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NCPC Seeks Legislation to Launch Pilot Program to Evaluate Feasibility of Converting Hog Waste to Electricity

by 5m Editor
21 February 2007, at 10:45am

NORTH CAROLINA - Producers Will Use Technology Developed by Smithfield Foods. The North Carolina Pork Council (NCPC) called today for legislation that would create a pilot program in which participating hog farms across the state will be using a new technology to convert hog waste into electricity to meet the energy needs of consumers statewide.

The program’s goal is to help North Carolina’s pork industry determine whether this technology of converting hog waste to electricity will be economically feasible long-term.

Under terms of the pilot program, hog producers in North Carolina soon could be able to use technology developed by Smithfield Foods, Murphy-Brown and others to capture methane gas from their farms’ anaerobic treatment systems and convert it into electricity.

“This pilot program is great news for hog producers, energy consumers and the environment,” said R.C. Hunt, president of the North Carolina Pork Council and a contract hog producer. “Pork industry leaders in North Carolina have worked tirelessly for the past several years to make energy generation from hog operations a viable enterprise. This pilot program will help us see if it will be possible for producers to sell energy at a rate that allows them to justify the capital investment and cover the operating expenses for these projects.

“Our hope is that this method of energy production eventually can be done more and more efficiently with time and experience. From an environmental standpoint, this program makes good sense because we’re providing a renewable energy source and, by capturing the methane gas, we’re lowering greenhouse gas emissions,” he added.

Hunt pointed out that new state legislation will be required before the pilot program can be implemented. “Today we are asking the North Carolina General Assembly, during the current legislative session, to pass legislation that will enable us to go ahead with our program,” he said. “If such legislation is not passed, this exciting opportunity may not become a reality.”

Dr. Mike Williams, director of North Carolina State University’s Animal and Poultry Waste Management Center, said, “I commend the North Carolina Pork Council, Progress Energy and Smithfield Foods for their roles in this initiative. It’s a logical next step to constructively build on the objective information that we have procured from our research efforts over the past five years. I’m especially pleased that the focus is on renewable energy as that is, in my view, one of the best approaches to address the challenge of economic feasibility associated with improving lagoon sprayfield technology.”

The “bio-energy generation system” technology developed by Murphy-Brown is the result of years of consultation and investigation by independent and in-house engineers, researchers and equipment suppliers. The technology involves partially covering an anaerobic treatment system’s lagoon and using a variety of approaches to capture methane gas from the system and, through the use of bio-gas power generators, convert it into electricity.

“We’re very proud to be involved in such a worthwhile environmental project like this,” said Dennis Treacy, vice president of environmental and corporate affairs for Smithfield Foods. “Smithfield and Murphy-Brown are committed to environmental stewardship, and we are convinced there is vast potential—both environmentally and economically—in producing renewable energy from animal byproducts.

“While we know that the existing anaerobic digestion and sprayfield systems currently being used by hog producers are excellent systems when they are properly sited, designed, constructed and managed, the potential exists to enhance the performance of these systems by converting some of the byproducts into renewable energy,” Treacy said.

North Carolina’s pork industry has a tremendous economic impact on the state. The industry produces almost $7 billion dollars in annual sales, more than $2 billion dollars in annual income and more than 46,000 full-time jobs.

The North Carolina Pork Council’s mission is to foster, enhance and improve the capabilities of all those associated with pork in North Carolina. NCPC was chartered in 1962 as a North Carolina non-profit corporation. NCPC is involved in many activities that benefit the state’s pork producers, including promotion, consumer information, research, producer education and public policy.

5m Editor