Biogas from waste project advances

by Emmitt B. Feldner of The Review staff

PLYMOUTH – The City Council Tuesday approved the next steps in the biogas renewable energy system at the city’s wastewater treatment plant.

City Administrator/Utilities Manager Brian Yerges reported to the council on progress on the $1.1 million project, funded in part by grants from Wisconsin Focus on Energy and WPPI.

The upgraded system would enable the city to run the wastewater treatment plant with biogas generated from wastes from local cheesemakers – with the potential to generate excess electricity.

The council approved the purchase of a biogas compression skid, gas cleaning system and two 65kw microturbines, all from Unison Solutions of Dubuque, Iowa, at a total cost of just over $480,000.

The equipment is part of the second phase of the project, Yerges explained. The recently-completed first phase came in about $21,000 under budget, he added.

Installation of the new equipment and a receiving station/ holding tank is all that would be left for the second and final phase, according to Yerges.

“Phase 2 might be slightly over budget, depending on the final cost of the recovery tank, but all in all I think it’s pretty good,” Yerges said. If the total $1.1 million project should go over budget, he estimated that it would not be more than 3.6 percent.

The council also approved a sample waste transfer agreement, to be reviewed by the city attorney.

Yerges said the agreement would provide specific information and guarantees to the waste suppliers.

“We want to get waste from some of our industrial suppliers. They want to be confident our system will work and obviously, they don’t want to lose their place in line where they now take their waste,” Yerges said.

“I think this is a really exciting project for the city of Plymouth,” Alderperson Jackie Jarvis stated.

She identified three potential positive results from the project – reduced costs for the city and for the suppliers of industrial waste, an economic development tool for potential new industries, and a positive environmental impact.

Following a change in state law, the council approved an ordinance changing residency requirements for city employees.

Under the state law, only police, fire department and emergency response personnel can be subject to a residency requirement, and that can only be that they live within 15 miles of the city limits.

Another ordinance approved by the council plugged a gap in the city’s ordinances by making misuse of the 911 emergency telephone number a city offense. “It gives law enforcement something to cite (violators) with, where before there wasn’t anything,” City Attorney Crystal Fieber explained.

Public Works Director Bill Immich reminded everyone that winter parking rules, which prohibit overnight parking on city streets, go into effect Sunday, Dec. 1. He also reminded residents to clear snow off sidewalks within 24 hours after a snowfall and not to shovel or blow snow into the street.

Optional dental and vision insurance plans for city employees, to be paid for fully by employees, were approved by the council.

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