SHIPPENSBURG – A Cumberland County dairy farm is getting noticed for converting cow waste into electricity to power the entire operation.
Dairy farmer Bob Keefer’s children are all grown up, but his dad days aren’t over.
“We have 650 milk cows,” Keefer said. “We have a Nicky. There’s a Clare.”
Like any good dad, Keefer is still cleaning up poo.
“Yes, they produce a lot,” he said.
That’s 22,000 gallons of waste a day to be exact.
For the Keefers, that’s not such a bad thing considering manure pays their electric bill.
“Before we put the digester in, (the electricity) was running between $7,000 and $10,000 a month,” Keefer said.
Now, he says it’s zero.
The digester takes in manure and extracts methane gas. It’s enough to fully power the motor that runs the Keefer’s dairy farm, which is one of the largest in Cumberland County.
“It’s like a diesel motor, only it’s running off methane gas,” Keefer said.
It’s gas that would otherwise hurt the environment.
“It causes the ozone layer to get polluted,” he said.
The $1.8 million machinery was almost fully paid for by grants to encourage farmers to have a greener footprint.
Closer to home, Keefer’s digester is also helping his neighbors. He makes enough energy to send some to the grid and gets a few extra thousand dollars from the utility companies for it.
But most importantly to Keefer, it allows him to milk his farm for all it’s worth, which last year could have meant everything.
“The milk price was low. I would have still had my utility bill,” he said. “That utility bill would have run me close to in the red, but then I have my digester.”