The Center for Dairy Excellence of Pennsylvania and Shell have developed a partnership to study the feasibility of utilizing Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) as a viable alternative energy source on dairy farms in Pennsylvania.

“This project is an outstanding opportunity for us to build cross sector partnerships to explore the expanded use of CNG,” said Michael DeWitt, general manager of Shell Appalachia.

The options and opportunities for utilizing CNG on dairy farms, especially within the northern and western counties of Pennsylvania, are opening up significantly, according to Don McNutt, dairy planning coordinator for the Center for Dairy Excellence.

“We believe this could mark the beginning of an increase in utilizing local energy to produce local food and support local consumers,” McNutt said.

The center is looking for three Pennsylvania dairy producers interested in completing a CNG conversion and utilization feasibility study for their dairy farm. The feasibility study would determine the associated costs and benefits for a dairy farmer to invest in converting an existing diesel or gasoline engine to CNG.

It is not the expectation of the study to convert all engines on the dairy farm to CNG; a farmer may opt to convert one engine to CNG. Some dairy farmers may have an interest in looking into the conversion of farm vehicles to natural gas as opposed to converting an existing tractor.

Plain Sect dairy farmers may also be interested in applying to be considered as one of the candidate farms. Many Plain Sect farms operate a single stationary engine for multiple dairy farm power requirements, which could be converted to CNG.

The grant through Shell will provide significant cost-share support for the three selected dairy farms. Successful candidate farms will be required to complete an application and will be asked to share in some variable costs associated with the project.

In addition to the major effort of this grant to encourage the consideration of CNG as an energy option, Shell has also partnered with the Center for Dairy Excellence Foundation of Pennsylvania in support of the Dairy Leaders of Tomorrow curriculum program. Shell will provide funding to support 200 scholarships to high school students.

Interested individuals seeking more information and an application on the CNG portion of the grant should contact Don McNutt by calling 717-346-0849 or emailing dmcnutt@centerfordairyexcellence.org. Completed applications must be returned to the Center for Dairy Excellence on or before October 15, 2015. Mail to 2301 N. Cameron St., Harrisburg, PA 17110, or fax 717-705-2342;ATTN Don McNutt.