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|Wednesday, April 27, 2011|
BY PETER BELAND
Nine electricity-producing methane digesters are under development throughout the state despite initial financing hurdles. Digesters, located on dairy farms, convert manure into electricity by capturing and burning methane produced by the anaerobic fermentation of the manure, gas that would otherwise go into the atmosphere.
Oregon is home to 140,000 cows on 150 farms that produce thousands of tons of manure annually, typically collected into large lagoons. According to Portland-based environmental nonprofit The Climate Trust, Oregon could go from producing 0.85 MW in dairy methane digester power to 45 MW if the sector was fully developed, enough to power 30,000 households for a year.
“These [methane digester] projects are about changing the way we manage waste streams,” says Energy Trust of Oregon biomass program manager Thad Roth of how the digesters can help turn the lagoons of excrement into energy and by-products such as fertilizers and animal bedding. “But the anchor tenant for all of this is still energy,” says Roth, stressing that most development is done by third-party engineering firms with a solid understanding of local and global energy markets.
Without involvement of such firms that understand how to capitalize on energy credit markets, dairy methane digesters would have a hard time to get off the ground. For instance, The Climate Trust can purchase so-called methane destruction credits to offset global warming and The Energy Trust can receive renewable energy credits in exchange for initial funding of a project credits that are transferred to Portland General Electric or Pacific Power.
Of the nine methane digester projects under development in Oregon, six are being developed by D.C-based energy firm Revolution Energy Solutions, the firm that built the $2.2 million digester at Lochmead Farms in Junction City that was operational late last year. The projects in Oregon could produce 7 MW in the next three years, many of which have backing in the form of BETC and other tax credits/ and over $20 million from private investors in New York City in a sector that most banks shy away from because of high overhead costs in an undeveloped market.
“Carbon credits are another revenue source these projects can taken advantage of,” says Climate Trust senior program manager Sheldon Zakreski. “But you have to be conservative in your timeline,” he says. “The big trick with methane digesters is that they have to get to that operational state.”
Zakreski remains optimistic about the future of digesters. “Ten years ago, wind was beyond business as usual,” he says. “Now there are times when wind is cheaper than gas. A great advantage of biogass for electric purposes is that it is a predictable source of energy.” According to Roth, 45 MW of methane digester power is the equivalent to 130 MW in wind power because wind power is only generated around 30% of the time in the Northwest due to inconstant winds.
Thursday, December 11, 2014
BY OREGON BUSINESS STAFF
An SEC rule targets the disparity between executive and employee compensation, reigniting a long-standing debate about corporate social responsibility.
Thursday, December 11, 2014
There’s a fascinating article in the December issue of the Harvard Business Review about a profound power shift taking place in business and society. It’s a long read, but the gist revolves around the tension between “old power” and “new power” as a driver of transformation. Here’s an excerpt:
The authors, Henry Timms and Jeremy Heimans, don’t necessarily favor one form of power over another but merely outline how power is transitioning, and how companies can take advantage of these changes to strengthen their positions in the marketplace.
Our Powerbook issue might be viewed as a case study in the new-power transition. This annual book of lists provides information on leading businesses, nonprofits and universities in the state. Most of the featured companies are entrenched power players now pursuing more flexible and less hierarchical approaches to doing business. Law firms, for example, are adopting new technologies and fee structures to make legal services more accessible and affordable.
This month we also take a look at a controversial new U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission rule requiring public companies to disclose the median pay of workers, as well as the ratio between CEO and median-worker pay.
Part of the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reform law, the rule will compel public companies to be more open about employee compensation, with the assumption that greater transparency will improve corporate performance and, perhaps, help address one of the major challenges of our time: income inequality.
New power is not only about strategy and tactics, the Harvard Business Review authors say. “The ultimate questions are ethical. The big question is whether new power can genuinely serve the common good and confront society’s most intractable problems.”
That sounds like a call to arms. Or a New Year’s resolution. Old power or new, the goals are the same: to be a force for positive change in the world. Happy 2015!
Tuesday, December 02, 2014
BY LINDA BAKER
A conversation with attorney Erich Merrill about the latest way to raise money from large groups of people.
Wednesday, October 22, 2014
BY AMY MILSHTEIN
Everyone knows college is expensive, but a look at the numbers brings that into sharp — and painful — focus.
Friday, December 12, 2014
BY LINDA BAKER
Studying ground-running birds, a group that ranks among nature's speediest and most agile bipedal runners, to build a faster robot.
Friday, October 31, 2014
BY LINDA BAKER | OB EDITOR
Why are there so few transportation startups in Portland? The city’s leadership in bike, transit and pedestrian transportation has been well-documented. But that was then — when government and nonprofits paved the way for a new, less auto centric way of life.
Friday, November 14, 2014
BY JESSICA RIDGWAY
Oregon entrepreneurs reveal their favorite caffeine hangouts.
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