Dairy initiatives examined in San Joaquin Valley Partnership Plan
Gov. Schwarzenegger appeared in Fresno this week to address the California Partnership for the San Joaquin Valley as it adopted a “strategic action proposal” to achieve several major goals, including attainment of clean air standards, and growth of a diversified and globally competitive economy. The proposal contains several items affecting the state’s dairy industry in the areas of air quality, energy, and water quality and supply.
The partnership is a diverse group of public, private, and government officials that has been meeting throughout the eight-county region over the past year, collecting comments from business leaders, community members, and elected officials. Paul Martin, Western United Dairymen director of environmental services, has participated in the air quality workgroup, and also provided assistance with the water and energy workgroups.
“I think dairy was treated fairly in the final document,” said Martin. “The goal was to not only provide a vision for the future of the San Joaquin Valley, but to also to very specifically list objectives and recommend actions that should be taken to deal with the challenges. The dairy industry was there providing ideas, and the end result is a document that deals comprehensively with many of the greatest challenges facing the industry and the region.”
Sunne Wright McPeak, secretary of the Business, Transportation & Housing Agency and chair of the Partnership, said that while they are obligated to deliver final recommendations to the governor by October 31, members will be asking the Legislature to continue the organization for the next 10 years.
San Joaquin Valley Partnership dairy recommendations
* Net Metering: Recommends the Governor and Legislature develop legislation that would implement a net metering scheme that allows for the transfer of excess energy to other meters within the same farm operation or same water district, or requires the utility to compensate the self-generator for excess energy at the market reference price for renewable power. The Partnership supports ongoing discussions regarding aggregation for demand response programs currently taking place among customer groups and the utilities.
* Biomass: Establish a workgroup representing the agricultural community, public utilities, valley air district, California Energy Commission, and the biomass industry to identify any barriers to the expanded use of agriculture waste materials for the production of energy and develop recommendations to overcome those barriers. The group notes the current biogas net metering program is limited solely to dairies and allows the customer to aggregate different meters to offset off-site consumption of electricity.
* Air Quality Research: Recommends the Air Resources Board work with the air district, agriculture and academia to evaluate the need and set priorities for research on equipment and operations such as conservation tillage methods, and other approaches for reducing emissions. Recommends the ARB identify projects that could qualify for funding under the Innovative Clean Air Technologies program no later than January 31, 2007.
Research dairy emissions sources and best available control technology (BACT): For the most part, dairy emissions are area sources of air pollution, emitted diffusely (termed fugitive emissions). Relatively little is known about the efficacy of BACT and best available retrofit control technologies (BARCT). There is very little public funding for sound third-party verification and evaluation of emissions control options. Dairy producers fear their investments in pollution control measures will prove ineffective. Recommendations are targeted to reduce 2013 dairy ROG emissions to less than 30 tons/day.
Increase air research funding: Recommends securing $7.5 million in state funding to accelerate research and third-party evaluation of innovative technologies and approaches to dairy waste control measures. Recommends securing $30 million in funding under the 2007 Federal farm Bill to conduct BACT and BARCT demonstration projects.
Establish a working group: Recommends establishing working group of regulatory, industry, and public interest representatives to evaluate long-term systematic approaches to air and water pollution control from dairy operations, and funding mechanisms that enable accelerated adoption of control technologies while retaining economic viability for industry.
* Build 10 methane powered co-generation plants: Recommends building methane plants to be located at dairies and other wastewater facilities in the valley.