State OKs ‘biogas’ pipeline in Salisbury
SALISBURY — The Vermont Public Service Board on Friday authorized the construction and operation of a pipeline to send methane gas, derived from organic waste, from the Goodrich family farm on Shard Villa Road in Salisbury to Middlebury College. The project is being spearheaded by a company called Lincoln Renewable Natural Gas, or Lincoln RNG.
LincolnRNG plans 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. According to PSB filings, the college has a contract to buy 75 percent of the gas that LincolnRNG produces in Salisbury.
Middlebury College will have a minority stake of less than 20 percent in the operation.
LincolnRNG also has a contract to sell the rest to Vermont Gas Systems, which will market the fuel. Vermont Gas announced on Wednesday announced plans to sell (RNG) to customers beginning this fall. Initially, Vermont Gas can sell the LincolnRNG via its “gas island,” where it trucks gas from a central distribution point to an end user; but eventually it will be able to send it distances using the Addison Natural Gas Project pipeline, which is now under construction.
On the Goodrich farm, RNG, sometimes marketed as “biogas,” will be derived primarily from manure and corn silage from the home farm and neighboring farms, as well as from brewery waste from a local brewery. The LincolnRNG facility will include an anaerobic digester tank system to produce biogas, and gas upgrade and purification equipment to refine the biogas into the finished product. The PSB said the gas in the pipeline will be 97 percent methane.
The Public Service Board trumpeted the environmental and economic benefits that this Salisbury pipeline will provide, including the:
• Replacement of a substantial volume of foreign-sourced fossil fuel currently used by Middlebury College with a local, renewable fuel source.
• Creation of a secondary revenue stream for local farms through the utilization of farm wastes.
• Production of soil-enrichment byproducts and animal bedding for use on area farms.
• Use of brewery waste as a source of inputs for the RNG,
• Reduction of raw methane greenhouse gas emissions from manure lagoons on participating dairy farms.
• Reduction of odors associated with manure storage and spreading on local farms.
The PSB said LincolnRNG is also exploring the potential for using the biogas as an alternative vehicle fuel.
Middlebury College and town officials in Salisbury and Middlebury had filed letters of support for the project.
Vermont Gas boasted that its customers will be able to reduce their carbon footprint by using RNG. It said it had endorsements from companies such as “Seventh Generation,” the Burlington-based maker of environmentally sensitive home products. Press materials included a quote from Seventh Generation CEO John Replogle, who said that using renewable natural gas would put Vermont on the road to “protecting the health of our communities, and of our planet, for future generations.”
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