Greg Fritsch is leading an effort to create cow power in the heart of Wisconsin’s dairy country.
The New Chester Clean Energy project is a $30 million project will put cow manure from a dairy through a digester, where bacteria will turn it into biogas that will power a combined heat and power plant at a nearby food processing facility.
“This winter, utility prices and fuel costs went through the roof because of the cold. But if you’re creating your own power, you control that price,” says Greg Fritsch, president of New Chester Clean Energy. “Distributed generation projects like this allow individuals and companies to take control of their energy future, and control their own destiny on power pricing.”
Greg works in many states, and he would like to see Wisconsin clarify its regulations to explicitly allow third-party ownership of smaller-scale power generation. Greg believes third-party owned generation is legal in Wisconsin, since no statute or regulation states otherwise. However, the risk that Wisconsin could restrict third-party owned generation is keeping his and other large investors, and the corresponding economic development and jobs, out of Wisconsin.
“Traditional utilities would prefer third-party owned generation to go away, so they can protect their rates and rate base,” he says. “That’s their 100-year-old business model.”
The manure-to-megawatts project will allow the food processor to expand, knowing that their additional waste streams and energy needs are taken care of; and, the digester will turn manure into a rich, non-odorous fertilizer that is also lower in phosphorus.
“Clean energy choice is an economic freedom argument. A free market opportunity to make money, and with significant environmental benefits to boot,” Greg says.