ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - The Greek yogurt boom in New York is being harnessed to make electricity.
More Greek yogurt production has meant more whey, a watery byproduct from the process. Yogurt makers commonly ship it back to farms for use as feed and fertilizer, but it's also is being used to generate power in several places.
At the Gloversville-Johnstown wastewater plant west of Albany, it's pipelined from the nearby Fage yogurt plant, where it goes into a 1.5 million-gallon tank filled with anaerobic bacteria, called an anaerobic digester. The resulting methane gas becomes combustible fuel that generates nearly enough electricity to power the plant.
"If the generators are off, we have a $500,000-a-year electric bill. So 90 percent of that is kind of offset by this kind of generation," said consultant George Bevington. He said about 500,000 gallons of whey come into the plant weekly, about two-thirds of the organic waste that goes into the digester.
New York has benefited from America's increased craving for Greek yogurt like nowhere else. Market leader Chobani and Fage both have large production plants upstate, an area dotted with plants making different types of yogurt. The Muller Quaker Dairy plant in western New York, a joint venture of PepsiCo and Germany's Theo Muller company, began making yogurt products this month.