Hunter Haven Farms
Pearl City, Illinois
“At the time, we never knew our energy costs would rise so much. We just wanted to make our operations more energy efficient.”
Hunter Haven Farms is on the cutt ing edge of digester technology. In 2005, Doug Block and his brother, Tom, installed an anaerobic digester on their 600- head dairy farm in Northwestern Illinois. The 130 kW generator, designed in nearby Chilton, Wisconsin by GHD, Inc., was an immediate success. Hunter Haven is now producing energy to sell back to the power grid, helping to grow American renewable energy solutions.
“We built our digester two years aft er another farm in Southern Illinois completed theirs,” noted Block. “They have twice as many cows, but we’re producing more energy. The technology is a lot like computers. The development is rapid, but it needs seed money in order to thrive.”
In addition to creating natural gas from cow manure, which greatly reduces the farm’s heating expenditures, the digester produces a comfortable solid byproduct that can be used as bedding for the dairy cows.
Block was quick to point out that most of Hunter Haven’s cost savings comes from producing animal bedding. “We see about 35%-40% of our savings through production and sale of heat and electricity, but over 60% of our savings comes from bedding.”
Block received $240,000 through REAP, accounting for 25% of the project’s $960,000 cost. Additional funding from the Illinois Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity helped make the proposal a reality. Block, like so many other grant recipients, said that without REAP funding, “our project would have never been possible.”