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Friday, June 3, 2011

Green garbage: State recognizes county’s landfill energy initiative

From an article by Betsy Bloom in the La Crosse Tribune:

It is “the most gorgeous landfill in the state of Wisconsin,” La Crosse County Solid Waste Director Hank Koch says. He could be considered a bit biased.

But state Department of Natural Resources Secretary Cathy Stepp didn’t disagree after seeing the site Wednesday.

“I never imagined I could be so impressed with a landfill operation,” Stepp later said.

With wind ruffling the tall grass on the surrounding hillsides, Stepp on Wednesday recognized the 300-acre complex as the first publicly owned landfill admitted to the state’s Green Tier program.

The ceremony also included a groundbreaking on the estimated $4 million gas-to-energy partnership that will pipe landfill methane about 1.6 miles to provide virtually all the heat and electrical needs at Gundersen Lutheran’s Onalaska clinic.

Contractor McHugh Excavating and Plumbing of Onalaska is expected to begin work next week, and the gas could begin flowing as early as October, officials said Wednesday.

“The happiest day is going to be when they turn that flare off,” Koch said, referring to the flame now burning off the landfill gas.

While the gas-to-energy arrangement isn’t unique, the partnership with a health care system is, said Jeff Rich, Gundersen’s executive director of efficiency improvements.

“This is just a win-win-win for everybody,” the entire community included, Rich said.

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