Environmental Power ramps up

By Anduin Kirkbride McElroy
Environmental Power Corp., based in Terrytown, N.Y., announced that its Huckabay Ridge facility in Stephenville, Texas, reached full capacity production levels of pipeline-quality biogas in late January. The facility is expected to produce approximately 635,000 million British thermal units of biogas per year from manure and other agricultural waste. Environmental Power's wholly owned subsidiary Microgy Inc. has the exclusive American license for the technology provided by Danish Biogas Technology AS.

"This project is the largest of its kind in North America," said Mark Hall, senior vice president of external affairs. "We're located in a compost yard in Stephenville because Erath County is the largest milk-producing county in Texas. We take manure from about 10,000 cows, borrow it for about 20 days and return the solids to the compost yard. The liquids are used for fertilizer."

The biogas, which is refined to have the same characteristics as natural gas, is currently being sold to the Lower Colorado River Authority, a utility in Texas. In October, Environmental Power will sell the biogas to Pacific Gas & Electric Co. in California as part of a 10-year contract for 8,000 MMBtu per day.

To fulfill this contract, Environmental Power is following an aggressive development plan. "We expect to have seven to 10 facilities under construction in 2008," Hall said. These facilities under development have an anticipated annual production of 4.9 million MMBtu. The first facility broke ground in December. The biogas plant will be located at the JBS Swift & Co. beef processing facility in Grand Island, Neb., and is expected to generate 235,000 MMBtu per year. Other projects are to be sited in California, Texas, Colorado and Idaho.

Environmental Power refined its technology at three much smaller facilities in Wisconsin, which started production in 2005. Each site processes manure from approximately 1,000 dairy cows, and the biogas is used on-site in generators owned by a rural electric cooperative.