Photo of Senator Kennedy.

State Senator

Ted Kennedy, Jr.

Representing Branford, Durham, Guilford, Killingworth, Madison & North Branford

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Kennedy Leads Legislative Approval Of "Cow Power" Bill

SB 946 will help spark development of anaerobic digesters, enabling farmers to become the newest renewable energy producers

Connecticut farmers will now have the opportunity to join the green energy revolution, thanks to legislation championed by Senator Ted Kennedy, Jr. (D-Branford). Senate Bill 943 promotes the use of cow manure and food waste as a renewable energy source through the process of anaerobic digestion. The bill also creates an easier, cheaper and faster regulatory permitting process for farmers who are interested in adopting this technology.

An anaerobic digester is a large metal tank that uses bacteria to convert manure and food waste into valuable biogas, which, in turn, provides fuel to a generator that produces electricity that can be used by the farmers or sold on the power grid through virtual net metering. This can allow farmers to assign surplus energy production from their generator to other metered accounts.

"More than ever before, farm jobs are becoming green jobs, particularly when it comes to the development of renewable energy sources," said Senator Kennedy, Co-Chair of the Environment Committee. "Connecticut farmers are struggling to compete with industrial dairy operation in the Midwest, where labor and land costs are cheaper. The 'cow power' initiative will help even the scales by establishing a new source of farm revenue. This bill creates a pathway for Connecticut's dairy farmers to begin converting cow manure into electricity for sale. Instead of storing tons of manure in open cesspools that contaminate the water supply and release tons of climate-destroying methane into the atmosphere, farmers can place the animal waste in an anaerobic digester located on their property."

Senate Bill 943 authorizes $3 million in credits for farms that use anaerobic digesters for virtual net metering. These credits are expected to prompt the rapid development of six to ten anaerobic digester facilities on many of Connecticut's 111 registered dairy farms.

Senate Bill 943 makes other important changes related to agricultural energy. It modernizes the way that utility-scale solar projects are sited. The bill also promotes the development of the kelp seaweed industry in Long Island Sound by promoting the use of kelp oil as a biofuel. Kelp has emerged as an important source of jet fuel and heating oil, and the Sound possesses perfect environmental conditions for seaweed production.

Now that Senate Bill 943 has received legislative approval, it moves to the desk of Governor Dannel P. Malloy and awaits his signature.

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