PORTSMOUTH, N.H. - A $10-$12 million food-scrap digester that will produce biogas energy for sale to National Grid is planned for an 8-acre site at Quonset Business Park in North Kingstown, according to Tony Callendrello, chief operating officer for the developer, NEO Energy LLC.
The North Kingstown Organic Energy Project is the first of its kind on the East Coast, said Callendrello, although the process of anaerobic digestion to produce energy is popular in Europe. It is being used on the West Coast, for instance, by a supermarket using it to process returned food items, said Callendrello.
NEO Energy was drawn to Rhode Island by the state’s distributive generation program, which offers incentives for development of renewable energy projects, said Callendrello.
Projects approved for the distributive generation program have 15-year contracts to sell energy to National Grid.
“We felt we had enough price certainty on a contract that we would want to do business in Rhode Island,” said Callendrello.
The project is the first venture in Rhode Island for NEO Energy. The company also plans to develop anaerobic digestion energy projects in Fall River and Milbury, Mass.
The North Kingstown digester will handle about 20,000 tons of food scraps per year from restaurants, institutions, supermarkets and food manufacturers.
The plant is expected to employ a manager and five or six operators, with an additional 40 people expected to be employed in related businesses for collecting, transporting and sorting the food scraps, said Callendrello.
As a by-product of the process, the digester will also produce organic fertilizer, which Callendrello said is designed for the lawn and turf market.
The project is in the development and permitting stage, which is expected to take about six months. Construction is anticipated to take another six months, said Callendrello, with a target date for operation of late 2014.