Rainier Farm Biogas ProjectHB
NativeEnergy is helping the community of Enumclaw, Washington, build an energy-producing methane digester.
Carbon Project Type: Farm Methane Power
Location: Enumclaw, Washington, U.S.A.
Volume: 32,000 metric tons
Standard: Climate Action Reserve
Nestled in the foothills of the Cascades, the agricultural community near Enumclaw, Washington, has been organizing to build a methane digester for nearly a decade. The county and dairy industry have faced numerous economic challenges, leading some to believe that the project—and its many benefits—may never materialize. But now, with the assistance of a local developer and the promise of funding from NativeEnergy, hope has been renewed.
Kevin Maas of Rainier Biogas, the project developer, noted: “The community has supported this project because everyone will benefit from it. It will reduce greenhouse gas emissions; it will protect the area’s sensitive rivers and streams; and it will provide nutrient management and low-cost bedding for local farmers.”
Rainier Biogas has collaborated with three family farms—Ritter Dairy, Wallin Dairy, and the DeGroot Brothers Dairy—to build a foundation for the project. The farms, which house a total of 1,200 cows, will all contribute manure to the digester. By collaborating, these small farms have fashioned a solution to manure management that wouldn’t be available to each of them alone.
The project is currently projected to avoid 4,000 metric tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions annually.
Conventionally, manure from dairy farms is collected and temporarily stored in open air lagoons. Because of the anaerobic environment, decomposition of the manure results in the release of methane—a greenhouse gas 21 times more potent than carbon dioxide—into the atmosphere. Instead, the Rainier Biogas project will use a sealed, heated concrete digester to transform the waste into electricity. It will collect the methane biogas and feed it to a 1-megawatt electric generator. This generator will deliver renewable energy to the region’s electrical grid.
After initial development costs, the Enumclaw project will be self-sustaining through the sale of electricity to Puget Sound Energy. By purchasing Help Build™ carbon offsets, our customers provided critical upfront funding for this innovative methane digester—benefiting both the environment and local farmers.
The digester will be hosted at Ritter Dairy’s dry cow facility, which will also be linked by pipe to the DeGroot farm across the street. Wallin Dairy will deliver its manure by truck. In accordance with the carbon protocols, other greenhouse gas emissions—such as those created by this trucking—are included in the calculations to determine the project’s overall net emissions reductions.
Sustainable Development Benefits
The Environment: The Rainier Biogas Project is currently projected to avoid more than 4,000 metric tonnes of CO2 emissions annually, helping to reduce pollution that is contributing to climate change. The project will also help protect two vulnerable watersheds—removing more than 100 tons of nitrogen and 22 tons of phosphorus from manure spread on cropland each year. If not handled properly, nutrient-laden manure can harm lakes, streams, and groundwater.
Family Farmers: The farms and community will benefit from free manure processing which will nearly eliminate odor, kill weed seeds, and reduce bad bacteria levels. In addition, fiber separated during the process will provide a safe, local source of cow bedding for the farmers. Using this bedding in place of imported sawdust will save farmers thousands of dollars per year.
The Community: The Enumclaw area will benefit from the creation of several long-term operations jobs, a stronger dairy community, reduced odor, less chance of manure fecal coliform reaching streams, and reduced nutrient loading on cropland. The wider region will benefit from energy production, improved disposal options for food-processing waste and agricultural residues, and reduced emissions from avoided lagoon methane and power generation.
This project is a collaborative effort among NativeEnergy, Rainier Biogas LLC, Puget Sound Energy, and the participating farms. The project has received incentives from Washington State Energy Program Grant and Loan, the Department of Energy, King County, and the USDA.
Validation and Verification
These project’s emissions reductions will be verified by an independent third party to the Climate Action Reserve standard.
This project demonstrates financial additionality according to UNFCCC definitions in that the project faces barriers to implementation that are overcome by the opportunity to receive carbon revenues. The upfront payment commitment from NativeEnergy is required to satisfy the developer’s investment requirements.