Submitted by: Organic Valley
Posted: Nov 14, 2011 – 01:08 PM EST
LA FARGE and LA CROSSE, Wis., Nov. 14 /CSRwire/ - Organic Valley, the nation’s largest cooperative of organic farmers and a leading organic brand, and Gundersen Health System today 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.
“Fostering strong, sustainable rural communities is key to who we are,” said George Siemon, founding farmer and C-E-I-E-I-O of Organic Valley. “We’re particularly proud to establish a long-term renewable energy source right here in the Cashton area, which is not only a sustainable solution for our community, but hopefully also an example for other communities.”
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.
As a farmer-owned cooperative, sustainability is a core value at Organic Valley. In addition to the Cashton Greens Wind Farm, Organic Valley has installed solar photo-voltaic (PV) windows in its new headquarters addition; uses biodiesel in its truck fleet; and has installed solar hot water panels that use the sun to generate hot water for its cheese packaging plant and café. Organic Valley also has implemented an On-Farm Sustainability Program as a part of its ongoing effort to educate and assist cooperative farmer-members with implementing energy efficiency measures, both small and large, on their farms. For more information about Organic Valley’s commitment to sustainability, visit www.organicvalley.coop/sustainability.
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.
About Organic Valley: Independent and Farmer-Owned
Organic Valley is America’s largest cooperative of organic farmers and one of the nation’s leading organic brands. Organized in 1988, it represents 1,658 farmers in 35 states and three Canadian provinces, and achieved $619 million in 2010 sales. Focused on its founding mission of saving family farms through organic farming, Organic Valley produces a variety of organic foods, including organic milk, soy, cheese, butter, spreads, creams, eggs, produce and juice, which are sold in supermarkets, natural foods stores and food cooperatives nationwide. With its regional model, milk is produced, bottled and distributed right in the region where it is farmed to ensure fewer miles from farm to table and to support our local economies. The same farmers who produce for Organic Valley also produce a full range of delicious organic meat under the Organic Prairie label. For further information, call 1-888-444-MILK or visit www.organicvalley.coop, www.organicprairie.coop and the cooperative’s farmer website, www.farmers.coop. Organic Valley is also on Twitter @OrganicValley and Facebook www.facebook.com/OrganicValley.
About Gundersen Health System
Headquartered in La Crosse, Wis., Gundersen Health System provides quality health services to patients at its hospital and clinics throughout western Wisconsin, southeastern Minnesota and northeastern Iowa. Gundersen is a major tertiary teaching hospital, providing a broad range of emergency, specialty and primary care services to its patients. As one of the nation’s largest multi-specialty group medical practices, Gundersen is comprised of more than 700 medical, dental and associate staff, and supported by a staff of more than 5,500. The Health System has been consistently ranked in the upper 5% of hospitals in the country. Through their Envision environmental stewardship program, Gundersen set a goal of becoming 100 percent energy independent by 2014. For more information, visit www.gundluth.org.Gundersen is also on Facebook at www.facebook.com/gundersenlutheran and Twitter @gundersenluth.
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