WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. — Fortistar and Arizona’s Paloma Dairy on Aug. 31 announced the beginning of construction on a dairy digester renewable natural gas (RNG) facility, the Sunoma Renewable Biofuel Project, in Gila Bend, Arizona. The facility, which will convert organic waste into RNG, is projected to produce 1.6 million gasoline gallon equivalents (GGE) of vehicle fuel annually for the Class 8 trucking sector — enough fuel to move 10 million miles of freight.
Paloma Dairy is owned by the Van Hofwegen family, a fourth-generation dairy farm family in Gila Bend, Arizona. The farm relies on the latest radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology that helps to provide its distinctive black and white Holstein cows with individualized care and provisions. Paloma Dairy keeps track of the complete health record of each cow via its signature RFID technology, which also allows employees to check on the health of each cow daily. In addition to the care of over 10,000 animals, the farm produces cow feed via alfalfa, corn silage, wheat and barley across 7,000 acres of farmland.
“This one project will help provide solutions for two important American industries. We are using our expertise to create new revenue streams for dairies while capturing methane and repurposing it to decarbonize the transportation sector,” said Mark Comora, president of Fortistar. “We are excited about partnering with the Van Hofwegen family on the Sunoma Renewable Biofuel Project to create the lowest carbon transportation fuel on the market.”
In addition to the community environmental benefits and cost savings for fleets that use the fuel, the project will boost the local economy with 50 construction jobs and six permanent positions in Gila Bend. TruStar Energy, a Fortistar portfolio company and developer of natural gas fueling stations, will market and deliver the RNG fuel.
“The decision was easy,” said Robert Van Hofwegen Sr., patriarch of the Paloma Dairy family business. “We saw a great environmental and economic opportunity in the management of our manure and emissions. The key was finding a partner that could execute and unlock the potential value. We believe we found that partner in Fortistar, and we look forward to working with them on this most exciting project.”
Montrose Water and Sustainability Services, a division of Montrose Environmental Group, completed design and engineering for the project as well as equipment procurement. Montrose’s subject-matter experts will provide construction oversight, along with startup and commissioning support for the project. Industrial Services Company (ISC) will lead the building of the system.
The Sunoma Renewable Biofuels Project is the third of 12 new Fortistar RNG projects totaling nearly $500 million in capital that Fortistar expects to begin over the next year. These projects will help produce 120 million GGE of RNG over the next three years and reduce U.S. transportation emissions by 2 million metric tons of CO2 annually, which is the equivalent of taking approximately 424,628 passenger cars off the road.