Summit is committed to conserving natural resources and reducing our impact on the environment through energy efficiency, pollution reduction and forward-thinking innovation like Renewable Natural Gas (RNG).
RNG is produced from the decomposition of organic materials like food, agricultural and forestry waste, landfills and wastewater treatment plants. With recent developments in technology, the methane gas from those waste streams that would otherwise be emitted into the atmosphere, can now be captured, cleaned up and added into our pipeline network to serve homes and businesses.
The majority of the RNG produced today comes from capturing emissions from existing organic waste that is found in landfills, wastewater treatment plants and animal manure. The organic waste is delivered to an anaerobic digester where naturally occurring bacteria break down the waste and create a byproduct that is primarily methane. The gas produced through anerobic digestion is then processed and becomes ready to be injected into the pipeline for use in homes and businesses.
A recent study, conducted by ICF Consulting through the American Gas Foundation, estimates the technical potential of renewable natural gas supply is substantial when compared to current natural gas throughput. In fact, when looking at development costs and existing technologies, the report estimates there is enough potential renewable natural gas to achieve a 95% reduction in emissions in the residential sector.
The supply estimates from the ICF report do not include the potential for renewable hydrogen for the pipeline network or the impacts of deep energy efficiency to reduce future energy use. With these collective innovations pursued together, the company believes a carbon neutral vision for the gas pipeline network is possible.
The California Air Resources Board found that when made from food waste or farm waste in anaerobic digesters, biomethane—or RNG—is net carbon-negative over its lifecycle, meaning that we can reduce more emissions by injecting RNG into our existing pipelines. If all the homes currently heating with conventional natural gas switched to RNG, we could easily and dramatically reduce current GHG emissions.
Not only can RNG slash GHG emissions compared to fossil gas, it also improves air quality, since it is nearly pure methane and burns much cleaner than fossil gas. The more carbon-negative RNG carried in our natural gas pipelines, the more the climate impacts of existing natural gas infrastructure will be reduced.
In the spring of 2019, Summit Natural Gas of Maine launched a landmark RNG program to further the company’s commitment to building a sustainable energy future. As part of that program, we matched 5% of our residential gas demand for one year with RNG attributes at no cost to our customers to help reduce our carbon footprint.
With approval from the Public Utilities Commission, we began giving our customers a renewable choice when it comes to their home heating needs by allowing them to match 10% to 100% of their average annual gas usage with voluntary RNG attributes. This program is helping to jumpstart the renewable biofuels market and spur investment in new technologies that mitigate of the impacts of climate change.
Summit launched a state-of-the-art RNG development project. While still in development, Summit is partnering with family dairy farms throughout central Maine to turn the manure from their dairy operations into RNG. The renewable attributes from the digester will be sold to third parties to help them meet their emissions reduction goals. We anticipate that the digester will supply approximately 125,000 MMBtu of gas a year. To put that in perspective, that is about 45% of our annual residential demand in Maine.
In Arkansas, Summit purchased 100 percent of the gas created at the Fort Smith, AR Landfill. That means we transported 628,660 MMBtu of RNG on our system.
We recently piloted methane recapture technology in two states. As a 2020 ESG goal, we challenged ourselves to be innovative leaders in the natural gas industry, with a goal of studying the feasibility of methane recapture technology by the end of the year. Thanks to the pioneering spirit of our engineering and operations teams, within the first few months of the year, we determined that not only was the technology feasible it was worth testing in a pilot program we implemented that very year.
To minimize social and environmental impact, we utilized Zero Emissions Vacuum and Compression (ZEVAC ®) to capture and reuse gas that would otherwise have been emitted into the atmosphere through normal construction/operation practices. These pilots demonstrated a step forward for the company as it works to reduce emissions on its system and limit its environmental impact. By simply piloting this technology twice, we were able to save approximately 28.1 metric tons of CO2e, which is equivalent to taking 6 cars off the road for one year.VIEW OUR CORPORATE SUSTAINABILITY REPORT
Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) is an abundant clean burning alternative to gasoline and other transportation fuel. At AOG, 76 percent of our fleet vehicles run on low-emission CNG. By converting one vehicle to CNG from gasoline you can reduce carbon emissions by an estimated 20 to 30 percent.
AOG currently owns and operates three CNG fueling stations in the Fort Smith area that are available to the public 24 hours per day, 7 days per week. Commercial fleets and City of Fort Smith transit buses have access to our low-cost alternative fuel. Through these CNG fueling stations, local citizens of Fort Smith have been able to experience the firsthand benefits of clean burning CNG.VIEW OUR CORPORATE SUSTAINABILITY REPORT