With more than 200 people and 350 cows in attendance, Gov. Deval L. Patrick celebrated the opening of Massachusetts’s first commercial anaerobic digester at the 375-head Jordan Dairy Farm, proclaiming that “We are at a moment in history, and you have invented the pathway here. I feel very strongly about inventing our future and applying ourselves to make it a reality.” Following nearly four years in planning and development, the Jordan Farm digester is the first of five on-farm digesters being developed by the Agreen Energy Project, the farmer-owned company that partnered with Casella Waste Systems to supply the food waste and operate the digesters. At the ribbon cutting, refreshments were provided by HP Hood, Cains Foods, Cabot Creamery and Kayem — companies that will be sending source separated organics (SSO) to the five farm digesters and will purchase power from the projects.
The $3 million Jordan Farm project utilizes a German-designed mesophilic complete-mix digester from quasar energy group that will process liquid dairy manure and food waste. quasar reports that all components for the Jordan Farm project were manufactured in the U.S, and it is anticipated that each farm will generate 450 kW. Although the project took four years to permit and develop, it is anticipated that the next four digesters will all be developed within the next two years, thanks to the regulatory pathway Gov. Patrick referred to that evolved through the Jordan Farm project (see “Permitting Farm Codigestion,” September 2010). The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection, in support of its Solid Waste Master Plan objectives to divert SSO from landfills and incinerators, applied a policy that exempts conventional material recycling facilities from solid waste permitting to conversion of SSO at the five on-farm digesters. The same logic of beneficially using recycled materials is applied to the farm projects in consideration of the fact that energy and fertilizer are being manufactured from the manure and SSO.
Financing for the Agreen Energy projects comes from Farm Credit East, backed by a loan guarantee from USDA Rural Development and subsidized with grants from USDA NRCS, Mass Clean Energy Collaborative, Massachusetts Department of Agriculture and Federal stimulus funds. The Massachusetts Green Communities Act also qualified the electricity from the projects to receive $0.14 per kWh, in addition to resulting Renewable Energy Credits. Future projects will likely include adjacent greenhouses to utilize excess heat and produce revenue from sale of produce grown in the greenhouses.