Impact project/investment of the year - renewables: North Sky Capital

With the aim of reducing waste and pollution, while creating renewable gas energy, North Sky Capital invested $18 million to fund the development and construction of Project Golden Bear, a new wastewater methane-to-renewable natural gas (RNG) public private partnership (PPP).

The project will create 320,000 metric million british thermal units (MMBtu) a year, enough to supply almost 4,500 homes with cooking and heating, from an existing wastewater treatment facility in Victorville, California.

Currently, the Victor Valley Wastewater Reclamation Authority (VVWRA) wastewater treatment plant processes approximately 10.7 million gallons of wastewater per day, which produces significant quantities of waste methane. The facility mostly flares this methane or releases it into the atmosphere, which the US Environmental Protection Agency estimates to cause 25 times more damage than carbon dioxide.

"We have been active impact investors for 16 years, and the opportunity to invest in environmental infrastructure like this renewable natural gas project near Los Angeles has never been more attractive," said Scott Barrington, managing director and CEO of North Sky. "This investment will prevent 6,000 metric tons of methane from being flared or released into the atmosphere annually and also enable the wastewater treatment plant to accept and process organic waste that otherwise would have been landfilled."

Another aim of the project is to demonstrate a replicable model to meet California organic waste recycling mandates, improve wastewater infrastructure resiliency and deliver new essential infrastructure to communities in need.

"While conversion to RNG might not qualify for purists, the impact of the project, and the way it addresses some key water issues - and seems to be replicable - justifies its place at the top of this category," commented one Impact Awards judge. While another added it was a "very innovative approach to solving problem. Methane is a significant negative contributor to climate challenges and this project uniquely addresses that".

The PPP includes Anaergia Services, the project's developer, VVWRA and North Sky, which invested through its Infrastructure Investment Fund.