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By Samuel R. Avro on Dec 28, 2008 with no responses

Poop-To-Energy Gaining Steam From Cow Manure

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Cow dung can be used more efficiently than just providing an aroma for those traveling in the area of dairy farms.

Loads of cow dung to the rescue? So thinks Idaho energy czar Paul Kjellander.

Idaho, now the country’s third-largest milk producer, is looking to create pipelines which will connect the state’s dairy farms directly to natural-gas producing plants. The plan is to funnel the manure from 550,000 cows through the pipelines, and then sold to the power producers. Alternatively, some dairies may build their own turbines and hook it up to the grid in order to receive carbon credits.

Poop-to-energy ideas are becoming more attractive and are gaining steam nationwide.

“We can put together the right package and right mechanism to help move it along,” Kjellander said. “You’ve got to have somebody locally who is ready to take the risk and move this forward. But the state can provide the right type of incentives.”

One such plan would be an $8.5 million, 2.25 megawatt digester and generator facility at the 10,000-cow Bettencourt Dairy in Hansen transferring electricity to Idaho Power Co., the state’s largest utility.

The state is hoping to use their large amounts of cow pie to power homes and fuel cars.

The Idaho Energy Resources Department website has published resources for the benefits of and how to convert a vehicle to run on natural gas.

The cost of converting can run between $12,500 and $23,000, although some of it can be recouped through federal tax credits.

Natural gas engines boast lower carbon emissions and in some cases, they “have demonstrated over 90% reductions of carbon monoxide”, according to the Idaho Energy Department website.

The poop-to-power idea is gaining steam in other states as well.

Washington offers a sales tax exemption for farms that install cow pie digesters.

An Oregon farm has teamed with an environmental group to invest $1 million dollars in the construction of a newly designed facility that would process the waste of more than 1,000 cows. The plan would make the digester one of the nation’s largest.

North Carolina currently mandates that a portion of their electricity be generated from poultry manure.

The plan in Idaho has received key backing from it’s electricity producers and environmental groups.

“We’re hoping the digesters will not only capture greenhouse gases, but also because of the way the system works, there will be additional controls of other air pollutants,” said Courtney Washburn of the Idaho Conservation League. “Hopefully, it will make the lives of the neighbors a lot easier.”

The proposal package of income tax credits, property tax waivers and other incentives will need approval in the 2009 Legislature starting Jan. 12.