Southern California Gas Co. (SoCalGas) is for the first time dispensing California-produced renewable natural gas at many of the CNG stations it operates across the state. The utility recently began purchasing renewable natural gas from Pixley-based Calgren Dairy Fuels (Calgren). Calgren’s facility is part of a rapidly growing biomethane industry in California and is currently the largest dairy biogas operation in the U.S. SoCalGas has dispensed 100% biomethane from out-of-state sources at its fueling stations for a year.
“Renewable natural gas is an important tool in reducing greenhouse gas emissions (GHG), which cause climate change, and we’re looking forward to major growth in production of this renewable fuel in California,” said Jawaad Malik, SoCalGas vice president of gas acquisition. “With the right incentives in place, renewable natural gas has significant opportunity to help the state move toward carbon-neutrality in not only the transportation sector but in many areas where traditional natural gas is now used.”
“Calgren is excited to be one of the leading production facilities in the U.S., which will eventually capture the waste of more than 132,000 cows from at least 18 dairies,” said Lyle Schlyer, president of Calgren. “Using the methane captured from dairy waste for transportation fuel is good for the environment because it not only keeps methane from escaping to the air, it allows us to replace traditional natural gas with a renewable version, and it reduces pollution from diesel truck engines.”
Production of the fuel has accelerated quickly in California, supported by state incentive programs seeking to reduce GHG emissions from trucking and dairy farms. In just the next three and a half years, at least 160 biomethane production facilities will be online in California to serve the transportation fuel sector, replacing about 119 million gallons of diesel fuel. That’s enough to reduce GHG emissions by over 3.4 million tons every year, the equivalent of taking more than 730,000 cars off the road.
In addition, California recently enacted legislation that expands the definition of renewable natural gas to include organic waste such as dead trees, agricultural waste and vegetation removed for wildfire mitigation which is typically converted to renewable natural gas by non-combustion thermal conversion. The new legislation has a twin benefit of helping to manage wildfires with reduced debris and also lowering GHG emissions.
To help expand the growth and use of renewable natural gas, SoCalGas has proposed a service that would give its customers the option to purchase a portion of their natural gas from renewable sources, just as millions of people can opt to purchase renewable electricity today. The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) has issued a draft ruling authorizing such a service, which is expected to be voted on by the end of the year.