State and federal officials broke ground Friday on a three-megawatt power plant near Fremont that will convert about 100,000 tons of agricultural waste a year into electricity, fertilizer and compost for West Michigan farms.
Consumers Power Co. will buy energy from the $22 million plant, which is scheduled to begin commercial operation next summer and is being developed and managed by Novi Energy. It’s one of the first large-scale anaerobic digesters using a technique called co-digestion to be built in the United States.
Said U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, chairwoman of the senate agriculture committee: “Fremont Community Digester is demonstrating firsthand the important role West Michigan agriculture plays in developing new clean energy alternatives, which will create new jobs and protect our environment.”
Others on hand for the ceremony were State Rep. Jon Bumstead, R-Newaygo, U.S. Department of Agriculture state director James Turner, Indus Energy representative Arvin Shah, North Central Cooperative Senior Manager Rob Zeldenrust and Novi Energy president Anand Gangadharan.
“This project is a prime example of how agriculture, business and the community can come together to create jobs, improve the environment and manufacture green electricity for decades to come,” Gangadharan said. “Equally important, the support at all levels of government, and in particular Senator Stabenow, has been critical in making an innovative, alternative energy project like Fremont Community Digester a reality.”
Novi Energy closed financing and hired construction contractor DeMaria Building Co. in May. More than 150 community leaders, government officials, investors and Novi Energy employees celebrated the start of Novi Energy’s largest energy infrastructure project to date.
Fremont Mayor James Rynberg called the project “a good example of how an entrepreneurial company like Novi Energy can work with the agricultural community and government to come up with a project that will benefit the community.”
Bumstead, who represents Michigan’s 100th house district, said the project will enhance the environment by turning agriculture waste into energy and fertilizer.
“The Fremont Community Digester will generate green electricity for Consumers Energy and help our environment in the process,” Bumstead said. “We need more innovative investments like this.”
“This is the first time that Consumers Energy will be buying renewable energy from fuel produced by processed food waste,” said David Ronk, the utility’s director of transactions and resource planning. “This innovative facility is another sign that Michigan’s energy reform law is working by driving investment in renewable energy projects.”
The project also has signed feedstock supply contracts with Fremont-based Gerber Products Co. and several other major regional food processors and agricultural operations. Novi Energy is working to develop other such anaerobic digester/power projects in the Midwestern United States.
Fremont Community Digester’s majority owner is Indus Energy LLC, an investment group based in Bingham Farms. North Central Cooperative of Wabash, Ind. is a minority owner and will market the plant’s fertilizer and compost. Comerica Bank is providing debt financing for the project with the backing of a debt guarantee awarded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture under its Biorefinery Assistance Program.
More at www.novienergy.com or call (248) 735-6684.
Consumers Energy will purchase approximately 380,000 megawatt-hours, or 19,000 MWh per year, of electricity from the FCD over the next 20 years at a cost of $55 million.
Consumers Energy is moving forward with its renewable energy plan to have 10 percent of the power provided to its 1.8 million customers by 2015 come from Michigan renewable energy projects, as required by the state’s energy reform law. Consumers Energy is Michigan’s leading supplier of renewable energy. Currently, about 5 percent of the electricity supplied to the utility’s customers comes from renewable sources.