Vermonters, Get Your Cow Power

Seven-hundred St. Albans cows will make more than milk today–they’ll make electricity.

The Dave and Cathy Montagne Farm will become the latest to join the CVPS Cow Power program today, generating electricity from cow manure and helping to solve numerous environmental challenges in the process.  They have the capacity to handle manure from up to 1,200 cows.

The farm produces over 15 million pounds of milk a year, and is expected to produce 1.4 million kilowatt-hours (KWh) of electricity a year.

To create energy, manure and other agricultural waste are held in a sealed concrete tank at the same temperature as a cow’s stomach, 101 degrees. Bacteria digest the volatile components, creating methane and killing pathogens and weed seeds. The methane, which is roughly 20 times more harmful than carbon dioxide in trapping heat in the atmosphere, fuels an engine/generator.

CVPS customers can choose to receive all, half or a quarter of their electrical energy through Cow Power, and pay a premium of 4 cents per KWh.  It goes to participating farm-producers, to purchase renewable energy credits when enough farm energy isn’t available, or to the CVPS Renewable Development Fund. The fund provides grants to farm owners to develop on-farm generation. Farm-producers are also paid 95 percent of the market price for all of the energy sold to CVPS.

 “Cow Power is an opportunity for farmers to significantly reduce their environmental impact while creating clean, renewable energy,” farm owner David Montagne said.  “Like the emergence of automated milking and the bulk milk tank decades ago, CVPS Cow Power has the potential to change the way Vermont dairy farms do business.  This will make our farm stronger.”

The Montagne Farm is the fourth to join the program, preceded by Blue Spruce Farm in Bridport, Pleasant Valley Farm in Berkshire and Green Mountain Dairy in Sheldon. Over 4,400 customers have enrolled; making Cow Power is one of the fastest-growing renewable energy programs in the country.

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