The innovation is the unique combination of traditional farming resources and its byproduct with cutting edge technology in anaerobic digestion. Additionally, diverting large scale food waste from landfills or waste to energy plants (read as burning trash to produce electricity) as an additive to the anaerobic digestion.
It is amazing what happens when you place a large amount of technical knowledge into the minds of young forward thinking farmers. Because of the existing skill set and resources built up in a 5th generation family farm and the desire to make use of abundant amounts of daily "waste" generated by the farm, using that "waste" to power aspects of the farm made anaerobic digestion viable. Although anaerobic digestion was not an obvious choice, it is clearly an innovative solution to a complex problem.
The Fogler family has been around and involved in Maine for a long time. One branch of the Fogler family are the Wintle's and this innovation was spearheaded by three Wintle siblings.
John Wintle is the project and facilities manager at Exeter Agri-Energy. He holds a degree in Bio-Resources Engineering Technology with an MBA from UMaine.
Adam Wintle was instrumental in launching Exeter Agri-Energy and is managing partner of Biogas Energy Partners, which manages the finances and strategic planning EAE. He holds a Mechanical Engineering degree from UMaine.
Sarah Wintle is communications and operations manager at Biogas Energy Partners. She has a duel masters degree in American and African-American Studies from Smith College.
Because the innovation isn't simply an anaerobic digester but how they aligned a digester with multiple aspects of their organization, this quote sums it up:
"I think the key ingredients in this case were (1) a common digester vision (2) marriage of development, financial, and operations skill sets across a diverse team (3) a willingness to assume risk and innovate and (4) general perseverance all the way to the finish line." - Adam Wintle, Managing Partner at Biogas Energy Partners