A cheese factory in Atwater is going "green" to make "yellow".
Joseph Gallo Farms requires a lot of milk from their dairy cows to create their award winning cheese. Those cows create a lot of waste after they eat. Peter Gallo says they can turn that waste into electricity.
"The cow manure is separated," Gallo said. "The solids go back in the field. The water goes into a covered lagoon where the methane is collected and used to power our cheese factory."
Gallo is standing above an enormous holding pond covered in thick plastic. The pond is called a digester and its full of liquid manure which constantly gives off methane.
"Normally the methane would go up into the atmosphere," Gallo said "This digester captures 25 thousand tons of C02 a day."
The cow manure produced by the dairy contains enough methane gas to create up to 2 mega watts of power. That's enough electricity to power the cheese factory or around 2 thousand homes.
"It cuts down on energy costs but more importantly we have always done what's right for the environment." Gallo said.
The cow manure only powers the cheese factory. To power the dairy side of the operation the farm harnesses the power of the sun using 8 acres of solar panels. The panels also produce up to 2 mega watts of energy.
"To give perspective the panels help reduce the C02 equivalent of taking about 6 thousand cars off the road over the next 20 years," Gallo said.
Joseph Gallo Farm is certified for environmental responsibility. Water and other dairy bi-products are wastes they are committed to reducing. Next time you are enjoying a slice of Joseph Farms cheese thank the cows for the great taste and renewable energy.