PSE announces agreement with Farm Power
By Puget Sound Energy
By Puget Sound Energy
Apr. 29, 2008, Bellevue, Wash. –
Puget Sound Energy has negotiated a deal with Farm Power Northwest of
Skagit County to develop a dairy digester facility.
The facility would produce electric power from manure, a technology that holds the promise of both an environmentally friendly energy source and a benefit to local dairy farmers and the Skagit County economy.
PSE, in conjunction with Farm Power founders Kevin and Daryl Maas of Mount Vernon, signed the agreement as a first step toward generation of up to 1.5 megawatts (MW) of electric power – enough to meet the needs of 1,000 households. Under the agreement, PSE will purchase electricity generated by Farm Power as well as the associated renewable energy credits resulting from the renewable energy source.
“Puget Sound Energy has been a great resource in taking our ideas one key step closer to reality for Skagit County,” said Kevin Maas, president of Farm Power. “My brother, Daryl, and I are excited about what this project can do for farmers in the Mount Vernon area. We see this as just the beginning of a long-term source of renewable energy and of additional income to local dairies.”
A dairy digester practically eliminates greenhouse-gas emissions from manure storage, while reducing manure-handling expenses and compensating each participating farm for supplying manure.
“This technology is a true win-win, for the environment, the economy and for the dairy farmers of Skagit County,” said Kimberly Harris, executive vice president and chief resource officer for PSE. “The Maas brothers have a great entrepreneurial spirit and commitment to their community, and a vision of what can be done on a local level that has a broader benefit to help meet the challenges of climate change.”
At present, Farm Power has manure commitments from four dairy farmers west of Mount Vernon and is permitting a site located near them. The manure will be used in the generation of power by warming it in the digester to spur microbes to produce methane gas. The methane then fuels electrical generators, with the excess heat being used to warm additional manure and continue the electrical generation cycle.
In addition to the expected 1.5 MW of electricity, by-products will include sanitary bedding for use with dairy cattle and a more environmentally compatible liquid fertilizer to be stored in the farms’ holding lagoons. Compared with unprocessed manure, the nitrogen in this liquid is easier for plants to absorb and is less likely to mix with rain runoff.
“Farm Power and PSE are a great team,” said Daryl Maas. “With a little help from the cows of Skagit County, we can all work together to introduce a sustainable, renewable energy technology that can make dairy farming more profitable and help protect Skagit farmland.”
Puget Sound Energy’s experience in dairy digesters was a key component in making the MOU with Farm Power possible. In 2004, PSE supported the development of Washington’s first dairy digester at the VanderHaak Farm near Lynden in Whatcom County.