Yates officials want to see if manure digester has support from dairies, community

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 8 September 2021 at 9:26 am

YATES – The Yates Town Board wants to reach out to the community to see if there would be support from dairy farms and residents for a manure digester, which converts methane gas into a biogas that can be converted into electricity.

The board on Tuesday discussed an initial feasibility study that shows there are plenty of cows in Yates and neighboring Somerset to do a large-scale digester that could be shared by more than one farm.

“It’s just an idea,” said Town Councilman John Riggi. “It’s nothing more than that now.”

The town wants to hear from dairies if they would support being a part of a digester, a project that Riggi said would likely come with grants from the state to help drive down the costs.

The digesters have become popular in the dairy industry, with many larger farms doing the projects on their own. Yates is looking at a project that could include more than one farm. If that happened, there would likely be a digester at a host farm, with others farms trucking manure to the site, and then picking up the finished fiber product – which is much less smelly and can be used for cow bedding or for horticultural purposes.

The town will look to form a committee to reach out to the dairy farms and residents. If there is interest in a project from the farms, Yates officials will likely pursue a more detailed feasibility study.

Riggi and Town Supervisor Jim Simon said the board will provide updates about the possible project in town newsletters and upcoming board meetings.

Riggi said he would only support the project if it proves a benefit for everyone in the town, and proves affordable with grants and incentives from the state.

He said a digester could also take pressure off Yates from hosting large-scale wind turbine and solar projects as the state pushes renewable energy.

“Every rural town has a target on its back with the renewable energy mandate,” Riggi said.

He sees a digester – using manure from dairies to ultimately create electricity – as a more appropriate renewable energy project in Yates than the large-scale wind and solar.