Cranberries power processing plant

Posted on December 2, 2005. Filed under: Landfill Gas |

A story from the Marsfield News-Herald by Karen Madden:

State leaders got a firsthand look Wednesday at improvements at a Wisconsin Rapids cranberry plant that officials say are creating jobs, benefiting growers and helping the environment.

As part of Capital for the Day – an event that brought the governor and members of his cabinet to Portage and Wood counties – Administration Secretary Steve Bablitch and Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection Secretary Rod Nilsestuen toured Ocean Spray’s new cranberry concentrator and methane gas energy system facilities.

The $35,000 grant the state contributed to the project was money well spent, said Bablitch, citing the economic and environmental benefits.

Ocean Spray bought the west-side cranberry processing facility from Northland Cranberries about a year ago. The company spent about $15 million to build a juice concentrator and $2 million to construct a pipeline from Onyx Waste Services’ landfill for a methane gas process, said Ocean Spray Vice President of Operations Michael Stamatakos.

The juice concentrator began operation in mid-September, said Kirk Willard, plant manager. The methane system debuted at the beginning of October.

The company added 16 to 20 permanent positions, Willard said. Although the new concentrator is fully automated and requires only two people to operate, the company needed additional employees to clean and move the products.

Cranberry grower Russ Rifleman of Cranmoor is optimistic the new facility will be a boost for him because it could reduce the cost of storing and transporting berries.

And the methane project at the facility will help the environment by capturing and using 7,000 tons of gas emissions from the landfill each year – the equivalent of planting 15,000 trees or eliminating 12,000 cars.

The company hopes to run its operation using 95 percent methane gas and 5 percent natural gas, Willard said. A sophisticated processing system monitors the quality of the methane and adds natural gas as needed.

Richard Presser, operations manager for Onyx Waste Services, said the company has similar operations in several places throughout the country that have been successful.


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