Updated: Jun 21, 2019
The Van Beek Brothers Dairy (Tipton, CA) fired up their biogas-powered genset to mark the new year. Doug and Tim Van Beek’s 800 kW generator, packaged by Maas Motor Works in Redding, California, has finished commissioning and is now selling power directly to Southern California Edison through the Bioenergy Market Adjusting Tariff (BioMAT) – a program requiring utilities to buy dairy power. The Van Beek family chose to finance the project themselves and now own the facility 100%, with operational support from Maas Energy Works.
Most recent digesters with electrical power generation “net meter” their output for use on the dairy, much like solar net metering. The BioMAT program, however, allows the producer to sell their power to the utility under a fixed-price 20-year contract. Under this program, the utilities are required to purchase 90 MW of dairy power, and so far, have received only a small portion of that amount. That program leaves plenty of room for future projects, and plenty of opportunity for California producers. A dairy hosting a net-metered solar array to reduce its dairy power bills can still operate a BioMAT digester to sell power.
The long-term contract to sell power makes it easy for traditional farm lenders to finance the projects with low up-front cost and very little risk to the dairy. Because of this, the BioMAT program has made electric generation at dairies an attractive option for some producers. In this case the attraction was enough that the Van Beek's chose to own this project 100% themselves, hiring Maas Energy Works to develop and operate the facility.
Due to high current prices for dairy compressed natural gas (CNG), however, much of California’s digester industry has recently been focused on producing pipeline biogas for CNG vehicle fuels. CNG projects are generally built in clusters that require large investments of capital and the participation of many dairies and companies. Electrical generation projects on the other hand, have guaranteed prices, can be built on a single dairy, and require fewer counter parties. One of the great strengths of California’s current growth in digesters is that there are so many markets for dairy biogas. Producers can decide for themselves how best to participate, and the industry has many strong tools for adding value to existing dairy operations.
Thanks for your interest in California dairy digesters. Maas Energy Works is the largest developer in the state, building digesters that are 100% farmer-owned, developer owned, or any combination in between.
Please contact us if you have any questions about work underway or future plans to create energy within California's proud dairy farming community.
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