Biogas company eyes Clovis/Portales

By Gabriel Monte: Freedom Newspapers

An alternative energy company is slated to build biogas facilities in Curry and Roosevelt counties.

New Jersey-based White Hat Energy will build a $36 million biogas facility in Curry County to extract methane gas from cow manure, according to a release from the Clovis Industrial Development Corp.

The Clovis facility will create about 90 high-wage jobs during the first phase and about 250 jobs over the next five years, according to the press release. There will also be 75 temporary constructions jobs. The average salary at the plant is $27,000 with benefits.

“The project will be a great addition to our industrial base and will provide new job opportunities for the citizens of the Clovis/Portales Microplex,” Clovis Industrial Development Corp. President Lee Mallory said in the press release.

Using anaerobic digesters, the facility will produce methane gas, which will be cleaned and pumped into a national natural gas line, according Gene Carey, president of Mills and Elevator Supply Co., which is contracted to build four plants in Clovis and three in Portales.
Each plant will consist of an anaerobic digester capable of converting about 200,000 tons of manure a year.

The Clovis facility will use about 600,000 gallons of wastewater a day from the Southwest Cheese plant, said Clovis Industrial Development Corp. Executive Director Chase Gentry.

The plants would reduce the level of methane in the air and improve the quality of groundwater, according to the release.

Roosevelt County Community Development Corp. director and past-president Jerry Partin confirmed the company has had its eye on Roosevelt County for more than a year. He said he hadn’t heard anything recently about the construction being imminent.

Partin said RCCDC offered land in an agreement to entice the company but that agreement expired in July.

“I hope it comes through, but I haven’t heard anything specific,” Partin said. “I’m at a point right now that until I see ‘em breaking ground … I’m not holding my breath.”

Partin said when RCCDC initially talked to White Hat Energy they indicated they would likely be building the first plant in Roosevelt County. At that time the number of permanent jobs was estimated at 24, he said.

“We need those type projects to convert the smell from the manure into a useful product,” Partin said.

Gentry said construction is expected in six to eight weeks after the city adopts an ordinance to include the project as part of the local economic development act.

The city of Clovis will provide 20 acres of land to White Hat Energy adjacent to the city’s wastewater treatment plant south of Clovis, the release said.

A Clovis City Commission meeting on this issue is scheduled for today.

Carey said the facilities will take nine months to construct and plans for more plants are on the horizon.

“There’s a lot more plants on the drawing board but that’s what we’ve got to start with first,” Carey said.

According to the release, 30 dairy farms have contracts to supply the facility with the manure.

PNT Managing Editor Karl Terry contributed to this report.