The Forest County Potawatomi Community, a federally recognized tribe with its reservation in Forest County, Wisconsin, and with trust lands in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, is implementing an integrated renewable energy deployment plan that will provide electricity for the Tribe's government buildings. The U.S. Department of Energy provided $2.6 million in funding for this Community Renewable Energy Deployment (CommRE) project.
Biogas Generation Facility
The Forest County Potawatomi CommRE project will include installation of a biogas generation plant on Tribe-owned land in Milwaukee County. The digesters associated with the biogas cogeneration plant will utilize a diverse source of organic feed stocks, including liquid food processing byproducts from dairy, beverage, food, and meat processing operations in the region. Biogas produced from this anaerobic digester process will be piped to two internal combustion engines to produce 2 megawatts total output. The electrical output will be sold to the local utility, and heat exchangers will recover heat from the biogas-fueled internal combustion engine-generators for on-site use.
Solar Photovoltaic Installation
In October 2011, the Potawatomi Tribe completed the installation of their solar photovoltaic (PV) CommRE project in Milwaukee. Located on the rooftop of the Tribe's administration building in Milwaukee, the solar energy system was installed by Milwaukee-based Pieper Electric and features locally manufactured panels from Milwaukee-based Helios USA, LLC. The Tribe estimates the system will produce approximately 35,000 kilowatt hours of electricity per year and reduce carbon dioxide emissions by approximately 41 tons annually.
Environmental and Economic Benefits
The community's solar project produces clean energy that will reduce annual carbon dioxide emissions by approximately 41 tons. In regard to the biodigester, a common disposal practice for liquid waste is land spreading, which can contribute to run-off of pollutants (such as untreated organics, phosphorus, nitrogen) to streams and lakes. Another disposal practice for liquid wastes is landfilling. By offering a "no-landfill, no land spread" organic waste disposal solution, the biodigester and biogas facility will eliminate significant greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) and could mitigate up to 87,000 metric tons of GHG emissions annually.