Cow power: Producers work to strengthen markets for methane

US - The idea of turning cow pies into power is nothing new, and while the technology to do it has been available for decades, methane digesters are still few and far between in the nation's No. 1 dairy state.
calendar icon 27 June 2007
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San Joaquin County dairy farmer Larry Castelanelli says his methane digester has reduced his PG&E bill to a fraction of what it used to be.

They've long been touted as a practical way for dairy farmers to reduce their overall energy costs while helping to cut greenhouse gas emissions. By capturing the methane gas from the manure before it escapes into the atmosphere, farmers can convert the gas to usable energy and take pressure off the overall power grid.

Gov. Schwarzenegger loved the idea so much that his "green" inauguration this year was fueled in part by "cow power," as was the annual Ag Day at the state Capitol.

Thanks to federal and state grant incentives, more dairy farmers are starting to explore the methane idea. Since 2001, the Dairy Power Production Program, which is administered by Western United Resource Development for the California Energy Commission, has funded 10 methane digester projects, with another nine slated to come online.

Source: California Farm Bureau

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