Times Herald, Jan. 4th, 2022 – Two Sanilac County farms are moving toward environmental sustainability by participating in a project that will produce renewable natural gas from cow manure. Energy companies SJI and REV LNG are installing an anaerobic digester on each farm, which will capture methane gas from cow manure and turn it into commercial-grade renewable natural gas.
The four participating farms in Michigan are:
• Goma Dairy, Marlette
• Roto-Z, LLC Dairy, Snover
• Double Eagle Dairy, Middleton
• Z-Star, LLC, Caseville
In a written statement, Mike Renna, CEO, and president of SJI said the company is excited to invest in the low-carbon energy.
“As an experienced energy leader, SJI has a vital role to play in the clean energy future of our state, region, and country… And we are committed to investing in new technologies that will safely, reliably, and affordably deliver low carbon energy to our communities,” Renna said.
Krystle Straus, senior communications manager for SJI, said the company is paying the farmers to lease properties and for the manure.
More details on the project:
Gertie Van den Goor, one of the owners of Goma Dairy, said she is excited to participate in a project that benefits the environment. She wants to show the public that large farms can operate sustainably, benefiting the land, the animals, and the farm’s employees.
“I feel we all have a responsibility to leave this place better than how it was when we got here, and renewable energy is one of those tools,” Van den Goor said.
She also wants the public to know that farms and agriculture can help combat climate change.
“Agriculture is going to be part of the solution and not only part of the problem,” Van den Goor said.
She said Goma Dairy already installed a machine that separates cow manure from sand this summer in an effort to be more sustainable. Sand is used as bedding for the cows and is not usable when it mixes with manure.
Separating the sand from the manure allows the farm to reuse the sand, cutting down on the amount of sand the farm uses and shipments to the farm. Once the farm installed the separator, it was a natural next step to install an anaerobic digester, as manure with sand cannot be used to generate natural gas, Van den Goor said.
The energy companies will be responsible for building and maintaining the digesters and will purchase manure from the farm, she said.
Construction began on the projects this fall, and all digesters are expected to be operational by late 2022. The projects are expected to cost between $15 million and $17 million.
Van den Goor said construction is already underway on Goma Dairy Farm and she expects the digester to be operational by summer.
SJI and REV LNG said the project will produce a combined 307,320 dekatherms of renewable natural gas per year, creating carbon offsets and environmental savings equal to:
• 16,260 metric tons of CO2 equivalent
• 3,536 passenger vehicles per year
• 40,865,354 miles driven by an average passenger vehicle
• 1,829,673 gallons of gasoline consumed
• Energy to power 1,958 homes per year
• Carbon sequestered by 19,922 acres of US forests per year
Van den Goor said Green Point Dairy has about 5,000 cows between its two properties, which include Goma Dairy and another property in Caro.
Roto-Z, LLC Dairy, and Z-Star, LLC are owned by the Zwemmer family, with about 8,100 cows between the two farms.
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