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California utilities seek proposals for dairy biomethane pilot projects

CTBR Staff Writer Published 22 January 2018

California utilities Southern California Gas (SoCalGas), San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E), Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) and Southwest Gas have jointly issued a draft solicitation for dairy biomethane pilot projects.

These dairy biomethane pilot projects will have to demonstrate the ability to capture and proess biogas from dairy cows to produce renewable natural gas, which can replace conventional natural gas used in electricity generation, heating homes and fueling vehicles.

At least five projects will be selected. The solicitation is the first step in a new program created under Senate Bill (SB) 1383 by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), which has been directed to reduce methane emissions from agriculture in the state by 2030.  

These pilot projects will be selected by the CPUC, California Air Resources Board and the California Department of Food and Agriculture. These agencies are expected to choose the projects based on evaluation of the proposed business model, greenhouse gas reductions and cost effectiveness of achieving these reductions, environmental benefits and project readiness.

SoCalGas customer solutions and communications vice president Lisa Alexander said: "This is an exciting first step to building the market for renewable natural gas.

"Renewable natural gas, with its ability to turn methane emissions into a source of energy, is a critical element of a comprehensive approach to climate change, and we look forward to supporting these efforts."

Dairy biogas development is picking up in California. In part, it is due to the $35m grant funding from the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) last year.

CDFA could provide an additional $61-$75m in grant funding for new dairy biogas projects this year. 

SDG&E chief environmental officer and operations support and sustainability vice president Michael Schneider said: "The capture of biogas from agriculture is an innovative way to produce renewable natural gas to fuel our homes and businesses while helping achieve the state's climate goals.

"These pilot projects will help us identify a largely untapped energy resource and put organic waste to work for California."