Holy Cow - Cow Power?

Converting livestock manure into methane has been identified as a potential way to decrease manure pollution, generate renewable energy, and reduce GHG emissions, but a dearth of information exists on the economic feasibility and sustainability of converting animal manure into methane and other marketable energy products, like electricity. No turnkey digester and generator operations exist, as each has different technical aspects that challenge their financing, construction,and operation.

Cue entry: Green Mountain Power's "Cow Power" program.

With 6 dairy farms generating about 12 million kilowatt-hours of electricity in 2010 and more than 4,600 CVPS electricity customers voluntarily paying a premium of $0.04/kWh, or a total of about$470,000 per year, the CVPS Cow Power program represents a successful and locally sourced renewable energy project with many environmental and economic benefits. Factors for the successful development and operation of the program include significant grants from government agencies and other organizations, strong consumer support, timely adjustments to the electricity price paid to the farms, and close collaboration among the participating parties. In addition, by-products from recycling cow manure has proven to also be very environmentally friendly, cost-effective, and ultimately greener.

To the right, view an example of the bedding material, very much like peat moss, that is produced by taking the remaining solid waste once the gas has been removed from the manure. This can also be composted into a great soil/garden mix. Solids not used for bedding may be further processed and sold as fertilizer.

GMP "Cow Power" is a big step in the right direction toward more renewable sources of energy.

To learn more about this program or GMP, visit the GMP website.  

To view a case study of the CVPS Cow Power program in Vermont, focusing on the economic feasibility of converting cow manure to electricity, contact ag broadcaster Sonja Langseth or David Dunn of GMP.



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