For Snohomish County PUD customers, you may have caught the most recent edition of their quarterly newsletter – Current. One brief article caught my eye entitled Poo Power Coming to a Home Near You. Did I mention it was brief? But wait, there has to be more to this story!
So I contacted Aaron Swaney of Snohomish County PUD Communications to learn more about this electric energy production site outside of Monroe. Maybe it was the 8-year old still in me that wanted to learn more about cow poop…er, energy.
Snohomish County PUD has had a partnership with Qualco Energy going back to 2014 to purchase electric power from this unique facility. Qualco Energy is a partnership between Northwest Chinook Recovery, Sno/Sky Agricultural Line, and the Tulalip Tribe. The partnership mission is to sharply reduce cow manure in area rivers to help fish, help farmers obtain a very efficient fertilizer, and generate electric power as part of the PUD grid – a true win, win, win for all involved.
Here is how the process works. From three local farms, there are about 2300 head of cows. That is a lot of cow pies! In fact, those cows produce about 60,000 gallons of manure each day. The manure is piped to one of the farms that hosts this project, dumping the material into a large collection pit. Food waste and even expired alcohol is dropped into this collection pit as well.
The collection pit material then moves to a bio-digester that performs much like a cow’s stomach. The bio-digester is huge, the size of a football field and 14 feet deep, shaped in a horseshoe. The bio-digester breaks down the waste into fertilizer and methane. The methane then is burned in a generator to produce about 300 kilowatts of power, enough to power about 300 homes.
Aaron highlighted that the PUD is ‘super proud of’ this partnership and this renewable clean energy. The PUD is so pleased that the PUD is working on a new partnership agreement this month to invest in a new electric power generator at this facility that will nearly double the amount of power generated.
Snohomish County PUD already has 95 percent of its electric power from clean energy resources with 85 percent coming from hydroelectric projects. Compared to wind and solar energy, this facility provides a steady resource or as Aaron put it – ‘that is gold!’ By state law, all electric power serving customers in the state needs to be 100 percent clean energy by 2045 and the non-profit PUD has only 5 percent to go. Expanding power generation from this facility outside of Monroe is another step toward that 100 percent goal. Aerial photos are available at: Aerial Photos
The 8-year old boy in me learned how cow poop, 60,000 gallons of cow pies per day, can be turned into electric power and help farmers obtain very effective fertilizer. What a win for all of us and our environment!