BioCycle July 2018
Washington, D.C.: EPA Releases Draft 2019 RFS Targets
The U.S. EPA released its 2019 draft renewable fuel targets for the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) in late June, calling for a 30 percent increase in biogas-related fuel but continuing to take no action to activate the renewable electricity pathway (eRIN). Specifically, EPA’s proposed rule calls for 381 million gallons of cellulosic biofuel in 2019. The Agency estimates that the vast majority — 358 million gallons — will be compressed natural gas (CNG) or liquefied natural gas (LNG) derived from renewable biogas. “Overall, the EPA’s proposed renewable fuel volumes for 2019 represent a significant win for the biogas industry,” explains Patrick Serfass, Executive Director of the American Biogas Council. “But EPA action is still needed to activate the eRIN pathway which would drive further growth in the biogas, agriculture and organics recycling industries.”
In its proposal, EPA’s action represented several positive steps for the biogas industry, adds Serfass: the proposed rule was issued on time which helps with price stability for the credits generated by the RFS; the proposed volumes recognize the significant role biogas and renewable natural gas plays among all renewable fuels; and EPA properly recognized the strong growth in the biogas industry.
Hennepin County, Minnesota: RFQ For Anaerobic Digestion Of Organic Materials
Hennepin County released a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) on June 19, seeking submissions from qualified, experienced, and financially capable entities to anaerobically digest a minimum of 25,000 tons/year of source separated organics to produce energy and beneficial soil or agricultural supplements. Submissions are due no later than 4:00 p.m. on Friday, September 7, 2018. Hennepin County is focused on diverting organic materials from the trash to meet its goals of recycling 75 percent of waste and sending zero waste to landfills. It is pursuing requirements for cities to make curbside organics recycling available to residents and requiring food waste recycling for certain businesses.
The county is interested in the development of an anaerobic digestion (AD) facility to increase processing capacity to manage the increase in diverted organics that would result from residential and commercial organics recycling requirements. This RFQ also seeks information on project concepts and business terms and conditions required by a respondent for a viable project. Hennepin County does not have a specific contracting, ownership, or operation mechanism selected.
Based on the responses submitted, county staff will brief the Hennepin County Board on the potential for expanding organics processing in the county and the implications for achieving the recycling and zero waste to landfill goals. The Board will subsequently decide whether and how to proceed for the provision of additional organics processing capacity via AD. County waste sorts continue to show that organic materials comprise 30 percent of the trash. With ambitious strategies to divert organics and put this material to a better, higher use, the county’s 2018-2023 Solid Waste Management Master Plan was approved in November 2017.
Sacramento, California: California Biomethane Industry Pushing To Expand
In California, the pipeline injection of landfill-derived renewable natural gas (RNG) was illegal for almost 30 years. In 2012, California AB 1900 lifted that restriction, but the proceedings that followed left in place the most stringent gas quality standards (and associated expenses) in the country (see “Pipeline Injection of Biomethane in California”, Mar/Apr 2018). Currently, 22 billion cubic feet of RNG is consumed by the vehicle market alone in California, almost all of which is brought from out of state. Interconnection costs have made these in-state RNG projects very challenging, although two state bills, if passed into law, should change this.
In its current form, Assembly Bill (AB) 3187 would require the Public Utility Commission (CPUC) to reevaluate an existing finance program and consider covering 100 percent of interconnection costs. The current program allows up to 50 percent coverage, although the money is not being used, which industry believes is because the incentive is insufficient, given California’s high interconnection costs. The second bill, Senate Bill (SB) 1440, would create a biomethane (RNG) procurement mandate for private, investor-owned gas utilities in California. It would require the CPUC to set goals for California’s gas corporations to annually procure 32 billion cubic feet of pipeline-quality biomethane by 2030. Publicly owned gas utilities would be exempt from this requirement.
If AB 3187 is passed, it would not immediately impact gas utilities but could ultimately allow for infrastructure connecting to biomethane production facilities to be paid for by gas customers through rate adjustments. The impact of SB 1440 on gas utilities is twofold; in addition to requiring a utility to buy RNG, it would also direct it to build interconnections between existing pipelines and biomethane production facilities. SB 1440 passed out of the Senate on a 27-9 vote. AB 3187 passed out of the Assembly on a 70-0 vote. SB 1440 is in Assembly committee for consideration, and AB 3187 is in Senate committee for consideration.
Hartford, Connecticut: State Selects 250 MW Of Renewable Energy Projects
Connecticut Governor Dannel P. Malloy and Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) Commissioner Robert Klee announced the selection of over 250 MW of clean and renewable energy projects as part of DEEP’s recent Clean Energy Request for Proposals. The projects include the state’s first procurement of offshore wind, in addition to multiple fuel cell projects and one new anaerobic digestion (AD) facility. The 1.6 MW (10,519 MWh) AD facility is being developed by Turning Earth in Southington, Connecticut.
The project is designed to process 54,000 tons of food waste, 15,000 tons of yard and woody waste utilizing an integrated dry fermentation and in-vessel composting system.
Selected projects will now enter negotiations with the electric distribution utilities, Eversource and United Illuminating, to reach agreement on 20-year contracts.