Western Technical College has received federal approval to build a first-of-its-kind hydroelectric generator on a dam in Monroe County.
The Angelo Dam Hydroelectric Project will be built on the La Crosse River. It’ll be the first project of its kind in Wisconsin to be maintained by a school. Most hydroelectric generators are run by municipalities, electric utilities, or private businesses.
Mike Pieper is the Vice President of Finance and Operations at Western Technical College. He says the turbine will be generating electricity by fall. For the next ten years, Xcel Energy will purchase that power, “But the power that it generates will actually offset the power that we use at all our regional learning centers- Independence, Black River Falls, Sparta, Tomah, Viroqua, Mauston.”
Pieper says the Angelo Dam project will also be a learning tool for students. Western is developing a certificate focused on hydroelectricity that students can add on to existing programs. Pieper says the dam project will also be used by the public and private sectors, “We’ve had some interest from some of the utility companies, the DNR, even agencies, like FERC, that have to do safety training for their inspectors. So they can have the dam right there and walk across the highway and use our campus, our classrooms for that type of training too.”
According to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, about 150 dams produce more than four-percent of the state’s electricity.