EPA Celebrates Sonoma County’s First Methane Digester

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, along with the California Energy Commission, Western United Resource Development and the Petaluma City Council, recently celebrated with St. Anthony Farm as it brought online Sonoma County’s first methane digester that will convert manure from the dairy’s 240 cows into electricity.

At the heart of the system is a 27,000 square foot covered manure lagoon digester. Flushed manure from St. Anthony Farm’s organic dairy, along with wastewater from the creamery, will be pumped daily to the new 2.3 million gallon lagoon. The covered lagoon provides favorable conditions for natural microbial action necessary to convert the organic matter into 17,000 cubic feet per day of methane rich biogas.

The gas will then be channeled into a pipeline where it’s transported into an 80-kilowatt generator, which will operate approximately 12 hours per day. The electricity generated will provide a substantial portion of the electric requirements of the dairy milking center and the creamery.

The heat from the generator engine and exhaust system will also be captured and used to produce hot water for St. Anthony Farm.

“Using biogas decreases greenhouse gas emissions, produces renewable energy, and safeguards local air and water quality,” said Wayne Nastri, the U.S. EPA’s administrator for the Pacific Southwest region.

Under the EPA’s AgStar Program, the EPA provided technical assistance to Western United Resource Development. AgStar is a voluntary program that encourages the use of waste methane recovery systems on dairy and swine farms.

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