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Anaerobic digester on the Jordan Dairy Farm in Rutland, MA. Photo: <a href="">USDA</a>, Creative Commons, some rights reserved
Anaerobic digester on the Jordan Dairy Farm in Rutland, MA. Photo: USDA, Creative Commons, some rights reserved

NY makes $20M available for anaerobic digesters

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) New York state is making $20 million available to dairy farmers to turn waste into energy.

The money through the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority will go toward the installation of anaerobic digesters, which make electricity and heat from organic wastes like manure.  Go to full article
Grass grown as an annual crop for biofuel. Photo: <a href="">Allan Harris</a>, CC <a href="">some rights reserved</a>
Grass grown as an annual crop for biofuel. Photo: Allan Harris, CC some rights reserved

Biomass deal a step in taking the corn out of ethanol

Sweetwater Energy, based in Rochester, has made their second $100-million biomass deal in as many months.

It's a step in replacing corn in ethanol production, and they're setting their sights on comparable deals every month over the next two years.  Go to full article
Pat Curran is on the cutting edge of a new and challenging energy revolution. Photo: Jasmine Wallace
Pat Curran is on the cutting edge of a new and challenging energy revolution. Photo: Jasmine Wallace

Massena pellet mill at the forefront of renewable energy industry

This week, North Country Public Radio has been taking another look at how renewable and local energy might reshape the region's economy.

State and local leaders are making big investments in everything from hydro to biomass. And more and more families and businesses are slowly converting away from fossil fuels, adding solar panels or small wind turbines. But big hurdles remain. Start-up costs for green energy technology are steep. Government incentives can be confusing. Many consumers are sticking with natural gas and oil, at least for the time being.

One of the men on the front line of this turbulent energy revolution is Pat Curran. He opened Curran Renewable Energy in Massena three years ago with $11 million in support from the St. Lawrence County Industrial Development Agency. He makes burnable wood pellets, supplying some big institutions, including Clarkson University in Potsdam and the Wild Center in Tupper Lake.

Wood pellets are cheaper than fuel oil and much better for the environment. But Curran has struggled to find enough customers to keep his plant operating. Jasmine Wallace has our profile.  Go to full article

Idled Fort Drum coal plant to have greener reopening

An Albany energy company plans to buy an idled coal plant on Fort Drum and convert it to run on renewable biomass materials.  Go to full article

The Future of Corn

You might think you know corn - as in corn tortillas, corn-flakes, corn-bread and so on. But do you really know corn? Like, did you know that our last harvest could be one of our biggest, or that most American corn is genetically modified? Shawn Allee reports experts want us to get re-acquainted with our biggest crop because we need to make huge decisions about its future.  Go to full article

Ag department giving dairy farmers money for methane

The US Department of Agriculture is planning to give dairy farmers more money to cut some of their greenhouse gas emissions. Rebecca Williams has more.  Go to full article

Story 2.0: Making pellets from switchgrass

The federal stimulus package and President Obama's budget provides billions dollars for green energy, including a 6 billion dollar loan guarantee program for renewables and biofuels. On a much smaller scale, an innovative biofuels project is making headway in the North Country. In our Story 2.0 series, we catch up with dairy farmer Tom Lee, who's making pellets from switchgrass grown on marginal farmland.  Go to full article
Tom Lee surveys the switchgrass plots he planted this spring.
Tom Lee surveys the switchgrass plots he planted this spring.

Grass pellets: growing the North Country's own energy

The price of oil has been going down lately, but people are still worried about heating their homes this winter. The skyrocketing prices of oil and natural gas are fueling a run on pellet stoves. A winter's heat from pellet stoves can cost half of that from an oil furnace. Dealers across the North Country report they can't keep up with demand. The pellets themselves are made from wood scraps at factories across North America. But alternative energy and agricultural leaders believe high prices are hastening the day when pellets are made from grass. And they hope that grass will be grown right here in the North Country. David Sommerstein reports.  Go to full article

Preview: 13th annual Sustainable Energy Fair

NCPR is media sponsor for the 13th annual North Country Sustainable Energy Fair at SUNY Canton this weekend. The fair includes more than 50 workshops, panels and demonstrations from alternative energy to zero carbon houses. Todd Moe talks with Patricia Greene of Community Energy Services, one of the organizers of the event.  Go to full article

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