Under Dane County Executive Parisi, Dane County has embarked upon an aggressive conversion of our county fleet of cars and trucks, away from fossil fuels, and toward cleaner burning vehicles that run on renewable compressed natural gas (CNG) that county government produces.
Dane County was among the first places in the country to plow snow with CNG powered highway patrol trucks. Dane County will have 75 vehicles running on CNG by the end of 2017, including nearly one-third of the county’s highway fleet.
This carbon friendly CNG is produced naturally at our county landfill. Renewable CNG has the lowest climate change emissions of any vehicle fuel being sold today. It’s use as a transportation fuel represents a nearly 90% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions compared to gasoline and diesel fuel.
In 2018, Dane County will have the three largest publicly owned solar arrays in the state of Wisconsin. Our robust solar power program allows more of the county to be self-sustaining and more efficient. This investment also creates jobs right here in Dane County.
In 2017, Dane County Executive Parisi invested $2 million in new solar development, more than tripling all of county government’s total solar energy production portfolio.
New systems for the Dane County Job Center and the Dane County Alliant Energy Center will have enough panels to generate 770 kWh of sustainable sun-powered energy and cut CO2 emissions by 777 tons per year. Combined, these systems will cut direct energy costs by over $2.1 million over the next 20 years.
Leadership matters, and Dane County continues to lead the way on solar and renewable energy by investing in solutions that are both fiscally and environmentally responsible, Solar projects generate energy locally which keeps more taxpayer dollars in the local economy, strengthening the whole community.
Dane County has begun exploration of developing what would be the second biggest solar project in the state of Wisconsin, County Executive Joe Parisi announced in April. To mark Earth Week, the County Executive requested the Dane County Regional Airport enter into an agreement with a firm to seek partners and evaluate the feasibility of developing 30 acres of airport owned land into a large scale solar field. The project would have the ability to generate over 6 megawatts of power, almost three times more than the largest solar project currently operating in the region, a 2.25 megawatt facility in Beloit.
The future is now when it comes to generating clean, renewable, homegrown energy and I’m committed to Dane County leading the way. Given its role in sustaining and growing our local economy, we think the Dane County Regional Airport is a perfect fit for this bold project.
Dane County has partnered with the private sector to build manure biogas digesters near Waunakee and Middleton which capture the methane equivalent to taking 8,000 cars per year off the road while producing 4 megawatts of renewable electricity enough to power 5,000 homes.
Dane County Landfill Carbon Capture:
A new pilot project at the Dane County Landfill captures carbon dioxide and converts it into dry ice, reducing emissions and bettering the air we breathe. When fully implemented, this project will reduce CO2 emissions by 59,000 tons per year, the equivalent of taking 10,000 cars off the road. Additionally, by converting more of the gas in the landfill to clean fuel burning compressed natural gas we can reduce carbon emissions by another 30,000 tons per year.
The Dane County Landfill celebrates its 20th anniversary this year producing renewable energy by capturing methane and burning the climate change emission gas to generate homegrown electricity sold to MGE.
Over 20 years the project has produced 31 million kilowatt hours of green electricity enough to power over 4000 homes every year. Methane from the landfill being burned to generate electricity or compressed for vehicle fuel would otherwise be a very powerful greenhouse gas contributor to global climate change and is 86 more times potent than CO2.
New Analysis Showing County on Verge of Achieving 100% Renewable Status:
According to a new analysis, in 2016, the County paid utilities for using 35.3 million kilowatt-hours (kwhrs) of electricity while it produced 34.6 million kwhrs of renewable electricity at its two landfills and existing solar projects. That resulted in an outstanding 98% renewable energy ranking, a number that will only improve as new projects funded in the Executive’s 2017 budget come online this year.
Dane County has a consistent track record of pursuing cleaner, greener sources of energy, reducing our reliance on fossil fuels, and reinventing county operations to make them run better not only for the public, but also the environment. This is our boldest action yet to address climate change and lead the way for our community and the State of Wisconsin.
In 2013, the Climate Change Action Council convened by County Executive Parisi issued an initial report with recommendations to ensure that county government is better prepared for weather extremes brought on by global climate change. The Council was charged with assessing departments throughout county government and reporting on the impact these continued weather extremes will have on county operations and residents. Findings have shown that climate change will have serious effects on public health, public safety, and will put increased strain on county infrastructure.
The County Executive's 2014 budget included nearly $1 million in capital dollars for near-term climate change adaptation initiatives outlined in the Council's report. Funding for a $10,000 emergency sandbag program and $250,000 dedicated solely for the replacement of outdated culverts under roads will help the county address frequent high volume storms. Culverts help move runoff along after heavy rainfall. Many roads aren't equipped to handle the volume that comes with big storms - resulting in backups into valuable agricultural lands and in some cases, flooded highways.