Pacific Gas and Electric Co. (PG&E) and BioEnergy Solutions announced that their biogas-to-pipeline injection project in Fresno County, Calif. has begun production of renewable natural gas derived from animal waste. It is the first project in California that will deliver pipeline-quality, renewable natural gas to a utility.

“With nearly two million dairy cows in California, there is great potential for the state’s agriculture and power sectors to work together to address the challenges of climate change,” said Roy Kuga, vice president of energy supply at PG&E.

Under a long-term contract approved by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), BioEnergy Solutions will deliver up to three billion cubic feet of renewable natural gas a year to PG&E.

A BioEnergy Solutions system reduces emissions of methane by 70 percent on a 5,000-cow dairy.

“Using proven technologies, we design, build and operate highly-efficient biogas systems that enable dairymen to meet new air quality requirements and help utilities meet their goals for the production of energy from renewable sources,” said David Albers, president of BioEnergy Solutions.

Vintage Dairy, the site of BioEnergy Solution’s first project, is located near the town of Riverdale in western Fresno County, Calif. Manure from the dairy’s 5,000 milk-producing cows and calves is flushed into a covered lagoon, equal in size to the area of nearly five football fields and over three stories deep, that traps the methane gas produced as the manure decomposes. The methane is upgraded, or “scrubbed,” to remove corrosive materials to meet PG&E’s environmental standards for power plants and then delivered to PG&E through the utility’s pipeline. PG&E uses the natural gas to deliver renewable electricity to its customers in central and northern California.

PG&E expects to have 14 percent of its energy from renewable sources that qualify under California’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) Program in 2008. On average, more than 50 percent of the energy PG&E delivers comes from carbon-free sources, and the utility now has contracts to provide 20 percent of its future energy supply from renewable sources.

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