Chesapeake Utilities buys poultry litter tech startup

Chesapeake Utilities Corporation acquired 100% membership interest in Planet Found Energy Development, LLC (PFED) for $9.4 million. PFED is based in Pocomoke City, Maryland.

PFED was founded by Delmarva-based scientists, farmers and business people who wanted to develop poultry litter management technology. This acquisition is consistent with Chesapeake’s renewable energy strategy, including the following:

  • In-house technology know-how, particularly in relation to organic soil conditioners and future fertilizer production, an important economic component of biogas production from poultry waste.
  • Operating a small poultry biogas plant in Maryland that Chesapeake Utilities will use as a test facility to verify waste stream and fertilizer chemistry on future projects, useful for both financial projections and potential regulatory treatments.
  • Development of a second biogas site in Maryland for the Company to expand and complete.
  • PFED technology and process are scalable for future growth.

“Environmental considerations are important factors as we evaluate future opportunities for Chesapeake Utilities, and the acquisition of Planet Found, located in our Delmarva service area, is an important step in advancing our efforts,” said Jeff Householder, CEO of Chesapeake. “The development of waste-to-energy has become a significant concern for utility companies and their investors as part of a lower-carbon energy strategy. Geographically located in areas with significant agricultural facilities and waste sources, Chesapeake Utilities has the industry knowledge, power utility asset base and capital commitments to play a leading role in the production and delivery of biogas in its service areas. Following our first RNG transportation project completed in Ohio last year, we have now expanded our portfolio of renewable energy delivery solutions. Planet Found expands our expertise, technologies and know-how that can be applied to various large-scale biogas and RNG development projects on Delmarva and beyond.”

Renewable natural gas is viewed in some circles as a way to produce natural gas. Although renewable natural gas is a fossil fuel, it reduces methane that can enter the atmosphere. At Delmarva, renewable natural gas also solves the problem of poultry waste and processing plant effluent that can spill into distant fields and waterways.

Chesapeake has proposed trucking renewable natural gas to its supply system on Delmarva.

The gas can be recovered from landfills, poultry factories and livestock farms.

Renewable gas has its critics, who bitterly oppose a proposed plant near Seaford. Others in the environmental community support projects to extract the gas and turn waste into fertilizer.

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