June 15, 2004 | General

Pennsylvania Dairy Farms Join Manure-To-Electric Program

BioCycle June 2004, Vol. 45, No. 6, p. 55
Similar methods that were used to finance wind and solar power are now being applied to boost biomass conversion for “green tag” energy benefits.
George Hoguet

A PROGRAM to use methane and other biomass projects in Pennsylvania with support of the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture and Environmental Protection, and financing from the West Penn, Met Ed, and Pennelec Sustainable Energy Funds, has been introduced by a company called Native Energy. The company is in the process of completing arrangements to bring funds to a half dozen dairy farms, the first of which is the Schrack Family Dairy Farm near Loganton, Pennsylvania. It is expected that success with the first round projects will encourage other farms to participate.
The Pennsylvania DEP’s Energy Harvest Grant Program has awarded $5 million in 2004 to support clean energy project development. In February, the Schrack Family Farm was selected to receive one of the grants to purchase and install an anaerobic digester “that will turn methane from manure into renewable energy, reduce the family’s monthly utility bills, use waste heat to process manure into marketable compost, reduce nutrient runoff into area waterways, and help control local odor.” The 1,800-acre Schrack Family Farm is home to 1,200 cows – including calves and heifers, 500 of which are milking cows.
By using methane to produce electricity with a 165 kW generator and recovering waste heat to reduce oil-fired water heating, the farm will displace electricity on the grid and keep tons of carbon dioxide pollution out of the air. The project is expected to keep over 18,000 tons of CO2 out of the air over the next 20 years.
“With NativeEnergy’s participation, these farm methane projects are winners for Pennsylvania households and businesses too, providing them a low-cost option to ‘green up’ their electricity use and to offset their own contributions to global warming,” says Tom Boucher, NativeEnergy president and CEO. Modeled after its national WindBuilders concept, its CoolHome and CoolBusiness programs provide an innovative option. Without having to switch energy suppliers or install any equipment, homeowners and companies can convert to renewable electricity regardless of where they live or work. Through up-front purchase of the projects’ renewable energy production credits, those same purchases can help directly finance construction of anaerobic digestion equipment, for example.
The approach has worked to help finance construction of new wind farms, solar as well as biomass projects, allowing support to come from nonlocal customers living at greater distances than the electricity grid can reach. “The market for ‘green tags’ extends throughout the country,” Boucher adds, “so CoolHome and CoolBusiness are available to anyone concerned with promoting renewable energy and helping America achieve energy independence.” Details on the methane recovery programs on Pennsylvania dairy farms will also be available at the 34th Annual National BioCycle Conference in Philadelphia June 21-23, 2004.
George Hoguet directs Mid-Atlantic operations for NativeEnergy and is based in Philadelphia. For more information on these biomass conversion projects or “green tags,” Hoguet can be contacted via email at: or visit

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