Home Energy Management Green Mountain College Now Powered by Vermont Dairy Cows

Green Mountain College Now Powered by Vermont Dairy Cows


POULTNEY, VT.—In a state where it’s often theorized there are more cows than people, Green Mountain College believes it may now be the nation’s first cow-powered campus. The liberal arts college, which offers various courses in hospitality management, has just announced its enrollment in Central Vermont Public Service’s (CVPS) Cow Power program. Through it, the utility delivers energy created from burning biogas created from cow manure on Vermont dairy farms.

This initiative helps the college do its part to address global warming by reducing its carbon emissions by approximately 3,500 metric tons per year, or the equivalent of removing 758 passenger cars from use for a year.

The College has committed to designate 50 percent of its main campus electric usage as Cow Power and 100 percent on all its other accounts, which include the president’s house, the college farm, the college inn and alumni house, and an off-campus residence hall in Killington, VT. Total Cow Power enrollment will be approximately 1.2 million kilowatt-hours annually.

“This is a great step toward a sustainably-powered campus,” said Provost Bill Throop. “We are very happy to be supporting not just renewable energy, but also the regional economy and the family farms that are so important to the Vermont way of life. It is a good fit with our mission, and departments across campus are supporting the project from their own budgets because they feel it’s a priority.”

Blue Spruce Farm was the first CVPS Cow Power producer, generating since January 2005. Several other Vermont farms are in the process of developing generator projects and are expected online later this year and in 2007. Four farms recently received grant offers totaling more than $660,000 from CVPS to help get them started.

Cow Power Generated Locally

Green Mountain College officials were drawn to the idea that, unlike programs based on standard renewable energy certificates (also known as “green tags”), which simply ensure that renewable power is produced somewhere, Cow Power has the added benefit of being a local program where students and employees can actually see the farms where the power is being generated and learn about the process.

“We want our students learning how to support sustainable communities right here in Vermont and this helps us lead by example,” Throop says.

Cow Power is Green Mountain College’s latest effort in a string of projects aimed at making the 172-year-old campus more environmentally friendly. In 1999, the college completed a campuswide overhaul of its lighting and plumbing fixtures, earning the designation of EPA Energy Star Showcase Campus.

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