Making electricity is not working for George DeRuyter & Sons dairy of Yakima County, Washington. The 3,150-cow farm will begin work this summer to convert its anaerobic digester to supply a pipeline with compressed natural gas (CNG). To make the change, the farm will need $12 million to install a scrubber to clean the gas to pipeline standards, and will install a new nutrient recovery system.

Dan DeRuyter, who manages the dairy, says the farm built their digester in 2006 at a cost of $3.8 million, hoping to profit from electricity sales and minimize odor – a big concern of area residents. However, power rates soon fell to 3.5 cents per kWh (kilowatt-hour), which is half of what they expected. Similar to Fair Oaks Farms of Indiana, the farm sees CNG as a technology of the future for dairy farms.

If the conversion to natural gas is successful, DeRuyter who manages the dairy, and Dan Evans, with Seattle’s Promus Energy, said finding customers who want the natural gas won’t be a problem. Evans also said that the natural gas is “worth many times more than the electricity that can be produced by a digester.”

Access points will be added to the pipeline so that if five other area dairies, totaling 20,000 cows, could hook up with minimal investment. If all six neighboring dairies were part of the project, Evans said they would produce the equivalent of 20,000 gallons of diesel fuel per day.

Source: Yakima Herald