South Jersey Industries (SJI) and development partner REV LNG, LLC (REV) broke ground on construction of a 2MM gallon anaerobic digester at Oakridge Dairy, Connecticut’s largest dairy farm. This US$12 million renewable natural gas (RNG) facility is a pivotal clean energy venture for SJI that will enable Elizabethtown natural gas customers to utilize renewable energy.
Expected to be operational by September 2022, the anaerobic digester will capture raw methane and other greenhouse gases produced by manure. The project will also include constructing additional equipment to transform the collected biogas into commercial-grade, pipeline-quality renewable natural gas that will be integrated into the distribution system of SJI’s subsidiary, Elizabethtown Gas.
“SJI and its subsidiaries, Elizabethtown Gas and South Jersey Gas, are committed to supporting New Jersey’s vision of a clean energy future,” said Melissa Orsen, president of SJI Utilities and senior vice president of SJI. “By equipping our systems with RNG, this project will enable more than 300,000 customers who depend on Elizabethtown Gas for safe, reliable, affordable clean energy to join us in accomplishing this goal.”
The project will also help to strengthen Oakridge Dairy’s own sustainability efforts. The 3000-acre, family-owned farm is already a leader in energy-efficient farming, with a 752-panel solar array, 205 high-efficiency barn fans, and more than 400 LED commercial lights. With the addition of the anaerobic digester on sight, Oakridge Dairy will help produce close to 60,000 dekatherms of RNG per year, which is enough to offset the environmental impact of 867 passenger vehicle cars.
“We have been trying to get a methane digester at our dairy for more than five years. We are so excited it is finally coming to fruition,” said Seth Bahler, CEO, Oakridge Dairy. “We as dairy farmers are the definition of sustainability: we grow crops, feed it to our cows, cows produce milk and manure, milk feeds the world with nutrients and manure feeds our future crop with nutrients. Adding a methane digester to this process is amazing because we can now capture the energy that’s left in the waste, turn it into a usable product, and still have the nutrients for our crops. Thankfully, working with REV LNG and SJI, we have found the right team and have gotten to this point where we are able to build this project to reduce our carbon footprint and move closer to net zero.”
The Oakridge Dairy project will be the first in a portfolio of dairy farms to break ground through SJI’s continued partnership with REV, a renewable energy project development and mobile energy services company. In addition to Oakridge Dairy, SJI and REV plan to build several similar RNG-producing plants over the coming year.
“REV LNG is committed to implementing creative energy solutions that help our company and the clients we serve to reduce our carbon footprints,” said David Kailbourne, CEO of REV LNG. “I am thrilled to see this project break ground and look forward to REV LNG and SJI’s continued partnership in this area of interest. I’d like to thank Seth Bahler and his family for bringing this project to life.”
“SJI recognizes that in order to achieve our goal of 100% carbon reduction by 2040, working collaboratively with organizations that share our same mission is critical,” said Mike Renna, president and CEO of SJI. “With that, SJI is proud to partner with REV LNG and Oakridge Dairy on this innovative clean energy project that I am confident will result in positive environmental outcomes for the regions we serve and beyond.”