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NEHPBA Calls for Greater Focus on Renewable Natural Gas (RNG)

29 April 2021

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

NEHPBA Calls for Greater Focus on Renewable Natural Gas (RNG) 

Alternative fuel source is plentiful in decomposing food and animal waste More investment needed in RNG technology and research  

Sudbury, MA – The Northeast Hearth, Patio and Barbecue Association (NEHPBA) today urged its industry members and their customers to join a call for more investment in Renewable Natural Gas (RNG) technology and focus on more research into RNG’s value as a renewable power source with multiple applications. 

Renewable Natural Gas is a carbon-free fuel alternative derived by extracting methane from decomposing food scraps and animal manure. Waste material are processed through systems called anaerobic digesters that sustainably repurpose the waste into a renewable power source. RNG is also transported and distributed through existing infrastructure, so there is no need to build new pipelines. 

“Massachusetts is a national leader in addressing food waste, and maintains strict guidelines on the management and disposal of commercial food waste in particular,” said Joel Etter, President of NEHPBA. “This has created natural incentives for high-waste producing organizations to participate in waste-to-energy partnerships.” 

Reducing food waste in landfills while increasing the supply of clean energy and reducing greenhouse gasses represents an important opportunity for Massachusetts and other Northeast states. But the issue needs a stronger emphasis and priority placed on new technology, research and investment. NEHPBA represents more than 250 member retailers, service providers and other businesses in Connecticut, Maine, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island and New York in addition to Massachusetts. 

Several recent Massachusetts policy developments may help encourage The Commonwealth to investigate supply and obstacles to RNG. They include:

  1. The recently enacted Massachusetts Climate Legislation 
  2. The Clean Energy Climate Plan 
  3. The Mass. Department of Public Utilities report into the future of natural gas

Of the approximately 200 anaerobic digestion systems across the United States, 13 have been established and installed in Massachusetts. Each digester can produce roughly enough biogas to fuel about 2,000 homes.  

“Massachusetts represents about two percent of the total U.S. population, and the state has about 6.5 percent of the nation’s processing infrastructure for waste-to-energy conversion,” said NEHPBA Executive Director Karen Arpino. “The Commonwealth is already out front as a leader in supporting this important method for creating more renewable fuel alternatives. It’s important to build on that by advocating for more widespread use and adoption of RNG.” 

In New Hampshire, as a new waste-to-energy facility is underway in Bethlehem, the state projects RNG will represent about 8 percent of its energy mix until 2025.  Three New York dairy farms have partnered with an energy provider on a new facility under development in Western New York and the Finger Lakes region. And one of Maine’s major natural gas concerns – Summit Utilities – is also developing a an RNG production facility in partnership with several local farms. 

Data and projections show that sufficient RNG production could recycle enough organic waste to supply all current commercial gas demand nationwide. Alternatively, 75 percent of current residential demand or 45 percent of industrial demand could be met.  

NEHPBA and the entire industry are working together with other businesses as well as consumers to ensure that a range of energy choices continue to be available in the Northeast – that includes natural gas, propane and oil heat systems as well as wood-burning appliances.


About the Northeast Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association

Since 1985, the Northeast Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association (NEHPBA) has represented the interests of the hearth industry in the Northeast.  NEHPBA was originally incorporated in January 1985 as the Northeast Solid Fuel Alliance (NESFA) in recognition of the unique demands of business in the Northeast. In June of 1992, NESFA members voted to become the first affiliated member of the national Hearth Products Association (HPA) and became the Northeast Hearth Products Association (NEHPA). In 2002, NEHPA became the Northeast Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association (NEHPBA) in conjunction with the merger of the national HPA with the Barbecue Industry Association to become the Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association (HPBA), thus recognizing the diversification of the modern industry.  The NEHPBA name has remained since 2002. 


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