DETROIT – DTE Energy broke ground last week on a project with Wisconsin-based Pagel’s Ponderosa Dairy to begin creating renewable natural gas generated from dairy cow waste as a fuel to power compressed natural gas vehicles, offsetting the use of fossil-based fuels.

DTE has launched a broad sustainability initiative that will cut methane emissions by 80 percent by 2040.

The project is the first dairy-to-RNG facility for DTE’s Power & Industrial group, which specializes in large-scale renewable energy projects across the United States.

“This project demonstrates DTE’s commitment to invest in renewable energy projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions while providing customers with reliable and affordable energy, whether it’s light and heat for homes and businesses or clean fuel for vehicles,” said Kevin Dobson, vice president of business development, DTE Biomass Energy.

“We welcome the opportunity to partner with DTE on this project and to develop a sustainable source of renewable natural gas that can benefit everyone while reducing our farm’s environmental impact even more,” said J.J. Pagel, owner of Pagel’s Ponderosa.

Waste generated by the Pagel’s dairy herd will be pumped into an underground anaerobic digester, where methane released will be captured. This methane will then be refined to meet pipeline-quality standards, trucked to a central location and injected into a natural gas transmission line, ultimately for use as an alternative vehicle fuel.

Once the facility begins producing RNG, DTE estimates it will reduce yearly greenhouse gas emissions by an amount equal to removing 9,200 vehicles from the road, saving the equivalent of burning more than 4.8 million gallons of gasoline. Construction on the facility should be complete early next year.

.The partnership with Pagel’s Ponderosa is one of several dairy-to-RNG facilities DTE Biomass Energy is pursuing in Wisconsin as the company expands its portfolio of RNG sites, with plans underway to add five additional dairy sites generating a total of 450,000 to 500,000 million BTUs of renewable natural gas each year. DTE Biomass already operates 21 landfill gas projects across the country including five RNG facilities.

“We believe projects like this represent a great opportunity for us to leverage our experience in renewable natural gas operations to reduce emissions, support businesses like Pagel’s Ponderosa and strengthen our commitment to environmental responsibility,” said Dobson.

Construction and operation of the facility is expected to add approximately 30 construction jobs and four full-time operating jobs to the local community while also providing an additional revenue stream for the dairy farmers.