Governor Signs Net Metering For New York Farmers

Governor George E. Pataki has signed net metering legislation that will encourage farmers to sell excess electricity generated through the use of anaerobic digesters to utilities.

Albany, New York – September 23, 2002 [] This new legislation will make the installation and operation of anaerobic digesters more economically feasible for New York farmers, while providing them with an important tool to address environmental concerns and to reduce their energy costs. “The legislation will generate new sources of revenue for our family farms, allowing them to remain competitive, while maintaining our high standards for protecting the State’s environment,” said Pataki. “This is one more example of how New York State is making greater use of Renewable Energy resources in an effort to decrease our dependence on imported energy.” Net metering laws already exist for electricity generated by solar panels on homes. The new legislation would expand those laws to include technically qualified farms as potential net metering customers who generate power from methane. Net metering offers farmers a way to reduce operating costs, while generating additional cash flow as a result of selling electricity to utilities. Anaerobic digestion also gives farmers the opportunity to profit from compost sales and the use of nutrient-rich liquids in lieu of high-cost synthetic fertilizers. Methane released from New York State’s agricultural industry represents a source of greenhouse gas emissions. By anaerobically digesting the manure, capturing the methane, and combusting it to generate electricity, the result is reduced greenhouse gas emissions. Estimates indicate that with net metering rules in place, the farms most likely to operate digesters to generate electricity could reduce annual greenhouse gas emissions by 40,000 metric tons of carbon equivalent, or about the equivalent of removing more than 32,000 cars from the State’s roadways. Net metering could save the typical farm about US$6,000 per year, according to New York officials. Currently, there are less than a dozen farms operating digesters to generate electricity in New York State.
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