Vermont Spotlights Cow Power

Cindy Zimmerman

cow powerA Vermont dairy farm that turns cow manure into electricity held an open house Friday to spotlight “Cow Power.”

Among those who visited Chaput Family Farms in North Troy was a team of USDA officials. The project was funded with assistance from USDA.

“Anaerobic digesters like the one here at Chaput Family Farms will benefit our environment as well as America’s dairy farmers, who can profit from the production and sale of this renewable energy source,” said Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) State Conservationist Vicky Drew. “In addition to reducing greenhouse gas emissions through the collection of methane, the digester will also reduce energy needed to produce and haul bedding to the farm by recycling the manure onsite into a dry bedding material for the cows, creating a closed-loop system.”

The 300 kilowatt anaerobic digester system that the USDA officials toured at Chaput Family Farms will digest manure from a dairy herd, produce biogas and combust the gas to generate renewable energy on a continuous basis, and provide digester effluent for use as crop fertilizer and for cow bedding material. USDA Rural Development helped finance the digester with a loan and grant through the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP), authorized through the 2008 Farm Bill.

Chaput’s digester is the first to go online through Vermont’s Standard Offer Program. The state will pay the farm a fixed price of 16 cents per kilowatt hour for the next 20 years. In addition, the farm will receive a renewable energy credit of 4 cents per kWh for the next five years through Central Vermont Power Service’s “Cow Power Program.”

The farm will produce all of its on-farm electricity, heat, hot water and bedding for the cows. It will sell the excess power to the local utility. The excess bedding will be sold to local farms.

Read more from USDA.

energy, usda