Cow Power: PG&E and BioEnergy Turn On the Gas

cowpower1.jpgIt’s been over a year since California utility PG&E announced that it would add the always-fun-to-talk about “cow power” to its sustainable energy options. Now this morning, the utility says that the manure-powered pipeline project from waste-to-energy company BioEnergy Solutions has officially been turned on, and is producing commercial-grade, renewable natural gas, or biogas.

Biogas is produced when microbes break down a methane-rich source like manure. So-called cow power projects, entail placing manure from farms into covered lagoons that will trap the gas as the manure decomposes.

BioEnergy and PG&E’s project, which has already been approved by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), is expected to deliver the electricity needs of about 50,000 PG&E residential customers. The companies say that this is the first project in Cali to deliver that level of pipeline-quality, biogas to a utility.

PG&E has been working to make sure it can meet the state mandate to deliver 20 percent of its electricity via clean sources by 2010. While biogas is just a portion of that portfolio, which also includes sources like solar and geothermal, biogas is significant — the utility is also working with biogas builder Microgy to complete this task. Biogas can not only produce clean energy, it can also help make farming more sustainable, by making the manure useful. Here’s to a win-win for not-so-clean clean energy!