COLCHESTER, VT--(Marketwired - Apr 26, 2013) - Green Mountain Power customers across Vermont can now support a pure Vermont form of renewable energy produced by over 10,000 Vermont dairy cows, thanks to a new ruling by the Vermont Public Service Board approving the expansion of the GMP Cow Power Program from the limited territory previously served by CVPS to the entire GMP service territory.
Cow Power was first offered to customers in 2004, as an innovative way to offer new, local renewable energy choices. The GMP Cow Power program currently includes 12 farms, and generates 16 million kilowatthours per year -- enough to completely power 2,200 average Vermont homes.
"We are so excited to be able to offer GMP Cow Power to 90,000 additional Green Mountain Power customers," said Mary Powell, CEO of Green Mountain Power. "This program has so many benefits for farms, for the environment, and for Vermont as a whole. The expansion of this program is one more way that we can increase renewable power in Vermont."
To produce Cow Power, farmers feed cow manure into an on-site anaerobic digester. Naturally occurring microbes in the digester convert the waste into several useful byproducts, one of which is methane gas. The methane fuels an engine which drives an electric generator. Heat generated from this process is repurposed to keep the digester warm, and can offset fuel purchases on the farm for hot water and space heating. The energy generated is fed into the GMP electrical system for distribution to customers.
The coarse plant fibers left over are processed through a mechanical separator. These odorless solids can be used to replace sawdust or sand as bedding for the animals. Solids not used for bedding may be further processed and sold as a garden soil. The liquid portion is an enhanced fertilizer used to grow crops to feed the cows.
Vermont dairy farms currently producing GMP Cow Power include Blue Spruce Farm, Gervais Family Farm, Green Mountain Dairy, Chaput Family Farms, Montagne Farm, Dubois Farm, Berkshire Pleasant Valley Farm, Monument Farms, Maxwell's Neighborhood Farm, Kane's Scenic River Farm, Maplehurst Farm, and Four Hills Farm.
Matt Maxwell is a farmer at Maxwell's Neighborhood Farm in Coventry, VT, which has been producing Cow Power since 2008. "We joined the program because milk prices were so low, and we were looking for a separate, steady income stream," he said. "It's been great for us. There's the income from the sale of electricity. We're using the dry by-product as bedding for our 750 dairy cows, and we have excess to sell to other farmers and landscapers. With excess heat from the engine we've been able to heat a 2,600 square foot greenhouse where we raise broccoli and greens for the wholesale market all winter, and tomatoes and peppers in the summer. We also heat our machine shop with the excess heat, which means we buy way less heating oil. When people pay a little extra to buy GMP Cow Power, they are helping the environment, and they are helping Vermont farmers stay in business."
Green Mountain Power customers who want to buy GMP Cow Power can enroll by call 1-888-835-4672, or by completing a form on the Green Mountain Power website. Customers can choose to buy 25%, 50%, or 100% of their energy from Cow Power, and pay an extra four cents per kilowatt hour premium. If an average Vermont household using 600 kwh a month decided to get 25% of their energy from GMP Cow Power, they would pay an extra $6 per month.
Current GMP Cow Power customers include 2,800 individual households that buy all or part of their electricity through the program. One hundred and ninety Vermont businesses buy Cow Power, including Killington Resort, Long Trail Brewing Company, Harrison Concrete, Vermont Hard Cider, Drew's All Natural, Vermont Clothing Company, Middlebury College, Mary Meyer Inc., Stark Mountain Woodworking, Green Mountain College, Cobb Hill Community, The Equinox Resort, Handy Toyota, the Vermont Community Foundation, Cooperative Insurance, the Green Mountain National Forest, and the Marsh Billings Rockefeller National Park.
Vermont Hard Cider Company of Middlebury, Vt., maker of Woodchuck Hard Cider, has purchased over 1 million kWh through the Cow Power program since 2010. "As a Vermont business it only makes sense to invest in Vermont," says Bret Williams, President and CEO of Vermont Hard Cider. "This is something bigger than Woodchuck. Cow Power is about people: People forging meaningful partnerships around innovative technologies that better the planet and our local communities. Paying a small premium to help new energy ideas flourish in our own backyard is worth it to us."
There is a growing need for Vermonters to support GMP Cow Power, rather than sell the renewable energy out of state. Presently the 12 GMP Cow Power farms are producing about 500 MWH more energy than the 2990 customers are purchasing. GMP Cow Power payments go entirely to Vermont Cow Power farmers.
About Green Mountain Power
Green Mountain Power (www.greenmountainpower.com) generates, transmits, distributes and sells electricity in the state of Vermont. The company, which serves more than 250,000 customers, has set its vision to be the best small company in America.