SUNY-Cobleskill to share grant to turn farm waste into energy

Tuesday, June 4, 2013
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— Cobleskill is among three state University of New York campuses slated to receive a 1 megawatt anaerobic biodigester that will be used to produce energy, reduce waste and train students in the field of bioenergy.

The college will join the campuses in Delhi and Morrisville in splitting a $15 million award through Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s NYSUNY 2020 Challenge Grant Program. The $15 million grant was among a total of $60 million in awards to 19 college campuses announced by the Cuomo administration Monday.

“The NYSUNY 2020 initiative ties our world-class SUNY system with the state’s economic development goals to both create good jobs for New Yorkers and enhance our higher education curriculum and training and research programs,” Cuomo said in a statement. “I am pleased to award a second round of these grants to projects that will make significant investments to our economy and will grow our agricultural, health, manufacturing, technology and clean-energy sectors and overall boost the economy in upstate New York.”

The state Bioenergy Learning Collaborative will develop the three commercial-scale biodigesters in an attempt to create an economical way to produce energy and dispose of regional agricultural residuals, including cow, horse and other livestock manure.

In addition, the project is designed to help regional farms expand their operations in a cost-effective manner, namely by allowing them to have an increased capacity to handle waste from animals.

The collaborative is expected to create about 200 construction jobs and 30 support jobs at each campus valued at roughly $8 million, according to the Cuomo administration. The project is also expected to sustain about 75 private-sector jobs in dairy production, food processing and yogurt manufacturing industries worth more than $3 million.

The project includes private partnerships with a number of local companies. In the Capital Region, these businesses include the yogurt producer Fage in Fulton County, Schenectady-based grocer Price Chopper and Beech-Nut in Montgomery County, in addition to various agricultural operations.

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