A wise idea. And a source of new jobs for released inmates.

Excerpts from the Article:

Sometimes poultry litter is more than just fertilizer, and BP is counting on that following a 15-year agreement with Annapolis-based CleanBay Renewables to turn it into natural gas.

The partnership, announced in late August, involves mixing poultry litter with water in a closed system known as an anaerobic digester. One of the end products is biogas, which includes methane. The biogas can be processed into renewable natural gas and used to fuel vehicles.

“We have a portfolio of projects and a corporate strategy to develop 30 (facilities) across the U.S. with the first being in Georgetown,” said Thomas Spangler, CleanBay Renewables executive chairman. “We went through a number of different structure and tested those with our partners to ensure investors reach their objectives. Through two years of discussions, we ended up with this great deal.”

According to CleanBay Renewables, they can process:

More than 150,000 tons of chicken litter annually per facility.
Generate over 750,000 MMBtus of sustainable renewable natural gas.
Generate 125,000 tons of organic, controlled-release fertilizer.
Generate an estimated 500,000 tons of CO2 equivalent emission abatement that will be available for purchase in carbon markets.

Among the first locations slated to receive such a facility is Westover in Somerset County with a groundbreaking scheduled for early in the first quarter of 2022. That is expected to be fully operational by mid-2024.

The rendering of the facility shows where the poultry litter would be processed and converted to renewable natural gas. Usually, such facilities employ 26 full-time employees over three shifts a day running 24 hours a day, all year. Completing a two-year construction period could also create an additional 250 jobs.

Under the terms of the agreement, “BP’s trading and shipping team will sell the fuel to its customers. RNG-fueled vehicles are estimated to result in up to 95 percent lower greenhouse gas emissions than those fueled by gasoline or diesel on a lifecycle basis, according to a US Department of Energy study.”

According to Spangler, the initial process behind green-lighting projects started with reaching out to Somerset Economic Development Commission, and county Planning and Zoning officials. At the state level, the company approached the Maryland Department of Commerce, state workforce agencies and area community colleges and universities. “We sat down with the (Somerset Economic Development Commission) and outlined what we wanted to do and before we even selected the location, they were helpful with that,” Spangler said. “Early on, Planning and Zoning sat down with us to walk us through the process long before permit applications or mock ups. That helped flush out any concerns or requirements.”

James Fisher, communications manager for Delmarva Chicken Association, highlighted the poultry industry is among the most lucrative market sector on Eastern Shore even compared to traditional agriculture.

He noted more than half of the overall income earned on farms in the Delmarva region attributed to poultry farms.

“The poultry industry is enthused and optimistic about this additional way that litter could be used by companies like (CleanBay Renewables),” Fisher said. “If this is added to the portfolio of options that farmers have for exchanging their litter at a fair market price, that’s good news.”

According to Fisher, the Eastern Shore is an ideal location for the poultry industry due to its long history.

Prior to 1920, raising poultry for meat was not largely done. According to the association, in 2020, the Delmarva chicken community earned $280 million in contract income, $741 million in wages excluding benefits and raised 570 million chickens.

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