Gundersen takes another big step towards energy independence

Published On: May 01 2013 11:15:48 PM CDT   Updated On: May 02 2013 07:41:42 AM CDT
LA CROSSE, Wis. -

Gundersen Health System took a big step Wednesday towards being energy independent. They powered up their biomass boiler.

The boiler burns wood chips to create steam and electricity.

It will use about a truckload of wood in the summer, and three to four truck loads in the winter.

When it's running at full capacity, it will provide 80% of the hospitals total heat load, and save the hospital $500,000 a year.

"In the summer time, 7-8 months out of the year, this will provide the entire steam load to the entire hospital, but in the winter we will be able to supplement with natural gas," said Energy and Engineering Manager Alan Eber.

Gundersen has a goal of being energy independent by 2014 and the boiler represents 38% of that goal. It's the largest single project.