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Online AgSTAR Digest: Fall 2010

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Did You Know?

A new international partnership, the Global Methane Initiative (GMI), was launched this fall. It builds on the existing structure and success of the Methane to Markets Partnership to reduce emissions of methane, while enhancing and expanding these efforts and encouraging new resource commitments from country partners.

Sixth National AgSTAR Conference Announced

The next GMI Agriculture Subcommittee meeting is expected to be held on May 13, 2011, in conjunction with the AgSTAR conference in Boise, Idaho.

Mark your calendars for AgSTAR's Sixth National Conference slated for May 10-12, 2011, in Boise, Idaho. It will start with optional site tours to local dairy farms on May 10 and a welcoming reception/early registration that evening, followed by a two-day conference May 11-12, which will include technical sessions, networking events, and an exhibit hall. The conference is a must for livestock producers, project developers, regulators, energy professionals, financiers, and others interested in this field.

Based on feedback from last year, AgSTAR will expand networking opportunities and provide educational sessions on new technologies, case studies, financial support, energy policy, and much more. Staff is currently working on the program topics and will issue a call for abstracts later this month to solicit speakers. The conference will also continue to provide free space for interested exhibitors. The application for exhibitors and sponsors will be issued soon.

AgSTAR will provide additional conference information via its listserv and on its website, www.epa.gov/agstar. If you are not currently registered for the listserv, please send an e-mail to AgSTAR to be added.

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USDA and EPA Attend Open House in Vermont

USDA officials Molly Lambert, Judith Canales, and Todd Campbell enjoy the tour of Chaput Family Farms digester.


sign for CVPS cow power

The Chaput digester is the seventh project supported through the CVPS Cow Power program.

In August 2010, Chaput Family Farms—an 1,800-cow farm in North Troy, Vermont, owned and operated by brothers Reg and Michael Chaput—began generating power from a cow manure-fed anaerobic digestion system. On October 8, the farm held an open house, giving USDA and AgSTAR the opportunity to tour the system. During her remarks, Molly Lambert (USDA's Director for Rural Development in Vermont) reported, "Expanding the nation's renewable energy sources is a priority of the Obama Administration and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and is consistent with a Memorandum of Understanding the United States signed in Copenhagen last December to work together with dairy producers to reduce greenhouse emissions by 25 percent by 2020." Judith Canales (Administrator) and Todd Campbell of USDA Rural Business & Cooperative Programs were also in attendance. USDA state leaders from Natural Resources Conservation Service and Farm Service Agency, political representatives from the state and federal level, and dozens of local citizens attended the event. AgSTAR presented posters to project partners recognizing their efforts to protect the environment while generating renewable energy.

The complete mix digester system, which cost about $1.8 million to construct, was designed by RCM International. USDA's Rural Development helped finance the digester with a Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) grant and loan guarantee, and Central Vermont Public Service (CVPS) provided a grant of $100,000 to help underwrite startup costs. Additional partners that made the project a success are the Vermont Clean Energy Development Fund; the VermontSPEED Standard Offer Program; the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets; Vermont Agricultural Credit Corporation; and Vermont Electric Cooperative, Inc.

The 300-kilowatt (kW) biogas-fed generator produces electricity, for which Chaput Family Farms is paid 20 cents for every kilowatt-hour (kWh) they feed into the Vermont grid: 16 cents from the standard offer program and another 4 cents from CVPS Cow Power, a voluntary program that citizens support via purchases of green power. Digester effluent is used as crop fertilizer and cow bedding material. The annual reduction of greenhouse gases attributable to this project is approximately the same as the annual greenhouse gas emissions from more than 220 passenger vehicles or the carbon dioxide emissions from nearly 2,672 barrels of oil consumed.

Geoff Teigen (RCM International) and Mike Raker (Ag Energy Consultants, LLC) lead the tour of the digester system.


Sources: Angie McEliece (RCM International), 2010; USDA, "USDA Officials Tour Vermont Dairy Farm's Anaerobic Digester," October 8, 2010; CVPS Cow Power, "Chaput Family Farms," 2010; and CVPS, "Public Invited to Chaput Family Farms Cow Power Open House," October 6, 2010.

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California Workshop Discusses Issues Affecting Digester Development

The California Dairy Digester Workshop (held on October 15, 2010, in Elk Grove, California) was a great success, with more than 50 attendees. The workshop was co-hosted by AgSTAR, USDA's Rural Development Program, and the Natural Resources Conservation Service to spur the development of livestock manure anaerobic digesters on farms. California has fewer than 15 operating digester systems, but AgSTAR estimates that there are more than 900 dairy farms in the state where digesters are feasible given their number of cows and current manure management system.

Jon Tollenaar explains the design of his anaerobic digester during an AgSTAR tour. (Photo: Courtesy of Don Hodge)


Upcoming Pennsylvania Dairy Digester Workshop

More information about a December 2, 2010, anaerobic digestion workshop to be held in Lancaster is available in the events section of the newsletter.

Chris Voell of AgSTAR kicked off the workshop by providing opening remarks. He was followed by Paul Sousa of Western United Dairyman and Judy London of London Consulting, who presented on state and national issues impacting the digester industry. Allen Dusault of Sustainable Conservation discussed emissions from internal combustion engines, and Paul Miller of Environmental Science Associates explained programmatic environmental impact reports and their role in digester development. Additionally, Philip Brown of USDA presented an overview of financial resources available to help digester projects. All presentations are posted on the AgSTAR website. AgSTAR would like to thank Allen Dusault for his contributions in developing the agenda and soliciting speakers.

The classroom discussion was rounded out by a status update on the existing manure anaerobic digestion projects in California and the generation of a great dialogue about the current obstacles for their development in the state. The afternoon session featured a tour of the operating digestion systems at Cal-Denier and Tollenaar dairies. AgSTAR thanks Angela McEliece from RCM International (who coordinated the tours), Geoff Teigen from RCM International (who helped lead them), and dairy operators Fred Denier and Jon Tollenaar. The chance for workshop attendees to view these systems and hear about the producers' experiences was invaluable to the success of this workshop.

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New Look for AgSTAR Website

Anaerobic Digestion Screening Forms

The website now features online forms for farmers interested in exploring the initial feasibility of an anaerobic digestion system for a dairy facility or swine facility. For any user who submits basic information using these forms, EPA will evaluate whether a more comprehensive evaluation using the FarmWare tool is warranted.

In September, AgSTAR launched its redesigned website to provide a more user-friendly navigation and additional content. For example, Anaerobic Digestion 101 provides a tutorial on how anaerobic digestion and biogas recovery systems work, with flow charts, pictures, and accompanying text. AgSTAR also expanded the Frequent Questions and increased the visibility of the AgSTAR database on a new Projects page.

Additional website upgrades are scheduled for spring 2011, during which AgSTAR will expand the resources available in its technical library. If you have suggestions of papers, presentations, and other organizations AgSTAR should highlight, please contact AgSTAR.

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Newly Operational Digesters

Zuber Farms
In January 2010, Zuber Farms in Byron, New York, installed a heated, mixed-tank anaerobic digester designed by RCM International. Manure from 1,550 dairy cows and food waste are fed to the digester to produce biogas, which is sent though a scrubber to remove hydrogen sulfide. The gas is used to fuel a Guascor MGG-712 reciprocating engine and generator set from Martin Machinery. The system consistently produces 300 kW of electricity. Zuber Farms will use this electricity and sell surplus energy to the grid—potentially decreasing their energy costs by up to $25,000 per month. The waste heat from the engine is recovered to keep the digester heated, along with farm buildings. The solids from the effluent will be used as fertilizer and livestock bedding. The construction and installation of this digester was enabled, in part, by a USDA Farm Bill grant. The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) also supports the project via its Anaerobic Digester Gas-to-Electricity program.

Sources: Angie McEliece (RCM International), 2010; CHD Energy Corporation, Zuber Farms (PDF) (2 pp, 75K), NYSERDA DG/CHP Program, May 24, 2010.

Guascor engine from Martin Machinery at Roach Dairy Farm in New York. (Photo courtesy of RCM International)

Roach Dairy Farm
In March 2010, the complete mix anaerobic digestion system designed by RCM International at Roach Dairy Farm in Scipio Center, New York, became operational. The dairy farm uses manure produced by 1,350 cows to generate electricity through a 450 kW Guascor engine-generator set from Martin Machinery. In part, the farm opted to pursue the project to help reduce odor emissions. The farm also hopes to save money by using the post-digested fibers as bedding. The farm also uses its produced electricity with excess generation sold to the grid under the state's net metering provisions. In 2008, the farm received a $430,000 Farm Bill grant from USDA to help pay for the project.

Sources: Angie McEliece (RCM International), 2010; and Peter Gooch and Jennifer Pronto, Anaerobic Digestion at Roach Dairy: Case Study (PDF) (4 pp, 115K), NYSERDA Case Study AD-16, November 2009.

Dairy Dreams
John Pagel, who has been operating an anaerobic digestion system at Pagel's Ponderosa Dairy since 2008, announced that the new mixed plug flow digester at Dairy Dreams farm, which he co-owns with Don Niles, became operational in August 2010. The GHD-designed system has capacity for manure from 3,000 cows and can produce electricity of 750 kW. The farm, located in Casco, Wisconsin, received a grant of more than $430,000 from Wisconsin's Focus on Energy, and approximately $100,000 from a USDA Farm Bill grant.

Source: Melissa VanOrnum (GHD, Inc.), 2010; and Dan Sullivan, "Farm Digesters Generate Revenues, Manage Odors," Biocycle, September 2010.

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2010 Status Report on U.S. Anaerobic Digester Systems

In October, AgSTAR released the U.S. Anaerobic Digester Status Report, a 12-page overview of manure digestion systems currently being used at livestock operations across the United States. As of July 2010, there are over 150 digesters in operation in the United States, up from about a dozen in 1990. The growth of the industry has been spurred in part by federal, state, and local programs such as USDA's Farm Bill, AgSTAR, Wisconsin's Focus on Energy, and NYSERDA. Most digesters–nearly 80 percent–are located at dairy farms, largely in the Midwest, West, and Northeast. As shown in the table, approximately half of the projects use biogas for the cogeneration of electricity and heat. For more detail on the types of projects and technologies used, as well as the amounts of energy being recovered, the report is available on the AgSTAR website.

Biogas Use Technologies for Livestock Manure Anaerobic Digestion Projects
Use Number of Digester Projects* Percent of Digester Projects (%)
Cogeneration 78 49.7
Electricity 48 30.6
Boiler/furnace Fuel 20 12.7
Flared full time 15 9.6
Unknown use 7 4.5
Pipeline gas 4 2.5
Vehicle fuel 1 0.6
Methanol 1 0.6

*Project totals sum to more than the total number of operating projects because some farms have multiple uses for recovered biogas.

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USDA Financial Awards

Rural Energy for America Program
This fall, state USDA offices have announced awards issued through the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP). Under Section 9007 of the 2008 Farm Bill, REAP provides incentives for the development and construction of renewable energy projects, such as anaerobic digestion projects. Sievers Family Farms, LLC, in Liberty, Iowa, is receiving a $500,000 grant to install an anaerobic digester that will process a higher percentage of solids than most systems. Kane's Cow Power, LLC, in Enosburg Falls, Vermont, received nearly $445,000 in grants and $575,000 in loan guarantees to purchase and install an anaerobic digester. A future article will feature all 19 REAP awards that were made to digesters in 2010.

Conservation Innovation Grants
In August 2010, winning proposals for the 2010 Conservation Innovation Grants were announced. USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service administers the program, which funds innovative, on-the-ground conservation technologies and approaches to address water quality and quantity, air quality, energy conservation, and environmental markets. Among the award winners with projects related to digesters are:

Source: USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, "USDA Announces Recipients of Conservation Innovation Grants in 43 States," August 12, 2010.

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Future Digester Projects

The following farms have announced plans for new or expanded livestock manure anaerobic digestion systems.


Port of Tillamook Bay's demonstration vegetable patch includes pumpkins and cabbage grown in 100 percent digested, separated manure solids that are produced from the Hooley Digester facility. (Photo courtesy of RCM International)

Hooley Digester
In May 2010, the Port of Tillamook Bay began to explore options for updating and expanding the RCM International-designed Hooley Digester facility in Tillamook, Oregon. Currently, the facility processes manure from more than 3,000 dairy cows brought into the facility from local farms. The methane from the manure is then processed and used to run two 200 kW engines to produce electricity, which is then sold to Tillamook People's Utility District. Using Federal Emergency Management Agency funds, originally targeted for repairs to a storm-damaged rail line which are no longer needed, the Port is looking to increase the capacity of the project. With more manure to process, and newer and more efficient generation units, the Port of Tillamook Bay has the potential to improve reliability and increase electricity production to 1 megawatt (MW).

Sources: Angie McEliece (RCM International), 2010; Dave Fisher, "Milking Cows for All They're Worth," The Daily Astorian, October 5, 2010; and Dairy Sustainability News, "Hooley Digester, Oregon," May 2010.

Farm Power
In June 2010, Farm Power Northwest, LLC, broke ground on its second anaerobic digester project. Its first project, Farm Power Rexville, became operational in 2009 and has produced more than 4 million kWh of electricity. Based on that success, Farm Power decided to move forward on Farm Power Lynden, a new project in Whatcom County, Washington. Farm Power Lynden will use methane from nearly 3,000 cows to run a 750 kW engine. The facility will provide energy to local homes and businesses through Puget Sound Energy's Green Power Program. Additionally, waste heat from the generator will be used to heat a nearby greenhouse, Van Wingerden, allowing the complex to grow vegetables year-around. This anaerobic digester project is partially funded by a 2009 USDA Farm Bill grant and is expected to be operational at the end of 2010.

Farm Power Northwest is also looking to start construction on its third anaerobic digester project, Farm Power Rainier, near Enumclaw, Washington. The project will use methane from nearly 1,400 cows to run a 1,000 kW engine, and is expected to begin construction at the end of 2010.

The company's fourth project is expected to break ground in 2011 in Tillamook, Oregon. Farm Power was awarded $1 million in grants from Oregon to help finance an anaerobic digester, and once complete the company will receive an additional $1 million in tax credits from Oregon's Business Energy Tax Credit.

Sources: Dan Sullivan, "Farm Digesters Generate Revenues, Manage Odors," Biocycle, September 2010; and NW Farms and Food, "Renewable Energy From Dairy Farm Manure," September 1, 2010.

Van Dyk Dairy
In July 2010, Van Dyk Dairy in Lynden, Washington, began installation of a combined heat and power biogas production system based on a European design. DARITECH Inc. is building the anaerobic digestion system with 2G-Cenergy technology, and the farm will own and operate the biogas plant. This project will produce more than 3,000 kWh of electricity per year with any excess being sold to the grid. The project is expected to be operational at the end of 2010.

Source: 2G-CENERGY, "High Efficiency Biogas Cogeneration Plant for Dairy Farm in Washington (PDF)," (1 pg, 31K), July 20, 2010.

Grotegut Dairy Farm
Grotegut Dairy Farm in Newton, Wisconsin, has begun construction on a second GHD-designed anaerobic digester. The 1,900-cow farm is enjoying the benefits of its first one, which was funded in part by a 2008 USDA Farm Bill grant and became operational in 2009, to the extent that they want to add an additional digester to be able to use more of the manure produced on the farm. Currently, Grotegut Dairy Farm's biogas generates nearly 6 million kWh of electricity each year, which is sold to Wisconsin Public Service.

Source: Melissa VanOrnum (GHD, Inc.), 2010.

Cayuga County, New York
On August 30, 2010, the Cayuga County Legislature met with local planning board members and renewable energy experts to discuss plans for a 40-mile-long biogas pipeline proposed for the county. The Renewable Energy Project is a plan to connect seven dairy farms on the south end of the county to an industrial park in Aurelius, New York. Anaerobic digesters installed on the farms will break down cow manure and food waste to produce biogas. Back in April, the county planned to build and manage its own digester, but decided against the concept of transporting manure to a centralized location. With the digesters at the farms, the biogas produced from the manure of 30,000 cows can be pumped to the industrial park, where it can be used directly in end users' boilers or converted to electricity and heat and sold to industries in the park.

Sources: Nathan Baker, "Legislature Hears Plans for Biogas Project," The Citizen, September 1, 2010; and Nathan Baker, "Cow Power? County to Unveil Biogas Pipeline Proposal to Convert Farm Waste Into Electricity," The Citizen, August 29, 2010.

Loyd Ray Farms
In September 2010, Duke University and local power utility Duke Energy announced plans to build a digester project at Loyd Ray Farms in Boonville, North Carolina. The 9,000-swine facility currently uses open lagoons to handle hog waste. With the project in place, hog waste will be treated in a covered lagoon digester, and then the liquid effluent will be routed to an aeration basin for further treatment. The final treated liquid will be recycled as flush water for the hog houses, and leftover water will be stored in another lagoon and potentially used for crop irrigation. Collected biogas will be used in a micro-turbine with an expected electrical output of 500 to 600 megawatt-hours (MWh) per year. The $1.08 million project is being funded by a USDA grant as well as grants from the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources' Lagoon Conversion Program. The project, which broke ground in September, is expected to be operational in February 2011.

Source: Karl Bates (Duke University), "Dukes Enter Into Hog Waste Partnership," September 27, 2010.

Olivera Egg Ranch
In August 2010, FuelCell Energy, Inc., and Olivera Egg Ranch in French Camp, California, began plans for the installation of a 1.4 MW fuel cell electrical plant. G3 Power Systems is currently designing a poultry waste digester system that will process over 1 million pounds of poultry waste per week to create biogas to produce green power while reducing the ranch's odor emissions. This system will use the heat byproduct of the fuel cell to keep the digester at peak operating temperature while the fuel cell creates electricity. The project is scheduled to be operational in 2011.

Source: FuelCell Energy, "FuelCell Energy Sells 1.4 Megawatt Fuel Cell Power Plant to Provide Renewable Power From Biogas Helping to Solve Agricultural Waste Issue," August 17, 2010.

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AgSTAR Promotes Anaerobic Digestion Across the Nation

One of AgSTAR's initiatives is to educate farmers, policymakers, and other interested stakeholders about the environmental benefits of anaerobic digester technology. As part of this effort, staff participated in a number of conferences and livestock expos to present the latest information and to network with those involved in the industry about their ideas for further promotion. Below are some brief highlights from these events.

Renewable Biogas: Too Valuable to Waste Event
In June 2010, Chris Voell, AgSTAR National Program Manager, spoke at the Environmental and Energy Study Institute's Renewable Biogas: Too Valuable to Waste event, which included information on the environmental and energy benefits of anaerobic digestion. An audio recording and highlights from speaker presentations can be found on the event website.

World Dairy Expo
In September 2010, AgSTAR attended the World Dairy Expo in Madison, Wisconsin. Chris Voell and Allison Hogge of AgSTAR presented Opportunities to Advance Manure Digesters in the U.S., discussing the possibilities of and hurdles to manure digester project implementation. Currently, energy policies are slowing the spread of digester development and there are only 150 operating manure digesters, but there is a potential for many more digesters throughout the United States.

Chesapeake Bay Goal Line 2025: Opportunities for Enhancing Agricultural Conservation
In October 2010, AgSTAR attended Chesapeake Bay Goal Line 2025: Opportunities for Enhancing Agricultural Conservation in Baltimore, Maryland. The conference brought together agricultural experts from the Chesapeake Bay watershed to discuss best management practices and agricultural conservation techniques that could reduce nutrient loads to the watershed. Chris Voell of AgSTAR presented Advancing Energy Independence With Environmental Benefit: Livestock Manure Digesters (PDF) (34 pp, 4.1MB), which provided background information on anaerobic digesters as well as the environmental benefits, such as improving water quality.

Biogas Conference
In October 2010, AgSTAR attended Green Power's Sixth Biogas Conference in San Francisco, California. Chris Voell of AgSTAR spoke at the event, addressing an audience of project developers, policymakers, investors, farmers, waste management specialists, and utility officials. The conference website highlights a 60-second interview with Chris regarding the biogas industry. The conference also featured a post-event tour of the anaerobic digestion system at Fiscalini Farm.

Annual Biocycle Conference on Renewable Energy from Organics Recycling
In October 2010, AgSTAR sponsored and spoke at the Annual Biocycle Conference on Renewable Energy From Organics Recycling, which was held in Des Moines, Iowa. The conference covered topics such as biogas conditioning, biomethane markets, and legislative insights and updates. As one of the opening keynote speakers, Chris Voell of AgSTAR spoke on anaerobic digestion trends in the United States.

Throughout the summer, AgSTAR has also exhibited at many events across the country, including:

Do you have a recommendation for where AgSTAR should exhibit in 2011? Please e-mail AgSTAR with suggestions!

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Anaerobic Digestion Research Center Opens

In July, 2010, Michigan State University unveiled a new Anaerobic Digestion Research and Education Center (ADREC), bringing all of the school's research capabilities under one roof. ADREC seeks to develop an off-the-shelf, standardized anaerobic digestion technology that can be produced cost-effectively and is affordable for farms with 200 to 499 cows. Additionally, ADREC has been contracted by several private organizations to perform independent testing on different materials and will serve as a working classroom for students. The facility was made possible by a grant from a southeastern Michigan foundation.

Source: "MSU Opens New Anaerobic Digestion Research and Education Facility," Michigan Farmer, July 20, 2010.

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Policy Updates

Louisiana
In August 2010, Louisiana's Public Service Commission (PSC) voted to implement a pilot renewable energy program to assess costs and benefits of a potential Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS). The pilot has two parts: a small-scale technology research program and a 350 MW renewable capacity target. According to the final implementation plan (PDF) (29 pp, 993K), under the research component utilities can self-develop three renewable energy projects with at least two sized not more than 300 kW, or secure renewable energy via a tariff that offers as a purchase price the utility's avoided cost plus $30 per MWh premium for green power. The request for proposals component is designed for projects with bidder's thresholds set at 1 MW for electric cooperatives and 2 MW for investor-owned utilities. Data gathered from the Pilot RPS will allow the PSC to determine whether and how to design a full-scale RPS beyond 2013.

Oklahoma
In May 2010, the Oklahoma Legislature passed House Bill 3028 (RTF) (7 pp, 40K), which established a renewable energy goal for electric utilities. The goal calls for 15 percent of the total installed generation capacity in Oklahoma to be derived from renewable sources or energy efficiency by 2015. It also requires state regulators to develop a state transmission grid expansion plan to accommodate distribution of renewable generation. Eligible renewable energy resources include biogas from anaerobic digestion, biomass, landfill gas, solar, and wind.

ACORE State-by-State Report on Renewable Energy
In August 2010, the American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE) released a report, Renewable Energy in America (PDF) (117 pp, 6.5MB), that compiles data on renewable energy developments, resource potentials, and financial, market, and policy information on a state-by-state basis. The report is intended to be an executive summary of the renewable energy sector in each state, thus showing the wide range of renewable energy development in the United States, including anaerobic digestion.

Wisconsin
Wisconsin's Livestock Facility Siting Law consists of a state statute and rule (ATCP 51) and establishes procedures for local governments related to the permitting process for new or expanded livestock facilities. This law is currently being reviewed for possible modifications. Under the existing rule, any facility that exceeds 500 animal units (or a lower local threshold) must submit an application for local approval. Anaerobic digestion, as an odor management control tool, can improve an applicant's score. The Siting Review Board is now reviewing the scoring allowance for anaerobic digesters (and others) relative to other odor control technologies.

Interested parties can attend a public meeting in December that is open for observation. If the Board recommends changes, the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) will draft proposed revisions to the rule, which will then be posted for public comment. In the interim, written comments can be submitted to DATCP. Information about Siting Review Board meetings, contact information, and other pertinent information can all be found on the DATCP website.

Source: Roger Kasper (DATCP), 2010.

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Global Methane Initiative

Latest Edition of Methane International Available
Methane International #21, is now available on the Methane to Markets website. Read about the latest in Partnership news, including an article on the approval of GMI. The newsletter also includes information on the two newest Partner Countries: Nicaragua and Turkey.

Additionally, in August 2010, Methane International #20 was released and included an article on Partner Countries Indonesia, Peru, and Serbia, which joined over the summer. The newsletter also included information on a wet waste study in Thailand titled Methane Reduction Opportunities in Wet Market Waste Management in Thailand.

In October 2010, at the second Methane to Markets Ministerial meeting in Mexico, more than 65 participants from 19 countries as well as representatives from the European Commission, the Asian Development Bank, and the Inter-American Development Bank unanimously approved of a new Global Methane Initiative (GMI) (PDF) (2 pp, 113K). GMI will build on the existing structure and success of the Methane to Markets Partnership. The United States is pledging $50 million over the next five years to the GMI to support the implementation of methane emissions reduction projects and technologies.

Agriculture Subcommittee Met in Italy
The next Agriculture Subcommittee meeting was held on November 12, 2010, in Venice, Italy. It was being held in conjunction with the Landfill Subcommittee meeting, which took place on November 11, 2010. Both Subcommittees discussed outcomes of the Methane to Markets Ministerial Meeting and direction provided by the Steering Committee, which met concurrently with the Ministerial Meeting.

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Online Resources

eXtension Highlights Anaerobic Digestion
On October 5, 2010, the eXtension program, an educational partnership of 74 universities, released a new page on its website titled "Introduction to Biogas and Anaerobic Digestion." The new page, which complements the site's "Farm Energy" and "Animal Manure Management" pages, provides an overview of biogas and anaerobic digestion technologies, as well as links to other articles and websites focused on anaerobic digestion, including the AgSTAR website. One section of the new page focuses on the safety risks associated with biogas collection and recovery, such as explosion, asphyxiation, disease, and hydrogen sulphide poisoning. The page lists measures that can be taken to avoid these risks; it also links to a number of risk-prevention websites and resources. The website also discusses the most common pitfalls of digester systems, such as souring, which occurs when the pH of the digester gets too low and inhibits the growth of methane-forming bacteria.

Great Plains Institute Releases Report on Biogas
In August 2010, the Great Plains Institute published Spotlight on Biogas (PDF) (68 pp, 10MB), a report designed to help industry leaders and policymakers scale up biogas production and utilization in the Midwest. It includes basic technological information and the most promising policies. The report focuses on anaerobic digestion, either at the farm or industrial scale, with an emphasis on agricultural feedstocks such as manure, crop residues, and food processing byproducts.

Climate Action Reserve's Livestock Project Protocol
In July 2010, the Climate Action Reserve released a draft Livestock Project Protocol (PDF) (79 pp, 545K) that provides guidance on reporting the greenhouse gas emissions reductions from biogas collection systems on dairy and swine farms. The Protocol focuses mainly on quantifying reductions of methane emissions, but also discusses carbon dioxide emissions. The Protocol was presented to the Reserve Board on September 29, 2010, and a final version is expected soon. Information about the status of the Protocol and public comments is available at the Climate Action Reserve website.

RGGI Handbook Now Available
The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative's (RGGI's) Offset Handbook for Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) Model Rule Offset Subpart XX-10 and Model Offset Consistency Applications and Monitoring and Verification Reports (PDF) (48 pp, 926K) is now available on line. The handbook explains RGGI Model Rule provisions for offset projects and the award of carbon dioxide offset allowances. It also provides model templates for offset project applications and monitoring and verification reports. Anaerobic digester projects are eligible for carbon dioxide offset allowances under RGGI.

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Funding Opportunities

SARE Farmer Grants, Deadline: Varies by Region (November 15-December 5, 2010)
The Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program provides grants to farmers to implement sustainable agriculture practices and their own innovative ideas to solve problems on the farm. Individual farmers may apply for grants of $6,000 to $15,000, and groups of farmers may apply for up to $30,000. Waste management systems have previously received funding. Interested applicants are encouraged to visit the program website for fact sheets, state-by-state data on past funded projects, and tips for successful applications. To locate your region and learn more about SARE grants, please visit the program website.

Southern California Public Power Authority, Deadline: January 31, 2011
The Southern California Public Power Authority (SCPPA) has issued a Request for Proposals (PDF) (8 pp, 90K) for renewable energy generation. The renewable energy will help meet RPS objectives from 2014 through 2020. SCPPA prefers to take complete ownership of the proposed projects, but will also consider power purchase agreements. Biogas is an eligible resource and bids should start at less than $100 per MWh.

New York Property Tax Incentive, Deadline: January 2015
New York recently enacted legislation (A.B. 10875) to extend the sunset date for the property tax exemption for farm waste energy systems to January 2015. To be eligible, systems must have been constructed after January 1, 1991, and before January 1, 2015. The tax exemption application form is available online (PDF) (2 pp, 53K).

USDA Biomass Crop Assistance Program, No Deadline
On October 27, 2010, USDA's Farm Service Agency published the final rule implementing the Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP) in the Federal Register (PDF) (43 pp, 273K). BCAP provides financial assistance to owners and operators of agricultural and non-industrial private forest land who wish to establish, produce, and deliver biomass feedstocks. BCAP provides two categories of assistance:

All renewable biomass-consuming facilities qualify under the final rule, including anaerobic digester, plant nurseries, and sawmills.

USDA Conservation Loan Program, No Deadline
The Conservation Loan Program (PDF) (12 pp, 95K) provides farm owners and farm-related business operators access to credit to implement conservation techniques that will conserve natural resources. Conservation Loan funds can be used to implement conservation practices approved by the Natural Resources Conservation Service, such as the installation of conservation structures; implementation of manure management; installation of water conservation measures; establishment or improvement of permanent pastures; and the adaptation of other emerging or existing conservation practices, techniques, or technologies. Direct loans can be obtained through local Farm Service Agency offices with loan limits up to $300,000. Guaranteed loans of up to $1,112,000 are available from lenders working with the Farm Service Agency.

Ohio Agriculture Revolving Loan Fund Program, No Deadline
Ohio's Department of Agriculture is offering $2 million in low interest loans through its Agriculture Revolving Loan Fund (PDF) (2 pp, 760K). The department is partnering with the Ohio State University South Centers and Buckeye Hills-Hocking Valley Regional Development District to facilitate the loan process, which is using state funds made available through USDA. Loans will range from $10,000 to $100,000 and will finance up to 90 percent of the total project cost. Funds can be used for activities such as acquisition and improvement of land, buildings, plant facilities, and equipment as well as new construction or renovation of existing facilities, modernization, demolition, and site preparation. To qualify, the farm must be a small business.

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Upcoming Events

Sand Solutions Conference
November 17-18, 2010
Madison, Wisconsin
This conference, sponsored by McLanahan Corporation, is a must for those looking for a profitable way to separate sand from manure or considering anaerobic digestion on a sand-bedded operation. The conference will take you "back to the basics" for sand facilities. In addition, sessions will focus on many of the questions producers have today about retrofitting barns for sand bedding, addressing cow comfort issues, and the feasibility of recycling sand as it relates to mastitis and health. Tours are included and feature several different types of separation systems where sand is recycled.

Biogas: Midwest Food Processors Anaerobic Digester Casebook
November 23, 2010
The Energy Center of Wisconsin continues its three-part webinar series on making the next generation of biogas. Webinars are recorded and everyone who registers will receive access to the archived presentations.

AgSTAR—Penn State Cooperative Extension Anaerobic Digester Workshop
December 2, 2010
Lancaster, Pennsylvania
With support from the Lancaster County Center of Excellence in Production Agriculture, AgSTAR and the Penn State Cooperative Extension are hosting a one-day event focused on biogas recovery opportunities using anaerobic digestion in the Chesapeake Bay region. Producers will learn about digester systems for smaller operations, as well as important considerations when evaluating the potential for community digesters. The event will also focus on the prospects for revenue from energy generation, nutrient value, fiber recovery, and carbon credits. Participants will be able to tour either Oregon Dairy or Brubaker's Dairy to learn about their operating anaerobic digestion systems.

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