Texas Plant Uses Dairy Waste to Make Natural Gas

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HUCKABAY, Texas (AP) - The nation's largest manure-to-natural gas plant got up and running in the heart of Texas dairy country.

The Huckabay Ridge project is located in the heart of the Erath County dairy land near Stephenville, about 65 miles southwest of Fort Worth. It's expected produce enough energy to power 11,000 homes a year and is a high-profile example of the growing need for alternative energy.

Huckabay Ridge gets manure from local dairy farms, processes it with grease and other restaurant waste, purifies it and turns it into natural gas, the energy equivalent of 4.6 million gallons of oil a year.

The processing plant is owned by Microgy Incorporated. Microgy's a wholly owned subsidiary of Portsmouth, New Hampshire-based Environmental Power Corporation. Environmental Power CEO Richard Kessell says the company views the dairies "as non-depleting gas wells with a long-term supply of renewable energy."

The Lower Colorado River Authority buys the gas and uses it to power homes in Central Texas. Next fall, San Francisco-based Pacific Gas & Electric will buy natural gas from Huckabay Ridge.