Storms Farm_1
Swine Farm Biogas Renewable Energy Project
Bladenboro, North Carolina
Storms Farm
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Storms Farm
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Storms Farm, Owner and Client
WithersRavenelDesign & Oversight of Waste Treatment / Energy Production Facility Installation

An Innovative Approach to Energy Creation

WithersRavenel, farmer William “Billy” Storms, and a team of consultants together performed a wastewater treatment “miracle,” building North Carolina’s largest state-of-the-art renewable energy facility that converts swine waste into electricity.


North Carolina has roughly 9 million hogs on farms scattered throughout the eastern part of the State. Traditionally, these farms have relied on lagoons and land application for the treatment and disposal of animal waste. But in 1997, concerns about the potential environmental impacts of hog farming led the State to place a temporary suspension on swine farming using lagoons. Existing farms were grandfathered, but new farms were required to meet “environmentally superior technology” (EST) standards established by the State.

Since the enactment of the suspension, there have been no new hog farms introduced in North Carolina, which has hurt the State’s ability to compete with other swine-producing regions. Spurred by a desire to foster environmental advancements in farming and bolster the economy, the State enacted a new bill that encourages innovative treatment technologies by mandating utilities to purchase Renewable Energy Credits (REC) generated from swine waste.

I thought about this possibility for a long time. I did not know how to do what I wanted, but I found some folks who helped us get there. WithersRavenel gave me exactly what I asked for and I am tickled with it.

William ``Billy`` Storms
Owner, Storms Farm



  • Feeder-to-finish farm
  • 600 acres
  • 23 barns
  • 29,000 hogs
  • 444,000 chickens

Farm owner William “Billy” Storms is one of the many farmers whose farm used a lagoon to manage swine waste. As a lifelong farmer, Mr. Storms understands that open-air treatment lagoons have a poor reputation among some lawmakers and citizens: they are accused of creating sickening odors, releasing ozone-destructive levels of methane into the atmosphere, and contaminating groundwater and streams. He had long considered a more environmentally positive way of handling swine waste, but did not know how to reach this goal. With the passage of the new bill, Mr. Storms seized the opportunity to transform his 600-acre operation from a waste producer to an energy generator.

Backed by a $500,000 North Carolina Green Business Fund grant, Mr. Storms approached WithersRavenel for design, permitting, fund allocation, and construction oversight of the project. With the help of developer AgPower Partner and Barnhill Construction Contractors, Storms Farm is now the largest swine biogas renewable energy facility in North Carolina, capable of generating 600 kW of electricity—enough to power about 300 homes.

Challenges and Successes

Storms Farm, like other swine farms in North Carolina, was originally designed to flush the livestock houses with water that was captured in a lagoon, treated, and applied to crops in a closed system. This process works because of the way it dilutes the waste. But in order for the waste to be useful for energy generation, it needs to be concentrated instead. In some cases it is possible to convert open lagoons to ambient covered lagoons to achieve this result, but in the case of Storms Farm, the operation was too large and too spread out for this approach to work. Piping waste from 23 barns, some of which were separated by as much as a mile, to a new covered lagoon was likely to lead to build-up in the pipes and eventual maintenance issues or system failure.

Instead, WithersRavenel recommended a heated mesophilic digester system with cogeneration, which itself presented two major hurdles. First, it required a complete replacement of the farm’s decades-old manure management system with modern scraper technology. But as a progressive and adaptable owner, Mr. Storms embraced this change, citing the value of reducing ammonia gas in the barns for both animal and human worker health. Second, the system has an extensive track record on dairy farms, but no record of use on a comparably sized swine farm in the U.S. The system is popular on swine farms in Europe, but is used for swine manure mixed with other substrates; no reliable data containing only swine waste exists. Undaunted, WithersRavenel oversaw the collection and testing of multiple manure samples from local farms to estimate the biogas yield and validate investment in the project.

The final design involves pumping manure into a 1.1-million-gallon in-ground concrete anaerobic digester, where naturally occurring mesophilic bacteria destroy volatile solids and kill pathogens. The resulting high-quality inorganic waste product, which is virtually pathogen- and odor-free, is a sustainable replacement for soil conditioner, fertilizer, peat moss, and bedding materials. Methane previously released into the atmosphere is captured and converted into energy to be sent to the Four County Electric Membership Corporation grid.


Driven by grant and tax credit deadlines that controlled funding, WithersRavenel met all project milestones and finished as less than 25% over the original cost estimate—a remarkable feat considering the scale of the project and the lack of available data on swine farm biogas operations using a mesophilic digester system.

Mr. Storms, who has taken on the challenge of running what is essentially a small wastewater treatment and power plant with gusto, gave a speech at the ribbon cutting in June 2014 expressing his satisfaction.

The American Association of Engineering Companies’ North Carolina chapter recognized WithersRavenel with a 2015 Engineering Excellence Award in Energy for the project.

Brock Storrusten, PE

Assistant Director of Land Development

With more than 25 years of experience, Brock has broad-based engineering and management experience in small- and large-scale developments, including residential and commercial sites, recreational facilities, transportation, utilities, stormwater, and flooding and erosion control systems. He also has substantial experience providing planning, engineering, and governance assistance to local governments.

Brock graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from North Dakota State University. A North Dakota native, Brock has lived and worked in North Carolina previously, when he served as a State Encroachments Engineer for the NCDOT. In addition to his operational responsibilities, he regularly presents and publishes on topics ranging from managing project risk and understanding regulations to employee engagement. He is also an active member of Rotary International, has been a leader in numerous non-profit and community boards, and has coached youth sports.

Jeffrey Wing, PE

Director of Utilities

Jeffrey is a registered Professional Engineer and LEED Accredited Professional that specializes in water, wastewater, and stormwater projects. Jeffrey places an emphasis on sustainable technologies, including biodigesters, composting toilets, and rainfall collection. He has reviewed water, sewer, and stormwater construction plans and coordinated with regulatory agencies regarding permitting and project documentation.

Jeffrey graduated with a Master of Environmental Policy and Management from the University of Denver and a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from the University of Alaska, Anchorage. He worked as a civil engineer, surveyor, and construction observer on the West Coast for 19 years before relocating to North Carolina. Outside the office, he has volunteered with Engineering Ministries International (EMI) on a dozen projects, including orphanages, hospitals, and schools, in some of the world’s poorest countries; he currently serves as a Representative for EMI in North Carolina.

Lars Hagen, PE

Director of Stormwater

A Florida native, Lars attended Clemson University in South Carolina, where he graduated summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering. Following graduation, he worked as a project manager and civil engineer in Texas for 14 years. During his last five years there, he served in local government for the City of Sugar Land as a member of the Building Standards Commission, Platting Guidelines Committee, Land Use Advisory Committee, Zoning Board of Adjustments, and, most recently, as Vice Chair of the Planning and Zoning Commission.

As a registered Professional Engineer in both Texas and North Carolina, Lars has broad civil engineering experience focusing on stormwater projects. He works on flood studies for municipal and private clients, stormwater management plans, hydraulics and hydrology, and stormwater network designs. In addition, his management and planning experience enables him to serve as a project manager and leader within the Water Resources department. Outside the office, he enjoys coaching youth soccer.


Don Mizelle, AICP

Director of Entitlements

Don Mizelle is a professional land planner and development project manager with over 20 years of combined experience with public and private sector development projects.  Don has worked on a wide variety of development projects both as a project manager for land development companies and as a development and land planning consultant.  During his time in the land development sector, he managed the planning and development of numerous residential communities as well as commercial and office projects.  Don was also the first Planning Director for the Town of Holly Springs during its initial growth period and authored the Town’s first Comprehensive Growth Plan which was recognized as the State’s best plan for Town’s less than 50,000 population in 1999.  His experience gained from service in both private development and public sector roles equip him well for his role as director of entitlements.

Don resides in Holly Springs and is an active member of his Church and is involved in various civic organizations within the Town. He enjoys many outdoor pursuits including golf, fishing, boating, waterfowl hunting, and spending time at the beach.

Kurt Pfeifer, ASLA

Director of Landscape Architecture

Kurt Pfeifer is a Licensed Landscape Architect with 13 years of experience in the profession of landscape architecture and related fields. Professional responsibilities consist of project management, small & large-scale master planning, site design, landscape planting & design, grading & earthwork, construction documentation, hand graphic illustration & rendering, digital rendering techniques and computer-aided drafting. Other areas of expertise include golf course routing & master planning, golf course construction documentation, B.M.P. & Low Impact Design planting and residential landscape design.

Loftee Smith, PE


Loftee Smith is Vice President in charge of the site and planning design group. Mr. Smith has 29 years of experience in design and construction management of commercial, industrial, institutional, residential, and recreational project sites along with related roadway and infrastructure improvements and extensions.  He also remains active as the lead designer on many projects.

Andy Johnson

Director of Construction Management Services

Andy Johnson has over 38 years of experience in supervision, construction project management and inspections. He has been with WithersRavenel for 8 years. Prior to this, Andy served as the engineering field services manager for the Town of Cary, Engineering Department. He was responsible for contract administration, project management, supervision and inspection of many of the Town’s Capital Improvement Programs for buildings, parks, and transportation and utility projects.

Andy is involved in his Church, loves spending time with his granddaughters and other family, traveling, and all sports, which is why he particularly enjoys working on park projects.

Seth Swaim, GISP, PLS

Vice-President of GIS Services

Seth Swaim is the Vice President of GIS and has over 15 years of experience. He is responsible for GIS project management and staff coordination, which includes mobilizing field staff for large and small data collection projects, then integrating that field data into office work flows, while ultimately providing final quality control/quality assurance on all deliverables. Seth’s role also includes utilizing technology to create and implement office as well as mobile GIS and Survey solutions. His duties include reviewing current policies and procedures and then developing new, improved work flows and procedures to increase efficiencies and quality of work. Training for both internal and external clients is also a large part of Seth’s role at WithersRavenel.

When Seth is not at work he enjoys spending time outdoors with his wife and kids.  Hunting, fishing, and anything else to do with chasing critters with his boys, is right up his alley.

Mike Koser, PE

Branch Manager of WithersRavenel – Greensboro Office

Mr. Koser is a Professional Engineer with over 40 years of project experience in the civil and environmental field including studies, planning, design, and construction of a wide variety of facilities for the Army Corps of Engineers and Air Force. He has performed as manager and staff participant on a number of Utility/Facility Master Plan and Feasibility/Alternatives Analysis Studies involving water, wastewater, storm water, and natural gas.  The projects have involved both manual computation and computer modeling for the analysis using a variety of system models including KY Pipe derivatives, the HEC series of programs, SWMM, and various spreadsheet based and matrix type models.

Jeff Thompson, PE

Vice-President of Water Resources

Jeff Thompson serves as Vice-President of Water Resources in WithersRavenel’s Cary office. He has extensive experience in water and sanitary sewer design and construction. His project management experience has ranged from small studies to multiphase projects exceeding $4M, as well as supervising teams of engineers, technicians, and inspectors. Jeff’s wastewater design and management experience ranges from 0.02 MGD to 4 MGD. He’s a dynamic leader, client-focused, with a committed interest in the long-term operation and maintenance of the facilities he’s associated with. In addition to his licensure as a PE, Jeff is also a certified water and wastewater operator and licensed utility contractor bringing a broad and relevant perspective to bear on water and wastewater related projects.

Jim Armstrong, PLS

Vice-President of Surveying Services

Jim Armstrong serves as the Vice-President of Surveying at WithersRavenel. Jim has 17 years of progressive experience in surveying, civil, and environmental engineering. His expertise includes various areas of geomatics including boundary, topographic, construction, land planning, GPS, GIS, High-Definition Surveying and residential surveying services. In addition, Jim has expertise in Civil and Environmental Engineering, incuding erosion control, subdivision design and knowledge of stream and wetland restoration and design.

Jason Bertoncino, PE

Vice-President of Land Development Services

Jason Bertoncino serves as Vice-President of Land Development, and has over 20 years of extensive experience in roadway, storm drainage and utility design. A LEED-certified senior project manager and professional engineer, Jason serves as Principal-in-Charge for a variety of public and private sector design projects, which include planning utilities, roadways, water and sewer distribution and other services. Mr. Bertoncino is responsible for the coordination of designers, surveyors and contractors to bring the clients’ vision to life. He often deals with complex projects requiring communication of complex issues to the general public in an easily understandable manner.

Carla Erickson

Director of Human Resources

Carla Erickson has more than 20 years of extensive experience in all aspects of Human Resources. Carla partners with WithersRavenel managers and employees to provide Human Resources consultation and support on HR initiatives in the areas of employee relations, administration, performance management, employee development, recruitment and retention and legal compliance.

Carla served two terms as Chair for the American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC) Human Resources Forum and received the Outstanding Forum Chair Award for her outstanding work and commitment.  Carla currently serves as a member of the Executive Committee for the Carolina Chapter of The ESOP Association.

Ashlie Simecek Cade, CPA


Ashlie Cade serves as Controller for WithersRavenel. She has more than 20 years of experience and is a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) in NC and VA. Ashlie is responsible for accounting operations including production of periodic financial reports, maintenance of an adequate system of accounting records, and a comprehensive set of controls and budgets designed to mitigate risk, enhance the accuracy of the company’s reported financial results, and ensure that reported results comply with generally accepted accounting principles. A graduate of Southwestern University in Georgetown, Texas, Ashlie is a member of the AICPA and the NCaCPA and serves as treasurer on the Sunset Oaks Homeowners’ Association Board of Directors.

Ashlie enjoys traveling, skiing, live music, watching her kids play soccer and spending time with family and friends.

Wes Cook, PE, LEED AP


Wes is a Professional Engineer (NC, SC, VA) and a LEED Accredited Professional with a focus on commercial & mixed-use projects.  With his local knowledge and his understanding of the real estate business, Wes is often used as a resource in the pre-development phases of projects by real estate developers, brokers and municipalities to understand project sites & constraints or opportunities and to streamline the development process.  Wes has a B.S in Civil Engineering and an MBA in Finance from NC State University.   Outside of the office, Wes enjoys saltwater inshore fishing, waterfowl hunting and NC State Athletics.

L. Eddie Staley, PLS, GISP

Vice-President of Local Government Business Development

Eddie Staley is Vice-President of Local Government Business Development for WithersRavenel, a certified GIS Professional (GISP) and a Professional Land Surveyor (PLS) with over 25 years of award winning project experience. He has served as project manager on multiple projects with budgets exceeding $1 million dollars. Eddie served as the GIS Department Director for WithersRavenel for 10 years before being promoted to the Director of Local Government Business Development. Decades of service in the local government sector have prepared Eddie for the unique challenges associated with public projects. In addition, Eddie has served on numerous committees and governing boards dealing with the activities of engineering, surveying, and technology.

Eddie enjoys spending time outdoors hunting and fishing, restoring classic cars, and spending time with his wife and 2 children.

Ken Ewan

Independent Director

Ken Ewan brings expertise in leadership development, succession planning, as well as executive coaching experience to our board. The director of KME Leadership, Ken conducts a diverse practice of leadership coaching for individuals and teams, and creates leadership development programs for high potential employees. Ken has over 40 years of corporate experience in managing major capital planning, design and construction projects for leading international companies in the chemical, biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries. He is also well versed in marketing and business development practices.

Ken loves living at the beach in Emerald Isle and also enjoys skiing and traveling.

Cal Hackeman

Independent Director

Cal Hackeman resides in Wake Forest and is a retired partner of Grant Thornton LLP, one of the top six global audit, tax and advisory organizations. Cal led the firm’s focus on serving public and private dynamic, growing organizations in the technology sector in the US. Cal has served on numerous Boards of Directors and has extensive experience serving on and chairing committees and other Boards.

Cal’s depth of experience will help ensure that WithersRavenel maximizes financial benefit for the now employee-owned (ESOP) company. At Grant Thornton he advised and served a diverse set of clients through the implementation of ESOP’s.

Frank Gozzo, PhD

Independent Director & Chairman of the Board

Frank Gozzo is a Fellow of the National Association of Corporate Directors (NACD) and brings the WithersRavenel Board a vast amount of experience in business growth, vision, and technology implementation. He has assisted several companies by growing into new markets and streamlining business processes. Frank currently serves as President and CEO of Noverant, Inc., a global provider of information, training and compliance management services Dr. Gozzo’s past experience includes executive positions at both IBM and Bell & Howell. Additional board experience includes Bell & Howell, Noverant, PCI, Ravenscroft and Make-A-Wish.

Mike Dickerson, PLS


Mike Dickerson is a professional land surveyor and certified floodplain surveyor with 29 years of progressive surveying, civil, and mapping experience. He is currently Assistant Director of Surveying at WithersRavenel. He is responsible for managing all aspects of the land surveying process which ranges from the preparation of design surveys to drafting the final recordable plat.  Mike is a member of the North Carolina Society of Surveyors and the National Society of Professional Surveyors.

Mike is a native West Virginian who now resides in Clayton with his wife.

Chan Bryant, PE

Senior Vice-President

Chan Bryant is Vice President of the Environmental Engineering Department with over 24 years of experience in environmental consulting. He manages a team of environmental engineers, geologists and environmental scientists, charged with the investigation and remediation of sites impacted by releases of chemicals, petroleum hydrocarbons and various contaminants from landfills, drycleaners, industrial facilities, and gas stations. Chan specializes in assisting local governments with issues pertaining to such sites during utility corridor planning, redevelopment or acquisition planning, or developing strategies to handle sources of contamination discovered during ongoing operations of a local government. Chan has key experience with: NC Division of Waste Management including the Solid Waste, UST Section, Dry-Cleaning Solvent Cleanup Act, Pre-Regulatory Landfill Section, Brownfields and the Inactive Hazardous Sites Branch.

Chan resides in Sanford and is very active in his community and with his family.

Sam Ravenel, PE

Executive Vice-President

Sam Ravenel is co-founder and past President of WithersRavenel and has over 35 years of engineering experience. Sam has extensive experience in hydraulic and hydrologic analysis for flood studies, dams, and roadways, in addition to being one of the earliest promoters of LID concepts in North Carolina. He has a passion for stormwater management and has been instrumental in compiling a staff of water resource professionals that together provide comprehensive stormwater services. He also has many years of experience in commercial and residential land development.

Sam enjoys trail running and time at the beach with his family.

Tony Withers, PE, ASLA

Executive Vice-President

Tony Withers co-founded WithersRavenel along with Sam Ravenel. They are known for their dedication to their clients and their commitment to professionalism. A North Carolina State University graduate, Tony is a licensed Professional Engineer and Landscape Architect with over 35 years of diversified experience in Civil Engineering and Land Planning. Tony currently serves on the board of the Centennial Authority, the YMCA of the Triangle and the Miracle League of the Triangle, which he co-founded. Past board experience includes the NC State University Engineering Foundation and President of the Eastern Chapter of the NC Multiple Sclerosis Society.

Tony is active in his family, his church and numerous civic organizations. He is also an avid outdoorsman, NC State supporter and golfer.

Jim Canfield, PE


Jim Canfield is the President and CEO of WithersRavenel, and has 27 years of engineering experience. He is responsible for providing strategic leadership for the company by working with the Board and other management to establish long-range goals, strategies, plans and policies. Jim has been providing technical guidance and quality control review in recognition of the many issues and complexities associated with civil design projects. His vast experience includes master planned projects, which include planning, utilities, roadways, storm drainage and other services. He led the Land Development Department for 15+ years prior to transitioning to his new role.

Jim enjoys spending time with his family, golf and NC State athletics.