Cattle power plan for alternative fuel

VERMONT — Marie Audet's cows produce three things: milk, fertilizer and electricity. They earn less than $13 a pound for the milk, a 25-year low, but 12 cents per kilowatt-hour for the electricity, a 4-cent premium over the market price.
calendar icon 4 December 2006
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That's why the Audet family and a growing number of other dairy farmers have decided there's money in manure. Power derived from manure is changing from an alternative-fuel experiment to a business, pushed by high oil costs, low milk prices and new laws restricting harmful gas emissions and requiring the use of renewable energy.

Two generators at the Audets' Blue Spruce Farm feed electricity to the local utility. They run on methane gas derived from cow manure. The farm is part of Cow Power, a program of the local electric company, Central Vermont Public Service. Cow Power gives customers the option to pay higher rates to subsidize farm-generated, poop-powered electricity. The 4-cent premium the farmers are paid helps cover the cost of installing an anaerobic digester that extracts methane from cowpies.

Now, after two years as Cow Power pioneers, the Audets are about to get company. Next month, Mark and Amanda St. Pierre, who run Pleasant Valley Farm a mile from the Canadian border, will become the second dairy farmers in Vermont to sell poop power. Four more Vermont farms are to go online in the next year. In California, six dairy farms have signed up to pump manure-derived methane into the pipelines of Pacific Gas and Electric.

Source: USA Today

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