Buckeye dairy turns cow poop into power

Posted at 5:30 AM, Aug 16, 2017
and last updated 2017-08-16 09:26:10-04

At this Buckeye dairy farm, nothing goes to waste. 

"Sustainability has always been one of our big things," said Stotz Dairy manager Jennifer Millican. 

The farm is one of two in the state using what's called a 'methane digester' -- a system to, simply put, turn cow waste into usable power. 

Waste water collected from the dairy's 20,000 cattle flows into a pond where solids are filtered out and used as fertilizer. The remaining fluid is then put under a 7-acre tarp where methane gas is collected and piped to a generator. The system produces enough energy to power 487 homes. 

"We actually produce more methane gas during the summer when more energy is needed," said Mons Ellingson, project manager for Environmental Capital Management. The company went to the dairy five years ago with the idea. 

"This has been a real science project for me. I get to wear many hats," Ellingson said. 

Environmental Capital manages the methane digester and transfers the power generated from it to California where, Ellingson said, it's worth more. There's no economic incentive to keep the power in the state, he said. A national big-box retailer, that he declined to name, then buys the power to use in their operations.