LA CROSSE, Wis (SPECTRUM NEWS) - A number of municipalities across Wisconsin are adopting a goal that helps the environment.  At least six communities have passed resolutions to be 100% carbon free by 2050, and to utilize complete renewable energy by the same year.  

“We’re trying to be as efficient and sustainable as we possibly can,” says Nick Nichols, La Crosse County’s Sustainability Coordinator.

La Crosse is one of the most recent cities, along with Milwaukee to adopt this resolution.  Other communities include, Menona, Fitchburg, Green Bay, Madison, and Eau Claire.

“Madison has been the catalyst really for this,” says Clean Wisconsin’s Scott Blankman.  He serves as Director for Energy and Air programs.

Madison and La Crosse are doing something unique already.  It has to do with turning gas to energy at the county landfill.  Nichols speaks on La Crosse’s project:

“The methane gas that's created when waste breaks down in the landfill is pulled to a central building,” he says.  “A piece of equipment takes that gas, takes out the particulate matter, and  we cool that gas down to take out all the moisture and heat it to about 80 degrees and we ship it down a 1.6 mile pipeline to the Gunderson campus.”

Nichols adds that last year alone, the campus created over 5.5 million kilowatt hours of electricity and enough heat for their buildings.  It’s called the Gas to Energy project and has been saving La Crosse a lot of money since 2012.

“We’re producing enough gas to offset all the county buildings,” Nichols says.

There are many ways, however, that a community can reach this 2050 goal.

“We’re also looking at citing solar panels, or gardens near our community, looking at wind power, some cities have the option to use biomass, which is burning wood or other waste material to generate electricity,” says Cathy Van Maren, a member of the Coulee Region Sierra Club.

A report in February from the Center on Wisconsin Strategy (COWS) shows if this 2050 goal were achieved statewide, the Badger State would see an economic benefit of $28 billion.  It would also add more than 160,000 jobs.

“This is really no longer a partisan issue,” says Blankman.  “I think you’re beginning to see people on the right seeing that renewables are the lowest cost resources.”

Governor Tony Evers proposed an item in this year’s state budget to be 100% carbon-free by 2050.  That item has been taken out, but could still pass via Executive Order.

La Crosse County still has to approve the city’s resolution.  Nichols is confident it will pass.  Milwaukee’s County Board also needs to do the same.  Several supervisors said they expect it to pass as well.