Turtle Lake company to convert water from dairy plants to power - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Turtle Lake company will convert water from dairy plants into power

Turtle Lake (WQOW) - A new building is on the rise in Turtle Lake, and the facility will be turning waste into power.

"We're hoping to be operational by June 1st of this year," said Tom Ludy, President of GreenWhey Energy, Inc.

The GreenWhey Energy building is going to be a unique sort of mini power plant that works with Wisconsin's cheese industry.

"We take the rinse water from cheese plants, dairy plants, food plants, introduce it to bacteria in our digesters. From there it forms gas. The gas is used to run generators, and produce electricity," Ludy explains.

So just how much power will it produce?

"Each one of the generators will produce 1.6 kilowatts of energy, for a total of 3.2. In layman's terms, that would produce enough power to do 3,000 homes," Ludy said.

The water from the cheese plants currently serves another purpose which can cause problems.

"During certain times of the year its a big benefit for farmers and the land. But during other times of the year, namely the winter time on steep sort of ground, it can potentially get in to the lakes and streams," said John Peterson, General Manager of Lake County Dairy.

The project costs $28.5 million dollars, which comes from a variety of places.

"The Wisconsin Department of Commerce put up some money, all that needs to be paid back. Then we also got funding from Caterpillar and the Federal Government. Everything else is private money," said Ludy.

Project organizers say area farmers will benefit once the project has been finished.

"The water itself, goes to the Turtle Lake village water treatment plant. And then the solids that are left over are dried down and used for fertilizers for area farmers," Ludy added.

About $5 million dollars of the project's total cost comes from taxpayer money; money that won't have to be paid back. We've been told 13 full-time high tech jobs will be created once the project is finished. Some of the water will be pumped into the plant. The rest will be brought in by tanker trucks; about 75 per day.

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