​‘HORSE’ rides into Bainbridge: We’re supporting new digester

By Ray Lane, ray.lane@pse.com

​(9/16/16) A Bainbridge Island pub is now the site of our area’s newest food waste digester. We’ve partnered with the Harbour Public House restaurant and Impact Bioenergy to set up a six-month anaerobic digester pilot demonstration that helps turn food waste into energy. A large crane unloaded the equipment on Tuesday.

“We’ve very excited to be a part of this project. It’ll demonstrate the viability of using food waste to make electricity and fertilizer that support the island economy. In fact, the fertilizer produced will be used by local farms – some of the very farms the pub sources its food from,” said Karen Brubeck, our outreach manager on Bainbridge. “We hope it’ll encourage further conversations about a community-based project that’s larger and permanent.”

Impact Bioenergy, based near Seattle, developed the self-contained, portable biodigester called HORSE. It stands for High-solids Organic-waste Recycling System with Electrical output. The pub will use the unit for digesting its food waste. HORSE then does its thing: it’ll provide on-site energy generation from the organic material and produce nutrient-laden, liquid fertilizer.

“This is our third digester in Western Washington,” said Jan Allen, CEO of Impact Bioenergy. “This technology is finding its footing and making great strides. We’re seeing interest from all over the world. The microdigester technology and manufacturing base is right here in the Puget Sound area, building on the clean tech industry which is growing in Washington State.”

The owner of the pub, Jeff Waite, says he’s committed to farm-to-table eating at his restaurant. He was ready to take the next step, and we were eager to help.

“Digesting can be both an art and a science. We’re trying to figure out the practices that work best with our particular blend of food waste and volume,” said Jeff. “Once the digester’s up and running, we expect it’ll ‘eat’ or divert more than 100 pounds of our food and carbon-based wastes from our garbage bins every day.”

The HORSE will be operational later this month after installation and testing is wrapped up. More information about the project can be found here.

The HORSE pilot project is a natural extension of our ongoing interest in developing alternative sources of renewable energy. In 2004, we began partnering with dairy digesters as part of our Green Power Program. Those digesters turn manure into methane needed to fuel an electric generator. Our Green Power Program has been recognized by the U.S. Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as a leader in renewable energy development.

There are currently 1,169 residential and 28 commercial Green Power customers on Bainbridge Island. That’s a 10.22 percent participation rate, making it the second highest in our service area. With this level of participation, the EPA recognizes Bainbridge Island as a Green Power Community. 

Photo by Nick Felkey