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North Carolina’s largest renewable natural gas project takes shape

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Dominion Energy and Smithfield Foods have announced they are ‘breaking ground’ on North Carolina’s largest renewable natural gas (RNG) project.

It is the first manure-to-energy project to begin construction under Align Renewable Natural Gas, a joint venture between Dominion and Smithfield. Once fully operational, the project will generate enough energy to power more than 3,500 homes annually.

The new venture will capture methane emissions from pig farms and convert them into RNG in Duplin and Sampson counties. Additional projects are planned in North Carolina, as well as Utah and Virginia.

Kraig Westerbeek, senior director of Smithfield Renewables and hog production environmental affairs for Smithfield Foods, said: “Breaking ground on this project with Dominion Energy is an exciting first step in bringing Align RNG to life.

“This project implements proven ‘manure-to-energy’ technology across a number of farms to produce reliable renewable energy for our community and contributes to our company’s ambitious goal to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions [by] 25% by 2025.”

Technology will be installed across as many as 19 farms to transform manure into RNG that will be processed and injected into existing natural gas distribution systems. The 300,000 MMBTU of renewable energy this project is estimated to produce will contribute to North Carolina’s initiative to reduce greenhouse gas emissions over the next decade and expand its renewable energy portfolio.

“What we are starting today is truly transformational,” said Gary Courts, Dominion Energy’s general manager of new gas business development.

“We’re using the power of innovation to make our energy cleaner and our farms more sustainable than ever before. With renewable natural gas, everyone wins. It’s good for the environment and our planet. It’s a huge win for the farmers. And it’s around-the-clock renewable energy for consumers.”