Funding, Partnerships Secured to Begin Project in Coming Weeks in Town of Springfield
Construction of Dane County’s second “Cow Power” facility is set to begin in the coming weeks as final agreements needed for the project are slated to be approved this evening, Dane County Executive Joe Parisi announced today.
Pending approval by the Dane County Board at their meeting tonight, the agreements will secure $3.3 million in previously-awarded grant funding from the state to help finance construction of the digester just outside of Middleton. The agreements also formalize private ownership and operations of the facility with Gundersen Health System.
The digester will take manure from three farms - the Ziegler Dairy Farm, Blue Star Dairy (Owned by the Meinholz Family), and the Hensen Brothers Farm – and convert it into enough electricity to power around 2,500 homes.
The new facility has the ability to safely store millions of gallons of manure to help these farmers keep it off the land during periods of high run-off. The digester also has emergency manure storage capabilities for neighboring farms that may have storage difficulties during excessively long, wet, Winters and Springs.
“By working together – the public sector, the private sector, business, and agriculture, -- we are helping clean up our lakes, create homegrown ‘green’ energy, and make it easier for our multi-generation family farms to keeping growing their herds, crops and our local economy,” Parisi said.
Parisi included $300,000 in this year’s county budget to fund a new water treatment system for this digester that will remove 100% of the pollutant phosphorus that’s found in manure. Phosphorus is the leading cause of green algae and other weed growth in Dane County’s lakes and comes from both urban and rural sources. Through innovative technology, this new system will convert liquid manure into clean water.
Through a similar public/private partnership, Dane County helped develop the first “Cow Power” facility shared by neighboring farms just north of Waunakee. That facility has been operational since 2011.
Madison Gas and Electric will purchase the 2 megawatt hours of electricity annually from the Springfield facility through the burning of methane gas – enough to power approximately 2,500 homes. The electricity will be added to the local electric grid to help serve all customers.
Dane County has 400 dairy farms, which equates to approximately 50,000 dairy cows. Dairy farming is a $700-million a year industry in the county that supports 4,000 jobs.
**It should be noted that the Cow Power Facility was approved at the board meeting**