Second anaerobic digester receives funds

By Bryan Sims
Web exclusive posted August 1, 2008 at 11:09 a.m. CST

Tarrytown, N.Y.-based Environmental Power Corp., along with its subsidiary Microgy Grand Island LLC, has completed financing involving the sale of $7 million of tax-exempt bonds issued by the city of Grand Island, Neb. The proceeds from the bonds will be used to finance construction of the Grand Island anaerobic digestion project near a JBS Swift & Co. beef processing plant in Grand Island, Neb.

The anaerobic digestion facility, which is being developed by Microgy, is already under construction and is expected to begin producing pipeline quality renewable natural gas (RNG) by the end of this year, according to Environmental Power.

"This represents another important step in the growth of our business and demonstrates that financing is available on competitive terms for our projects," said Environmental Power President and Chief Executive Officer Richard Kessel. "Tax exempt financing markets remain accessible for our projects despite the recent troubles in the credit markets. Ultimately, the value of the biogas that we produce and the waste solutions that we provide our partners are what drives the success of our projects."

The Grand Island Biogas facility is expected to produce and sell biogas to the adjacent JBS Swift & Co. beef processing plant pursuant to a 15-year biogas purchase agreement. The facility will use proven anaerobic digester technology to convert animal waste and other byproducts from the JBS Swift plant into a methane-rich biogas which will be used as fuel in the plant's existing boilers.

At capacity, the facility is expected to generate approximately 235,000 million British Thermal United (MMBtus) annually of pipeline quality biogas – the energy equivalent of 1.7 million gallons of oil. It will offset approximately 25 percent of JBS Swift's annual purchase of natural gas, which could save the company an estimated $1.7 million per year in energy costs.

In addition to reducing the plant's dependence on natural gas usage derived from fossil fuels, Environmental Power will utilize JBS Swift's beef processing wastes such as paunch waste to co-digest with cow manure in the anaerobic digestion process. This would be the first time animal byproducts from a ,meat processing plant would be used to generate biogas. The project will also enable JBS Swift to improve the facility's waste management, reducing the need to land-apply organic byproducts from its operations.