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Farms Sells Manure Power to Alliant

STOCKTON, Iowa (CBS2/FOX28) -- If a feed lot full of cattle doesn't strike you as electric, maybe you aren't seeing them clearly enough.

All Bryan Sievers sees when he looks at 2,400 head of cattle is power, "six to 650 kilowatt hours at any one time."

That's because Sievers, and his company, AgriReNew, takes the manure that these cows produce, collects it, and turns it into electricity that he sells to Alliant Energy. With the help of several grants, Sievers and his wife spent $7 million to  build the anaerobic digester system on their farm.

"Lisa and I made the commitment and we put it all on the line because we felt strongly in this project," he said.

A giant tank in a barn just outside of the AgriReNew feedlot mixes the collected manure with corn waste. The system heats the mixture and traps the resulting methane gas. Pipes run the gas through a generator, creating electricity. On a given day, AgriReNew creates enough to power nearly 700 homes, with a capacity of 1,000 homes.

It is good news for the environment, because methane is about 20 times more harmful for the ozone layer than carbon dioxide. The system keeps that methan out of the air, and it lets Iowans keep powering their homes farther into the future.

"It's a small part today, but in the future, we expect it to be a growing part of what we do," said Alliant Energy president of utility Doug Kopp.

AgriReNew makes about $24,000 every month from the power it sells to Alliant, and they are not even at full capacity yet.
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