At a Public Service Board hearing Monday night in Salisbury over a dozen supporters spoke in favor of a proposed renewable natural gas plant at a dairy farm.
The Lincoln Renewable Natural Gas project will create biomethane gas that can be used in place of natural gas in homes and businesses. The gas will come from manure processed in a methane digester, which will be the first digester in Vermont to produce renewable natural gas. Others currently produce biogas that's burned to generate electricity.
The bio-methane plant would be housed on the Goodrich farm, a 3,000-acre large farm operation. It will also accept manure from two other farms. The gas will be piped six miles through the road right-of-way to Lincoln RNG’s primary customer, Middlebury College. It will also feed into Vermont Gas System’s pipeline when its expansion into Addison County is complete.
“The more manure and nutrients that we get sequestered off the land, the less will be in the lake. I don’t understand why we don’t have more of these projects, the European Union there’s digesters all over," said said neighboring farmer Randy Quesnel, Jr.
"We’re not fracking for gas, it’s a renewable resource, we have so much of it. I don’t know why we’re not doing more of it.” No one spoke out against the project. Barrie Bailey told the board she opposes the Vermont Gas pipeline expansion, but wants to see more renewable natural gas projects like this one.
“Digesters don’t need to be hooked up to fracked gas pipelines, this one happens to be that way and I’m very sad about that but I think it’s still a very important project because if this becomes viable on a larger scale, this will take care of a lot more people’s needs for renewable gas,” she told the board.
If the Public Service Board approves the project, the company hopes to start construction this spring, it and would be up and running by fall. A representative of Middlebury College said completion of the project this year will help them meet their goal of becoming carbon neutral by the end of 2016.