With the state Public Service Commission preparing to take action Friday morning on an integrated anaerobic digester program that could affect Kewaunee County, county residents and officials remain skeptical about the project.
Gov. Scott Walker announced the program last Nov. 17 during a gathering at the Heritage Farm south of Kewaunee, saying the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection would be working with the Department of Natural Resources and the PSC to develop a request for proposals to implement the project.
Three proposals were submitted this summer, and the agenda for Friday’s commission meeting includes an item marked “Integrated Anaerobic Digester Program Awards.” Further information was not made available Thursday.
The state has said it’s seeking proposals that would convert manure into usable energy and improve overall water quality.
County Board Supervisor Lee Luft says he’s disappointed that the meeting in Madison comes on the same day that a public hearing on new manure spreading rules is held in Green Bay, because he would have liked to attend both.
The rules, a rare addition to administrative rule NR 151, create new limits on spreading of manure over shallow soils in areas of fragile bedrock, such as Door and northern Kewaunee County.
While the state is pursuing an anaerobic digester that would process and burn manure for energy, at least two residents attending this week’s county Land and Water Conservation Committee said a better and cleaner idea would be aerobic composting.
“Aerobic composting of manure and other bio-waste produces a valuable, nutrient-rich product that is intended by nature,” said Tom Cretney of Franklin. He also objected to taking $20 million for the digester project from the state Focus on Energy program, which he said was intended “to promote renewable energy, not create additional greenhouse gases.”
William Iwen, town of Pierce, said the county has an immense volume of liquid animal waste that is dumped on the soil.
“If the farm community really wants to make a progressive, wise move, it will go to aerobic composting and get off the addiction to water,” Iwen said.
The Publice Service Commission meets at 10 a.m. at the PSC Building in Madison.