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CPUC launches selection process for dairy biomethane pilot projects


December 20, 2017, San Francisco, CA – The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) recently established a new program to reduce emissions of methane, a potent short-lived climate pollutant, from manure generated at dairies.

The pilot program will incentivize at least five projects where dairy digesters capture and process the biomethane gas from manure to produce renewable natural gas.

The program was adopted pursuant to Senate Bill (SB) 1383 (Lara, 2016) which authorizes funding of the dairy biomethane pilot projects to demonstrate interconnection to the gas pipeline system. The pipeline infrastructure is needed to inject renewable natural gas (after a conditioning process) into the utilities’ natural gas distribution system, where it may be sold to customers. SB 1383 established a goal of 40 percent reduction of methane emissions statewide by 2030. Emissions from manure represent approximately 26 percent of California’s methane emissions.

“This program helps turn a waste product into renewable energy,” said Commissioner Clifford Rechtschaffen. “In addition to reducing emissions of methane, the pilot projects will help improve air and water quality in the Central Valley and other regions. Strong interagency coordination has allowed us to implement this in a very short timeframe.”

Under the proposal, an interagency committee that includes the CPUC, the California Air Resources Board, and the California Department of Food and Agriculture will select the pilot projects. The committee will choose projects based on an evaluation of the proposed business model, likely greenhouse gas reductions realized and cost effectiveness of achieving these reductions, environmental benefits, disadvantaged community benefits, and project readiness.