Ibex turns to cow power for renewable energy

Ibex Outdoor Clothing, a Woodstock company with a reputation for high-quality outdoor wear crafted from Merino wool and other natural fibers and produced with an eye on the environment, is adding cows to its stable of renewable suppliers – for energy.
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WOODSTOCK – Ibex Outdoor Clothing, a Woodstock company with a reputation for high-quality outdoor wear crafted from Merino wool and other natural fibers and produced with an eye on the environment, is adding cows to its stable of renewable suppliers – for energy.

Ibex, with its headquarters and warehouse in Woodstock and sales across North America, Europe and Asia, has signed up to receive all of its electricity from CVPS Cow Powerâ„¢, one of the country's fastest-growing renewable energy programs. More than 3,460 Central Vermont Public Service customers, over 2.2 percent, are now enrolled.

“Since our start in 1997, our philosophy has been to integrate our business with the environment, and to rely on fully renewable materials to produce our clothing,” co-founder and Chief Executive Officer John Fernsell said. “CVPS Cow Power™ is a natural fit for Ibex. It provides a way for Ibex to not only limit its environmental footprint, but to actually improve the environment.”

Ibex consumed over 36,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity last year. Cow Power produced to serve the company's headquarters and warehouse is expected to have an environmental impact equivalent to removing 105 metric tons of CO2 from the air annually. That's akin to removing 23 cars (burning 12,000 gallons of gasoline) from the highway.

“This is a company where many employees bike to work, where free-range Merino is the material of choice, and where we continually re-examine how we can reduce our environmental impacts,” Fernsell said. “Purchasing Cow Power is one more way we can demonstrate our commitment to Vermont, its farmers and to the environment at large.”

CVPS Cow Powerâ„¢ is the nation's only manure-based renewable energy program linking consumers and farmers. CVPS customers can choose to receive all, half or a quarter of their electrical energy through Cow Power, and pay a premium of 4 cents per kilowatt hour, which goes to participating farm-producers, to purchase renewable energy credits when enough farm energy isn't available, or to the CVPS Renewable Development Fund. The fund provides grants to farm owners to develop on-farm generation. Farm-producers are also paid 95 percent of the market price for the energy sold to CVPS. Ibex has chosen to receive 100 percent of its energy through CVPS Cow Powerâ„¢.

The program was designed to help farmers improve manure management while providing new financial opportunities to Vermont dairy producers. Manure and other farm waste are held in a sealed concrete tank at the same temperature as a cow's stomach, 101 degrees. Bacteria digest the volatile components, creating methane and killing pathogens and weed seeds. The methane, which is roughly 20 times more effective than carbon dioxide at trapping heat in the atmosphere, fuels an engine/generator.

Blue Spruce Farm in Bridport was the first CVPS Cow Powerâ„¢ producer, starting in January 2005. Four other farms in are in the process of developing generators and are expected on-line late this year or early in 2007. The four farms, which received grants totaling more than $660,000 from the CVPS Renewable Development Fund to help get them started, include:
• Green Mountain Dairy Farm in Sheldon, owned by Brian and Bill Rowell;
• Montagne Farms in St. Albans, two farms owned by Dave Montagne;
• Newmont Farms LLC in Fairlee, owned by Walter and Margaret Gladstone; and
• Deer Flats Farm in West Pawlet, owned by Dick and Rich Hulett.

CVPS President Bob Young said customers like Ibex demonstrate the best in Vermont's business sector.

“Everyone says they support a clean environment, but Ibex and our other Cow Power customers are really putting their words into action,” Young said. “They are showing a level of social responsibility that should serve as a model for all of us.”

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