Biogas, Solar Support Utility’s Operations

Green energy provider Commonwealth Energy of Tustin, California has purchased “cow power” produced by the municipal water district Inland Empire Utilities Agency (IEUA) of Chino, California. Commonwealth is a green energy service provider for retail and commercial establishments. The sale was IEUA’s first-ever sale of green credits generated through their dairy waste to energy anaerobic digesters.

Chino, California – August 5, 2004 [SolarAccess.com] “We were very excited to learn about the availability of IEUA’s renewable energy credits,” said Max Carpenter, Vice President of Retail Markets for Commonwealth Energy. “The credits generated through (the waste to energy) projects are among the greenest credits on the market for our customers.” IEUA partnered with the California Energy Commission, the Environmental Resources Trust of Washington D.C., and the Eastern Research Group to develop the monitoring, reporting and verification protocol for their two centralized digesters that convert manure to methane gas. Just one digester produces enough methane to power the utility’s wastewater treatment plant, while the other digester contributes energy to their desalination plant in Southern California. Capturing methane, a normal by-product of manure, is also important in terms of offsetting greenhouse gas emissions. Methane is roughly eight times more detrimental to the atmosphere than carbon dioxide. Additional project partners are the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Natural Resources Conservation Service, the South Coast Air Quality Management District and the Milk Producers Council. “We believe in ‘cow power’,” said John Anderson, IEUA Board President. “There are so many environmental and economic benefits from treating animal manure and other organic wastes through the use of anaerobic digesters. When we produce and use energy from the dairy manure, we are reducing green house gas emissions and protecting the environment at the same time that we lessen our dependence on fossil fuel sources of energy.” Powering operations with a waste to energy system is only part of IEUA’s efforts to run a sustainable municipal utility. Their administrative headquarters demonstrates the use of recycled building materials, and was built with energy efficiency in mind. A 60 kW solar photovoltaic (PV) array on top of the building helps to power the computers and equipment in the 66,000 square-foot office space. Solar used in conjunction with the anaerobic digesters and storm water management systems should make the building self-sufficient by 2006.

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