This anaerobic digester calls Big Sky West Dairy in Gooding, Idaho, home but it is financed, owned and operated by AgPower Group based in Colorado. According to Bob Joblin with AgPower, the owner of the dairy realized the potential of a third-party system. “He was a progressive dairyman that understood what we were doing and had a need for it,” Joblin says.
He had a successful dairy operation and kept it so by focusing on what he knows best. By allowing a third party to own and operate the digester, he could continue to focus on the cows while still attaining benefits from the digester.
It offered the dairy a better solution for manure and nutrient management. The farm is saving money on bedding, and they find the virtually pathogen-free digested material to be far superior bedding compared to composted bedding, Joblin reports.
AgPower benefits from the sale of electricity, carbon credits and renewable energy certificates.
Click here on on the image on the right to view at full size in a new window.
For its first dairy digester project, AgPower worked very closely on the front end with DVO, Inc. for engineering and design and ANDGAR for construction and management. “With their experience, the digester works just the way it is supposed to,” Joblin says, noting there is nothing he feels should be done differently in terms of operation setup.
However, the paperwork side of the project could have gone better. “The interconnect process is long, frustrating and expensive, more so than it has to be,” he says. “It can take up to 18 months and there is no logical reason for that.”
In some states the utility structure is rather old but, for the most part, there is a lot to the process that can be streamlined.
The environmental regulations and permitting process could also be adjusted to run smoother. “While strenuous, we remain supportive of regulations that protect the environment, but the longer it takes the more money it costs us,” Joblin notes. PD