In the continuation of its commitment to invest in projects to advance clean energy, South Jersey Industries will announce Wednesday that it is partnering with Captona and RNG Energy Solutions to construct one of the largest food waste-to-renewable natural gas projects in the country.
The Linden Renewable Energy project, based in Linden, will convert organic waste into pipeline-quality RNG that can be used for a variety of applications to displace fossil fuels.
The project, which will begin construction this month, aims to be completed in the first quarter of 2026, when it will be a key asset in the decarbonization goals of New Jersey and the region.
When it goes online, it will mark SJI’s first nonutility-led anaerobic digester project that will directly connect its utility customers with a New Jersey-based RNG producer. Elizabethtown Gas, one of SJI’s primary utility subsidiaries, will blend the RNG from the project into its existing natural gas distribution system.
SJI CEO Mike Renna was thrilled to make the announcement.
“SJI is thrilled to continue its commitment to decarbonization and RNG by investing in the Linden Renewable Energy facility,” he said. “It’s a triple win for us: It repurposes food waste, generates renewable energy that our customers can benefit from and bolsters our commitment to environmental stewardship.
“Through this flagship project, we’re actively contributing to a more sustainable, energy-efficient future for both our state and the environment.”
Linden Mayor Derek Armstead was equally enthused, saying it matches his vision of a clean energy future.
“The city of Linden has been a proud host community for the project,” he said. “This is another in a long list of renewable energy projects that the city has undertaken.
“We have supported the LRE project throughout the planning phase, and we definitely appreciate the investment in our city and the hundreds of union construction jobs that come with it. This is a long-term renewable and sustainable solution to waste management, and we look forward to our continued association with the project and its sponsors.”
Here’s how it will work: The LRE project will accept a wide range of feedstock, including food waste from industrial, commercial and institutional entities, as well as grease waste from restaurants and other foodservice establishments. Anaerobic digestion is a natural process that breaks down waste in the absence of oxygen to produce natural gas and a nutrient-rich material that can be used as fertilizer.
As a result, the LRE project will convert up to 1,475 tons of waste to produce up to 3,783 million British thermal units per day of RNG — this is the energy equivalent value of 30,200 gallons of gasoline per day.
The LRE project includes development and construction of multiple off-site food waste preprocessing and depackaging operations in New Jersey, New York City and New York state.
South Jersey Industries, an energy infrastructure holding company based in Folsom, delivers energy services to customers through two primary subsidiaries: SJI Utilities and SJI Energy Enterprises. SJIU houses the company’s regulated natural gas utility operations, delivering safe, reliable and affordable natural gas to more than 725,000 residential, commercial and industrial customers across New Jersey via its South Jersey Gas and Elizabethtown Gas subsidiaries.
Captona is a North America-focused investment company dedicated to energy transition and decarbonization based in New York City. Captona invests in late-stage, midmarket clean and renewable energy projects across North America with a focus on wind, solar, fuel cell, renewable natural gas and storage assets.
Captona’s founder and CEO, Izzet Bensusan, said the impact will be huge.
“Captona recognizes this marquee investment in this food waste-to-RNG plant in New York City and the New Jersey area as a major milestone in the growth of its Energy Transition Infrastructure portfolio of fuel cell, RNG, solar and storage projects,” he said. “This project will greatly contribute to reducing emissions and upcycling food waste.”
Officials of the groups said the project will utilize proven technology and experienced partners to power the clean energy transition.
LRE has partnered with Phoenix Power Group as the engineering, procurement and construction provider and has top-tier equipment providers to bring the project to completion. It also has strategically aligned with multiple waste haulers in New Jersey and New York City that will provide source-separated waste as part of their compliance with New Jersey and New York City organic waste diversion requirements.
REN Energy Solutions President James Potter said the impact of the project will be felt throughout the region.
“The LRE project will provide a sustainable and competitive waste management service within a 40-mile metro region with over 18 million residents,” he said. “The same region has implemented aggressive organic waste diversion regulations that need a sustainable anaerobic digestion project solution.
“We are not aware of any project site within this proximity to New York City that affords the superior capacity to receive barges combined with close proximity to the I-95 transportation corridor. These optimized transportation logistics make the project the preferred low-carbon and low-cost provider of organic waste management services.”