DATCP: Green Valley Dairy Uses Renewable Energy from Manure

Contact: Robin Engel, Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, 608-224-5002 3.28.06

Agriculture Secretary Nilsestuen, Energy Administrator Walker highlight anaerobic digestion process that turns manure into power, heat

KRAKOW – A herd of 2,500 head of cattle produces a lot of manure. Thanks to a renewable energy technology called anaerobic digestion, that manure can be turned into heat and electricity. Anaerobic digestion is an enclosed tank system that excludes oxygen, through which manure is passed and broken down by naturally occurring bacteria, that produces biogas. The resulting methane gas can be used to heat barns and offices and power lighting and other electrical needs on farms.

Green Valley Dairy in Krakow, Wisconsin, co-owned by Guy Selsmeyer, John & Mark Jacobs and Jim Van Den Berg, is using two anaerobic digesters on their farm to generate approximately four million kilowatt hours (kWh) of energy a year. In comparison, that is enough to power about 400 average Wisconsin homes for one year. In addition, excess heat from the anaerobic digesters will meet the heating needs in the milk parlor and other spaces at Green Valley Dairy.

Rod Nilsestuen, secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, visited the Dairy on March 28, 2006 to see first-hand how Green Valley Dairy’s process works.

“As electricity prices continue to rise in Wisconsin and the costs of renewable energy systems continue to fall, a growing number of the state’s large farms are implementing anaerobic digestion to reduce their utility bills and improve the environmental performance on the farm,” Secretary Nilsestuen said.

Focus on Energy, Wisconsin’s renewable energy and energy efficiency initiative, provided valuable technical assistance to Green Valley Dairy by identifying key changes in equipment that would make the farm more energy efficient overall. Focus on Energy also provided assistance throughout the process of installing the anaerobic digestion project. The cost of the project, which totaled over $2 million, was offset by a $179,700 grant from the United States Department of Agriculture. Focus on Energy also provided an additional grant of $45,000 for the project.

Kimberly Walker, administrator of the Wisconsin Division of Energy, accompanied Secretary Nilsestuen on the farm digester visit.

“Focus on Energy has a network of experts across the state and offers a variety of programs to help anyone plan, finance and install renewable energy systems like these two impressive digesters,” Walker said.

By supporting Wisconsin’s renewable energy marketplace, Focus on Energy’s Renewable Energy Program has made the sun, wind, water and organic materials a bigger part of Wisconsin’s energy mix and has helped ensure that Wisconsin’s residents and businesses have reliable and affordable sources of energy. Interest in renewable energy systems is growing rapidly.

For more information about Renewable Energy Programs, call Focus on Energy at 1-800-762-7077 or visit focusonenergy.com.

About the Focus on Energy Renewable Energy Program Focus on Energy is a public-private partnership that provides energy efficiency and renewable energy information and services to the state’s energy utility customers. Focus on Energy’s Renewable Energy Program seeks to raise awareness, provide training and financing, enhance marketing, promote technical assistance and support the installation of renewable energy technologies across Wisconsin.