Byproducts of cheese production will be converted into electricity, heat and a fertilizer product in northwest Wisconsin, as part of a renewable energy project that is expected to be completed this summer.
Project developers say the anaerobic digester will be among the largest of its kind in the country. The project is moving forward after obtaining construction and long-term financing, GreenWhey Energy said.
GreenWhey is combining a wastewater treatment facility that will bring organic waste from cheese and dairy producers to a central facility to treat the waste and generate power.
The project, under construction in Turtle Lake, about 70 miles northwest of Eau Claire, will sell its electricity to Xcel Energy Inc. in Eau Claire.
Supporters of anaerobic digester projects for the food industry note that the projects derive multiple benefits, including reduced landspreading of waste that contributes to phosphorus runoff.
The project will provide 50 to 70 construction jobs as well as up to 13 full-time operating jobs.
The $28 million project is being financed through a combination of senior loan financing from Caterpillar Financial Services as well as new markets tax credit financing from CAP Services Inc. The project will also qualify for a federal grant once construction is completed, with bridge financing in turn supplied by the Wisconsin State Energy Program, which is administered by the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp.
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