02/25/2009 12:00AM

Florida stall waste plan gets $2.5M grant

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Florida's Energy and Climate Commission has awarded the Florida Thoroughbred Breeders' and Owners' Association and a partner, MaxWest Environmental Systems, a $2.5 million grant to develop a facility to convert stall waste into electricity.

The partnership will use the grant money to purchase waste handling and processing equipment, according to an announcement by the breeders' and owners' group on Wednesday. The group estimates the facility will convert 50,000 tones of stall waste and 50,000 tons of wood and other organic waste annually to produce about 10.5 megawatts of electricity each year.

For breeders, training facilities, and sales companies, the processing facility will offer a simpler way to get rid of accumulating stall waste, such as manure and soiled bedding straw, said the executive director of the breeders' and owners' group, Dick Hancock. Hancock said it will also help horse operations comply with tighter federal environmental regulations over livestock waste disposal that Hancock expects to be in place by the end of the year.

"The process is gasifying stall waste and turning it into electricity," Hancock said of the new project.

No procedural details have been set forth for the project, but Hancock said breeders and horse facilities probably would be responsible for bringing their stall waste to a facility that would generate most of its income through the sale of electricity to utilities.

Stall waste disposal has become a problem, Hancock said, especially for operations like training centers, where horse populations are concentrated in a relatively small area. Animal waste is subject to regulation because it can contaminate surface and ground water. Many horse operations previously shipped waste to dairy facilities in the past, an option that is drying up as the dairy business contracts.