Milwaukee’s Energy Independence Program Exemplifies the Utility of the Future Initiative

MMSD_water_energyThe Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District (MMSD) has been working toward energy independence since 2009.  The primary driver to this effort is the desire to stabilize and reduce the energy portion of our charges to our ratepayers.  Along with this, MMSD also wants to minimize our influence on climate change.

MMSD has established a goal of having 100% of our energy needs provided by renewable energy by the year 2035, with 80% of this energy being self-produced.  This goal has guided us in all our decisions concerning energy intensive processes.  MMSD is first striving to reduce our energy usage by becoming more energy efficient. Once we drive energy usage down, MMSD will turn to renewable sources of energy, such as digester gas, solar, landfill gas, and possibly wind.

In December 2013, MMSD began operation of a landfill gas system, which captures, treats, and conveys gas through a 19-mile pipeline.  MMSD then burns this gas in three four-megawatt turbines to produce electricity at the Jones Island Water Reclamation Facility.  MMSD is also upgrading the digester gas recovery system at the South Shore Water Reclamation Facility.  Once completed, this project is designed to increase the energy production from approximately 50% of the current energy need up to over 90%.  These are the two largest renewable energy projects underway at MMSD, but MMSD is also using solar power to produce 35 kilowatts of electricity at our facilities.

There is still a way to go to reach 100% renewable energy.  To identify the remaining steps toward our 2035 energy goal, MMSD initiated the development of an energy plan which will chart the path forward to energy independence.

Kevin Shafer is the Executive Director at the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District (MMSD).  He has worked diligently on MMSD’s $1 billion Overflow Reduction Plan.  Mr. Shafer has been instrumental in providing the regional leadership in implementing green infrastructure in MMSD facilities and on private property.  This leadership has resulted in a new development approach by the communities and developers in the region.  He also coordinated a $58 million long-range planning process that produced the most intensive water quality research ever for six Milwaukee area watersheds.  Additionally, under his leadership, MMSD instituted a regional stormwater runoff rule and has been a leader for innovative ways to manage stormwater runoff.

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