CLINTON, Maine (July 6, 2022) –Peaks Renewables (Peaks), a subsidiary of Summit Utilities, Inc. (Summit) focused on investing in innovative technologies to decarbonize thermal energy, broke ground on Maine’s first renewable natural gas (RNG) dairy digester on July 6, 2022, in Clinton, Maine.
State officials and local leaders joined project partners, farmers, and friends of the project to witness the historic groundbreaking.
“It truly was an exciting day for Peaks, Summit, and the state of Maine,” said Kurt Adams, Summit’s President and CEO. “Since announcing our intent to build the anaerobic dairy digester, our teams have worked tirelessly to make it come to life. I am thrilled that we’ve been able to invest our resources to create green, renewable jobs right here in Maine and appreciative of the incredible support for the project we’ve received from the state, local community, and farming industry.”
“This groundbreaking is a historic step forward for Summit, Peaks and all of our project stakeholders,” said Angus King, President of Peaks and Chief Strategy Officer for Summit. “Renewable fuels like RNG have a critical role to play in reducing emissions and transitioning to a low carbon future. We created Peaks to drive innovation within Summit, and it has opened the door for the company to be a leader in the development of zero carbon fuels and drive innovation in the energy sector. For that, I am truly grateful.”
The project was first announced in 2019 by Summit, with the goal of supporting the local economy and family farms while also reducing emissions by creating home-grown renewable natural gas that can be used to warm homes and fuel industry. To develop the project, the company is working with six Maine-based, family-owned dairy farms to generate homegrown RNG.
Located at Flood Brothers’ farm in Clinton, the project will receive dairy manure from the Floods and from Gold Top Farm, Somerset Farm, Wright Place Farm, Taylor Dairy Farm, Heifer Haven Farm, and other farms. Once in the digester, the manure will be heated and decomposed, creating biogas. The gas will then be cleaned to make it pipeline quality.
Renewable energy credits will be sold to third parties who need them for their own decarbonization requirements. The gas itself will be purchased by Peaks’ affiliate company, Summit Natural Gas of Maine (SNGME), and used to provide reliable gas service to its thousands of customers throughout the state. To put the project into perspective, it will produce the equivalent of about 45 percent of SNGME’s residential demand.
Carbon beneficial RNG is functionally identical to traditional natural gas and can be used for heating, cooking, and other processes.
Peaks estimates that the facility will avoid emissions equating to 28,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent. That’s the equivalent of taking 6,500 cars off the road for every year it operates. In addition to generating pipeline-quality, carbon-negative renewable natural gas, the facility will also produce animal bedding and fertilizer that will be returned to the local dairy farms participating in the project to use in their daily operations. This unique manure-only project is first of its kind in Maine and joins a number of projects across the country that are already using this technology to remove emissions and create RNG.
RNG, also known as biomethane, is derived from the decomposition of naturally occurring organic waste from landfills, waste treatment plants, industrial sites and farms. Unless captured and reused, much of the emissions created from the organic waste at these facilities would be released into the atmosphere in the form of methane – one of the most potent greenhouse gasses.
“With Peaks Renewables’ RNG project, we have an energy company teaming up with Maine’s dairy industry to create a clean energy source our state can be proud of. This facility will help dairy farmers achieve greater efficiency and will deliver clean energy to homes and businesses in Maine, further proof that rural Maine can be a leader when it comes to energy innovation.” - Congressman Jared Golden (ME-02)
“Maine is the most heating-oil dependent state in the country, with more than 60 percent of households reliant on oil to heat their homes in the winter months. This project has the potential to move Maine towards greater energy independence while reducing emissions and providing additional support for Maine’s dairy farmers. This effort is a promising example of the creativity, innovation, and collaboration present across Maine that will help the state achieve its clean energy and climate targets.” – Dan Burgess, Director of the Maine Governor’s Energy Office
“As an organic farmer who has made addressing the climate crisis a top priority in Congress, I proudly fought to secure the federal funding to help bring this project to life, showing our farmers can be part of the climate solution. Methane is one of the most potent greenhouse gases that’s released into the atmosphere, which is why farmers are vital in our collective fight against climate change. Today’s groundbreaking is an exciting step forward in creating a sustainable energy future, and yet another example of how Maine farmers can partner with companies like Peaks Renewables and Summit Utilities to lead the way in reducing their carbon footprint and provide home-grown, renewable natural gas.” - Congresswoman Chellie Pingree
“Renewable fuels will play a critical role in helping the state meet its emission reduction goals and our collective energy needs now and into the future. That’s why projects like Peaks' dairy RNG digester here in Clinton are an exciting step forward and a precursor to what the future will look like. It’s particularly impressive that Peaks Renewables and Summit have found a way to partner with a heritage industry like Maine’s dairy community to create these clean fuels.” – Dana Connors, Maine State Chamber of Commerce
“For family farms like ours, the challenges of navigating the dairy industry in the 21st Century while balancing the challenges of climate and change mean finding new and sustainable ways to protect our land for future generations, care for our animals, and produce fresh, quality milk for our neighbors. This project is very important to our family and the future viability of our farm. Having the opportunity to collaborate with Peaks Renewables and other Maine farms to create renewable natural gas from the resources on our farm makes it possible for us to honor our commitment to care, concern, and community and enhance our sustainability efforts.”- Jenni Tilton-Flood, Flood Brothers Farm
“We are thrilled to see Peaks Renewables break ground on this project. We are firm believers in all the benefits that RNG has to offer—from the carbon reduction benefits to the ability for farmers to reimagine reusable resources—it all makes RNG the sustainable energy source of our time. We are proud to stand behind companies like Peaks who invest in their communities through RNG dairy digesters and are honored to have been selected to work with Peaks on the design and construction of this facility.” -Bryan Van Loo, Vice President of Regenis
“We applaud Maine dairy farms for their legacy of stewardship and drive for sustainability. As a century-old dairy co-operative with more than four-dozen Maine family farms as members, Agri-Mark is pleased to see several of them engaged in this project. Just as our dairy farmers are proud to own the award-winning Cabot brand of cheddar cheese and other dairy products, so are we, collectively as their co-op, proud of our member farms who are striving with Peaks to create a world-class, home-grown renewable energy solution.” -Jed Davis, Director of Sustainability, Cabot Creamery
“We are so pleased to see this project coming to fruition. The collaboration between several Maine dairy farms and Summit is exciting to say the least. Nationally, the dairy industry has pledged to achieve greenhouse gas neutrality by 2050, and it is innovation like this that is going to make it a reality. We are so proud to see that Maine dairy farmers, with the help of Summit, will be able to make such a huge contribution towards that goal.” -Jami Badershall, Communications Manager, Maine Dairy Promotion Board/Maine Dairy & Nutrition Council