to its production facilities with a combination of Co-op power and a diesel generator. When the final connections are made this year to the new three-phase line, the generator will only be used for emergency back-up power.
“We’re always looking for ways to help our members thrive and succeed,” said NHEC President/CEO Steve Camerino. “Maple sugaring is a great New Hampshire tradition and we’re proud to help a family business that’s been doing it for more than 160 years.”