KENANSVILLE, N.C.—Sixty thousand hogs can generate a lot of waste every day—waste that normally would decompose into greenhouse gasses. Fortunately for North Carolina consumers and the environment, Womble Carlyle client Optima will transform this waste into a renewable source of natural gas.

Optima recently reached an agreement with Duke Energy to produce more than 80,000 dekatherms of natural-gas quality methane per year for use at Duke’s natural gas-fired power plants in eastern North Carolina. The methane will be harvested from swine waste at three hog farms in the Kenansville area. The hog waste conversion project is the first of its kind in North Carolina and will be operational in the summer of 2017.

Optima partner and biogas system designer Gus Simmons told NCBiotech that “Our on-farm digesters will integrate with and support the farmers’ existing operations. By centralizing the gas processing, we can take advantage of cost efficiencies and provide carbon-neutral fuel for Duke’s existing power plants. It's a great benefit for the environment and for the economy.”

A multidisciplinary Womble Carlyle team including attorneys Belton Zeigler, Scott Bowers,  Jeff Lawyer and Dorinda Peacock and paralegal Jill Priester represented Optima in negotiating its interconnection agreement to an existing pipeline. The team also counseled the company on complying with requisite gas standards, negotiating and securing needed real estate requirements over a contiguous 18-parcel area in Duplin County, securing its feedstock supply arrangements, raising equity capital, and securing $6.5M in debt financing from Live Oak Bank provided by proceeds from the sale of Qualified Energy Conservation Bonds.

Belton Zeigler brings more than 30 years of experience to his South Carolina-based municipal, utility, environmental and energy practice. He has served as General Counsel to a major electric utility, and also served as Vice President for industrial customer relations, power marketing and strategic planning. In addition, he has litigated a number of important municipal powers and public finance cases in the South Carolina courts, including appearing before the South Carolina Supreme Court in numerous cases.

Scott Bowers advises companies on transactions and commercial matters, including mergers and acquisitions, financing transactions, and complex contractual arrangements. He has significant experience advising public and private companies on acquisition finance, commercial real estate leasing, commercial contracting and general corporate governance matters.

Jeff Lawyer is a veteran tax attorney with a background in accounting. Lawyer’s tax practice includes state and federal tax planning, tax strategies for corporate and real estate transactions, and tax planning for exempt and non-profit organizations.

Dorinda Peacock is an experienced corporate and securities attorney who focuses her practice on corporate sales, acquisitions, finance and general corporate law, including preparing and reviewing contracts. In addition, she practices real estate law, assisting clients in negotiating and documenting real estate acquisition and sale transactions and leases for commercial property.