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Renewable energy from manure becomes reality


December 17, 2009
By Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy

December 11, 2009 –



Rosemont, Ill. Methane digesters on
dairy farms could soon be a common source of energy for residents and
businesses in the state of New York.

December 11, 2009 –



Rosemont, Ill. Methane digesters on
dairy farms could soon be a common source of energy for residents and
businesses in the state of New York. That is one result of the Dairy Power
Summit, held Oct. 29 and 30, 2009, in Syracuse, N.Y., which brought together
more than 200 New York dairy farmers and industry stakeholders from across the
country to discuss the potential for dairy-supplied renewable energy.

Summit attendees set a 2020 goal that 40 percent of all
manure from New York dairy farms goes through the anaerobic digestion process,
which captures methane from manure and generates clean, renewable energy. The
energy produced from this effort could power 32,000 homes while strengthening
the economic vitality of New York's dairy farms. It also would reduce New
York's greenhouse gas emissions by 500,000 metric tons of carbon, equivalent to
taking 100,000 cars off the road.

The Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy, with sponsorship from
GE Energy, coordinated the Dairy Power Summit in order to identify and act on
opportunities to increase the economic viability and adoption rate of anaerobic
digesters. Participants represented dairy farms; utilities; milk cooperatives;
digester developers; financial institutions; academia; and local, state and
federal governments.

"The Dairy Power Summit is an outstanding effort on the
part of the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy, as we try to reduce the methane
emissions and enable farmers to use cleaner, renewable energy sources, and as
we go forward in our attempt to green our environment, to green our economy,
and also to create economic development for our farmers," said New York
Gov. David A. Paterson in a video address to summit attendees.

Gov. Paterson's "45 by 15" program is one of the
nation's most aggressive energy efficiency and renewable energy initiatives. By
2015, New York State will meet 45 percent of its electricity needs through
improved energy efficiency (15 percent) and clean renewable energy, such as
methane (30 percent). This goal is in line with the commitment of the
Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy to reduce industrywide greenhouse gas
emissions associated with fluid milk by 25 percent by 2020.

"The innovative technologies being pursued can benefit
dairy farms of all sizes as well as our communities," said Thomas P.
Gallagher, chief executive officer of the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy and
Dairy Management Inc.(TM) (DMI), which manages the national dairy checkoff
program on behalf of the nation's dairy farmers.

To achieve 40 percent anaerobic digester use by 2020,
attendees of the summit collaborated to develop an action plan made up of more
than a dozen projects. Some of the projects include:

  • American Agricultural Biogas Coalition — Form a nationwide, cross-industry
    alliance to provide a unified voice promoting renewable, sustainable biogas
    solutions. This new organization would advocate at the local, state and
    national levels.
  • Small-Farm Digester Initiative — Host an innovation contest that would award
    $1 million toward the development of a digester system for a smaller-scale farm
    with between two and 200 cows.
  • NY Cow Power — Develop a voluntary rate-payer program to enable electric
    consumers to support anaerobic digesters (e.g., residential or commercial
    customers pay 4 cents per kWh extra on utility bills to help fund digesters).
    This program would be modeled on the successful program of Central Vermont
    Public Service, http://www.cvps.com/cowpower.
  • Digester Implementation Project — Collaborate with 20 farms to issue a joint
    request for proposal to install 20 digesters. This will reduce the cost and
    complexity that farmers could experience individually.
  • Model Community Digester System — Develop a best-in-class model for a
    community digester. Projects will be explored in Lowville, N.Y., and
    potentially near Skaneateles, N.Y.
  • Rolling Biogas — Research opportunities to clean and compress biogas for use
    as natural gas in vehicles, a viable alternative to diesel fuel.

Attendees of the summit have formed project teams to refine
the ideas and work toward the first milestones. These efforts will increase the
availability of energy and fuel from methane digesters while strengthening the
role of farms within their regions.

New York State Agriculture Commissioner Patrick Hooker said,
"The action items developed by the many stakeholders at the Dairy Power
Summit will ensure that our dairy farms and rural communities will play an
active role in New York's cleaner and greener environment. The future is bright
for on-farm generation of renewable energy, and I look forward to assisting the
Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy in achieving the goals set at the
summit.

While the summit primarily focused on anaerobic digester
opportunities in the state of New York, these pilot projects could lead to
solutions for farms and communities across the country.

"We envision a possible future made up of bioenergy
communities, where farms produce the majority of the locally consumed food and
energy; conserve water, habitat and open space; and provide recreational and
educational opportunities to the local community and beyond," said Skip Hardie,
one of the owners of Hardie Farms in Lansing, N.Y. "As the heart of the
community, farms are creating jobs, enhancing the environment and improving
quality of life."

Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy provides a forum for the
dairy industry to work pre-competitively to address barriers to and
opportunities for innovation and sales growth. The Innovation Center aligns the
collective resources of the industry to offer consumers nutritious dairy
products and ingredients, and promote the health of people, communities, the
planet and the industry. The Board of Directors for the Innovation Center
represents leaders of more than 30 key U.S. producer organizations, dairy
cooperatives, processors, manufacturers and brands. The Innovation Center is
supported and staffed by Dairy Management Inc.(TM) For more information,
contact innovationcenter@usdairy.com or visit USDairy.com.

Addendum: Representative Participants in the Dairy Power
Summit

Dairy farmers: Hardie Farms, Sunnyside Farm, Spruce Haven
Farm, Patterson Farms

Utility companies: National Grid, NYSEG

Milk co-operatives: Dairylea Cooperative, Inc.; Upstate
Niagara Cooperative, Inc.; Agri-Mark, Inc.; Dairy Farmers of America, Inc.

Digester developers: RCM, GHD

Technology provider: GE Energy Jenbacher Gas Engines

Government Representatives: Office of New York Gov. David
Paterson, Office of U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, New York State Department of
Agriculture & Markets, New York State Energy Research and Development
Authority, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Office of
New York Sen. Darrel Aubertine, U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency AgSTAR Program

Financial institutions and investors: Farm Credit, Shell
Energy

Academia: Cornell University PRO-DAIRY, Cornell Cooperative
Extension, SUNY-Morrisville, SUNY-Environmental Science and Forestry,
University of Florida.


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