Spart announces completion of financing for Michigan AD project

By Sustainable Partners LLC | December 09, 2014

Sustainable Partners LLC (Spart) has announced completion of financing for Lowell Energy AD LLC an anaerobic digestion (AD) waste-to-energy facility in Lowell, Michigan.

Spart has been at work on Lowell Energy AD for two years. Greg Northrup and Pam Landes entered the renewable energy market in May 2011 as Spart to develop, build, own and operate biogas plants using anaerobic digestion technology. “I’ve always wanted to be an entrepreneur,” said Greg Northrup, principal at Spart. “This was a perfect opportunity to combine that desire with my passion for renewable energy.”

Spart competed for and won the opportunity to develop Lowell Energy AD, an 800 kilowatt (kW) biogas plant for Lowell Light and Power, a municipal utility. Landes and Northrup have formed AD Energy LLC to partner with a private investor as owner/operators of the Lowell project.

The plant will use anaerobic digestion to convert organic waste into methane that will be used to power an 800 kW electric power generator. Lowell Light and Power will purchase the energy output of the plant that will position the utility to meet or exceed the current Michigan renewable portfolio standard. The facility will be located in an industrially-zoned former manufacturing site at 625 Chatham in Lowell, Michigan.

Anaerobic digesters work like a cow’s multiple stomachs to extract energy from organic waste products producing biomethane, which is an equivalent to natural gas. AD is a worldwide technology, with more than 7,000 biogas plants in Germany. Lowell Energy AD is introducing a new AD technology to the United States, through a German engineering firm enCO2 LLC. The Upflow/Downflow/Reflow technology offers several advantages over conventional stirred digester technology.

“The technology is pretty straight-forward. The real challenge in developing these projects is the complex relationships required to provide for the organic inputs to fuel it and for customers to buy the energy and byproducts. Our approach is to work transparently and to create a benefit for all participants,” said Landes.

Due in part to the vision of Lowell’s city leadership and the Lowell Light and Power board, the project supports Lowell’s economic development strategy and their intention to become a more sustainable community. “Our city is more than just a nice place to live,” comments Mark Howe, city manager, “We are committed to leveraging the leading technologies to make Lowell a hub for food production. The biogas plant offers a new way to handle organic waste and increases the capacity of our wastewater system.” Greg Pierce, general manager of Lowell Light and Power commented, “A biogas plant produces energy 24/7/365 making it an excellent source of baseload generation. We are excited about the opportunity to add biogas generation to our supply mix. Having diversity in our energy supply helps assure a reasonable cost and predictable service for our customers.”

“This project will bring more than energy to our city, there are many other benefits associated with the project such as helping one of our largest employers, increasing our wastewater plant’s capacity, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. We are very pleased to be partnering with AD Energy to make this project a reality,” said Lowell’s Mayor Jim Hodges.

The project is supported by a strong team including Rockford Construction, construction manager; enCO₂ LLC, the U.S. subsidiary of enCO2, GmbH a German engineering company; Williams & Works, civil engineers; Varnum Law, and BDO. Construction is expected to begin in earnest in early 2014.