Manure Manager

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Wisconsin “cow power” facility operational


December 22, 2010
By Manure Manager

NEWS HIGHLIGHT

Wisconsin 'cow power' facility operational
Dane County’s first “cow power” facility officially started operating
recently, as county executive Kathleen Falk, representatives of Clear Horizons,
and the three farm families partnering on the project, pushed a button to start
filling the first manure digester tank.

December 17, 2010, Dane,
WI – Dane County’s first “cow power” facility officially started operating
recently, as county executive Kathleen Falk, representatives of Clear Horizons,
and the three farm families partnering on the project, pushed a button to start
filling the first manure digester tank.

Once the one million
gallon tank is full, the manure will be heated and the process of converting it
into electricity for homes and compost for gardens will begin. The facility is
expected to begin producing electricity for sale to Alliant Energy in February.

The Dane County “cow
power” facility is expected to generate about $2-million worth of electricity
each year – enough to run 2,500 Dane County homes. It also includes
first-of-its-kind equipment slated to remove much of the algae producing
phosphorous from the manure.

“Today begins the next
exciting step in this innovative project – turning a whole lot of cow manure
into a valuable commodity for our homes and businesses and keeping it out of
our lakes,” Falk said.

Dane County and Wisconsin company Clear Horizons are partnering on this project with three
family farms in the towns of Vienna and Dane – the Ripps, the Endres and the
Maiers. The digester is the first in the state to be shared by a cluster of
several farmers.

The start of operations
culminates years of pioneering work by Falk, the farm families and Clear
Horizons
to build this unique digester.

Governor Doyle included
$6.6 million in the 2009-11 state budget so two new Dane County “cow power”
facilities would have additional phosphorus removal technology not used in
other digesters in the state.  To
date, private dollars from Clear Horizons has funded the $12 million total project
cost. Once the project is fully operational, half of the state funding ($3.3
million) will be used to pay for the phosphorus removal equipment while the
other half will go for a second digester. No county dollars were used.

“All our manure will now
go to the digester and most of the phosphorus will be exported out of the
watershed to help clean up our lakes and streams,” said Richard Maier, of White
Gold Dairy, a multi-generational, family-owned and operated dairy.

In addition to this first
digester, Dane County recently announced that four farm families in the near
Springfield, WI, have expressed interest in partnering with the county on
construction of a second “cow power” facility. Under the proposal, electricity
from that digester would be sold to Madison Gas and Electric. It’s hoped construction
of that digester will begin northwest of Middleton late next summer.


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