ENERGY: Cow-Chip Power? No Bull

Cow-Chip Power? No Bull

William Parish is bullish on energy -- literally. Ten months ago, the former California real estate lawyer opened the first commercial plant designed to produce electricity by burning cattle dung. Situated near El Centro, Calif., the Mesquite Lake Resource Recovery Project generates 17.5 MW per hr. -- enough to power 15,000 homes -- and sells most of it under a 30-year contract to Southern California Edison.

Each day the plant collects 900 tons of manure, at $1 a ton, from nearby feedlots. The odoriferous, carbon-rich stuff is dried for two to three months under the hot Imperial Valley sun before it...

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