California Digester Grant Program Re-Opens For Applications

After several weeks of deliberation, the California Department of Food and Agriculture’s (CDFA) Dairy Digester Research and Development Program (DDRDP) has reopened its request for applications to its dairy digester grant program.

The request more-or-less remains exactly the same as the one made in March 2017, with a few small differences. Total funds allotted will still range between $29 and $36 million total, with the $3 million maximum being awarded to each project remaining unchanged.

DIFFERENCES FROM MARCH 2017 REQUEST FOR PROPOSALS

INCENTIVE FUNDS

In addition to the $3 million maximum awarded to each possible project, a supplementary $9-$16 million in incentives may be provided through the Alternative Manure Management Program to support non-digester practices that reduce methane emissions from dairy and livestock operations, and further relieve the financial burden of ongoing or new dairy digesters.

According to the request, this incentive has been included to ensure awarding of funds only to the highest-quality projects resulting in accurately verifiable and quantifiably beneficial greenhouse gas emission reductions.

DURATION CHANGES

Logically since deliberation has pushed the grant request back by almost a month, the duration terms of the grant have changed. Grant funds cannot be expended before October 1, 2017, or after September 30, 2019—as opposed to before August 1st 2017, or after June 30th 2019, as outlined in the March proposal request.

PROJECTS INELIGIBLE FOR GRANT MONEY

Under the revised rules, neither upgrades to existing digesters nor projects to fund dairy operations that would increase their greenhouse gas emissions overall–even with a digester—will be eligible for grant funding. Additionally, CDFA will not fund any equipment or activities that may receive funding from the California Public Utilities Commission such as interconnection costs.

In an important caveat for potential digester development, the agency said it will allow funds to be used for biogas conditioning and clean-up costs, which could help biogas from dairies meet California cleanliness standards for injection into the state’s gas pipeline system.

NEW TIMELINE

New dates for review processes and announcements of award funding have been released. The review process will happen through July and August of 2017 while the announcements for which projects will receive award funding are expected at the end of September 2017.

NEW GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSION REDUCTION CALCULATION REQUIREMENTS

In the March 2017 proposal request, timelines for which applicants must calculate and provide their greenhouse gas emission (GHG) calculations were changed or further outlined and specified:

  • Total project emission reductions must be calculated and provided for over the next 10 years, rather than just over one year.
  • Projected GHG reduction per unit if energy-corrected milk (ECM) must be calculated for over the next 10 years, which is more specific than in the previous proposal request.
  • Projected GHG reduction per dollar of 2017 DDRDP grant money must be calculated for over the next 10 years, which was not specified in the March 2017 grant request.
  • Projected GHG reduction per dollar from the total Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund must be calculated and provided for over the next 10 years, which was also not specified previously.

ADDED LINE-ITEM OF ALLOWABLE COSTS COVERED BY GRANTS

The CDFA also announced that it will allow costs incurred by designing and engineering contractors or consultants, provided that the costs from these contractors/consultants make up at least 5% of the total grant amount requested.

Further, the costs of pipeline interconnection or equipment for purposes of processing biogas to pipelines were made allowable as well.

NEW PERIOD FOR QUESTIONS AND COMMENTS

Questions and comments about the grant proposal request will be released and publicly posted on the DDRDP website with a deadline of June 14, 2017.