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Michigan State University developing a new way of producing energy down on the farm

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Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio
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Michigan State University’s dairy farm is helping the university cut down on its electricity bill. It may also someday help small Michigan farms meet their energy needs.

South of the East Lansing campus, MSU maintains about 180 dairy cows. The cows produce more than milk of course. Now, university researchers have something to do with all that waste.

University officials this week cut the ribbon on an anaerobic digester. The digester takes organic waste and creates methane. The methane can be used to create electricity or meet other energy needs.

Dana Kirk is the project manager. He says the digester shows how to create a sustainable, renewable energy project that’s financially viable for small farms in Michigan.

“We can export from this project 60 to 70 percent of the energy that we actually generate. It’s a net energy producer…and energy exporter….from a small farm,” says Kirk.

MSU is involved in a similar project in Costa Rica.

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Radio since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.