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Online AgSTAR Digest: Summer 2008

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Did you know?

AgSTAR has conducted a series of studies designed to characterize the environmental and financial aspects of anaerobic digesters. These performance evaluations are posted on AgSTAR's Documents, Tools and Resources Web page. In June, AgSTAR completed its evaluation of a California dairy's unheated, covered anaerobic lagoon where electricity is produced from the captured biogas.

New Farm Bill Increases Funding for Renewable Energy

In May 2008, Congress enacted the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 (H.R. 2419), which builds upon the successful energy provisions found in the 2002 Farm Bill. Under the new "Farm Bill," the Renewable Energy Systems and Energy Efficiency Improvements Program, also known as Section 9006, has been replaced with the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP), Section 9007. Like its predecessor, REAP provides grants and loan guarantees to farmers, ranchers, and rural small businesses to promote energy efficiency and renewable energy. Many anaerobic digesters have been funded through this program in the past. This new version provides an opportunity for funding for more projects in the future.

The authorized funding for REAP between 2009 and 2012 ($255 million) is more than double the funding authorized in the previous Farm Bill. For the new program, Congress has authorized $55 million for fiscal year (FY) 2009, $60 million for FY 2010, $70 million for FY 2011, and $70 million for FY 2012. Congress has also authorized up to $25 million in discretionary funding for each FY. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has already completed the application process for FY 2008's grants and loans for the authorized funding of $15.8 million for competitive grants and $204.9 million related to loans. Currently Congress is developing the FY 2009 appropriation bill, which may result in less funding than authorized in the Farm Bill.

Highlights of REAP include:

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AgSTAR Tackles Demand for Anaerobic Digester Information

One of AgSTAR's major initiatives is to educate farmers and other interested stakeholders about the environmental and financial aspects of anaerobic digester technology. As part of this effort, staff participated in a number of conferences in order to present the latest data and to network and learn about operating projects and those under development. Below are some brief highlights from these events. If you have suggestions of other events AgSTAR should consider attending, please contact agstar@erg.com.

Farm Pilot Project Coordination: Pathways to Energy Conference

Farm Pilot Project Coordination, Inc., a nonprofit organization, was designated by Congress to assist in implementing innovative treatment technologies to address the growing waste issues associated with animal feeding operations. On May 21–23, 2008, the organization hosted its fourth technical summit, which collected engineers, technology experts, academics, and government participants, including AgSTAR, to discuss ways to create energy products from manure.

University of California–Davis: Green Acres Blue Skies

Organized by the University of California's Agriculture Air Quality Center in Davis, the first day of the event, June 2, 2008, was designed to assemble experts to provide insights into how research and innovation can help the dairy industry meet the challenges and opportunities of keeping globally competitive while addressing environmental concerns, such as air quality and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. One solution identified was to extract the economic value of manure.

Presentations, which are available on the conference Web page, include:

Dairy Sustainability Summit

Sponsored by Dairy Management Inc., the International Dairy Foods Association, and the National Milk Producers Federation, the Sustainability Summit was held in conjunction with the University of Arkansas' Applied Sustainability Center on June 16–19, 2008. It was billed as the first comprehensive dairy industry-wide initiative to gather producers, processors, and other stakeholders, such as AgSTAR, in order to address sustainability opportunities. In particular, the more than 250 attendees discussed ways to reduce energy costs and carbon emissions while increasing business value. Among their recommendations:

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Comprehensive Emissions Monitoring Study at Animal Feeding Operations Is Underway

A 2-year study to monitor emissions from animal feeding operations (AFOs) is underway at 20 commercially operating sites across the country. The study is being conducted by a consortium of more than 2,600 growers and integrators in the egg, meat bird, dairy, and swine industries. The study is part of a consent agreement with EPA to gather scientific data needed to make informed regulatory decisions on potential environmental requirements for AFOs.

The National Air Emissions Monitoring Study (NAEMS) is measuring particulate matter (total suspended particulates, PM10, and PM2.5), ammonia, hydrogen sulfide, and volatile organic compounds along with process variables (e.g., animal inventories, feed composition, manure composition, and meteorological data) that influence emissions. Particulate matter and gaseous sampling is conducted continuously over the 2-year period while sampling of process variables is conducted periodically (e.g., monthly, quarterly). The study is being managed by Purdue University, and the monitoring and data collection activities are being conducted by researchers from Purdue University, University of California-Davis, Cornell University, Iowa State University, University of Minnesota, North Carolina State University, Texas A&M University, and Washington State University. EPA is providing quality assurance oversight.

Data collection at the 14 barns began in the summer of 2007. The barn monitoring sites are located in California, Iowa, Indiana, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Washington, and Wisconsin. Data collection at the open sources (nine anaerobic lagoons and one dairy corral) began in the summer of 2008. The monitoring sites for open sources are located in Iowa, Indiana, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Texas, Washington, and Wisconsin. Additional information on the NAEMS and periodic project updates can be found on Purdue University's website.

The monitoring is scheduled to be completed in 2009. Within 18 months of the end of the study, EPA will develop methodologies for estimating emissions from AFOs based on the monitoring data. The 2,600 growers and integrators who were part of the consent agreement then will use the emission methodologies developed by EPA to analyze their emissions and determine applicability to any permitting requirements under the Clean Air Act or reporting requirements under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) or the Emergency Planning and Community Right-To-Know Act (EPCRA). The EPA will make the emissions data public after the data have been quality-assured.

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USDA Awards of Conservation Innovation Grants

On June 23, 2008, the USDA announced the national winners of its conservation innovation grants, which are part of the environmental quality incentives program. The grants are designed to support innovative, on-the-ground conservation, including pilot projects and field demonstrations. USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) administers the grants and provides technical oversight for each project. The funding, which is capped at 50 percent of total project costs, was awarded through a nationwide competitive grants process. The table below highlights some of the projects related to anaerobic digestion that were awarded funding.

Organization: Project Name Project Description Funds Awarded
North Carolina State University: Effective Strategies for Biogas and Nutrient Management Resulting from Anaerobic Digestion in Covered Swine Lagoons The ultimate goals of this project are to exhibit effective, economically feasible energy generation technologies utilizing biogas, demonstrate utilization of biogas combustion products (e.g., heat, carbon dioxide), and show a variety of processes that can be implemented to manage swine manure nutrients. $457,433
Environmental Credit Corporation: Enhancing Air Quality Through the Adoption of Small-Scale Anaerobic Manure Digesters on Dairy Farms in Pennsylvania The project seeks to enhance air quality of dairy farms (e.g., reduce GHGs, ammonia, particulates, volatile organic compounds, and odors) through the adoption of small-scale, pre-fabricated, completely enclosed anaerobic digester technology via a carbon credit incentive program, which will provide income to the dairies. $225,000
Washington State University: Nutrient Capture and Redistribution in a Community Anaerobic Digester This project will focus on capture, redistribution, and efficient use of nutrients from post-anaerobic digestion liquid manure. Aspects include a comparison of post-anaerobic digestion liquid manure nutrients to non-anaerobic digestion liquid manure with field-scale replicated plots in forage grass and development of an economic model for return of nutrients to participating dairies based on nutrients contributed to the community anaerobic digester and crop nutrient needs at those dairies. $414,013
University of Wisconsin–Madison: Demonstrating Innovative Manure Separation and Precision Ag Technologies to Optimize Nutrient Manure Utilization and Reduce Environmental Concerns The main goal of this project is to evaluate the economic and environmental costs/benefits of using innovative manure separation and precision agriculture technologies. $184,165

Source: USDA NRCS, "USDA Awards $14 Million in Conservation Innovation Grants," June 23, 2008.

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First Anaerobic Digester in Montana

Two 30,000-gallon IBR digester tanks were installed at Huls Dairy in Montana. Photo courtesy of Huls Dairy

Two 30,000-gallon IBR digester tanks were installed at Huls Dairy in Montana. Photo courtesy of Huls Dairy.

In July 2008, Huls Dairy in Corvallis, Montana, celebrated the start of a new anaerobic digestion system that manages the manure from its 350-cow herd. The system includes an automated manure scraping system, two 30,000-gallon Induced Blanket Reactor (IBR) digester tanks, a biogas conditioning system, and a 50-kilowatt cogeneration engine-genset with heat recovery. Andigen designed and installed the IBR system, which was originally developed by Utah State University. One of major differences between an IBR system and other types of anaerobic digesters is that retention time is only five days. The project developers estimate that 20 to 25 standard cubic feet per minute of biogas are produced, at a heating value of 650 to 800 Btu per cubic foot.

Huls Dairy has entered a net metering agreement with Ravalli Electric Cooperative for the electricity the project generates, while the waste heat is recycled to provide heat to the digester and to heat the manure delivery system during extreme cold. The digested outputs are also a valuable commodity, with the nitrogen-enriched fibers sold through local distributors as a soil amendment and plant food. The post-digested liquids are stored in a lined lagoon for utilization in the irrigation system.

Total project costs are expected to be nearly $1 million, of which $600,000 was funded by USDA's NRCS under the Environmental Quality Incentive Program. Montana Community Development Corporation and the Ravalli County Economic Development Authority also contributed funding. Additionally, Montana extension staff and Northern Rocky Mountain Resource, Conservation, and Development (RC&D) are using a Sustainable Agricultural Research and Education grant to support the project, including education and outreach activities.

Presentations about anaerobic digesters and the Huls Dairy project are available at:

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Brubaker Anaerobic Digester Operational

Since December 2007, the Brubaker Farm in Mount Joy, Pennsylvania, has been generating 4,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity each day from the biogas produced in its anaerobic digester. The digester, designed by RCM International, cost more than $1 million to build and processes manure from approximately 700 dairy cows. The 1,500-acre farm received funding for the project from Pennsylvania's Energy Harvest Grant and USDA's Rural Development Grant (Farm Bill Section 9006) programs, and is selling carbon offsets to NativeEnergy. Approximately one-third of the renewable energy is used onsite for the farm’s needs, while the rest is delivered to the local power grid. The solid waste from the digester is used for animal bedding on the farm—saving the Brubakers about $4,000 a month. Excess heat from the electric generator engine is used to heat the farm buildings.

Sources: Michael Yoder, "1500-acre Lancaster Co. Dairy Farm Runs on Cow Juice," Lancaster Intelligencer Journal, April 26, 2008, and John Casey, "Brubaker Farms Hosts Public Unveiling of New Digester," Country Folks, June 2, 2008.

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Groundbreakings and Announcements

Dean Foods (Idaho)

On May 21, 2008, Dean Foods Company—the largest U.S. processor and distributor of milk and other dairy products—announced its plans to build an anaerobic digester on the Big Sky Dairy farm near Gooding, Idaho. Owned and operated by a partnership between Dean Foods and AgPower Partners, LLC, the project is expected to be operational by early 2009. (AgPower Partners consists of an affiliate of Andgar Corporation, an affiliate of GHD, Inc., and Cenergy USA, Inc.)

"Managing greenhouse gas emissions and animal waste is one of the dairy industry's biggest challenges," says Gregg Engles, Chairman and CEO of Dean Foods. "We are proud to have partnered with AgPower Partners to bring this important and sustainable dairy industry solution to the market. And we are very pleased that Big Sky Dairy has agreed to be our partnership's initial project."

GHD designed the digester. The captured methane from the manure of the farm's approximately 4,700 dairy cows is expected to generate approximately 1.2 megawatts of power to be sold to Idaho Power under a 20-year contract. In addition, the digester produces a fiber byproduct used as animal bedding or as organic soil enhancement. By utilizing biogas, a renewable energy sources to generate electricity the digester will generate renewable energy credits. In addition the project will also reduce emissions of methane, a powerful GHG, and will generate carbon credits, which will be sold separately from the actual electricity and renewable energy credits.

Source: Dean Foods Company, "Dean Foods to Develop Anaerobic Digester," May 21, 2008.

Environmental Power Corporation (Texas)

Environmental Power Corporation held a groundbreaking ceremony on June 11, 2008, to announce the start of construction at its Rio Leche Estates RNG® Facility in Dublin, Texas. Codigesting cow manure and other food industry waste products, the facility is expected to generate 635,000 MMBtu of pipeline-quality natural gas per year. Rio Leche, owned and operated by Environmental Power subsidiary Microgy, Inc., will use a thermophilic, anaerobic digestion to generate the biogas, condition the gas to natural gas pipeline standards, and distribute it through a commercial pipeline system. The gas will be purchased under a medium-term purchase agreement. Microgy expects construction of the facility to be completed by the end of the first quarter of 2009.

Source: Environmental Power Corporation, "Environmental Power Holds Ground Breaking Ceremony for Renewable Natural Gas Facility at Rio Leche Estates," June 11, 20008.

Fiscalini Farms (California)

Both Vintage Dairy and Fiscalini Farms are located in a serious nonattainment area for ozone, which triggers more stringent air quality requirements for NOx. Fiscalini's engine will meet an emission limit of 9 ppm NOx. San Joaquin Air Pollution Control District has posted their permits.

In April 2008, Fiscalini Farms and Fiscalini Cheese Co. of Modesto, California, announced that they had broken ground to kick off the construction of an anaerobic digester. The digester, financed in part by a $500,000 USDA Rural Development Grant (Farm Bill Section 9006), will process manure generated by Fiscalini's 1,500-cow herd. In addition to manure, waste feed plus whey from the cheese-making facility will be pumped into the system for conversion into methane. A methane-powered generator set will supply enough electricity to cover the energy needs of the dairy barn plus the 88,000-square-foot cheese plant. Heat from the anaerobic digester system will be used to pre-warm the water for the plant's heat exchangers.

Source: Dairy Foods, "Fiscalini Farms Building Methane Digester," April 2008.

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Funding Opportunities

Michigan Biomass Energy Program (MBEP), Deadline: August 29, 2008

Michigan Biomass Energy Program (MBEP) requests proposals for state projects that contribute to the deployment/enhanced performance of fully commercialized biomass energy technologies. An example of a fundable project includes strategies to address the management and conversion of livestock manure to energy. MBEP plans to award multiple grants of up to $24,950 per project. The State expects to issue grant agreements with a 1:1 match requirement from the applicants. Matching funds must be applied to direct project costs and cannot be from a federal funding source. Project assistance funds come from a U.S. Department of Energy State Energy Program Grant, which restricts these funds to certain uses. The following are not eligible for funding: costs associated with near-term commercial technologies; basic research and development activities; construction costs; or costs associated with biomass production, harvesting, or processing. Only public and non-profit entities are eligible, though partnerships with private entities are encouraged. To receive the solicitation, email your request to David Binkley (binkleyd@michigan.gov).

USDA Small Business Innovation Research Grants, Deadline: September 4, 2008

USDA's Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service (CSREES) administers the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Program, which is designed to support small businesses' research and development work on scientific problems. (To be eligible as a small business, an organization and affiliates must not have more than 500 employees.) Two of the priority research areas identified for this year's solicitation are manure management and energy issues related to agriculture and rural development.

The USDA SBIR program is carried out in three separate phases. The current solicitation is for Phase I—projects designed to determine the scientific or technical feasibility of ideas. Phase I awards may not exceed $80,000 for a period normally not to exceed eight months. More information about the grant is posted at grants.gov.

Tucson Electric Power Company and UNS Electric Inc., Deadline: September 5, 2008

Tucson Electric Power Company (TEP) and its affiliate UNS Electric Inc. (UNSE) are jointly soliciting proposals from parties interested in providing renewable energy and associated credits through power purchase agreements and/or the ownership of generation assets. Renewable energy credits must accompany any energy purchased by TEP/UNSE through this request for proposals (RFP). TEP/UNSE are interested in purchasing a minimum of 1 MW increments or blocks of renewable energy for a preferred minimum 10-year period from January 1, 2010, through December 31, 2019. Other periods less than 10 years will also be considered. TEP/UNSE's annual aggregate renewable energy purchase and delivery target under this RFP is 150,000 MWh.

Dayton Power and Light Company, Deadline: September 12, 2008

Dayton Power and Light (DP&L) in Ohio is seeking proposals for renewable energy resources. DP&L is seeking a minimum of 38,000 MWh of energy by the end of 2009 and 552,000 MWh by the end of 2015. DP&L prefers renewable energy resources located within the State of Ohio, but all conforming proposals wherever sited will be evaluated. Renewable energy resources other than solar must have a minimum aggregated nameplate capacity of 1 MW at the interconnection point between the resource and the transmission/distribution grid. The RFP and its exhibits are available on DP&L's website.

Minnesota Livestock Investment Grant, Deadline: September 15, 2008

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture is accepting applications for the Livestock Investment Grant Program. This program had $1 million appropriated for grants and administrative costs. The program offers producers investing in livestock production in Minnesota grants to recover up to 10 percent of a project's costs with a minimum expense of $4,000 and a maximum expense of $500,000. Qualifying items include anaerobic digesters and other waste management system components, along with equipment to produce energy.

International Methane to Markets Grant, Deadline: September 30, 2008

The U.S. Agency for International Development requests proposals (Sol# M-OAA-GRO-EGAS-07-063-MTM) for public-private alliances related to the Methane to Markets Partnership. This Partnership is an international initiative that focuses on advancing cost-effective, near-term methane recovery and use as a clean energy source. Targeted methane sources include landfills, livestock and agricultural wastes, underground coal mines, and natural gas and oil systems. Partnership countries include Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, India, Mexico, Nigeria, Russia, Ukraine, and Vietnam.

Taunton Municipal Lighting Plant, Deadline: December 1, 2008

Taunton Municipal Lighting Plant (TMLP) in Massachusetts has issued an RFP for renewable electric power resources with the intent of securing an increased portion of its electric power requirements from renewable resources. TMLP is seeking proposals for up to 260,000 MWh per year of energy and dependable capacity starting in 2009. The minimum size for non-hydroelectric projects in response to this solicitation is 1 MW. TMLP will consider projects located within the Independent System Operator of New England (ISO-NE) system. The RFP and its associated documents are posted on TMLP's website.

Western SARE Grant, Deadline: December 5, 2008

Western Region Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) is accepting applications (PDF, 13 pp, 180 KB, About PDF) for its Farmer/Rancher Grant program. These projects are conducted by agricultural producers, with support and guidance from a technical advisor. Individual farmers may apply for up to $15,000 and a group of three or more farmers may apply for up to $30,000. Producers use their grants to conduct on-site experiments that can be shared with other producers. To apply, you must operate a farm in Alaska, American Samoa, Arizona, California, Colorado, Guam, Hawaii, Idaho, Micronesia, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Northern Mariana Islands, Oregon, Utah, Washington, or Wyoming.

Northeast SARE Grant, Deadline: December 16, 2008

The goal of the Farmer Grant program is to help farmers explore sustainable and innovative production and marketing practices, often by conducting an experiment, trial, or on-farm demonstration. In 2008, Northeast SARE awarded $190,523 in grants to 29 farmers. Awards ranged from $3,182 to $10,000 (the cap for any single grant), and the average grant was about $6,570. To apply, you must operate a farm in Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, or West Virginia.

NYSERDA PON 1146, Deadline: May 30, 2009

To expand the supply of clean energy, New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) has issued Program Opportunity Notice (PON) 1146 to offer $11 million in incentives for electricity generation using anaerobic digestion gas produced from manure, food wastes, municipal wastewater treatment residuals, and other biomass feedstocks. Incentives will be offered based on electrical generation capacity and the kilowatt-hours actually generated each year for three years. The program is part of the new Customer-Sited Tier (CST) of the state's RPS. Details regarding PON 1146, including eligibility and application requirements, are posted on NYSERDA's funding opportunities Web page.

Wisconsin Dairy 2020 Early Planning Grant, No Deadline

The goal of Wisconsin's Dairy 2020 Early Planning Grant program, administered by the Wisconsin Department of Commerce, is to encourage and support the viability of Wisconsin dairy farms located in rural areas. A grant may be awarded to cover up to 75 percent of the cost (capped at $3,000) of professional services necessary to help the applicant start up, modernize, or expand a dairy. Feasibility studies of anaerobic digestion projects are eligible.

The Climate Trust, No Deadline

The Climate Trust is interested in purchasing the carbon credits from anaerobic digesters from dairy farms in the Pacific Northwest. The Climate Trust is purchasing GHG offsets on behalf of Northwest Natural Gas Company's Smart Energy program, which allows customers to offset the GHG emissions associated with their natural gas use. Interested dairy farms or project developers should contact Peter Weisberg (pweisberg@climatetrust.org), 503-238-1915 x207, for more information. More information on Smart Energy and the project solicitation is available on the Climate Trust website.

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State Policies

An RPS is a legislative requirement for utilities to generate or sell a certain percentage of their electricity from renewable energy sources. As of May 31, 2008, 31 states, plus the District of Columbia, have enacted an RPS or a renewable portfolio goal (RPG) in which biogas from an anaerobic digester is potentially an eligible renewable resource (see the map below). Ohio is the latest state to implement an RPS, with Utah also recently enacting an RPG. Vermont and Massachusetts increased their renewable energy targets this year. As discussed below, Florida passed legislation, although the specific eligible renewable sources are not identified yet.

Map of the United States depicting thirty one states and the District of Columbia that have implemented RPS or RPG programs that include LFG. States with RPS that include LFG: OH, HI, CA, NV, AZ, NM, MN, CO, TX, MT, IA, WI, MD, DE, NJ, PA, CT, NY, RI, MA, ME, WA, OR, IL, NC, NH, DC. States with RPG (i.e., non-mandated) that include LFG: MO, ND, UT, VA, VT.

  States with RPS programs that potentially include biogas produced from anaerobic digesters

  States with RPG programs (i.e., non-mandated) that potentially include biogas produced from anaerobic digesters

Thirty-one states and the District of Columbia have implemented RPS or RPG programs where anaerobic digester-produced methane may be an eligible renewable resource.

Ohio

As part of a broad electric industry-restructuring bill (Senate Bill 221), Ohio established an RPS in May 2008. The legislation requires utilities to obtain 25 percent of their retail electricity supply from renewable energy and other advanced energy resources (e.g., clean coal, nuclear) by 2025. Eligible renewable energy resources include biologically derived methane gas, solar, wind, geothermal, biomass, fuel cells, and qualified hydroelectric facilities. The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio will be responsible for developing rules to implement the RPS, such as a renewable energy certificate trading program. More details about the RPS are available from North Carolina Solar Center's Database of State Incentives for Renewable Energy.

Utah

In March 2008, Utah passed The Energy Resource and Carbon Emission Reduction Act, which requires utilities to pursue renewable energy as long as it is "cost-effective" to do so. The Utah Public Service Commission is tasked to determine the cost-effectiveness of the energy acquisitions. When cost-effective, the RPG requires utilities to use eligible renewable resources to produce 20 percent of their adjusted retail electric sales by 2025. No interim targets have been established, but utilities must file progress reports every five years, beginning in 2010. Eligible renewable energy sources include biomass, solar, wind, hydroelectric, wave, tidal, ocean-thermal, and geothermal energy. Purchases of renewable energy certificates will also be acceptable for compliance. More details about the RPG are available from North Carolina Solar Center's Database of State Incentives for Renewable Energy.

California Greenhouse Gas Reduction Plan

On June 28, 2008, the California Air Resources Board released its Climate Change Draft Scoping Plan in accord with its responsibilities to implement the state's Global Warming Solutions Act (AB 32). That legislation requires the state to reduce GHG emissions to its 1990 level, which translates to a 30 percent reduction from business-as-usual emission levels projected for 2020, or approximately 10 percent less than today's levels. Meeting the goals requires a coordinated set of solutions to reduce emissions throughout the economy, which includes the livestock industry.

Included in the Scoping Plan's set of preliminary recommendations is the encouragement of investment (e.g., emission reduction credits, favorable utility policies, renewable energy incentives) in manure digestion at large dairies and a review prior to the five-year scoping plan to determine if the digestion should be mandatory by 2020. This voluntary approach of incentives received praise from Community Alliance for Responsible Environmental Stewardship (PDF) (2 pp, 170K), a California dairy trade association.

Without anaerobic digestion and biogas use, the annual GHG emissions from a 3,500-cow dairy could be the equivalent of the yearly emissions of 5,000 cars on the road.

In May 2008, the California Attorney General submitted comments on the draft environmental impact report (PDF) (9 pp, 465K) for the proposed Buena Vista Dairy in Tulare County, voicing its concern about the potential GHG impacts that the new approximately 3,500-cow dairy would generate. In particular, the Attorney General felt that the report should have discussed the feasibility of implementing anaerobic digestion to capture biogas and generate electricity or to inject the captured methane into a natural gas pipeline as potential mitigation measures.

Update on North Carolina Lagoon Program

In 2007, the North Carolina General Assembly established a voluntary agricultural cost share program designed specifically to meet the needs of North Carolina's swine farmers—the Lagoon Conversion Program. Under the program, swine farmers may be eligible for up to 90 percent cost share when they convert existing swine lagoon and sprayfield systems to innovative animal waste management systems. The program may also be used to help establish centralized waste collection and stabilization systems to serve existing swine waste management systems that employ the new technology. The program is technology neutral, but systems must be consistent with the Development of Environmentally Superior Technologies: Phase 3 Report.

In June 2008, the North Carolina Division of Soil and Water Conservation announced the first three swine farm operators selected to receive $500,000 from the program: Super Soils Systems USA, Inc.; Tyndall Hog & Chicken Farm Inc.; and Pope & Son. All three farms are located in Sampson County. The selections were based on several criteria, including marketability of byproducts, ease of maintenance, capability to capture or offset GHGs, and affordability.

Source: North Carolina Division of Soil and Water Conservation, "Three Applicants Selected for Swine Farm Lagoon Conversion Program," June 4, 2008.

Florida Energy Bill

In June 2008, Florida adopted an energy bill to advance renewable energy and energy efficiency as a strategy to reduce the state's emissions of GHGs. Florida House Bill 7135 requires the Florida Public Service Commission to establish an RPS that will specify a minimum percentage of retail electricity sales that an investor-owned utility must supply by renewable energy. The bill does not set the minimum standard or a timeline; instead it requires the commission to prepare a draft rule by February 2009 and present it to the legislature for approval. Municipal electric utilities and rural electric cooperatives are also directed to develop standards for the promotion, encouragement, and expansion of renewable energy resources. The bill also requires the Florida Department of Environmental Protection to create a cap-and-trade regulatory program to reduce GHG emissions from major emitters. The bill sets no specific limits and requires any program to be ratified by the legislature.

Additionally, the bill requires utilities purchasing power generated from anaerobic digesters to provide net metering at a single metering point or to be available as a part of conjunctive billing of multiple points for a customer at a single location. The bill also requires utilities to develop a standardized interconnection agreement and net metering program for customer-owned renewable generation by January 1, 2009.

Sources: Florida House of Representatives, Staff Analysis HB 7135 (PDF) (65 pp, 356K), April 16, 2008, and Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, "Florida Energy Bill to Boost Efficiency and Renewable Energy," EERE News, July 2, 2008.

Hawaii Establishes New Loan Program

In July 2008, Hawaiian legislation (HB2261) established a new class of loans that expands the existing agricultural loan programs for new renewable energy projects such as methane, photovoltaics, hydro, wind, biodiesel, and ethanol. The maximum loan amount will be $1,500,000 or 85 percent of the project cost, whichever is less, for up to 40 years. The annual interest rate will be 3 percent for agricultural loans.

Source: Office of Governor, "Governor Lingle Signs Key Legislation to Boost Renewable Energy Production," July 1, 2008.

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Methane to Markets Update

The Methane to Markets Agriculture Subcommittee held its biannual meeting on April 22, 2008, in Morelia, Mexico. The meeting was held in conjunction with a 2-day workshop, Overcoming the Barriers for the Implementation of Anaerobic Digestion in the Agriculture Sector, hosted by Mexico's Secretariat of Environment and Natural Resources. The Subcommittee meeting minutes and workshop proceedings are available on the Methane to Markets website. Partner Countries in attendance included Argentina, Australia, Canada, India, Mexico, Thailand, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

The Subcommittee outlined possible future work of the Agriculture Subcommittee, which included:

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Online Resources

EPA Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions

On April 15, 2008, EPA released the annual Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks: 1990–2006 as part of the United States' commitment to report GHG emissions under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. In 2006, the agricultural sector was responsible for 6 percent of total U.S. GHG emissions, with methane and nitrogen oxide as the primary GHGs emitted by agricultural activities. Total U.S. GHG emissions have risen by 14.7 percent from 1990 to 2006, while methane emissions attributed to agricultural activities increased by 5 percent. Nitrogen oxide emissions fluctuated from year to year, but overall decreased less than 1 percent.

Livestock and Poultry Environmental Learning Center Webcasts

The nonprofit Livestock and Poultry Environmental (LPE) Learning Center provides public access to research related to environmental issues and public policy in the animal agriculture field. The LPE Learning Center hosts periodic webcasts that bring experts and audiences together for educational experiences on priority issues, including animal manure management. Recent topics that are available from LPE's archives are:

Anaerobic Digester Articles in Biocycle

Over the past few months, Biocycle has published various articles related to the use of anaerobic digesters. One such article is Diane Greer's "Financing an Anaerobic Digester," which discusses a partnership between Geerlings Hillside Farm in Allegan County, Michigan, and Phase 3 Renewables for an anaerobic digester project. "Farm Digesters for Small Dairies in Vermont" by Molly Farrell Tucker explains Vermont's Cow Power program. The program is helping dairy farmers turn manure into electricity by allowing their customers to voluntarily pay a premium to purchase electricity from manure processed in anaerobic digesters.

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Upcoming Events

More events related to livestock and manure management are posted on AgSTAR's workshop and conference webpage, which is updated monthly.

Texas Agricultural Technical Assistance Program Workshops
Various dates and locations
The Texas State Energy Conservation Office is hosting four USDA Rural Development Grant Application Training Workshops, along with informational sessions about its free energy assessments available to farm operators.

Environmental and Economic Benefits of Capturing Swine Manure Methane
September 18-19, 2008
Clinton, North Carolina
This free workshop, hosted by AgSTAR, EPA Region 4, and Environmental Credit Corporation (through a USDA grant), will provide a broad overview of anaerobic digestion of swine manure and other related issues. Attendees will also visit an operating covered lagoon system.

8th Annual Biocycle Conference on Renewable Energy
October 6-8, 2008
Madison, Wisconsin
BioCycle is hosting this renewable energy event, which focuses on bioenergy, biofuels, and bioproducts. One session is devoted to highlighting Wisconsin's experiences with farm anaerobic digesters, along with other relevant presentations, such as the 2008 Farm Bill, carbon credits, and optimization of biogas capture. If you would like to meet with AgSTAR at the event, please contact John Crenshaw (john.crenshaw@erg.com), ERG contractor to AgSTAR, at 919-468-7842.

Energy from Biomass and Waste
October 14-16, 2008
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
This exposition and conference is organized by Freesen & Partner GmbH, with the USDA listed as a gold sponsor. The event kicks off with a legislative and market update for the United States and Europe. Other sessions focus on anaerobic digestion of energy crops, wood waste, agricultural, and biowaste; the economic and ecological benefits of energy from biomass and waste; and much more.

Venice 2008 - Second International Symposium on Energy from Biomass and Waste
November 17-20, 2008
Venice, Italy
The Symposium is organized by the nonprofit International Waste Working Group and the Universities of Dresden, Hamburg, and Padua. Themes for the event include anaerobic digestion, climate change and carbon credits, economic feasibility, case studies, and more.

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