Biogas company takes another step forward

Kevin Wilson

PolyGen Energy, LLC, a New Jersey-based biogas energy corporation, took another step Thursday to build a $22 million facility south of Clovis.

White Hat Energy had been working with the city and the Clovis Industrial Development Corporation since 2006.

“That hit right when the economy went south,” CIDC Executive Director Chase Gentry said. “The project kind of died based on lack of financing.”

An ordinance was introduced to continue the project through PolyGen, which is not affiliated with White Hat Energy. The introduction passed as a consent agenda item at the Thursday Clovis City Commission meeting, and the ordinance can be approved as early as the commission’s March 3 meeting.

The company will initially build one 180,000-ton-per-year anaerobic digester for processing cow manure into biogas. Gentry said the company wants to eventually build six digester systems.

Bio Energy Construction Company of Clovis, New Mexico will be the prime contractor for the project, and has already secured manure contracts with area dairies.

Gentry said participated in a conference call Thursday, and the plan is to break ground as early as March, with construction estimated to take 12 months.

Anaerobic digesters extract biogas from manure, which can power electric generators, provide heat, and produce soil-improving material. The plants will sell two by-products — methane and carbon dioxide — separately, and waste can be used as fertilizer at local farms and dairies.

The first phase of the project is expected to create approximately 55 temporary construction jobs and 22 new high wage jobs. As the company expands, the employment level is expected to reach 73 full-time employees over the next five years.

PolyGen estimates its jobs will have an average salary of $35,000-$37,000 per year with benefits.

“The project will be a great addition to our industrial base and will provide new job opportunities for the citizens of Clovis,” said Lee Malloy, CIDC president, in a press release.

When the group promoted its venture in 2007, it touted 90 potential jobs for the area.

“Part of it, last time, they were adding in some of the trucking mechanism,” Gentry said. “The numbers we got this time around don’t incorporate that.”