Middlebury College looks to food waste and manure as energy source

November 24, 2017. Middlebury College will significantly reduce its carbon footprint thanks to an innovative partnership with Goodrich Family Farm in Salisbury, Vt., Vanguard Renewables of Wellesley, Mass., and Vermont Gas. Representatives from the four organizations involved discussed the partnership at a press briefing on November 16 at the College’s Kirk Center.

   Under the terms of a recently signed agreement, Vanguard Renewables will construct, own, and operate a facility at Goodrich Family Farm that will combine cow manure and food waste to produce Renewable Natural Gas (RNG). Gas produced by the Farm Powered* anaerobic digester will travel by pipeline to Middlebury College’s main power plant. Middlebury has agreed to purchase the bulk of the facility’s output.

   “We are constantly looking at new ways to make our energy sources more sustainable and diverse, and the digester project is a great opportunity to do that,” said David Provost, executive vice president for finance and administration at Middlebury College. “In 2016, the College reached its goal of carbon neutrality. We want to maintain that goal and keep improving on it. The digester will enable us to further decrease our use of carbon-based fuels.

   “The College is excited to partner with the Goodrich Family Farm, Vermont Gas, and Vanguard Renewables, a national leader in its field,” added Provost. Vanguard currently owns and operates three anaerobic digesters located in Massachusetts.

   Beyond the renewable energy produced by the digester, the facility will create high-quality, liquid fertilizer that will reduce the farm’s reliance on chemical fertilizers.

   The farm will also benefit from lower energy costs, free heat for farm use, fewer greenhouse gas emissions, and an annual lease payment for hosting the anaerobic digester facility.

   Located on more than 2,200 acres, the Goodrich Family Farm is a generational dairy farm with 900 milking cows. The farm is a member of the Agri-Mark Cabot Creamery Cooperative.