Commission OKs manure biofuel plant bond plan

September 19, 2013 • Local News

County Commissioners approved a plan Thursday to pave the way for an innovative biogas company to begin processing cow manure into usable fuel. The plan would collect Chaves County dairy waste and send it out of town through a pipeline.

“These individuals would be benefitting Chaves County by taking our manure and processing it, and sending it into the pipeline,” said County Manager Stanton Riggs. “It’s a very important project to Chaves County, not only to the dairies. We think it’s a win, win.”

Commissioners approved a resolution that allows the company to go out for the $20 million bond. By taking the action, the county will defer taxes on the property. However, in lieu of taxes, the company, [auth] AGPower, will pay an equal amount of taxes to public entities.

AGPower also will hold the county harmless with the bond payments.

“We think it’s a great project,” Riggs said.

With the help of $20 million in bond revenues, the project will be located near the Three Amigos Dairy.

The project will consist of land, buildings and equipment for a “non-depleting” agricultural energy system that uses anaerobic digestion to produce a biogas, composed of methane and carbon dioxide, from mainly livestock manure.

AGPower will build its first site near the Three Amigos Dairy and begin a more extensive project that will ultimately include dozens of dairies in the region.

“It’s going to be a huge win for the county and specifically the dairies here that have been struggling with state environment department,” said Jessica Chaves, project manager with the Chaves County Economic Development Corporation. “For someone to come in and help relieve some of the environmental rules and regulations, it will help them tremendously.”

This project will be the first of four facilities. Each facility will employ an estimated 12-15 employees, Chaves said. And each facility will connect six to seven dairies, which will be interconnected by a pipeline. This pipeline will ultimately funnel the manure and biofuel to California, she said.

In other action, the commission ratified a declaration of disaster as a result of last week’s flooding.

Chaves County Emergency Manager Karen Sanders met with FEMA representatives Wednesday to start the process. The federal officials wanted to see the worst case scenarios and looked at how the county wanted to fix damaged bridges, mitigate issues and fix equipment, Sanders aid.

The City of Roswell also is expected to declare a disaster as a result of the flooding, she said.

Following declarations, federal money will be used to fix public infrastructure. Private citizens and property will not be eligible for the funds, Sanders said.

“We’re also updating our emergency operations plan, which was out of date,” Sanders said. “That will put us in good shape for a while, and in good standing with the state and FEMA.”

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