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Online AgSTAR Digest: Fall 2011

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New Google Map of Digesters

Google Map of Digesters AgSTAR launched a new Google map showing locations of manure-fed digesters. Visit the Projects website to explore the map and view the latest database.

AgSTAR National Conference Announcement!

AgSTAR is pleased to announce that its 7th National Conference will be co-hosted with Cornell's PRO-DAIRY Program, the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)-Natural Resources Conservation Service in Syracuse, New York, on March 27-29, 2012. Collaborating with these organizations will present an opportunity to draw more producers to the event, while delivering all that you have come to expect from this annual conference. This year's conference, with the theme "Got Manure? Enhancing Economic and Environmental Sustainability," will continue to have the primary goals of helping to grow the digester industry and advance the deployment of successful digester systems. To meet these goals, we plan to provide state-of-the-art information about incorporating anaerobic digestion systems into an overall integrated manure management plan so producers and private sector partners can make informed business decisions about their technical and financial viability. The conference will include site tours, technical sessions, a trade show, and networking opportunities.

The conference will feature papers organized by themes. AgSTAR is currently soliciting paper proposals that appeal to a diverse mix of attendees with a variety of backgrounds and knowledge levels. Visit the AgSTAR conference Web page to learn more about the conference and topics being solicited in the call for paper proposals. The deadline for submission is October 7, 2011.

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New Operational Anaerobic Digester Systems

Mor-Dale Farms (Pennsylvania)
In March 2011, Mor-Dale Farms in Bethel held an open house to showcase its newly operational anaerobic digester project. The Slurrystore digester, designed by Stanley A. Weeks, LLC, is fed by manure from the farm's 500 cows and solids from a nearby poultry plant to power a 100-kilowatt (kW) Mann engine-genset. The system produces enough energy to meet all the farm's energy needs, with excess power sold to the local grid. The project also produces bedding that replaces purchased wood shavings, for an estimated savings of $1,000 per month.

Sources: Dan Sullivan, "Tapping Digesters, Composting to Manage Manure and Food Waste," BioCycle, May 2011; Lancaster Farming, "Slurrystore Methane Digester Featured at Mor-Dale Farms Open House (PDF) (1 pg, 167K)," March 12, 2011.

Ideal Family Farms (Pennsylvania)
In July 2011, the new digester system at Ideal Family Farms in Beavertown became operational. Manure from nearly 14,000 swine is fed to a 700,000-gallon digester tank, designed by RCM International, LLC, where it is heated to 100 degrees for approximately 25 days before passing to the outside storage lagoon. The manure produces 180 kW of energy, which is sold to the grid under a sell-all agreement; the farm then buys back the electricity it needs for operations. Added benefits of the digester include reductions in odor and greenhouse gas emissions. The farm received $681,000 in grants from the USDA and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection's Green Energy Works Program.

Source: Dennis Brubaker (Ideal Family Farms, LLC), 2011.

Mark Moser, President of RCM International, explains the new anaerobic digestion system at Pennwood Farms to Ryan and Drew Voell.

Mark Moser, President of RCM International, explains the new anaerobic digestion system at Pennwood Farms to Ryan and Drew Voell.

Look Who's Energizing Rural America

Pennwood Farms Dairy (Pennsylvania)
In August 2011, Pennwood Farms Dairy in Berlin held an open house to celebrate their newly operational anaerobic digester. TeamAg Inc. and RCM International, LLC, who designed and installed the anaerobic digester, helped to make this project a success. The digester will process manure from more than 500 cows to generate more than 1.2 million kilowatt-hours (kWh) annually of green power. The digester provides all the electricity that the farm needs and the excess will be sold to Penelec to distribute to its customers. In 2009, Pennwood Farms received grants for more than $475,000 from the Pennsylvania Energy Development Authority and USDA's Renewable Energy for America Program (REAP) to help pay for the installation of the anaerobic digestion system. Chris Voell, AgSTAR National Program Manager, attended the open house and presented the farm with a poster in recognition of their efforts.

Sources: Vicki Rock, "Cows Are Happy on Pennwood Farms," Daily American, August 8, 2011; Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, "Governor Rendell: Investing in Clean Energy Projects Creates Jobs, Strengthens the Economy, Cleans the Environment (PDF) (7 pp, 78K)," August 10, 2009; USDA, " Pennwood Farms Showcases USDA Rural Development Funded Methane Digester," August 8, 2011.

"Biofuels and other renewable energy sources present an enormous economic opportunity for rural America," said Thomas Williams, USDA Rural Development Pennsylvania State Director.

S & A Kreider Farms (Pennsylvania)
On August 11, 2011, TeamAg Inc. and RCM International, LLC, celebrated S & A Kreider & Sons Farms' operational anaerobic digestion system. This Quarryville farm worked with TeamAg to develop the project. The complete mix digester, designed and installed by RCM International, LLC, will be fed with manure from nearly 800 cows to generate more than 1.5 million kWh annually of green power. Funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act helped make this project possible.

Source: Angela McEliece (RCM International, LLC), 2011.

Monument Farms (Vermont)
In September 2011, the digester system at Monument Farms in Weybridge became operational. The digester, designed and built by GHD, Inc., uses manure from more than 500 cows to produce 150 kW of energy. The energy produced is being sold to the local grid. In 2009, the farm received $250,000 from the Vermont Department of Public Service's Clean Energy Development Fund to help fund the project.

Sources: Melissa VanOrnum (GHD, Inc.), 2011; Department of Public Service, "Governor Announces Over $2.5 Million for Renewable Energy Projects (PDF) (2 pp, 46K)," April 15, 2009.

Loyd Ray Farms (North Carolina)
Google has invested in a pilot North Carolina anaerobic digester project created by a partnership between Duke University and the local utility, Duke Energy. The anaerobic digester project at Loyd Ray Farms, a 9,000-head hog finishing operation in Boonville, broke ground in September 2010 and became operational a year later. This project is intended to serve as a model for other hog farms seeking to manage waste, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and develop on-farm renewable power. Costing more than $1 million, it was funded by a USDA grant as well as a grant from the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources' Lagoon Conversion Program. Duke Energy and Duke University will share operational and maintenance costs for the first 10 years of operation. Google will assume a share of the university's portion of the costs in return for a portion of the carbon offsets for a 5-year term.

Sources: Duke University, The Duke Carbon Offsets Initiative; Jolanka Nickerman, "Sometimes Greening Google Means Getting a Little Dirty, Google, September 8, 2011; Duke Today, "Hog Waste Producing Electricity, Carbon Offsets," September 8, 2011; Karl Bates (Duke University), "Dukes Enter Into Hog Waste Partnership," September 27, 2010.

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Projects Under Construction

Synergy Dairy LLC (New York)
In June 2011, construction began on a $7 million renewable energy facility at Synergy Dairy LLC in Covington. CH4 Biogas and Synergy Dairy are forming Synergy Biogas, LLC, to build, own, and operate the facility on the 2,400-cow dairy farm. Synergy will provide a site for the facility and supply manure under a 25-year land lease and manure supply agreement. The facility will also accept manure from another dairy farm in the area, as well as food-grade organic waste transported to the site. Biogas from the digester will generate up to 2 megawatts of renewable electricity, which will be sold to the local grid. In addition to the renewable energy, the project will help reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the farm and reduce waste going into landfills. The project is scheduled to be operational at the end of 2011.

Sources: Waste Management World, "Food and Farm Waste Co-Digestion in New York," June 8, 2011; CH4 Biogas, "Synergy Biogas Project."

Farm Power Tillamook, LLC (Oregon)
In September 2011, Farm Power Northwest broke ground on another renewable energy facility at Silver Mist Farms on McCormick Loop Road in Tillamook. For this $4 million project, GHD, Inc., will design the digester and Andgar Corporation will build it. The digester will be able to accept manure from up to 2,000 cows, producing enough methane to generate 1 megawatt of energy. The energy produced will be sold through a power purchase agreement with Tillamook People's Utility District. The project is expected to be completed in 2012. The digester will be funded in part by a $1 million federal biomass energy grant.

Sources: Melissa VanOrnum (GHD, Inc.), 2011; Denise Porter, "Work on Digester May Start in Spring," Tillamook Headlight Herald, February 9, 2011.

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USDA Issues 2011 Conservation Innovation Grant Awards

In August 2011, USDA announced the winning proposals for the 2011 Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG). Through CIG, USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service is investing nearly $22.5 million in innovative conservation technologies and approaches that address a broad array of existing and emerging natural resource issues. Included in the winning proposals was a $1 million award to quasar energy group. The company will use the funding to demonstrate the effectiveness of anaerobic digesters to process and manage livestock waste in the Grand Lake St. Mary's watershed and to prevent livestock nutrients from entering the Mississippi River. Additionally, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation received nearly $850,000 to help farms in Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia adopt manure to energy projects. The funding will go toward viable manure-to-energy technologies, directly assist farmers and agricultural communities in identifying technologies that best meet their needs, and facilitate grant funding and financing to design and implement four new manure-to-energy projects that are cost effective at both producing energy and reducing nutrient pollution in the Chesapeake Bay.

Sources: USDA, "USDA Announces Recipients of Conservation Innovation Grants in 40 States," August 22, 2011; and USDA, Conservation Innovation Grants—Awardees: Fiscal Year 2011.

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States Fund Anaerobic Digester Projects

In addition to federal funding, many projects across the country are receiving funding through state organizations.

The California Energy Commission has approved more than $29 million for projects that advance biofuels and demonstrate the state's commitment to develop cleaner transportation fuels through the Commission's Alternative and Renewable Fuel and Vehicle Technology Program. BioStar Systems received more than $3.3 million and is partnering with Sonoma County Water Agency and Sonoma County Transit to create a biogas project. BioStar System will use the funding to produce 148,000 cubic feet per day of pipeline biogas from both dairy and food processor waste to support the Sonoma County Transit natural gas fleet.

New York
NYSERDA and the Public Service Commission announced they have awarded $191 million to renewable energy projects in the state. Among those that received funding to develop anaerobic digester projects were Bergen Farms in Odessa and Windsor Acres, LLC, in Harpursville. The funding comes from a state fund set up to encourage renewable energy projects and to help utilities meet a 30 percent renewable portfolio goal by 2015.

Sources: California Energy Commission, "Energy Commission Awards Over $29 Million for Biofuel and Natural Gas Technology," July 7, 2011; NYSERDA, "Governor Cuomo Announces $191 Million in Project Awards to Increase Renewable Energy in New York State," June 2, 2011.

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AgSTAR Seminar at World Pork Expo

On June 9, 2011, AgSTAR held an educational seminar during the 2011 World Pork Expo. The seminar, entitled Got Manure? Want Energy? Explore Anaerobic Digestion!, discussed experiences at currently operating anaerobic digestion systems, opportunities for swine farms with deep pit manure management systems, and resources available to help develop an anaerobic digester project.

Joining AgSTAR's Allison Costa in presenting was Kate Sand with USDA's Rural Development office, Jerry Foster with Cargill Pork LLC, and Norma McDonald with Organic Waste Systems. Presentations are available on the workshop website.

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American Biogas Council Welcomes 100th Member

In June 2011, the American Biogas Council welcomed its 100th member. The Council is the first anaerobic digestion industry association in the United States that represents a wide range of organizations dedicated to the production and use of biogas from organic waste. The growth in membership illustrates the growing interest in this idea of using biogas from organic waste. These organizations include digester designers, engine manufacturers, farmers, natural gas providers, waste management companies, engineering firms, universities, and others covering the entire biogas supply chain.

Source: American Biogas Council, "100 Companies Now Growing the U.S. Biogas Industry (PDF) (2 pp, 23K)," June 16, 2011.

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Global Methane Initiative

Agriculture Subcommittee Will Convene in Poland
The next Global Methane Initiative (GMI) Agriculture Subcommittee meeting will take place on October 12–14, 2011, in Krakow, Poland. Besides the subcommittee meeting, this Partnership-Wide Meeting, includes a site tour to the Agricultural Biogas Plant at the National Research Institute of Animal Production, as well as technical and policy sessions related to project and biogas program development in the agricultural sector. The other subcommittees will also meet at this time.

Methane International #25 Available
The latest issue of Methane International includes information about the EPA grants awarded for international projects, including agriculture projects, which reduce methane emissions. It also describes two agricultural trainings sponsored by GMI in the Philippines on installation and safety practices for gas handling systems at Biotech and Marcela Farms in Bohol.

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Online Resources

Study Examines Anaerobic Digester Potential
In July 2011, researchers at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and University of Otago released a study on the potential of anaerobic digesters to generate electricity and mitigate greenhouse gases under a representative U.S. climate policy. "Contribution of Anaerobic Digesters to Emissions Mitigation and Electricity Generation Under U.S. Climate Policy" was published in the July 2011 issue of Environmental Science and Technology. The researchers used the MIT Emissions Prediction and Policy Analysis model to test the effects of a representative U.S. climate stabilization policy on the adoption of anaerobic digestion systems. These researchers found that by placing an economic value on the climate, energy, and environmental benefits from anaerobic digester systems, they become competitive at generating electricity in 2025 and could provide 5.5 percent of U.S. electricity.

BioCycle Publishes Article on Anaerobic Digester Financing
In May 2011, BioCycle released an article, "Finding Financing for Anaerobic Digestion," which discusses funding options. Since methane produced from digester systems is a predictable power source, it may be viewed as more reliable and therefore more enticing for financing as compared to intermittent renewable power sources such as wind or solar. Financing sources listed in the article include both federal and state money, equity, and bank loans. The article also covers ways to reduce project risk, which may result in lower overall financing costs.

Source: BioCycle, "Finding Financing for Anaerobic Digestion," May 2011, Vol. 52, No. 5, p. 47.

BioCycle Highlights Anaerobic Digester Developers
In July and August 2011, BioCycle featured articles titled "Digester Developers in the Agricultural Sector" and "Digester Developers Target Mixed Organic Waste Streams." This two-part series examines commercial project developers in the anaerobic digestion industry. The July 2011 article focuses on manure management and profiles four project developers: AgPower Group, LLC; The New Energy Company; R-Qubed Energy; and Cargill, Inc. In addition to describing the capabilities of each company, the article discusses each developer's anaerobic digestion projects that not only help farms manage manure, but also produce biogas that is used in a variety of ways. The August 2011 article focuses on mixed organic waste streams and profiles project developers who build, own, and operate anaerobic digestion systems as well as secure financing, feedstocks, and power purchase agreements. The project developers highlighted in the article are Harvest Power, NOVI Energy, NEO Energy, and Orbit Energy.

Sources: BioCycle, "Digester Developers in the Agricultural Sector," July 2011, Vol. 52, No. 7, p. 36; BioCycle, "Digester Developers Target Mixed Organic Waste Streams," August 2011, Vol. 52, No. 8, p. 53.

Oregon's Department of Agriculture Releases Paper on Agriculture Sector
In April 2011, Oregon's Department of Agriculture released Agriculture and Energy in Oregon (PDF) (88 pp, 2 MB), which summarizes the status of energy use in the state's agriculture sector. The report highlights that energy costs as a percentage of overall expenses have grown and as a result many farmers have implemented energy efficiency and renewable energy projects, including digesters. The report also provides recommendations to improve policies and programs to overcome project development challenges and to enhance on-farm and wholesale energy production from agriculture.

2011 Midwest Renewable Energy Tour
Earlier this summer, the 2011 Midwestern Renewable Energy Tour, sponsored by the National Farmers Union and the Heinrich Böll Foundation, facilitated a dialogue between German and Midwestern U.S. representatives. The tour included meetings and visits to renewable energy facilities in Minnesota, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. One outcome of the tour was a report titled Harvesting Renewable Energy: German-American Lessons Learned on Rural Development (PDF) (56 pp, 380K), which highlights German successes in renewable energy development and explores how Midwestern farmers and rural communities can increase renewable energy project development. In particular, the report proposes a suite of policy and market recommendations intended to drive greater renewable energy and economic development opportunities.

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Funding Opportunities

California Energy Commission; Abstracts Due: October 6, 2011
The California Energy Commission has issued a program opportunity notice (PDF) (64 pp, 204K) for its 2011 Emerging Technology Demonstration Grant Program. The Energy Commission is seeking proposals for projects that improve the energy efficiency of agricultural operations, industrial processes, and wastewater operations for cumulative electricity, natural gas, or electricity demand reduction in California. This competitive grant solicitation seeks emerging technologies that are past the "proof-of-concept" stage and are ready to be demonstrated in an industrial setting. The objective is to produce proven technical and economic performance data from these demonstrations, which could facilitate the successful deployment of the technologies into the marketplace. Additionally, this solicitation can provide funding for projects demonstrating technologies for energy storage on the customer side of the meter associated with industrial applications.

Biogas and Biomass to Energy Grant Program, Deadline: April 30, 2012
The Biogas and Biomass to Energy Grant Program is run through Illinois' Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity's Renewable Energy Resources Program. The grant program is designed to encourage the use of biogas and biomass for on-site energy generation in Illinois. Projects designed to use biogas or biomass as a source of fuel to produce electricity with combined heat and power through anaerobic digestion, gasification, or co-firing technologies are eligible for funding. Applicants are eligible for incentives up to 50 percent of the total project cost. The maximum award for biogas or biomass to energy feasibility studies is $2,500; the maximum grant amount for biogas to energy systems is $225,000; and the maximum grant for biomass-to-energy systems is $500,000.

Dairy Manufacturing Facility Investment Credit: Deadline: January 1, 2017
Wisconsin's Dairy Manufacturing Facility Investment Credit provides refundable credits for businesses that have invested to modernize or expand dairy manufacturing facilities in Wisconsin. Businesses can earn up to 10 percent of the amount spent in a taxable year for modernizing and expanding dairy manufacturing facilities. The maximum amount a business can receive is $200,000. Businesses that are engaged in the processing of milk into dairy products or processing dairy products for sale commercially are eligible to apply for tax credits under this program. Eligible expenses include waste treatment and waste management equipment, such as digesters, tanks, blowers, separators, dryers, and equipment that use waste to produce energy, fuel, or industrial products.

The Department of Commerce has $700,000 available annually, until January 1, 2015, for businesses that are not dairy cooperatives. A total of $700,000 is available annually for dairy cooperatives for each fiscal year until January 1, 2017. Businesses must submit an application form after the end of the applicant's taxable year in which the eligible capital investment occurred, and no later than February 15 of the subsequent taxable year.

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Upcoming Events

2011 World Dairy Expo
October 4–8, 2011
Madison, Wisconsin
The World Dairy Expo is an international dairy meeting showcasing the newest technologies available to the dairy industry. This year's event will include virtual farm tours that will focus on a variety of management topics, including land conservation, forages, technology, and innovation. AgSTAR will be hosting a seminar on anaerobic digesters on October 6. Stop by our booth or contact Allison Costa (costa.allison@epa.gov; 202-343-9468) to schedule a meeting with AgSTAR during the Expo.

Straight From Producers: The Real Story on Anaerobic Digestion Systems
October 6, 2011, at 10:00 a.m.
Madison, Wisconsin
AgSTAR is hosting this session at the World Dairy Expo, which will feature a panel of dairy producers and anaerobic digester system operators responding to audience questions about their experiences. Examples of questions that will be addressed include:

Speakers who have graciously volunteered their time to help address questions and share their experiences with anaerobic digestion systems include:

Wisconsin Bioenergy Summit
October 6, 2011
Madison, Wisconsin
The Wisconsin Bioenergy Initiative is hosting this day-long conference. The focus is on sharing the importance of building a bio-based economy and educating the public about bioenergy research and industry development. The event will feature keynote speakers and breakout sessions related to anaerobic digestion, including information on emerging anaerobic digester solutions and technologies.

Got Manure? Enhancing Economic and Environmental Sustainability
Call for Papers Deadline: October 7, 2011
March 27-29, 2012
Syracuse, New York
AgSTAR is pleased to announce that its 7th National Conference will be co-hosted with Cornell's PRO-DAIRY Program, the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority and the U.S. Department of Agriculture-Natural Resources Conservation Service. The over-arching goals of the conference are to provide state-of-the-art information about integrated manure management systems that can incorporate anaerobic digestion so farmers can make informed business decisions about manure collection, treatment, storage and application techniques, and non-farm attendees are better enabled to assist farms to maintain and enhance their economic and environmental sustainability.

Biogas West Conference 2011
October 11–12, 2011
San Francisco, California
The Biogas West Conference will bring together the leaders of the U.S. biogas industry to examine how to develop commercially successful biogas projects and address the latest technological advances in production. Chris Voell of EPA's AgSTAR Program will be presenting during the legislation and policy session. Contact Chris (voell.christopher@epa.gov; 202-343-9406) to schedule a meeting with AgSTAR during the conference.

Northeast Biomass Conference & Trade Show
October 11–13, 2011
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
The Northeast Biomass Conference & Trade Show is hosted by Biorefining Magazine and Biomass Power & Thermal and will include a site tour as well as concurrent track sessions. Track sessions will cover electricity generation, industrial heat and power, biorefining, and project development and finance.

Global Methane Initiative Partnership-Wide Meeting
October 12–14, 2011
Krakow, Poland
The Global Methane Initiative, in cooperation with the government of Poland, is hosting a partnership-wide meeting in Krakow, Poland. In addition to plenary sessions about methane reduction and capture issues, this event will feature breakout meetings focusing on agriculture, oil and gas, landfills, coal, and wastewater. Technical and policy-specific topics in the agricultural sector will be discussed in the breakout sessions, as well as sector-specific subcommittee discussions. A meeting of the GMI Steering Committee will convene concurrently. Sector-specific site tours and networking events will also be featured. The site tour for the agricultural sector will be to the Agricultural Biogas Plant at the National Research Institute of Animal Production in Grodziec Slaski.

Harvesting Clean Energy Conference
October 23-25, 2011
Boise, Idaho
The Harvesting Clean Energy Conference will bring together representatives from the Northwest's agriculture and energy industries to advance rural economic development through clean energy. This year's agenda will focus on helping attendees learn and understand where the best opportunities in renewable energy, biomass, and biofuels, or upgrading to energy efficient equipment are. The conference will also include information on financing and technical expertise available to help with project development.

Anaerobic Digesters: A Virtual Renewable Energy Education Day
October 26, 2011
USDA and Farm Foundation are organizing this webinar to examine technical, environmental, and financial factors to consider when installing an anaerobic digester on a livestock operation. Specific attention will be given to the unique climatic conditions of the Southwest. The webinar, which is free of charge, will originate from the New Mexico Farm and Ranch Heritage Museum, Las Cruses, New Mexico. Additional viewing sites are planned in six states.

Speakers include livestock producers with experience in operating an anaerobic digester, industry leaders working with various technologies used in anaerobic digestion, university researchers, the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy, and representatives from government agencies, including AgSTAR, USDA, and U.S. Department of Energy. Session topics include:

The webinar will be 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. For those not able to participate in the webinar, the sessions will be recorded and available for viewing for one year after the event.

11th Annual BioCycle Renewable Energy Conference
October 31–November 2, 2011
Madison, Wisconsin
Organized by the BioCycle magazine, this year's 11th Annual BioCycle Renewable Energy Conference will include sessions on technologies, feedstocks, facility management, and financing. Presentation topics will cover anaerobic digester feasibility and project capitalization, composting and anaerobic digestion, and policies and market incentives. Allison Costa of EPA's AgSTAR program will be presenting during the conference. Additionally, AgSTAR is sponsoring and exhibiting at this event. Stop by our booth or contact Allison Costa (costa.allison@epa.gov; 202-343-9468) to schedule a meeting with AgSTAR during the event.

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