Potawatomi opens digester

The Forest County Potawatomi Community opened its $20 million renewable energy facility this morning near Potawatomi Bingo Casino in Milwaukee’s Menomonee Valley.

The FCPC Renewable Generation Digester will use anaerobic digestion to convert food and beverage waste into up to 2 megawatts of electricity.

Rockwell Automation manufactured the Allen-Bradley motor controls for the facility, and General Electric Waukesha Gas Engines manufactured the internal combustion biogas engines.

Miron Construction Co. served as the general contractor and project manager, Symbiont Inc. conducted plant engineering, Titus Energy provided pre-development and consulting services and Greenfire Management Services LLC provided owner’s representative consulting services.

Food manufacturers will provide a slurry of organic waste, which is converted into biogas using microorganisms in the facility’s two 1.3 million gallon digester tanks.

The methane gas is burned in an engine, producing electricity that is then sold to We Energies. The process also creates heat, which the digester harnesses for hot water and heating.

“The FCPC Renewable Generation Digester helps Wisconsin food and beverage manufacturers dispose of feedstock in an environmentally-friendly manner that enhances and achieves their sustainability goals,” said Jeff Crawford, the tribe’s attorney general and leader of FCPC Renewable Generation LLC. “The facility will allow all involved to be both environmentally and fiscally responsible, which makes our community a better place to live and work.”

A $2.6 million Department of Energy grant awarded to the FCPC in 2011 covered part of the project. The digester is expected to offset 30 percent of the Potawatomi Community’s energy costs.

“Our tribe’s culture and traditions establish a duty to help protect and enhance environmental resources,” said Gus Frank, Potawatomi chairman. “This project not only helps us meet our energy and sustainability goals, but is also important to the region as it removes a waste stream while providing clean and renewable power.”

The facility will accept between 100,000 and 130,000 gallons of waste material per day. Tipping fees will be based on each customer’s situation and shipping costs.

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