Cow-derived gas project moves forward

SALISBURY — A renewable natural gas project in Salisbury that would convert organic waste and manure from dairy cows to pipeline-quality natural gas and other beneficial products moved a step closer to reality last month.
Dan Smith of Lincoln Renewable Natural Gas, or LincolnRNG, submitted an application for the project to the Vermont Public Service Board on May 11.
LincolnRNG would produce what it refers to as “renewable” natural gas (RNG) from dairy farm manure and other organic fuel sources. RNG is interchangeable with conventional natural gas drilled from the ground and may be used as an alternative heating and vehicle fuel.
If state regulators approve the project, LincolnRNG will sell most of the RNG produced by the Salisbury plant to Middlebury College, to replace some of the No. 6 heating oil that the college currently uses. The LincolnRNG plant would be located on the Goodrich Family farm in Salisbury and generate the gas from manure produced by the Goodrich Farm and other neighboring dairy farms, as well as from other organic fuel sources from the area. The plant will include an anaerobic digester tank system to produce bio gas from the fuel sources, and upgrade equipment that would strip out the impurities and convert the bio gas into the finished RNG product.
The LincolnRNG plant has been in development since 2008, and would be the second of its kind in the Unites States. Integrated Energy Solutions Inc., (IES) a Montpelier start-up firm headed by Smith, is the project developer and “member-manager” of LincolnRNG. The plant is financed by private investment and commercial loan.
“Our filing with the (Public Service) Board is the critical next step for bringing the LincolnRNG plant from concept into actual operation,” Smith said. “As presented in the petition, we are ready to begin actual construction and operation after these many years of development.”
Along with being the primary customer for the LincolnRNG plant, Middlebury College is also a minority investor.
“The college has shown great leadership in the renewable energy field, and has been a crucial development partner for this project,” Smith said. “The college has assisted IES and LincolnRNG in overcoming the many hurdles that inevitably challenge the development of a new concept such as the LincolnRNG plant.”
“We are very pleased that the project has advanced to this most important next step,” said Patrick Norton, vice president and treasurer for Middlebury College. “We believe LincolnRNG has made a compelling case to the board, and we look forward to our first delivery of renewable natural gas.”
The RNG would be brought to market by a five-mile-long underground pipeline built and operated by Vermont Gas Systems Inc. The pipeline will initially supply the college through the “gas island” — essentially trucking gas to a pipeline that operates only in a limited area in Middlebury — that Vermont Gas is currently operating in Middlebury. LincolnRNG will also make a direct sale of the gas it produces to Vermont Gas, for marketing by Vermont Gas’ to its other customers.
The LincolnRNG RNG plant will use proven digester and gas upgrade equipment technology.
LincolnRNG has asked the Public Service Board for expedited review of its petition filing. If the board authorizes plant construction by August, the plant could be up and running by the end of this year, Smith said.

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