Grand opening held for N.Y.'s largest on-farm biogas plant

By Lisa Gibson | May 01, 2012

New York State’s largest on-farm biogas power project drew state and local officials May 1 for its official grand opening. The facility produces 1.4 MW of power, enough for nearly 1,000 homes.

Synergy Dairy, a 2,000-head dairy farm in Covington, N.Y., hosts the facility, while CH4 Biogas LLC owns and operates it under the name Synergy Biogas LLC. It is the state’s first biogas project specifically designed for co-digestion of animal and food wastes, according to GE Energy, which provided is Jenbacher engine for the plant. The 120,000-gallon co-digester takes in 425 tons of waste per day from local food processors, as well as the dairy’s cow manure.

National Grid will purchase the electricity generated at the plant, which will provide about 10,000 megawatt hours per year for its customers. The company provided a $750,000 grant through its Renewable Energy and Economic Development Program to cover the cost of building the substation that connects the facility to the grid. The New York State Energy  Research and Development Authority is also providing $1 million in incentives for the plant.

“This Synergy co-digestion biogas project is the cutting edge of energy technology and is an absolute revenue-producing game changer for our dairies and local economies,” said Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., whose office helped coordinate federal and local funding for the project. “By recycling agricultural waste in biogas plants, dairies can reduce disposal costs, produce affordable renewable energy to run their operations and gain a revenue source by selling excess power to the grid. I’ve been proud to help keep this project on track to ensure it crossed the finish line.”

The project is expected to reduce the dairy farm’s baseload greenhouse gas emissions by about 8,500 tons of carbon dioxide annually, equivalent to the emissions of 1,700 automobiles. The facility also will produce an estimated 17,500 cubic yards of bedding material for livestock, while reducing manure odors and helping the farm manage nutrients applied to cropland.