When the pork industry gathers each year at the annual conference to discuss current trends and pressing issues, the North Carolina Pork Council recognizes those who have made valuable contributions to our industry. They include pioneers who helped set the stage for the industry’s success, innovators who continue to push us forward, and emerging leaders who are poised to make a significant impact in the years to come. This is the first blog post featuring one of our six 2018 award recipients.

Gus Simmons, recipient of the 2018 Award for Excellence in Innovation.

If you want to know how to turn hog waste into renewable energy, Gus Simmons is the authority. Recognized as the state’s leading biogas engineer, he was instrumental in developing the first swine waste-to-energy project in North Carolina to produce Renewable Energy Credits and meet the performance standards now in place for new construction.

North Carolina remains the only state in the nation that requires utilities to generate energy from swine waste — and there’s nobody better at it than Gus. Optima KV, Gus’ latest project, will capture methane gas from five Kenansville farms and inject it into the natural gas pipeline. It’s another first-of-its-kind achievement in North Carolina.

When it comes to waste-to-energy projects, Gus is a true pioneer and a worthy recipient of the pork industry’s first Excellence in Innovation Award.

“I have known and worked with Gus for 20 years,” said Kraig Westerbeek, senior director of Smithfield Renewables. “He has always been very good at using his agricultural roots to apply common sense and practicality to even the most complex problems. As an agricultural engineer, I consider Gus to be as good as they come. His work on Optima KV is very exciting and can serve as a transformative model for the swine industry in Eastern North Carolina.”

As director of bioenergy at Cavanaugh & Associates, Gus works with a variety of municipal, industrial and agricultural clients. But the pork industry holds a special place in Gus’ heart: his father, W.G. Simmons, is a retired extension agent who was inducted in the N.C. Pork Hall of Fame in 2014.


Gus and his father, W.G. Simmons.