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Companies harness clean, renewable energy from Utah hog farms.
December 10, 2020
Dominion Energy and Smithfield Foods, Inc., have announced the completion of the first renewable natural gas (RNG) project through their joint venture, Align Renewable Natural Gas. Located in Milford in southwestern Utah, the project is now producing RNG from a network of 26 family farms that raise hogs under contract with Smithfield.
The project is the first large-scale effort in the state to capture methane from hog farming operations and convert it into clean energy for homes, businesses and transportation. Significantly more greenhouse gas emissions are captured from the farms than are released when consumers use the gas, which makes RNG a "carbon-beneficial" energy source, said Smithfield.
At full capacity, the project will produce enough RNG to heat more than 3,000 homes and businesses and reduce annual emissions from participating farms by more than 100,000 metric tons. That is the same as taking 23,000 cars off the road or planting 1.8 million new trees each year. Additionally, the project benefits participating family farmers by simplifying the process of and reducing the cost associated with manure management.
"We're excited to witness the completion of our initial project in Utah, as we continue to scale and implement renewable energy projects across the country," said Kraig Westerbeek, senior director of Smithfield Renewables and hog production environmental affairs, Smithfield Foods. "Our Align RNG partnership with Dominion Energy is a key component of Smithfield's carbon reduction strategy, which promises to reduce greenhouse gas emissions across our domestic supply chain 25 percent by 2025 and become carbon negative in all U.S. company-owned operations by 2030."
"This is an exciting breakthrough for the future of clean energy and sustainable farming," said Ryan Childress, Dominion Energy's director of gas business development. "With this single technology, we can produce clean energy for consumers, reduce farm emissions and benefit family farmers. It's a powerful example of the environmental progress we can make through innovation. We're thrilled Utah is leading the way, and we're excited to keep the momentum going in other states across the country."
In the largest venture of its kind in the United States, Dominion and Smithfield are jointly investing $500 million over the next 10 years to develop RNG projects across the country. Once the partnership's planned projects are complete, they will reduce annual greenhouse gas emissions from U.S. hog farms by 2.5 million metric tons, the same amount as taking 500,000 cars off the road or planting 40 million new trees each year. With the Utah project in operation and additional projects under development in North Carolina and Virginia, the partnership plans to produce enough renewable natural gas over the next 10 years to heat more than 70,000 homes and businesses.
More than 7 million customers in 16 states energize their homes and businesses with electricity or natural gas from Dominion Energy, headquartered in Richmond, Va. The company is committed to sustainable, reliable, affordable and safe energy and to achieving net zero carbon dioxide and methane emissions from its power generation and gas infrastructure operations by 2050.
Headquartered in Smithfield, Va., since 1936, Smithfield is a food company with 40,000 U.S. and 15,000 European employees dedicated to producing "Good food. Responsibly." Smithfield is one of the world's leading vertically integrated protein companies.
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