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Friday, April 17, 2009

Reedsburg Hardwoods lumber mill process now powered by renewable energy

From a news release issued by Alliant Energy:

MADISON, WI – April 17, 2009 – In the middle of 2008, Reedsburg Hardwoods decided it wanted to reduce its energy cost by taking advantage of a plentiful by-product of its own manufacturing process: wood waste. At the time, the company was using two natural gas-fired boilers and one wood waste boiler to process steam for its kilns, steamers and dryers. While the lumber mill was already powering about two-thirds of its processing operation with the wood waste boiler, it had more wood waste available to do more and wanted to effectively eliminate the use of natural gas for its wood processing energy demands.

“We really saw a great opportunity for our company to move toward completely using a renewable resource to power our lumber mill process,” said Doug Hilber, Reedsburg Hardwoods Facility Manager. “With the excess wood waste we generate and had available on and off-site, it made sense to look at purchasing a larger capacity wood waste boiler that could handle processing steam for all of our lumber mill process now and into the future.”

As with any business, cash is important and paying for the new wood waste boiler and the other upgrades needed to support it, would take upfront dollars before the long-term energy-efficiency gains could be realized. That’s where Wisconsin Power and Light’s (WPL’s) Shared Savings program stepped in to assist the company.

The Shared Savings program is an initiative that assists industrial, commercial and agricultural customers with identification and implementation of energy efficiency projects - and invests the capital to finance them. The program’s low-interest financing, and ability to repay the loan using the energy savings, is attractive to many businesses.

“I met with Doug several times and we looked at what type of boiler and other equipment would be needed to improve the natural gas energy efficiency of their lumber mill process,” said Mary Eiler-Radl, Alliant Energy Strategic Account Manager. “It turned out that the purchase of a new, higher-capacity wood waste boiler and other related equipment could accomplish that goal. The project was a perfect fit for our Shared Savings program and we were able to quickly pull the financing together.”

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