La Crosse County takes steps toward cleaner energy

County gets close to completing clean energy project with Gundersen Lutheran

Published On: Jan 29 2012 06:05:07 PM CST   Updated On: Jan 29 2012 05:16:23 PM CST

LA CROSSE, Wis. -- La Crosse County officials said they're already embracing President Barack Obama's call for increased use and development of clean energy. He made the remarks in his State of the Union Speech last week.

The county is in the process of completing a project with Gundersen Lutheran, where methane gas is piped from the landfill to Gundersen's Onalaska campus. There it's converted into electricity.

The conversion process also produces heat for the building.

The County's Sustainability Coordinator, Nick Nichols, said it puts to use a resource that usually goes to waste and benefits both the county and the hospital.

"They're going to be able to reduce their costs as far as creating electricity and heat for their buildings. It's going to save them a lot of money in the long run and its going to create income for the county," he said.

The county has also installed two water heating systems to provide a clean source of energy. One is at the La Crosse County Law Enforcement Center and the other is at the Lake View Health Center in West Salem.

While the systems do cost a lot to install, Nichols said they help save money in the long run.

"We get the energy basically for free. Wind systems and solar systems you don't have to invest in buying. I don't have to invest in buying the sun, that's free. I have to invest in the system up front, but over the course of time those systems will pay off and then you're just making money," he said.

Nichols said the solar water heating system on the law enforcement center should last at least 30 years, if not longer.