New program could help dairies make money while cutting down on methane gas

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Dairy Operators face state requirements to do their part to clean the air and one program with incentives calls for capturing the natural gas in a big holding pond.

Dairy cows spend their day eating, producing milk and producing waste. The state has required dairies to reduce methane emissions.

Karen Ross, Ag Secretary, says she wants to see a 40% reduction in methane gas in the next few years.

Open Sky Ranch Dairy in Riverdale is one of several locally which has a covered lagoon manure digester.

Dairy operator Eric TeVelde took state officials on a tour to show them how it works.

Several times a day manure is flushed away, large solids are removed, and what's left gets stored in a big puffy trap.

"We've essentially installed a tarp over the manure storage pond so that it will capture all of the methane gas emissions that would normally go up into the air. Instead, we capture it and use it as fuel," said Daryl Maas with Maas Energy Works.

On Tevelde's dairy, a large engine is used to burn off the gas emissions. A second engine though will be used to process the gas and sell it back to PG&E.

"This kind of a program allows the dairy to comply with new environmental laws but it's not just a cost, they're actually generating revenue at the same time," said Maas.

The State of California has made $260 million dollars available in recent years for dairy operators to take on projects like this.

The program could cover about half of a five million dollar cost to build a dairy digester.

"The minute these emissions go into the air we all breathe them and are detrimental to our health so why not help our families here in the central valley help our farmers," said Democratic of Long Beach, Ricardo Lara.

Daryl Maas estimated this dairy can produce as much methane gas in a year as 5,000 cars.

The dairy we just showed you was the first in the state to take advantage of incentives to build a gas digester.
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