California dairy digester system complete, plans expansion

By Anna Simet | November 11, 2016

A California dairy and its digester developer are hosting an open house on Nov. 17 to allow visitors to learn about and view the project firsthand.

Maas Energy Works is the developer and operator of the covered lagoon, 800-kilowatt digester system at Open Sky Ranch Dairy in Riverdale, California. The company has developed 11 successful dairy digesters in California, Oregon and Washington since its 2009 startup. It secured funding for this project, part of which was a $973,000 grant via the California Department of Food and Agriculture’s Dairy Digester Research and Development Program, which provides up to 50 percent of the total cost digester projects, not to exceed $3 million for a single project, and is designed to incentivize and expand the number of operating dairy digesters in California. Four other digesters were awarded alongside Open Sky Ranch Dairy.

For this project, Maas Energy refurbished and redesigned a former Vintage Dairy Digester—the original digester was decommissioned by a separate owner and developer in 2010—to supply power for the dairy.

Now, the dairy is able to provide nearly all of its electricity needs, and an expansion is in the works, according to Maas Energy’s Doug Bryant. “We’re hoping to install a second [engine] by the end of next year—right now, the project is producing too much gas, so when this is done, power will be solid into the grid. Right now, the dairy is completely offsetting his fuel bill.”

Besides Mass Energy CEO Daryl Maas and Open Sky Ranch Dairy Owner Eric TeVelde, speakers at the open house will include Paul Sousa of Western United Dairymen, California Department of Food and Agriculture Undersecretary Jim Houston, and USDA Rural Development Business & Cooperative Specialist Guadalupe Valdes.