Neighborhood Energy LLC at Maxwell Farms
$357,990 Grant +
$326,770 Loan Guarantee
Economic stability and homegrown renewable American energy go hand-in-hand. When Matt hew Maxwell returned from Boston to his family’s rural Vermont farm he knew that the dairy industry had changed. “Milk prices were low at the time. I mean really low,” he said. “I knew that we needed to diversify our revenue and create some stability.”
Maxwell Farms’ Neighborhood Energy, LLC, joined the Central Vermont Public Service (CVPS) Cow Power program, becoming the fifth farm to use an anaerobic digester. With a $357,990 grant and a $326,770 loan guarantee from REAP, $250,000 from the Vermont Clean Energy Development Fund, $100,000 from CVPS, and $75,000 from the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, the $1.8 million project was on sound financial footing.
Maxwell projects a net income from the project of $224,900 each year, resulting in a 6.4-year payback. The financial benefi ts come from a number of sources, including electricity production and sales, animal bedding savings and sales, sale of excess solids, and tax credits. The generator has a 225 kW capacity, which can produce up to 1.75 million kWh of electricity each year, or enough to power almost 200 homes.
In addition to producing electricity, the farm’s anaerobic digester removes harmful bacteria from the cow manure, producing a high-value bedding that can be produced and used right on the farm.
“With the bedding especially we’ve seen huge savings. Sawdust bedding used to be one of our biggest expenses,” noted Maxwell. “This technology is the type of thing that allows a third generation kid like me to move back to the farm,” he said. “To us, the important thing is that the technology is getting better every day. The key is that we continue to pilot the process in the fi eld so that we can improve efficiency and make the technology efficient for smaller farms.”