Moratorium on anaerobic digesters in Canton to be extended

Jan. 15—CANTON — At its Wednesday night meeting, the town council agreed to extend its anaerobic digester moratorium law until June.

The original moratorium on the construction of anaerobic digesters was enacted in August. It expires at the end of February.

An anaerobic digester is a facility that uses anaerobic digestion to convert livestock manure and feedstock into biogas which is burned off-site to produce electricity.

In August, the town's attorney, Eric J. Gustafson said, "there are very few towns with anaerobic digester laws within the state of New York. It is primarily covered by the DEC (Department of Environmental Conservation). But there is some indication that maybe Canton could be the source of one of those facilities and I think they are going to become more and more popular."

Town Councilman James T. Smith said the council needs more time to understand the scope prospect of digesters in Canton.

"When you adopt a local law there are various steps," Mr. Gustofson said. "We are still getting a handle on what this could mean for Canton. It is complicated because you are working with a process that is primarily regulated by DEC but there are still a bunch of local issues that should be decided locally, and we are trying to come up with something that is going to be comprehensive and does what it needs to do. So, if we are going to have these facilities in the town of Canton they are done so in an orderly way."

A digester proposed for Canton is a $27 million project, Mr. Smith said.

The moratorium affects only third-party digesters.

The Department of Agriculture and Markets regulates those constructed on farms.

The digester proposed for Canton, Mr. Smith said, will have manure transported to its site by truck.

"Operating 365 days a year going over county roads with manure coming from five different farms," Mr. Smith said. "You are probably talking about five tractor trailers loads per day."

The moratorium can be legally extended for six months, Mr. Smith said.

"As soon as the law is ready, and we hope the law is ready before then, we will just present the law," Mr. Smith said.

The moratorium can be rescinded at any time, Mr. Gustofson said.

The board agreed to set a public hearing for its Feb. 8 meeting to hear comments on extending the moratorium.