Biogas proposal is another cheese benefit

CHEESE HAS DONE A lot of great things for the city of Plymouth over the years and soon it will be doing something more.

Cheese – or at least the byproducts and waste from making cheese – will soon be generating biogas that will operate the city’s wastewater treatment plant and perhaps even generating excess electricity for the city.

The City Council last week voted to accept more than $300,000 in grants for a $1.13 million biogas generation system to be installed at the wastewater treatment plant on County PP.

The remainder of the cost of the system will be paid for with Plymouth Utilities reserve funds already set aside for anticipated mainteintance of the digester portion of the biogas system and funds still available from a 2007 utilities bond issue. That means there will be no additional taxpayer or ratepayer money needed to finance the project, which increases the benefits from the proposed system.

The system is projected to generate up to 1 million kilowatt/hours of electricity and 35,000 therms per year of heat, which is expected to provide more than 80 percent of the plant’s electrical and heating needs.

That will result in at least $80,000 a year in energy savings at the plant.

Two Plymouth companies – Sartori and American Dairy Brands – produce grease and waste from cheesemaking processes that can be used to generated the biogas. Currently, much of that material is shipped to Sheboygan, but utilizing it here in Plymouth at the wastewater treatment plant would save those companies shipping costs – another benefit of the project.

If enough waste and grease is available, the treatment plant biogas system could eventually produce enough electricity to have excess to sell and generate even more benefit.

Wastewater superintendent Michael Penkwitz deserves credit for doing the research and legwork on the biogas system and the available grant funds that are helping to make this an economically viable proposal.

It’s the kind of forward-looking project that is good for everyone and is a public-private partnership that is a true win-win proposition for everyone involved.

At issue:
Wastewater plant biogas proposal
Bottom line:
A real win-win

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