DAYTON, Ohio (AP) _ Chickens and cows in northwest Ohio will
soon be helping turn on lights and power up air conditioners.
Wenning Poultry, with 580,000 chickens, and Bridgewater Dairy of Williams County, which has 3,800 cows, are in the process of installing digesters to capture the methane gas in manure and convert it into electricity. The process reduces the smell of manure as well.
"More of our neighbors will take it for fertilizer because the people who live near their farms won't complain that it smells," said Chris Weaver, whose family owns and operates the dairy. The family hopes to have the methane digester operating by year's end. Weaver said it will produce about 30 percent more energy than the farm will use.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has agreed to chip in
$500,000 of the $2 million that each digester costs, said Randy
Monhemius, business program specialist.
The Ohio Department of Development has set aside $1.5 million in
2008-09 for digesters in areas served by investor-owned utilities
such as the Dayton Power & Light Co., said department spokeswoman
The manure is dropped into an anaerobic _ or oxygen-free _
digester, a swimming pool-like structure that extracts methane gas
from the manure and uses it to power a generator. The generator
sends electricity through transformers and onto the grid.
The number of electricity-producing manure digesters on U.S.
farms has more than doubled in the past two years, according to the
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The 135 systems produce 248
million kilowatt-hours of electricity annually _ enough renewable
energy to power more than 20,000 average-size American homes.
Next to labor, energy is the largest single operating cost on
Energy usage on farms is expected to increase 20 percent or more
in the next 20 years, said Dale Arnold, the Ohio Farm Bureau
Federation's energy services director. He said farmers are looking
for ways to control those costs.
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