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“Cow Power” Open House! Oct 8, 10 am – 2 pm

Chaput Family Farm Photo, source: CVPS web site

Chaput Family Farm Photo, source: CVPS web site

Ever wanted to see what “cow power” looks like? Now you can! Chaput Family Farms is hosting a free Cow Power Open House Oct. 8 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Chaput Family Farms, 2473 Route 105 East in North Troy. Farm tours, renewable energy information and a free picnic lunch will be available.

Chaput Family Farms began generating power from cow manure on Aug. 3, 2010, and is expected to produce about 1.6 million kilowatt-hours of electricity annually. It is the third farm in VEC’s service territory producing clean renewable energy from cow manure through collaborative efforts of VEC and the CVPS Cow Power™ program. The farm is the seventh to join CVPS Cow Power™. It is expected to provide enough energy for nearly 250 homes.

“The project is beneficial on so many levels for our dairy operation,” said Reg Chaput. “We’re excited to be producing electricity and we want to share this excitement with our friends, neighbors and vendors. This will be a fun and educational day for people of all ages.

“We also appreciate the grants from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Vermont Clean Energy Development Fund, CVPS Renewable Development Fund and the Vermont Agency of Agriculture,” Chaput said.

“USDA Rural Development is committed to helping farmers develop renewable energy systems that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions and protect the environment,” said Molly Lambert, USDA Rural Development state director. “Projects like the Chaput Family Farms anaerobic digester facilitate the growth of a strong rural economy by providing a steady source of clean energy and providing real opportunities for the next generation, so that Vermont remains a great place to live, work and raise a family.”

Chaput Family Farms is a partnership of Reg and Mike Chaput, and was the result of the consolidation of four farms owned individually by Mike, Reg, and their father, Leo.

Chaput Family Farms milk about 830 cows every day and have over 1,000 other dairy animals on the farm, including new calves and other young stock. Chaput Family Farms has been recognized over the years with numerous Milk Quality Awards and was awarded a Vermont Dairy of Distinction award in 2007. In 2010 it also became the first dairy operation in Vermont to receive the Governor’s Award on Workplace Safety.

VEC worked closely with the Chaputs on the interconnection process. “It’s important for us to ensure there are no adverse impacts to our system or other VEC members’ service quality,” said Dean Denis, VEC Distribution Manager and Project Manager for the Chaput project. “We are pleased that through collaborative efforts of Chaput Family Farms, VEC and CVPS, a third farm in the Co-op’s territory is generating clean renewable energy.”

The farm’s new digester will provide electric energy to the Vermont grid, while CVPS Cow Power™ will purchase renewable energy certificates and all environmental attributes of the energy production system. CVPS customers can choose to receive all, half or quarter of their electrical energy through Cow Power, and pay a premium of 4 cents per kilowatt hour. 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.

CVPS provided Chaput Family Farms a grant of $100,000 to help underwrite start-up costs through its Renewable Development Fund.

3 comments to “Cow Power” Open House! Oct 8, 10 am – 2 pm

  • Schuyler Gould

    From a reader: I got your cow power update. I can’t find anywhere to log on to leave a comment.

    I am interested in what happens to the “digested” manure.

  • Hi Schuyler – I asked Steve Costello from CVPS & Cow Power today. Here is the answer to your question. Hope this helps. Let us know if you would like to know anything else:
    “After the manure goes through the digester, it is separated into solids and liquids. The solids, which are simply undigested grasses and grains, look like peat moss. They are dried and used as animal bedding, saving the farms tens of thousands of dollars per year in sawdust costs. Once soiled, the bedding goes back into the digester for further digesting. The liquids are spread as fertilizer as they always have been. But since it is “thinner”, it is incorporated into the soil more easily, and all pathogens (e coli, etc.) that were previously in the manure are dead, killed in the digester.”

  • Schuyler Gould

    Thank you. “undigested grasses and grains” doesn’t sound right, though. Aren’t the solids in fact the “digested”(i.e., by the digester) grasses and grains(however well digested they had been previously by the cows)? Are there substantive nutrients left in the solids which might make them appropriate as a soil amendment? And how are they dried? Thank you.

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