LA FARGE and LA CROSSE, Wis. — Organic Valley and Gundersen Health System announced construction has begun on the Cashton Greens Wind Farm, Wisconsin’s first community wind project. This collaborative project will feature two wind turbines expected to generate nearly 5 megawatts of energy for Cashton’s power grid—enough to power 1,000 homes each year. The energy produced will more than offset electricity used at Organic Valley’s Cashton Distribution Center and its La Farge headquarters facilities, and represents about five percent of Gundersen’s energy independence goal.
The Cashton Greens Wind Farm is the first commercial scale project of its kind in Wisconsin. Wind farms typically are owned by utility or wind development companies, but as developers and owners of the Cashton Greens Wind Farm, Organic Valley and Gundersen will receive income per kilowatt hour (kWh) generated. Organic Valley will buy back its portion of energy to offset its footprint through a renewable energy contract with the villages of Cashton and La Farge.
“Gundersen Health System is pleased to be entering into this partnership with Organic Valley,” says Jeff Rich, executive director, GL Envision, LLC. “The wind farm project is a great thing for our patients and for the community. By reducing our energy costs, we can eventually pass the savings on to our patients in the form of lower healthcare costs. In addition, the project creates local construction jobs and has a positive impact on the health of the environment, too. It is a win-win all around.”
Roads, foundations, the electrical collection system, and an operation and maintenance facility for the Cashton Greens Wind Farm will be completed this year, and the turbines are scheduled for installation in spring 2012 by Michels Corporation, a Brownsville, Wis.-based utility, engineering, design and construction contractor.
The Cashton Greens Wind Farm project is just one piece of Gundersen’s plan to lower energy costs and lead the healthcare industry in environmental stewardship through its Envision® program. Through Envision, Gundersen is developing a multi-faceted portfolio of innovative sustainability projects intended to lower costs, encourage community partnerships and improve the organization’s environmental footprint, with the goal of becoming 100-percent energy independent by 2014. For more information on Gundersen’s Envision program, go to www.gundluth.org/green.