The Public Service Commission has approved a $15 million grant for the construction of a bioenergy system in Brown County.
The system will produce renewable natural gas from dairy-farm manure and other waste, reducing the need to spread raw manure and protecting supplies of groundwater and surface water in northeast Wisconsin, according to a news release.
BC Organics’ bioenergy project is receiving a grant from the state’s Focus on Energy program. The program gets most of its money from the state’s investor-owned utilities and provides incentives for energy-saving projects that otherwise wouldn’t be completed.
According to a news release by the DNR, several beneficial impacts of the project include the production of green energy through the use of anaerobic digestion to produce biogas, primarily methane, from decomposing organic wastes. The biogas will run a generator to produce electricity resulting in less dependence on fossil fuel for the production of electricity. Use of this facility will mean less impact on neighbors during land application, and providing separated solids as an organic source of animal bedding for area livestock producers.
A team of state officials unanimously recommended the project proposed by BC Organics. Even so, the project still must obtain various state and local approvals before the work can begin.
Russ Rassmussen, policy advisor to the secretary of the DNR said “the processes is still in the negotiations phase. We are still unsure where they want to locate it. We don’t know if it’s affecting any wetlands yet so applying for permits might be a step in the future.”
According to the PSC memo, the project consists of 27 consortium members and includes nine participating dairy operations, with a total of 22,882 animal units. BC Organics LLC would apply the $15 million grant toward a total project cost of $60.25 million.
Rassmussen said “if it all goes to plan, a lot of the impacts will be beneficial. The landfill will last longer, there will be extra gas in the pipeline, renewable energy produced, and liquid organic fertilizer is also produced.”
Another concern is the possibility of contaminating private wells. Southern Brown County is characterized by karst topography, a type of landscape known for shallow topsoil and porous bedrock according to a DNR report.