Five Star Dairy

Elk Mound, Wisconson

Anaerobic Digester
Section 9006 Grant: $108,000

farmbill-success-stories_page_12_image_0002Five Star Dairy, an 800-head dairy farm owned by Lee Jensen, began operating its anaerobic digester in June 2005. The digester includes an engine generator set that will use the biogas to generate up to 775 kW of electricity, enough power to supply 600 homes. Microgy, Inc. constructed and will maintain Five Star’s digester.

This project is appealing because it is a hands-free operation for Mr. Jensen. All that he needs to supply is the manure. Microgy will maintain the digester. Dairyland Power Cooperative, a large electrical cooperative based in western Wisconsin, is buying all of the biogas under a 30-year contract. Dairyland owns the on-site generator and will sell the power to its members.

The Five Star Dairy project demonstrates a replicable approach for a renewable energy technology that generates farm income while also reducing livestock waste problems. The anaerobic digestion process kills harmful bacteria and decreases odors from the manure. An outside company maintains the system so that the farmer can focus on what he knows best: raising and milking cattle. Finally, the local electric cooperative uses the biogas for electricity generation, lowering the project costs and complexity for the farmer.

Wisconsin, “The Dairy State,” is a leader in promoting the use of anaerobic digesters. The state’s Focus on Energy program and Biogas Development Group offer extensive outreach and technical assistance to the state’s dairy farmers, and their work produces results: In the first five years of the Section 9006 program, USDA has awarded grants to 33 Wisconsin farmers