While manure may not be the “Texas tea” that powered Jed Clampett to Beverly Hills, it is potentially an energy source for power that can be sold into the electric grid. In Pennsylvania, dairy cows produce an estimated 5.5 million tons of reclaimable manure each year. Swine and dairy manure can power 86,000 homes or reduce the need for 384,459 barrels of oil.
Manure can be processed in manure digesters to produce biofuel. There are currently approximately 25 digesters in Pennsylvania, but that is likely to increase under a recent Public Utility Commission ruling that allows farmers in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed to sell excess power without limits. This has the side benefit of reducing pollution to the Bay. In addition, various government programs may offer funding to defray installation costs for biofuel digesters.