Agriculture Questions

Will farms that do not produce liquid manure be put at a competitive disadvantage by farms participating in this project that will have their manure handling subsidized by public funds?

Digesters are able to process both solid and liquid manure. Additionally, solid manure can result in an increased energy production from the digestion process, so both solid and liquid manure has a place in potential project proposals.

What is the cost/benefit of manure digestion/treatment vs implementation of existing state agricultural runoff performance standards such as nutrient management?

Such an analysis has not been conducted. Proposals will be evaluated in part based on the cost-effectiveness of their system.

What size livestock farms will benefit from this proposal?

Any livestock operation that produces manure and is faced with constraints related to costs of land application or access to land to apply that manure could benefit from participating in a project. What groundwater, surface water, and air monitoring will be conducted on participating farms to ensure that public expenditures are producing a public benefit?

What groundwater, surface water, and air monitoring will be conducted on participating farms to ensure that public expenditures are producing a public benefit?

Any proposal under the RFP will be required to follow all applicable state, local, and federal permitting and approval processes. Construction and operations will need to comply with the regulatory requirements of those permits and approvals to ensure that environmental standards are met.

Will the proposed system require new manure storage?

Because multiple waste streams may be generated through this system, participating farms may need additional storage options to contain and handle the different nutrient sources each farm receives back from the digestion system.

Additional considerations: Will participating in this system require me to add additional manure storage on my farm? How much will it cost to purchase any necessary manure storage required by this system? Can the costs to install new storage structures be offset by grant or cost-share programs?

Applicant Eligibility Questions

Are projects eligible for Focus on Energy incentives related to energy produced by customers who do not have utility accounts?

Projects are eligible for incentives as long as production(savings) is registered under a participating account associated with the integrated system. If some participants in an integrated system are not customers of participating utilities, production associated with their activities may still be eligible if it is accounted for under an eligible account of another participant in the integrated system. Proposals involving arrangements of this nature should clearly explain how the production will be appropriately and accurately accounted for under eligible accounts.

Projects can also be eligible if a customer creates a new account with an electric/gas utility in connection with its participation in a system.

Are projects eligible for Focus incentives if they are located at sites that are served by a gas utility that participates in Focus and an electric cooperative that does not participate in Focus?

Focus on Energy provides incentives related to services received from participating utilities. Incentives could be provided for gas-related production(savings) connected with the participating gas account, but no incentives could be provided for electric-related production(savings) associated with a non-participating electric account. Electric production(savings) could still be eligible if the production can be accurately accounted for at other sites in the integrated system that are served by an eligible electric account.

Are projects eligible for Focus incentives if the energy produced is contracted to be served to out of state buyers?

Projects are eligible as long as the energy produced(saved) enters the system in the state of Wisconsin, after being produced(saved) by customers of a participating Focus on Energy utility.

Is there a specific number of digesters a proposal must include in order to qualify for evaluation?

No. The number and geographic orientation of digester systems is not prescribed in the RFP. While the configuration of the digester(s) is left to the discretion of the applicants, please note that the proposed configuration must also address the other primary criteria of the RFP, including water treatment and recovery and nutrient management improvements.

Is an entity which does not register for or attend the pre-proposal Seminar still eligible to submit a proposal or be part of a consortium submitting a proposal?

Yes! We encourage all interested applicants to participate in the program, attendance at the February 1st event does not affect an applicant's eligibility for the program.

Would proposals from industrial food processors, such as cheese factories, be accepted?

The RFP strongly encourages the formation of consortia that could include food processing facilities among its members. Specific eligibility requirements are stated in Section 2 of the RFP, starting on page 9. Off-farm substrates can boost the production of biogas which can improve the evaluation of a proposal per the "Anaerobic Digestion/Biogas" section of the evaluation criteria section on page 14 of the RFP. Additionally, on page 27 of the RFP, the way in which off-farm substrates are utilized in the proposed project is discussed. This is an important consideration when putting together a proposal that includes non-farm members of a consortium.

Can this program help to continue the operation of an existing digester system?

The RFP states on page 2 that "proposal[s] should prioritize existing anaerobic digester infrastructure in an integrated system proposal when possible and appropriate". Further requirements and eligibility of existing infrastructure are detailed on pages 9 and 10 of the RFP as it relates to Focus incentives be awarded to new or upgraded digester facilities. Many aspects of existing infrastructure will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

Consortium Building Questions

Will there be a list made available to potential applicants of other entities interested in forming an applicable consortium?

Yes! Through voluntary contact information collection with registration for the Seminar on February 1st, a list of interested parties will be made available and posted on the RFP webpage.

Will my involvement in this project lead to reduced hauling costs?

The water treatment components of this project could result in an overall reduction in the volume of manure I receive back from the digester system.

Additional considerations: If I normally haul my manure by truck, would participating in this project reduce my hauling costs? By how much? How many fewer loads of manure could be hauled by having the ability to reduce and separate solid content? If piping of manure is a part of this project will that reduce my hauling needs? Will manure piping costs be an expense to my farm?

Will my involvement in this project lead to the ability to irrigate manure?

The low-nutrient, low-solids content waste stream that could be produced as a result of this system could become an irrigable by-product which could be applied during the growing season to established crops.

Additional considerations: Would I be interested in and able to irrigate rather than truck this more liquid-content manure?  Are there programs that could cost-share the purchase and install of irrigation equipment on my farm to enable me to do this?

Will my involvement in this project lead to the ability to apply manure at more economical times?

By reducing the water volume in manure, this system could allow farms to receive a manure product that has a high nutrient content which could be transported further distances.

Additional considerations: To what extent would this system allow me to redistribute my nutrients to land that needs it most? Would this allow me to apply nutrients prior to planting and/or through split applications?

Will my involvement in this project lead to reduced time and labor costs?

Additional considerations: Through efficiencies in manure treatment achieved by this project, can I save time and money through reduced hauling costs and reduced labor? How much money could I save?

Will my involvement in this project lead to reduced hauling equipment use?

Additional considerations: What savings on equipment can be associated with participating in this system? Will new application equipment need to be purchased to apply effluent stream(s)?

Will my involvement in this project lead to reduced road traffic?

Additional considerations: If participating in this project reduces manure volumes to be hauled and applied, will truck traffic be reduced on roads as a result of this project?

Will my involvement in this project lead to revenue streams?

The potential exists for this project to generate several revenue streams through biogas utilization (electricity CNG for transportation, CNG for natural gas offsets), and other value-added products like livestock bedding, compost, or manure pellets for resale.

Additional considerations: What revenue streams will this project generate? Who benefits from these revenue streams? How will revenues be distributed to participating farms, if at all?

Will my involvement in this project lead to increased overall farm profitability?

Each of the questions listed above could result in opportunities to increase the overall profitability of your farm depending on the choices you make, the products and markets this system creates and the efficiencies you can achieve by participating in an integrated anaerobic digestion system project.

Additional considerations for managing liability in a proposed consortium:

  • Who will operate and maintain the digester system?
  • Who will pay for the operation and maintenance of the digester?
  • How will the costs of the water treatment components be covered?
  • If the digester is on a CAFO operation, who will have the liability for the manure?
  • Who is liable if a pipe bursts? If there is a spill? A system failure or malfunction?
  • Who will pay for transportation costs? Hauling costs?
  • How will revenues be dispersed among participants, if at all (generated energy, electrical, CNG, fertilizer products, bedding, etc.)?
  • Will I be required to put in a certain volume of manure each day/week/month/year?
  • Am I guaranteed to get back the nutrients I need?
  • Am I required to take back the nutrients I put in?

General Questions

Will the Focus on Energy incentives be distributed as a reimbursement following successful installation of the project or will the funds be available to assist with the purchase of equipment and construction of the facility?

From page 7 of the RFP: "Applicants will receive the full incentive award upon completion and verification of the system by Focus on Energy personnel, with standard processing and review times applied. Focus on Energy incentives serve as a reimbursement for verified installation and operation of the energy-related aspects of a proposal."

Can an aerobic digester technology be submitted as part of an eligible proposal?

Since aerobic digestion does not produce biogas or other marketable energy products, a proposal containing aerobic digestion would be insufficient to meet the energy-related evaluation criteria found on page 14 of the RFP.

Will the PSC accept and respond to questions submitted by Applicants after the pre-proposal seminar (Feb 1, 2017) and before Proposal Due Date (May 1, 2017)?

Yes! All questions can be submitted until the proposal deadline on May 1, 2017 and we will respond to them as quickly as possible.

Will increasingly larger farms benefit disproportionately from the proposal??

Not necessarily. The combined volume of manure from all participating farms will need to be large enough to support the system. However, that volume could come from many farm operations. Additionally, the RFP requires at least one participating farm have less than 700 animal units.

What additional public dollars will be required to implement this project?

There is no requirement for additional public funds to be applied for and secured as a condition for funding through this RFP. This program is designed to encourage private investment. Additionally, other funding options are highlighted in the RFP to cover costs of water treatment starting on page 5.

Will the proposed system reduce pathogens?

Anaerobic digestion and water treatment technologies can effectively reduce pathogen levels in manure, enabling application of manure nutrients with a reduced risk of public health impacts. Will this system reduce pathogen levels in my manure? To what extent? Does the company have data on actual pathogen reductions as a result from this system?

Will the proposed system reduce bedding costs through manure fiber utilization?

Solids within the manure are often separated out after the anaerobic digestion process is complete. Separated solids can then be dried and used as bedding for livestock.

Additional considerations: Will I be able to utilize the bedding product from the digester on my farm? Would this reduce my bedding costs? If so, by how much?

Will the proposed system reduce odor?

Many anaerobic digestion systems are able to reduce the emissions of noxious gases from raw manure.

Additional considerations: How much odor can be reduced through this system? Is there an economic or public relations value for me for odor reduction?

Will the proposed system increase nutrient availability?

Post-digested manure and additional effluent treatment can create multiple waste streams.  Some post-digestion products could come in the form of higher concentration nutrient products, low-nutrient content “tea water” and extremely clean dischargeable water.

Additional considerations: What post-digestion nutrient products would be most useful to me on my farm? What is the benefit of more readily available nutrients for crop uptake? Will this system produce effluent types that result in more efficient use of my nutrients for my farm? Will this reduce my commercial fertilizer costs?

Will the proposed system provide weed kill?

The digestion process can reduce the survival rate of weed seeds that are contained in livestock manure.

Additional considerations: To what extent can this system provide weed control? What effect could that have on my crop yields?

Will the proposed system reduce greenhouse gas emissions?

Capturing and utilizing the methane that is created by the anaerobic digestion process ensures that methane isn’t being emitted to the atmosphere. Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas and markets exist that will compensate digester operators for capturing that greenhouse gas.

Additional considerations: Will this system allow for the sale of carbon credits or market renewable energy credits? Will I receive a portion of the revenue?

Will the proposed system generate tipping fees from co-digestion?

Food processing or wastewater treatment facilities may be interested in having their wastewater processed through this digester system rather than have the responsibility to treat their wastewater on their own. Often digester owners are paid to take wastewater from these types facilities.

Additional considerations: Will this system utilize co-digestion to increase biogas generation potential? What, if any, tipping fees will this generate? Will I receive a portion of the tipping fees?

Will the proposed system create revenue streams for potential value-added products?

Value-added products are often a component of digester systems to help increase the economic value of the project. Value-added products could include saleable fertilizer products, livestock bedding, compost, etc.

Additional considerations: Will this project result in the development and resale of value-added products? How will the income generated from the sale value-added products be distributed?

Will the proposed system require personnel to manage the digester?

Digester systems require a significant amount of time and expertise by its operators to ensure it is functioning efficiently and continuously.

Additional considerations: Will this system include hiring/identifying a professional manager to operate and maintain it? If so, at what cost? If not, who will be responsible for operating and maintaining this system?

Will the proposed system increase equipment costs?

The nutrient sources farms may choose to get back from the digestion system may require new ways of handling and applying those nutrient products.

Additional considerations: What new equipment (i.e. spreading or irrigation equipment) will this system require me to purchase to fully utilize these new nutrient products?

To submit additional questions, please contact OEI@wisconsin.gov with the subject line “FAQ”.