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Winona Advances Its ‘Sustain Winona’ Goal with New Digester Project

March 24, 2010

Earlier this month, Winona officials dedicated the new anaerobic digester and micro turbine system installed, pardon the pun, on the backend of the wastewater treatment facility.  The system had a price tag of $1.1 million dollars, but thanks to a $337,500 grant from the Department of Employment and Economic Development, the city was able to use much less debt to finance the system.

The digester collects methane, a greenhouse gas, from the wastewater.  From there, the methane gets cleaned for impurities and then enters the micro turbines where the gas is burned to turn the turbines, which creates electricity.  Through this equipment the city produces enough electricity to power 25 homes.  Put another way, this digester now makes the Winona wastewater facility energy self-sufficient.  City officials and project planners, including project contractors from McKinstry of Seattle, Washington, did not stop with creating a new electricity power source.  The exhaust from the turbines gets transferred through heat exchangers to water that then is used to heat the building and for other processes, reducing Winona’s natural gas demand as well.  In developing these energy self-sufficiency sources, Winona is able to save around $65,000 per year on utility costs.  At that rate, the city will pay off the clean energy investment in 11 years and will make money thereafter for the life of the project.  This just plain makes sense, any way you look at it.  It saves the city money, it created work, and it reduces Winona’s greenhouse gas emissions by 14 percent.  Congratulations to Winona!

For more information on the project see: http://www.finance-commerce.com/article.cfm/2010/03/17/Officials-tout-energy-potential-of-municipal-wastewater

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