Ohio biodigesters get a boost with USDA funding

Quasar Energy Group partnered with Kurtz Bros., Inc. and the Solid Waste Authority of Central Ohio (SWACO) to construct an anaerobic digester on the south side of Columbus. The system processes biosolids from the City of Columbus, regional food waste and FOG (fats, oil and grease) generating 8,760 MWh of renewable electricity annually.

Ohio is among the top states receiving USDA funding to expand clean energy production, reduce energy costs, improve water quality, and create jobs.

USDA is funding more than $10 million for Ohio companies to install biodigester projects in Cuyahoga, Morrow, Paulding, Summit, Wayne, and Williams Counties. The funding was awarded through a competitive process by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) through a competitive process. The are funded projects in 7 other states as well.

“This round of REAP funding places Ohio in the forefront of the anaerobic digester industry nationwide,” said Ohio Rural Development State Director Tony Logan. “These advanced biodigesters not only create jobs for Ohioans, they turn our existing waste streams – municipal waste, foods, oils and grease and livestock manure – into valuable biomass inputs. They are solid investments for our economy and our environment.”

One of the biodigesters announced will be located at the waste water treatment plant in Wooster, Ohio. It is expected to produce 2 million kilowatt hours of renewable energy each year, and is funded in part with a $500,000 grant and $750,000 loan combination, enough to power more than 200 homes a year.

“Through the efforts of the Obama Administration, the Rural Energy for America Program has helped rural small businesses, farmers and ranchers across the nation,” said USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack. “Since its creation this program has assisted almost 9,600 small businesses, farmers and ranchers and created or saved an estimated 15,000 jobs. It also provides producers with new opportunities to diversify revenue and make American agriculture and rural small business more competitive.”

Funding for the biodigesters is provided through the USDA Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) and has created or saved an estimated 13.4 billion kWh of electricity and reduced almost 14.5 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions.

 

The announcement is in concert with an agreement signed by Secretary Vilsack in December, 2009. During climate change talks in Copenhagen, Denmark, the Secretary signed a historic agreement to help U.S. dairy producers cut greenhouse gas emissions. The agreement between USDA and the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy calls for the parties to work to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from dairy farms by 25% by 2020.

In Fiscal Year 2011, USDA, through the REAP program, provided nearly $21 million in assistance for biodigesters, and leveraged over $110 million in project development. Through its Value-Added Producer Grant program, USDA provides planning grants of up to $100,000 and working capital grants of up to $300,000 to be used for establishment of a biodigester. Additionally, the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) offers financial and technical assistance through the Environmental Quality Incentives (EQIP) program.

REAP anaerobic digester funds announced included grants and loans to the following:

Mill Creek Digester, LLC West Unity, Ohio $600,000 loan, $499,924 grant

Belmont County Bioenergy, LLC Independence, Ohio $750,000 loan, $500,000 grant

Lime Lakes Energy, LLC Norton, Ohio $1.5 million loan, $500,000 grant

Wooster Renewable Energy, LLC Wooster, Ohio $750,000 loan, $500,000 grant

Ringler Energy, LLC Cardington, Ohio $3,238,750 loan, $500,000 grant

Haviland Energy, LLC Paulding Co, Ohio $600,000 loan, $500,000 grant

Funding of each award is contingent upon the recipient meeting the conditions of the grant or loan agreement. Grants can finance up to 25 percent of a project’s cost, not to exceed $500,000 for renewable energy systems, $250,000 for energy efficiency.

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