A local dairy farm will help supply Middlebury College with energy for heating and cooling its campus.

Representatives from the college, Vanguard Renewables, Vermont Gas, and Vermont state officials gathered Aug. 20 at the Goodrich Family Farm in Salisbury, to mark the official groundbreaking for an anaerobic digester. The facility will combine cow manure and food waste to create renewable natural gas (RNG), according to a statement from the college. Middlebury College will buy the bulk of the RNG produced at the dairy farm. The project is key to the college’s goal of using 100 percent renewable energy sources — a commitment it made in its Energy 2028 plan. The facility will be the largest anaerobic digester in Vermont, New England, and east of the Mississippi River, according to the college.

Vermont Gas has begun construction on a 5-mile pipeline that will connect the farm with the company’s pipeline network in Addison County. RNG produced by the digester will travel by pipeline to Middlebury College’s main power plant. Once the digester is operating, the gas it creates will supply about half of the energy that Middlebury uses for heating and cooling. The college’s biomass plant will continue to produce the other 50 percent.

Wellesley, Mass.-based Vanguard Renewables will build, own and operate the digester, which will process 100 tons of manure and 180 tons of organic food waste daily into RNG. Vanguard is currently contacting local and Vermont-based food manufacturers to source the food waste.

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