Novi Energy opens Mich. community digester

By Anna Simet | October 15, 2012

Energy infrastructure development and project consulting company Novi Energy has officially opened a large-scale community digester project in southeastern Michigan, an event attended by U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich.; state Rep. John Bumstead; state Sen. Geoff Hansen;  Michigan’s USDA State Director James Turner and several other company officials.

Construction of the $22 million Fremont Community Digester plant in Fremont, Mich., began in 2010, and is slated for completion in the last quarter of 2012. It utilizes a complete-mix anaerobic digestion technology and is capable of taking in 100,000 tons of food waste each year.

Feedstock material for the digester will be collected by truck; the project has signed feedstock supply contracts with Fremont-based Gerber Products Co. and several other major regional food processors and agricultural operations. Once delivered to the site, feedstock material will be unloaded inside a closed facility, stored in tanks and then transferred to digester tanks. Collected biogas will be combusted in two reciprocating internal combustion engines, and the 3 MW of electricity is being sold to Consumers Energy under a long-term contract approved by the Michigan Public Service Commission.

Debt financing of the project, from Comerica Bank, was supported by a $12.8 million USDA Biorefinery 9003 loan guarantee, according to Novi Energy. The project’s majority owner is INDUS Energy LLC, an investment group located in Bingham Farms, Mich. North Central Cooperative of Wabash, Ind., is a minority owner and will market the plant's fertilizer and compost. DeMaria Building Co. is its engineering, procurement and construction contractor.

Novi Energy believes the plant is the first large-scale anaerobic digester in the U.S. that will take organic waste from multiple streams, including food processing wastes as well as agricultural waste. Company President Anand Gangadharan said it is the first in what Novi Energy expects will be a series of similar digesters to be developed in the U.S. and other countries.