Wisconsin Plant Turns Cow Manure into Electricity


A La Crosse, Wis., based health care network celebrated the completion of a $14 million project that uses cow manure to produce electricity in conjunction with the World Dairy Expo.

Gundersen Health System was set to unveil the plant at GL Dairy Biogas Farm on Monday morning. The company's joint power venture with Dane County kicked off near Middleton late last year, the La Crosse Tribune reported.

"The cow power project paves the way for home-grown renewable energy, cleaner lakes and keeping our dairy farm families milking cows for generations to come," said Dane County executive Joe Parisi. "Dane County is the 23rd-largest dairy-producing county in the nation, and we are turning all that milk into green energy to power our homes and businesses."

Manure from more than 2,000 cows owned at three local dairy farms is sent to the plant, where it's used to create methane and produce electricity. Gundersen then sells the electricity to Madison Gas and Electric Co., which uses it to power about 2,500 homes, and byproducts, such as compost, bedding and liquid fertilizer, elsewhere.

The company is hoping to achieve energy independence this year, according to Corey Zarecki, director of a Gundersen subsidiary that cultivates environmental and sustainability programs.

"We're pushing for that. We'll have a good indication of that by the end of this month or November," he said.

The plant's digesters are expected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 22,000 tons each year, equivalent to the amount of carbon dioxide emissions from more than 4,000 cars, according to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

Gundersen also partners with La Crosse County to tap a landfill for methane, which is used to produce electricity, and then sold to a Minneapolis-based utility company.

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