Iowa cows generate electricity with help from Alliant Energy

By Alliant Energy | April 23, 2014

Iowa customers of Alliant Energy are getting some of their electricity from cows.

The more than 2,400 head of cattle at Sievers Family Farms near Stockton, Iowa, are among the latest to start generating renewable energy in the state. In total, Alliant Energy has partnered with 520 Iowa customers to create renewable electricity for themselves and the energy grid.

The digester at their farm uses the gas from the cattle manure as a fuel to power an electric generator. This unit provides up to 1 MW to both the farm and Alliant Energy’s electrical grid. When the generator is able to run, it can create the same amount of energy that would power about 1,000 homes.

"Iowans are looking for more ways to be sustainable, and this project is one way we’re helping,” said Doug Kopp, president of Alliant Energy’s Iowa utility. “This digester reduces the overall greenhouse gas emissions by burning the biogas as a fuel to produce electricity.”

The digester is just one way renewable energy is being generated in Iowa. When added up, Alliant Energy’s Iowa customers will have the ability to generate more than 23.3 MW of renewable energy this year, when conditions are right. Renewable energy requires certain environmental thresholds to work effectively. Often, these include direct sunlight, strong winds, or animals in the case of the Sievers’ farm.

“By working with Alliant Energy, our cattle are able to bring even more value to Iowa families. As a farmer we’re used to growing food for everyone. Now, with advancements in technology and help from Alliant Energy, we’re able to effectively create renewable energy, as well,” said Bryan Sievers, manager and partner with AgriReNew.

AgriReNew is a joint venture partnership with Sievers Family Farms, Sievers Renewable Energy, and Davidson Renewable Energy.

Alliant Energy works with customers through interconnection agreements. These agreements ensure a system is installed safely, and that it works together with the existing electric grid. Customers looking to install renewable energy need to first sign an interconnect agreement with Alliant Energy.