Minergy Full Steam Ahead

The Post-Crescent Newspaper (Neenah, Wisconsin) 5-1-99

NEENAH – Minergy Corp. will install a $2 million steam turbine at a paper sludge recycling plant this winter to generate electricity for sale to Alliant Energy of Madison.

The generator will produce 6.5 megawatts of electricity – enough to power 2,500 average homes. “We’ve got extra steam” Minergy spokeswoman Kathy Lange-Novak said. “The plant is more efficient than we thought.”

The $45 million facility, situated at Arrowhead Park just west of the downtown, burns industrial paper sludge and natural gas at a high temperature to produce steam for the adjacent P.H. Glatfelter Co. paper mill and glass aggregate for the construction industry. It has been in operation since February 1998.

Lange-Novak said the plant can produce more steam than Glatfelter needs for its operations, particularly in the summer.

“The dryers are more efficient than we had planned, and the furnaces are more efficient than we had planned,” she said.

Minergy and Alliant signed a five-year contract for the electricity. The generator will be placed inside the plant and will be brought online between July 1 and Aug. 1.

David Giroux, manager of external communications for Alliant, said the additional electricity “will help ease concerns about Wisconsin’s energy supply throughout the peak summer months.”

Giroux said the deal also will add to the diversity of Alliant’s energy portfolio, providing another source of power in case one of the corporation’s facilities is inoperable.

The electricity, because it will be generated in part from paper sludge (wood fibers), will be classified as biomass renewable energy, a type of “green power.”

“Together, Minergy and Alliant Energy are wringing out every bit of energy we can from a renewable source,” Giroux said.

The Fox Valley Glass Aggregate Plant, as Minergy’s facility formally is called, has the capacity to consume more than 350,000 tons of paper sludge annually, reducing Winnebago County’s solid-waste stream by two-thirds and saving 10 acres of landfill space a year.