Draft solicitation issued for California dairy RNG program

By Erin Voegele | January 23, 2018

A group of California utilities recently issued a draft solicitation for dairy biomethane pilot projects under California SB 1383. Proposed projects must demonstrate an ability to capture and process biogas from dairy cows to produce renewable natural gas (RNG). At least five projects will be selected under the solicitation.

The draft solicitation is the first step in a new program created by the California Public Utilities Commission under SB 1383, which established a goal to reduce California’s methane emissions 40 percent by 2030. As part of this goal, the bill authorizes funding of the dairy biomethane pilot projects to demonstrate interconnection to the gas pipeline system. The pipeline infrastructure is needed to inject RNG into the utilities’ natural gas distribution system. The CPUC announced the program in December. 

The draft solicitation was issued by Southern California Gas Co. (SoCalGas), San Diego Gas & Electric, Pacific Gas and Electric Co., and Southwest Gas. The utilities plan to hold a workshop and webinar on Jan. 31. During the event, the utilities will explain the draft solicitation process, gather feedback to clarify the process and answer questions. The final solicitation is expected to be released on or about March 7.

Proposed projects will be selected by the CPUC, California Air Resources Board and the California Department of Food and Agriculture. The agencies will jointly choose projects based on an evaluation of the proposed business model, likely greenhouse gas (GHG) reductions realized, and cost effectiveness of achieving these reductions, environmental benefits, disadvantaged community benefits and project readiness.

"This is an exciting first step to building the market for renewable natural gas," said Lisa Alexander, vice president of customer solutions and communications for SoCalGas. "Renewable natural gas, with its ability to turn methane emissions into a source of energy, is a critical element of a comprehensive approach to climate change, and we look forward to supporting these efforts."

"The capture of biogas from agriculture is an innovative way to produce renewable natural gas to fuel our homes and businesses while helping achieve the state's climate goals," said Michael Schneider, chief environmental officer and vice president of operations support and sustainability for SDG&E. "These pilot projects will help us identify a largely untapped energy resource and put organic waste to work for California."

"Identifying new ways to reduce methane emissions and their effect on the environment is one of PG&E's highest priorities. We remain committed to playing a key role in California's emissions reductions effort and clean energy future.  And, we are proud to partner with the state's leading energy companies and agriculture producers to convert organic waste into a reliable source of energy. The capturing, transformation and utilization of methane emissions as a clean fuel source will have significant environmental benefits," said Christine Cowsert, PG&E Gas Operations senior director.

"Southwest Gas is pleased to partner with SoCalGas, San Diego Gas & Electric and Pacific Gas and Electric to further develop the renewable natural gas market in California to help achieve the state's climate change goals," said Randall Gabe, vice president/gas resources for Southwest Gas.   

A copy of the draft solicitation and additional information on the Jan. 31 webinar is available on the CPUC website