Ringler Energy LLC: Leading Progressive Agriculture to Power Tomorrow

Ringler Energy LLC (Ringler Energy) is leading the industry in progressive agriculture, as the Ohio-based company is attracting national attention from the USDA and other industry leaders by pioneering a new technology that recycles farm waste into renewable energy. Ringler Energy is a branch of the Ringler companies, which is a group of grain and livestock facilities that have remained family-owned and -operated for over three generations. Ringler Energy is complemented by Ringler Feedlots LLC (Ringler Feedlots) and Pork Champ LLC (Pork Champ), as the three companies have evolved into enterprises with a focus on sustainability in agriculture.

The Ringler companies are currently managed by the Ringler family’s third generation, who continue a legacy founded in the 1920s. “My grandfather was a farmer,” recalls Alex Ringler, president of Ringler Energy. “My father, William Ringler, who’s now 67 years old, is still actively involved.”

The company’s ownership is led by a three-person executive team, which maintains operations through an advanced system of computers. However, the Ringler companies employ approximately 170 personnel throughout the three divisions in order to ensure customer satisfaction.

Additionally, an internal freight fleet of 30 semi-trucks transport livestock, feed and other related materials. “Currently, we have five of our trucks running on clean natural gas,” shares William.

Waste Less, Spend Less

William goes on to explain the grain and cattle business, as he was one of Ohio’s largest cattle farmers in the 1980s. “We’ve grown and increased our size through opportunity and hard work,” he adds.

The Ringler companies have also been active in the hog industry for the past 15 to 20 years. “Our livestock company is one the largest pork producers in Ohio,” details William. “Our quality pork is raised by family farmers across Ohio and other Midwestern states, promoting humane practices in food safety and animal care. However, our niche really lies in our utilization of renewable energy.”

Ringler Energy, which has emerged in the last half decade, has experienced many successful years raising quality livestock from its home base in Ashley, Ohio. However, the most recent venture into green energy is proving to be a huge success.

In following the company’s niche, Ringler Energy is doing something unlike other companies in the industry: taking waste and turning it into a cost-efficient renewable product. Utilizing a process known as anaerobic digestion, Ringler Energy takes biomass and livestock manure to generate methane gas.

Although farmers have been using this method for many years, Ringler Energy is implementing the use of advanced bioenergy facilities, partnering with a local technology provider. “The natural process breaks down organic materials in the absence of oxygen, which creates methane gas, which in turn is used as a fuel source to power generators that supply renewable energy to the farm and the local electric grid,” details William.

Furthermore, the methane gas can be purified and compressed into clean natural gas that can be used in place of diesel. “We’re currently in the first stages of construction on a second anaerobic digester system, which is expected to be complete by late 2013,” details William, who then points out that the company utilizes local materials and contractors whenever possible.

“A byproduct of the entire process is a concentrated organic fertilizer, which we can efficiently utilize on our farm ground; yet another benefit of anaerobic digestion,” details William. “The idea is, why not take a waste product, which would normally go to a landfill, and use it to create clean renewable energy and byproducts that we can use ourselves. This promotes savings and efficiencies.”

The power generated from the anaerobic digestion system not only powers Ringler Energy’s farms, but also supplies to the local electric company. “We process about 3.5 million gallons of pig manure to produce enough electricity via a generator to sell about 1 megawatt of renewable energy back to the local grid,” says William.

Ringler Energy has furthered its environmentally conscious culture by also recycling materials that produce nutritious animal feed and crop fertilizer. Various byproducts, such as cheese whey, yogurt whey and brewery waste, are converted into animal feed. Ringler Energy’s green efforts are drawing the attention of national and state organizations alike.

In the Spotlight

The company works closely with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and is recognized by the AgSTAR program for making great strides on the renewable energy, recovery and use of methane front. “We’re a member of Clean Fuels Ohio,” shares William. “This organization helps companies like us capitalize on infrastructure and earn green-energy grants. We’ve also been recognized by the Ohio Department of Agriculture for going well above and beyond what’s legally required.”

Members of Ringler Energy’s team attend state-sponsored events revolving around education and practice to increase environmental stewardship. “We believe that increased environmental awareness is our commitment to the next generation of family agriculture,” stresses William.

The company’s marketing representatives travel throughout the region, visiting expos and various functions, to talk about progressive agriculture. “I talk with economic developers and offer them a cost advantage that is sustainable and green compared to their normal procedures,” shares William. “To our knowledge, in the U.S. there’s nobody doing what we’re doing with renewable energy in the pork industry.”

Adding to almost a century of innovation, Ringler Energy is paving the way for others in its industry with out-of-the-box solutions. “By using the renewable energy we are creating, we self-supply heat and electricity to our farms, and with further methane upgrade we will able to create road fuel to offset our diesel costs by about 60 percent,” shares William.

William hopes to spread this vision beyond his company and into local school districts and farms, assisting corporations to save and communities to conserve. In addition, the Ringler companies have future initiatives, such as implementing technology that dewaters the products and creates clean, potable water for irrigation. Ringler Energy LLC has managed to uphold the true value of sustainability, creating forward-thinking solutions for future generations.