A green energy partnership plans to build four biogas plants in Audrain and Miller Counties, with a majority intended for Audrain County.

East Central Missouri Biogas Group LLC of Audrain County and North Carolina-based Green Energy Sustainable Solutions partnered to further its commitment to alternative fuel sources and green energy.

The Audrain County plants will be built near Laddonia and Vandalia, East Central Missouri Biogas President Dennis Clark said. A groundbreaking on the plants is expected in the coming weeks.

The plants equate to a $145 million investment in Missouri and are expected to create 84 jobs.

“GESS is developing a renewable energy project that is inclusive of local communities by creating a new waste to energy revenue stream for farmers,” wrote Seth Daughety, grant coordinator at GESS International, in a news release. “We look forward to contributing to Missouri’s bright future.”

Farmers will be paid for the waste products he said in the release.

Construction is expected to run through the 2019 fiscal year, with the plants going into operation in 2020.

“The Audrain County Commission is proud to have local entrepreneurs joining together to add value to their products. We wish them every success,” said Audrain County Presiding Commissioner Steve Hobbs, according to the release.

East Central Missouri Biogas is a group of Audrain County hog farmers. The biogas plant will take the manure from those operations, paired with corn silage and other organic material, to create methane gas, which is used in green energy applications.

The capacity of the plants is approximately 170,000 tons of swine waste and 80,000 tons of green biomass, according the GESS release.

“Investing into renewable energy projects provides opportunities to simultaneously generate significant financial returns, while mitigating or addressing societal and environmental challenges,” said Olga Bryzhan, director of GESS International in the release.

Members of the group had an opportunity last year to tour similar plants in England, Clark said.

“This will generate quite a bit of revenue in eastern Audrain County,” he said, adding the plants are an enclosed system so there is no expected manure smell as part of production.

The purpose in building the plants is sixfold, according to the release. The first part is the partnership between East Central Biogas and GESS to create jobs in the area. East Central offers minority ownership shares and is expected to have a positive return on investment. The group is hopeful this will improve the area’s tax base for schools and surrounding counties, along with increasing the incomes of row crop and livestock farmers.

East Central Missouri Biogas is working to schedule public investor and informational meetings. Those interested should contact Clark by emailing dennisclark91@hotmail.com, with the subject line “Biogas Meeting” or by contacting the Andrew S. Garnett Law Firm by calling 573-582-7968.