Vermont Public Service Board authorizes RNG project

By Vermont Public Service Board | April 15, 2016

The Vermont Public Service Board recently authorized the construction and operation of a renewable natural gas (RNG) facility on a farm in Salisbury, Vermont. The project will use primarily manure, corn silage, and brewery waste to produce pipeline-grade natural gas for sale to Middlebury College and Vermont Gas Systems.

Located on the Goodrich family dairy farm, the facility will include an anaerobic digester tank system to produce biogas, and gas upgrade and purification equipment to refine the biogas into the finished product. The project’s fuel sources will include a mix of manure, corn silage, and other crop residue from the host and neighboring farms, along with brewery waste from a local beer brewery. The final output will be interchangeable with pipeline-grade natural gas in form and quality, with a methane content of 97 percent. The renewable natural gas will be delivered to the “gas island” in Middlebury that provides natural gas to Middlebury College, with future injection into the underground distribution system operated by VGS.

Middlebury College expects to use 75 percent of the project’s output towards achieving the college’s carbon neutrality and campus sustainability objectives. VGS will buy some or all of the remaining output. The project’s developer, Lincoln Renewable Natural Gas, is also exploring the potential for using the RNG product as an alternative vehicle fuel.

In authorizing the Project, the Public Service Board found that other environmental and economic benefits for Vermont include:

- the replacement of a substantial volume of foreign-sourced fossil fuel currently used by Middlebury College with a local, renewable fuel source;

- the creation of a secondary revenue stream for local farms through the utilization of farm wastes;

 - the production of soil-enrichment byproducts and animal bedding for use on area farms;

- the use of brewery waste as a source of inputs for the RNG;

- the reduction of raw methane greenhouse gas emissions from manure lagoons on participating dairy farms; and

- the reduction of odors associated with manure storage and spreading on local farms.

The Public Service Board also found that the project will enable VGS to offer renewable gas as an alternative product to its existing customers, while the installation of an underground line to connect the project to VGS’s planned distribution network will enable VGS to provide gas service to new customers.

Middlebury College and the Towns of Salisbury and Middlebury filed letters of support for the project.

For the text of the Public Service Board’s decision and for more information about Docket 8596, please visit the Vermont Public Service Board website