Dominion Energy, Smithfield Foods partner on Utah renewable natural gas project

Published on December 11, 2020 by Chris Galford

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Through a joint venture known as Align Renewable Natural Gas, Dominion Energy and Smithfield Foods, Inc. have completed their first cooperative renewable natural gas (RNG) project in Utah, leading to RNG production from a network of 26 family hog farms.

Those farms are currently under contract with Smithfield and offer the companies the possibility to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It represents the first large-scale effort in Utah to capture methane from hog farming operations and convert it into clean energy in the residential, business, and transportation spheres. The companies fully expect to capture significantly more greenhouse gas that will be used by consumers, though.

“This is an exciting breakthrough for the future of clean energy and sustainable farming,” Ryan Childress, Dominion Energy’s director of gas business development, said. “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.”

At full capacity, the project should produce enough RNG to heat more than 3,00 homes and businesses and reduce annual emissions from participating farms by more than 100,000 metric tons. This would be the equivalent of removing 23,000 cars from the road. For farms, it will simplify the process of and reduce the costs 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,” Kraig Westerbeek, senior director of Smithfield Renewables and hog production environmental affairs for Smithfield Foods, said. “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.”

Notably, Align is simply a first: Dominion and Smithfield intend to invest $500 million over the next 10 years to develop RNG projects throughout the U.S. Including the Utah project and additional planned projects in North Carolina and Virginia, the partnership could reduce annual greenhouse gas emissions from U.S. hog farms by as much as 2.5 million metric tons.