CLINTON, Maine — The small Kennebec County town of Clinton is known as Maine's dairy capitol. Soon, it could also have a reputation as one of the state's largest producing towns of renewable natural gas.
That's because Summit Natural Gas has established a partnership with some of those farms in Clinton and surrounding towns. The deal -- to turn cow manure from those farms into natural gas.
"We wanted to find a way to help mitigate climate change here in Maine but also partner with one of our traditional industries," said Summit's senior director of corporate affairs Lizzy Reinholt.
The plan will involve construction of a facility on Flood Brothers Farm in Clinton, called an "anaerobic digester" that can transform cow manure into renewable natural gas.
Summit Natural Gas plans to invest roughly $20 million into the project, with most expenses coming from the construction of the anaerobic digester. That facility will produce multiple byproducts during the transformation process from manure into natural gas.
Reinholt says the natural gas will run "directly into our pipe to heat homes and provide natural gas to industries and commercial customers."
One of the byproducts from the process is the natural gas. Another is a liquid that can be used a fertilizer for the farms, which will be easier to spread than raw manure. A solid is also produced and can be used as bedding for the cows.
The renewable attributes from the digester will be sold to third parties to help them meet their emissions reduction goals.
Summit is partnering with Flood Brothers Farm, Caverly Farms, Misty Meadows Farm, Wright Place Farm, Taylor Dairy Farm, Veazland Farm, Simpson View Farm and Gold-Top Farm to obtain the manure.
Summit projects it will be able to produce enough natural gas to cover 45 percent of the company’s Maine annual residential gas demand.
This project is still in development and has not been approved by the state.
Summit expects to start producing the natural gas by 2021.