However, an anaerobic digestion system requires a rather large financial investment as well as a large management responsibility. Anaerobic digesters are custom designed and built for your farm needs. They should be designed by an experienced designer who has already worked through the common problems associated with anaerobic digestion. Currently, biogas production is best suited for farms that handle large amounts of slurry manure with little or no bedding. A common rule of thumb for economical operation of an anaerobic digester is manure from a minimum of 200 dairy cows or an equivalent amount of swine or poultry manure.
1. Do your homework--read background information on biogas
- Anaerobic Digestion: Biogas Production and Odor Reduction From Manure--G77, fact sheet available from Penn State Agricultural and Biological Engineering Extension Office, 246 Ag Engineering Building, University Park, PA 16802, phone 814-865-7685.
- On-Farm Biogas production--NRAES-20 and Anaerobic Digesters for Dairy Farms--Extension Bulletin 458 are available from the Northeast Regional Agricultural Engineering Service, 154 Riley-Robb Hall, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853, phone 607-255-7654 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Methane from Animal Manures: A Current Opportunities Casebook can be obtained by writing or calling:
Phil Lusk, Consultant
National Renewable Energy Laboratory
409 12th Street, SW, Suite 710
Washington, DC 20024-2125
2. Seek preliminary technical assistance
Several organizations can help determine if anaerobic digestion is suitable and economically feasible for your farm.
AgSTAR is a federally-funded program to promote the economical use of anaerobic digestion systems to reduce farm methane emissions. AgSTAR provides digestion system vendor information, helps farmers identify loans and financing for biogas systems, and can analyze the economics of a farm biogas system. They can be reached by calling 1-800-95AgSTAR.
Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS)
Contact NRCS to perform an initial digestion system analysis for your operation. They should be able to estimate the size of a digester and engine generator as well as the expected costs and benefits of an anaerobic digestion system on your farm.
3. Talk to digester owners
Remember, however, that digester owners are busy people with businesses to run. Please be considerate of their time and be prepared with questions for your conversation.
Mason Dixon Farms
Mr. Dick Waybright
1800 Mason Dixon Road
Gettysburg, PA 17325
Oregon Dairy Farms
Mr. George Hurst
2870 Oregon Pike
Lititz, PA 17543
Rocky Knoll Farms
Mr. Harlan Keener
1266 Gypsy Hill Road
Lancaster, PA 17602
Mr. Mike Brendle
Brendle's Egg Farm
4. Find out what safety equipment your electric company requires
Call to find out:
- Their Safety and Interconnection Requirements for Qualifying Facilities (the qualifying facility is basically your engine generator set) and their Policy for Cogeneration and Small Power Production.
- What price they will pay per kilowatt hour of electricity (their "buyback" rate).
- The cost for interconnection. This will depend upon your geographic location, distance from a transmission line, and the size of your generator. You should know the generator size before you call the utility.
Contact information for utilties and rural cooperatives
Be aware that the names may change--in most cases, you can call the main number and ask to speak with the Cogeneration Contact or the Engineering Department.
|Power Company||Contact Name/Phone||Address|
|Allegheny Power||Jim Murphy|
|800 Cabin Hill Dr.|
Greensburg, PA 15601
|Duquesne Light Company||send letter of request to:|
R. A. Irwin
|Systems Operations Dept.,|
2839 New Beaver Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15233
|Metropolitan Edison Company||Hal Webber 610-921-6755|
Anthony J. Nigrelli 610-921-6944
|2800 Pottsville Pike|
Reading, PA 19640
|Dave Rezac 814-533-8756||1001 Broad St.|
Johnstown, PA 15907
|Pennsylvania Power Company||James Haas 412-656-5377||1 East Washington St.|
New Castle, PA 16103
|Pennsylvania Power &|
|Marketing Representative 1-800-DIAL-PPL|
Non-Utility Generation Dept. 610-774-4368
Charles Solomon 610-774- 5151
|Customer Contact Center|
P.O. Box 3500
Allentown, PA 18106
|PECO Energy Company||Call the account manager|
listed on your electric bill or
Vince Catania 215-841-5431 or
830 S. Schuylkill Avenue
Phildelphia, PA 19146
|UGI Utilities, Inc.||Ron Kammer|
|247 Wyoming Avenue|
Kingston, PA 18704
|Wellsboro Electric Co.||717-724-3516||P.O. Box 138|
33 Austin St.
Wellsboro, PA 16901
If you are experiencing difficulty in dealing with your local utility, call John Miller at the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission at 717-783-1546.
If your area is serviced by a rural electric cooperative, call your local cooperative or, for a listing of all the cooperatives, contact the Pennsylvania Rural Electric Assocation, 212 Locust Street, P.O. Box 1266, Harrisburg, PA 17108, phone 717-233-5704.
5. Investigate potential financial incentives such as tax credits and loans
Currently, there are no tax breaks for biogas applications. Contact the IRS tax credit information service (phone 1-800-829-8815) or the Pennsylvania state biomass contact, Mike Palko, at 717-787-2105, for up to date tax credit information.
Agricultural loan information can be obtained from Carl Mueller, Assistant Director of the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, Bureau of Economic Development, 2301 North Cameron Street, Harrisburg, PA 17110-9408, phone 717-783-8460.
6. Talk to digester system designers and installers
Engineers will probably charge a fee for preliminary design work prior to construction. Therefore, you should be serious about installing a digester before contacting a designer. It is recommended that you choose a local designer who will oversee system construction and start-up and make changes if necessary. Inclusion in this list does not imply endorsement by Penn State Extension.
Digester System Designers and Installers
Agway Farm Research Center
Dr. Stan Weeks
6978 State Route 80
Tully, NY 13159
A.O. Smith Harvestore Products, Inc.
Dr. Rich Vetter
345 Harvestore Drive
DeKalb, IL 60115
Enviroenergy Systems, Inc.
VP Sales and Marketing
12030 Sunrise Valley Drive
Reston, VA 22091
Environmental Treatment Systems
430 10th Street, Suite N-107
Resource Conservation Management, Inc.
166 Capricorn Ave
Oakland, CA 94611
For covered lagoon systems:
Sharp Energy, Inc.
20174 Road 140
Tulare, CA 93274
AgriWaste Technology, Inc.
Dr. L.M. Safley, Jr. P.E.
3504 Sloan Court
Raleigh, NC 27606
3704 11th Avenue
South Minneapolis, MN 55407
For very larger or centralized digestion systems only:
Richard P. Mattocks
1115 Pacific Avenue
P. O. Box 433
Tillamook OR 97141
Perennial Energy Corporation
Route 1, Box 645
West Plains, MO 65775
Engine generator sets with full utility hook-up equipment
Latham, MO 65050
Heavy duty engines for biogas applications
Cleveland Brothers Engineering Division
4491 Chambers Hill Road
P.O. Box 2535
Harrisburg, PA 17105-2535
Jeannie A. Leggett, Extension Assistant in Agricultural and Biological Engineering Robert E. Graves, Professor of Agricultural Engineering