Fortistar, Paloma Dairy begin construction on RNG facility

By Fortistar | September 01, 2020

Fortistar and Paloma Dairy on Aug. 31 announced the beginning of construction on a dairy digester renewable natural gas (RNG) facility, the Sunoma Renewable Biofuel Project. The new facility will produce 1.6 million gasoline gallon equivalents (GGE) of vehicle fuel annually for the Class 8 trucking sector—enough fuel to move 10 million miles of freight.

In addition to the significant community environmental benefits and cost savings for the fleets that use the fuel, the project will boost the local economy with 50 construction jobs and six permanent positions in Gila Bend, Arizona. This project continues an aggressive renewable fuels growth strategy at Fortistar designed to help businesses and public agencies dramatically reduce their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions with a solution that also saves them money. TruStar Energy, a Fortistar portfolio company and leading developer of natural gas fueling stations, will market and deliver the RNG fuel.

“This one project will help provide solutions for two important American industries. We are using our expertise to create new revenue streams for dairies while capturing methane and repurposing it to decarbonize the transportation sector,” said Mark Comora, president of Fortistar. “We are excited about partnering with the Van Hofwegen family on the Sunoma Renewable Biofuel Project to create the lowest carbon transportation fuel on the market.”

“The decision was easy,” remarked Robert Van Hofwegen Sr., patriarch of the Paloma Dairy family business. “We saw a great environmental and economic opportunity in the management of our manure and emissions. The key was finding a partner that could execute and unlock the potential value. We believe we found that partner in Fortistar and we look forward to working with them on this most exciting project.”

Paloma Dairy is owned by the Van Hofwegen family, a fourth-generation dairy farm family in Gila Bend, Arizona. The farm relies on the latest radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology that helps to provide its distinctive black and white Holstein cows with individualized care and provisions. Paloma Dairy keeps track of the complete health record of each cow via its signature RFID technology, which also allows employees to check on the health of each cow daily. In addition to the care of over 10,000 animals, the farm produces cow feed via alfalfa, corn silage, wheat and barley across 7,000 acres of farmland.

Montrose Water and Sustainability Services, a division of Montrose Environmental Group, completed design and engineering for the project as well as equipment procurement. Montrose’s subject matter experts will provide construction oversight, along with startup and commissioning support for the project. Industrial Services Co. will lead the building of the system.

Strengthening their position in the RNG industry, the Montrose team is excited to partner with Fortistar, the Van Hofwegen Family and ISC to bring to market an industry-leading anaerobic digestion project that will offer long-term sustainability benefits to the farm and local community. The project will be interconnected with Southwest Gas Company who will also purchase the gas. The Low Carbon Fuel Standard credits will be sold to Chevron under a long-term agreement. Initial project development was performed by Black Bear Environmental Assets Advisors. Financing was provided by Live Oak Bank.

The Sunoma Renewable Biofuels Project is the third of 12 new Fortistar RNG projects totaling nearly $500 million in capital that Fortistar expects to begin over the next year. These new projects will help produce 120 million GGE of RNG over the next three years and reduce U.S. transportation emissions by 2 million metric tons of CO2 annually, which is the equivalent of taking approximately 424,628 passenger cars off the road.