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Thursday, March 18, 2010

Elk Mound Dairy featured in "Farm Energy Success Stories"

From a news release issued by the Environmental Law & Policy Center:

A new report from the Environmental Law & Policy Center (ELPC) demonstrates how farmers and rural small businesses are making clean energy the newest cash crop. From a Pennsylvania syrup maker that cut its energy costs in half, to an Illinois dairy that generates electricity frommanure (using a Wisconsin company’s technology), to a Montana brewery that taps solar power, clean energy is improving the bottom line for rural America.

Farm Energy Success Stories highlights clean energy projects made possible with grants and loan guarantees from the Farm Bill’s Rural Energy for America Program (REAP). The report cover highlights a Wisconsin solar project in Burlington, Wisconsin and another Wisconsin solar project in Oak Creek is highlighted as a Success Story. A previous report highlighted the manure digester at Five Star Dairy in Elk Mound.

Wisconsin has benefitted from this federal program due to our clean energy leadership, as other states struggle to compete. Wisconsin farmers and rural small businesses have received over $15 million (third highest) in funding under the program, with most awards being for manure digesters, helping to make Wisconsin the national leader for (planned) farm digester development.

However, even with REAP funding, many of these digesters have not yet been built because Wisconsin’s farmers often have trouble getting a fair deal from utilities for their clean “cow power.” The Clean Energy Jobs Act -- as currently drafted prior to weakening amendments -- would change that by providing fair Advanced Renewable Tariffs (a.k.a. “renewable energy buyback rates”) for farm energy projects statewide.

“With the help of farmers, ranchers and rural small businesses, America and Wisconsin can make great strides toward solving our energy problems.” said Andy Olsen, Senior Policy Advocate for ELPC. “A strong Clean Energy Jobs Act can also create rural economic development, energy independence and a cleaner environment one farm at a time.”

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