Schumer reports Covington biodigester on track to be connected to power grid

Schumer reports Covington biodigester on track to be connected to power grid

The Daily News: The Synergy Biogas LLC biodigester in Covington, the largest dairy biodigester in Western New York, is on track to be connected to the power grid before the end of the year, preventing the loss of $2.8 million in federal investments for the project, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer announced Wednesday.

The biodigester, a co-digestor which produces clean energy from both animal and food waste, had to be connected to the grid and online by the end of the year in order to access $2.8 million in federal renewable energy tax credit grants to help defray the project’s construction.

But this fall, National Grid told Synergy they did not expect to connect the biodigester to the grid until March of 2012.

In order to keep the project on track and ensure that Synergy receives the $2.8 million it had planned to receive, Schumer visited the biodigester in November and called on National Grid to execute the agreed upon timeline and get the plant online before the end of the year so that it could begin producing clean energy for the facility and Western New York and remain eligible for the federal investment it needs to stay viable.

 “This project could be a game changer for alternative energy for Western New York, and serve as a model for biodigesters that could start popping up across Upstate New York,” Schumer said. “We couldn’t let this project slide off the rails and risk losing millions of dollars in federal investments, so I went to bat for Synergy Biogas and this project. I’m thrilled National Grid has heeded the call, and that the project is back on track to be connected to the grid by the end of the week. When I visited the site last month, the potential for biodigesters was plain as day, and I’m going to do everything I can to keep supporting this project in Covington, and future projects throughout the state.”

Thanks to diligent work by National Grid and CH4 Biogas LLC, owner and operator of Synergy Biogas LLC, the Synergy Biogas biodigestor is now on schedule to be operational and commissioned by today. 

“Synergy Biogas wants to thank Senator Schumer for his support, the continued dedication of the local community and National Grid for commissioning Synergy Biogas to become operational by the end of the year,” said Lauren Toretta, vice president of CH4 Biogas. “This event opens up the opportunity to bring further sustainability projects to the farming and agriculture industries in Wyoming County and other counties in NY.”

In order to begin generating electricity for the grid, National Grid needed to run wires from the main line to the dairy’s biogas plant, modify the substation and complete installation testing. Once the connections are made Synergy must start up the biogas’s electrical generator and complete its own testing over a five-day period. Initially the biogas generator will produce 700kw of electricity shared by the grid and Synergy Biogas. The current schedule calls for National Grid to complete additional substation upgrades by early next year in order for the grid to accommodate the full 1400kw/h that the biogas facility produces.

Once Synergy is online, this innovative biogas plant will be the largest energy producing on-farm digester in Western New York, and the first biogas plant in New York designed specifically for co-digestion of manure with food grade organic waste. The biodigester will not only provide the power needed by Synergy, but will create five to six new jobs, support the dairy’s 30 workers, sustain local food manufacturers and haulers, and produce more than 10,000 megawatt hours of renewable energy annually. This, in turn, will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by the equivalent of 8,500 tons of carbon dioxide per year, control odors on the dairy farm, and create a clean fertilizer byproduct.

Schumer noted that Synergy’s biodigester is a critical local project, and noted that he helped secure a $750,000 grant for the Wyoming County Industrial Development Agency (IDA) earlier this year to help Synergy Biogas complete the plant and partner with Cornell University and Rochester Institute of Technology to evaluate and report on the performance and environmental benefits of the project.

Posted: Thursday, December 29, 2011 12:00 am