Saturday, December 02, 2006

Cow Power

Another good use for animal waste.

Alternative energy comes with a 'Moo" in Vermont
Tom Pelton, Sun reporter The Baltimore SunNovember 15, 2006

BRIDPORT, Vt.-- --Holsteins on the Blue Spruce Farm step gingerly around a mechanical shovel that scoops their waste and shoots it into a "cow-powered" electric generator.

Besides pumping out 8,000 gallons of milk a day, these 2,000 dairy cows also light up 400 homes. The fuel is methane gas that bubbles from manure treated with bovine bacteria in heated underground tanks.

Environmentally conscious utility customers in the Green Mountain State can pay an extra $20 a month to get their electricity from such manure-fueled generators. Vermont is a leader in a new alternative energy movement to get states to produce 25 percent of their power from farms and forests by 2025.

"We want to make Vermont the `Green Valley' - the Silicon Valley for environmental technologies," said Gov. Jim Douglas, a Republican.

About 6 percent of the nation's energy is generated from renewable sources such as ethanol, biodiesel, wind and water, and almost three-quarters comes from coal, oil and gas, said Ernie Shea, a coordinator with the 25 by 25 Initiative.

About a dozen states, including Maryland, have signed on to the initiative, although none is nearly as far along as Vermont.