Vermont has extremely stiff permitting regulations so as to preserve the natural beauty and environment of the Green Mountain state. (And we thought applying for grants and incentives was challenging!)
Our mission in recent months has been to gain approval from many entities including the Agency of Natural Resources, the Department of Public Service, the Division of Historic Preservation, the Northwest Regional Planning Commission, the Grand Isle Zoning Commission and Selectboard, VEPP (administers two Renewable Energy Programs), Vermont Electric Coop and Efficiency Vermont, just to name a few.
A section 248 form must also be completed including testimony about site planning and a field survey that includes rare plants, wetlands delineation, mapped streams, prime agricultural soil, greenhouse gas and a sound permit. Not for the faint of heart – or a busy farmer!
Fortunately for us, there appears to be a silver lining. In Vermont, Agricultural DIgesters LLC focuses primarily on individual, “farmer owned” projects rather than large RNG or communal digesters which have a more complex permitting process. These single farm projects are fully or largely manure fed which means little or no off-farm traffic. For example, the Bullis digester will be 100% manure and everything will be contained at the farm site. No outside trucking using fossil fuels.
In addition to this, our next three farms in development in Sheldon, Franklin and Stowe, Vermont will be “cookie cutter” in that they will use the same proven generator set (MAN), digester technology (Biogest) and solids separator (Doda) as the Bullis farm. This means that permitting entities will be seeing essentially the same digester at our next three farms as well the others we have in our pipeline. This should greatly streamline the process for the team we assemble for each farm digester project.