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EXETER, Maine(NEWS CENTER) -- A Maine dairy farm is converting cow manure into electricity through a concept known as anaerobic digestion. The process is on line and producing enough electricity to power 800 homes.

The operation is a partnership between an old, family-owned dairy farm, some spin-off companies, the government and institutional investors.

Stonyvale Farm has been in the Fogler family for five generations. It is an active dairy farm. Descendant Adam Wintle formed Biogas Energy Partners which put together the plan and organized the financing. He received support from Farm Credit of Maine, U. S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development and Efficiency Maine. The project cost about five million dollars and is financed over ten years.

The anaerobic digestion process involves treating and then heating manure until it produces methane. The methane is then burned in a 16-cylinder 1,500 horsepower engine producing electricity.

The facility in Maine is aStonyvale subsidiary called Exeter Agri-Energy. Management teams at all three companies have close ties to the University of Maine system. Many are related to Raymond Fogler who lived on the farm and for whom the University of Maine library is named.

Exeter Agri-Energy is a dual vessel, on megawatt co-digestion system with a total daily treatment volume of approximate 32,000 gallons or 150 wet tons. About 75% is cow manure and 25% is food waste.

The project has many benefits. It helps the bottom line of Stonyvale Farm and also flattens out its revenue. The dairy industry can feature sharp rises and drops in income based on the cost of milk.

By destroying manure, it reduces the odorand also helps the farm's nutrient management program, thuslessening the threat to the local watershed. It also destroys methane on the equivalent order of removing three thousand cars from the highway each year.

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