Acreage proposed for biogas facility

By Gabriel Monte: CNJ staff writer

The city will give 20 acres of county land it plans to purchase to a New Jersey energy company for its biogas facility under a plan proposed to the City Commission.

During a special meeting Tuesday, the Commission approved the introduction of an ordinance to purchase the land for $70,000.

The city’s economic development arm announced Monday that White Hat Energy will construct a $36 million facility that will extract methane gas from cow manure on a site adjacent to the city’s wastewater treatment plant south of Clovis.

The project will create 90 full-time jobs during the first phase of the project and almost 250 over five years, according to Clovis Industrial Development Corp. officials.

Four anaerobic digesters capable of handling 200,000 tons of manure a year will be located at the facility, according to Gene Carey, president of Mills and Elevator Supply Co., which is contracted to build the Clovis plant and a similar one in Roosevelt County.

He told the commissioners the plant will use wastewater from Southwest Cheese to make the gas.

According to CIDC Executive Director Chase Gentry, the plant will use about 600,000 gallons of water a day.

Carey said wastewater that comes out of the plant will be cleaner.

“The dirtier the water, the better for the digester,” he said. “When we’re going through the process in the digester, we pull out all the ammonia, we pull the sulfur, and we pull out the nitrogen.”

But Commissioner Randy Crowder expressed concerns over giving the facility wastewater, which is already reserved for a future effluent reuse pipeline project.

“If we start giving away our water, we lose the effluent reuse project,” he said.

The city plans to develop a system to treat and reuse wastewater effluent for irrigating city-owned land.

Crowder suggested selling the wastewater to White Hat and buying back the leftover water at a higher rate.

Carey said the company would have no problems with the deal.

White Hat representatives for the company were not present.

Gentry said construction is expected to start six to eight weeks after the city adopts the ordinance introduced Tuesday.

Carey said the facility will take nine months to construct.