A ceremony held June 24 was ground breaking in more ways than one. The event marked the beginning of construction on Michigan’s first large-scale anaerobic digester and what many hope will be the start of a new trend in renewable energy generation in the Midwest.
Senator Debbie Stabenow and U.S. Department of Agriculture State Director James Turner, both instrumental in securing financing for the plant, were in attendance to help celebrate the final stage in a project NOVI Energy has been nurturing for more than six years. The Fremont Community Digester (FCD) will process close to 100,000 tons of organic and agricultural waste per year into a combustible gas that will generate electricity for 1500 homes. Solid and liquid waste from the anaerobic digestion process will be sold as plant food and fertilizer to regional agricultural businesses.
State Representative Jon Bumstead (R-Newaygo), Fremont Mayor James Rynberg, and INDUS Energy Representative Arvin Shah joined NOVI Energy President Anand Gangagharan in commemorating the start of construction with words of encouragement and optimism for the future of the plant.
“If you make things here and you grow things here, the jobs are here.” said Senator Stabenow in a short address highlighting the priority of rural development and the agricultural role the FCD will play in this region.
“We hope the Fremont project can serve as a template for other communities throughout the Midwest” said Shah. INDUS, based in Bingham Farms, is an investment company and the largest stakeholder in the FCD project. The plant is scheduled to be completed in August 2012 and was sponsored in a large part by a USDA loan guaranty under the 9003 Biorefinery Assistance Program. USDA State Director Turner spoke of the importance of rural development to the State’s economy, echoing Senator Stabenow’s earlier statements.
The North Central Cooperative of Wabash, Ind., is a minority owner in the project, and hopes to market the fertilizer to their members. “We recognize this as an opportunity not only as an energy project, but as a plant-food project” said General Manager Rob Zeldenrust who was also in attendance to wish the project well.
For more information on the project and the anaerobic digestion process, visit NOVI’s FCD website. President Gangagharan closed the ceremony with a promise that the FCD will be a good neighbor. “We will be a good part of this community for years to come.”