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Local Company Files Request to Build Renewable Natural Gas Plant that Will Bring Middlebury College Close to Carbon Neutrality

May 12, 2015

MIDDLEBURY, Vt. – Middlebury College is now one step closer to realizing its goal of using renewable natural gas made from cow manure and other organic fuel sources in place of fuel oil in its campus heating plant.
 Middlebury will serve as the primary customer of Lincoln Renewable Natural Gas, a Montpelier-based company that filed a petition May 11 with the Vermont Public Service Board for a Certificate of Public Good to construct and operate a renewable natural gas (RNG) plant in Salisbury.

Adding RNG to its energy mix will allow Middlebury to reduce its consumption of no. 6 fuel oil by 640,000 gallons a year, a step that will eliminate its use of fuel oil altogether. The change will also bring Middlebury nearer to its goal of carbon neutrality and will further diversify its fuel sources, which include biomass and solar. Middlebury has invested $1.7 million in the last year to retrofit its boilers to burn any fuel source, including RNG.

If approved for operation by the Public Service Board, the LincolnRNG plant will be located on the Goodrich Family Farm in Salisbury. The plant will generate renewable natural gas from manure produced by the Goodrich Farm and a group of neighboring dairy farms as well as other organic fuel sources from the local area.

An anaerobic digester tank system will enable the plant to produce biogas from manure and natural fuel sources. Additional equipment will strip out carbon dioxide and trace contaminants and convert the biogas into pure RNG. The resulting product is indistinguishable from conventional natural gas and can be commingled with it for distribution.

Vermont Gas Systems, Inc., which will buy approximately 25 percent of the project’s gas production, will construct a distribution pipeline, about five miles in length, from Salisbury to Middlebury. The pipeline will initially supply the College through the “gas island” that Vermont Gas operates in Middlebury.

The LincolnRNG plant has been in development since 2008, and would be the second of its kind in the United States. Integrated Energy Solutions (IES), a Montpelier-based start-up firm, is the plant developer. The plant is financed by private investment and commercial loan.

“Our filing with the board is the critical next step for bringing the LincolnRNG plant from concept into actual operation,” said Daniel Smith, president of LincolnRNG and IES. “As presented in the petition, we are ready to begin actual construction and operation after many years of development.” 

Along with serving as the primary customer for the LincolnRNG plant, Middlebury College is also a minority investor. “The College has shown great leadership in the renewable energy field, and has been a crucial development partner for this project,” said Smith. “The College has assisted IES in overcoming the many hurdles that inevitably challenge the development of a new concept such as the LincolnRNG plant.”

“We are very pleased that the project has advanced to this most important next step,” said Patrick Norton, vice president for finance and treasurer at Middlebury. “We believe LincolnRNG has made a compelling case to the Public Service Board, and we look forward to our first delivery of renewable natural gas.”

LincolnRNG has asked the board for an expedited review of its petition filing. If the board authorizes construction by August, the plant could be up and running by the end of this year.

For more information about the Lincoln RNG plant, visit www.iesvermont.com.