BOSTON, MA - JANUARY 16, 2009 - A group of six dairy farmers in Massachusetts are joining forces to reduce their environmental footprint, generate green power and preserve the Commonwealth's rural agricultural communities by forming "AGreen Energy". The first of its kind in the State, the farmers participating in the AGreen Energy group will provide manure as an input to small-scale anaerobic digesters on each participating farm and generate biogas that can be converted to electricity and sold to the grid. Other benefits include potential improvements to air and water quality on the farm.
"In addition to receiving a cost savings on their bedding and electric bills, the renewable energy becomes an electricity source for the rural community contributing to energy independence. This dairy waste-to-energy process will improve nutrient management, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and reduce landfill pressures as it uses organic compostable waste. The environmental benefits of a fertilizer with 90% less odor and water enhancements are of value to the farm and the community" says Bill Jorgenson, Managing Principal of SJH and Company, Inc.
The material for the digesters will be supplemented with organic food waste from Massachusetts's compost program for food processors and restaurants. "This allows increased biogas production and reduces the burden on the Commonwealth's landfills," adds Jorgenson. "It costs money to manage organic waste, whether it goes to a landfill or it is used in a project like this. Using it to generate renewable energy and stabilize some of our farm expenses is a no-brainer," says Randy Jordan of Jordan Farm in Rutland, MA.
The AGreen Energy dairy farmer group has seventeen collaborating partners, ranging from utilities and government agencies, to financial institutions and local universities. "It takes a lot of partners to provide all of the inputs needed to generate green energy, and to get the product into the marketplace," says Jorgenson.
Two AGreen Energy group members secured an award in July from the Massachusetts Renewable Energy Trust (http://www.masstech.org/renewables) to move into the design and construction phase for digesters on their farms. Working with the Patrick Administration, the Trust supports renewable energy projects across the Commonwealth to maximize the environmental and economic benefits of clean energy technologies for the citizens, businesses, and communities of Massachusetts.
"There are many ways to put clean energy to work to achieve Governor Patrick's vision of a clean energy future for Massachusetts, and I am pleased with the increasing role played by the Commonwealth's agricultural sector," said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Ian Bowles, whose secretariat includes both the Department of Agricultural Resources and the Department of Energy Resources. "I commend the environmental leadership shown by these Massachusetts dairy farmers. Their project will pay dividends to the individual farms involved, while advancing the state's renewable energy goals and reducing greenhouse gas emissions."
"Reducing costs for our dairy farmers in these uncertain times while providing them with another source of income selling renewable energy is a win-win for us all," said Commissioner of Agricultural Resources Doug Petersen.
This group is part of a new business, AGreen Energy, LLC. This LLC will manage these AGreen Energy farm projects, that are scaled to serve farms with less than 500 head of dairy cattle, the predominate type of dairy farm in New England. AGreen Energy is a model that will benefit Massachusetts, and is also catching on across the country. The LLC is now working with the Florida Farm Bureau who received a Value-Added Producers Grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to develop a bankable business plan for energy generation on dairy farms. The University of Florida is the main collaborator on this project along with 22 other organizations and agencies.
More information on AGreen Energy is available on SJH's website at: www.sjhandco.com.