Michigan codigestion project secures funding

By Lisa Gibson | May 23, 2011

One of the first large-scale anaerobic digesters using codigestion in the U.S. has secured its funding and is scheduled to be operational in the summer of 2012.

The $22 million Fremont Community Digester project in the western Michigan town of Fremont is owned by entrepreneurial firm Novi Energy LLC and Indus Energy LLC, an investment group in Bingham Farms, Mich. Construction has begun on the facility, which will digest about 100,000 tons per year of both organic and agricultural waste.

“Fremont Community Digester can be the first of many such projects to convert industrial and agricultural wastes into electricity or other needed commodities, thereby addressing a significant environmental concern in the U.S.,” said Anand Gangadharan, CEO of Novi Energy. Feedstock supply contracts are in place with Fremont-based Gerber Products Co., a baby food and baby products company, and several other regional food processers and agricultural operations, according to Novi.

The biogas produced at the plant will be used to generate 3 megawatts (MW) of electricity, which will be sold to Michigan utility Consumers Energy under a long-term agreement, according to Novi. In addition to power, the project will also produce dilute liquid fertilizer and compost for sale to regional agricultural businesses.

The community digester will reduce the amount of organic waste sent to landfills near its feedstock suppliers, improve the sustainability of area farms, and improve the environmental quality of runoff water in the area. Gangadharan added that it will help the regional economy by adding investment and jobs, as well as bring together local industrial and agriculture interests. 

North Central Cooperative of Wabash, Ind., is also a minority owner of the project and will market the fertilizer and compost. Comerica Bank has provided the debt financing with the backing of a debt guaranty awarded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, according to Novi. The project company, Fremont Community Digester LLC, has hired DeMaria Building Co. as its engineering, procurement and construction contractor.