PG&E Gets Energy From Cow Manure

by | Mar 5, 2008

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bioenergy_solutions.jpgPacific Gas and Electric and BioEnergy Solutions say that their biogas-to-pipeline injection project in Fresno County has begun producing renewable natural gas derived from animal waste. It is the first project in California that will deliver pipeline-quality, renewable natural gas to a utility.

Vintage Dairy, the site of BioEnergy Solution’s first project, is located near the town of Riverdale in western Fresno County, California. Manure from the dairy’s 5,000 milk-producing cows and calves is flushed into a covered lagoon – equal in size to the area of nearly five football fields and over three stories deep – that traps the methane gas produced as the manure decomposes.

“With nearly two million dairy cows in California, there is great potential for the state’s agriculture and power sectors to work together to address the challenges of climate change,” said Roy Kuga, vice president of energy supply at PG&E. “This project is yet another example of our company’s commitment to add innovative forms of clean renewable energy to
help meet our customers’ future power needs.”

Under a long-term contract, BioEnergy Solutions will deliver up to three billion cubic feet of renewable natural gas a year to PG&E.

California isn’t the only state where companies are working on this kind of effort. Energy Trust of Oregon is hoping its state’s 320 dairy farms will become generators of renewable power for local utilities. Dairy farms that install anaerobic digesters can receive cash incentives to turn manure into biogas and generate green electricity.

Natural gas isn’t the only benefit companies are realizing from livestock waste. American Electric Power is paying Environmental Credit Corp. to put plastic tarps over lagoons holding livestock waste on farms to block methane from reaching the atmosphere and earn carbon credits.

PG&E is involved in a number of alternative energy programs. It recently signed a power purchase agreement with Finavera Renewables for 2 megawatts of electricity that will come from a wave farm. It also announced plans to double the amount of power it gets from solar energy. Last October, the company signed a long-term power purchase agreement with enXco for 150 megawatts of wind energy.

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