Focus on Energy: Fuels Success of Businesses Statewide

Tim Wirtz/Julie Semancik
Hoffman York
[email protected]
[email protected]


MADISON, Wis. (November 1, 2004) – From family farms to the state’s largest homebuilder, Focus on Energy, Wisconsin’s energy efficiency and renewable energy initiative, is helping businesses of all types and in all corners of the state implement the latest technologies to reduce energy consumption, lower utility bills and improve product quality. Since the program’s inception, in 2001, Focus on Energy has helped businesses in the state cut their energy expenses by nearly $36 million. Following are details on some of Focus on Energy’s projects:


Energy efficiency improvements have not only reduced operating costs on Philip Hofman’s 400-acre, 330-head dairy farm in Waupun – they also have improved the quality of the milk his farm produces – and that has helped increase his bottom line.

Hofman replaced an old electric water heater with a new energy efficient gas model and added a variable speed drive vacuum pump for his milking operations. He also began recovering heat from a compressor used to cool his cow’s milk for pre-heating the water before it goes into the water heater. The vacuum pump also creates a more consistent vacuum, significantly reducing the somatic cell count, which is commonly used as a measure of milk quality, in the milk tank. The higher-quality milk brings Hofman an additional ten cents per hundred pounds. The improvements Hofman implemented have resulted in annual energy savings of more than $9,775, enough electricity to power 11 average Wisconsin homes.

Focus on Energy and Tri County Dairy Supply of Watertown, Wis. were involved in the project from the start, conducting a site assessment to identify energy-saving opportunities. Focus on Energy also provided a $4,000 grant to help defray the project’s $15,100 cost, with Alliant Energy, Hofman’s local utility, providing additional financing.

GORDONDALE FARMS, Nelsonville, Wis.

At Gordondale Farms, a 1,000-head dairy farm in Nelsonville, Wis., anaerobic digestion is helping owner Gale Gordon meet a challenge faced by all of Wisconsin’s large dairy farmers – the removal and disposal of manure.

An anaerobic digester is an enclosed tank system that excludes oxygen. The manure is passed through it and broken down by naturally occurring bacteria producing biogas. This biogas is composed of approximately 55 percent to 70 percent methane, which a farm can use as a fuel for heating needs or to produce electricity. The system in place at Gordondale Farms is heating and powering the farm’s state-of-the-art barn, office and milk house and because it produces more energy than needed to complete these tasks, Gordon sells the excess back to his local utility, Alliant Energy.

There are other benefits to implementing this renewable energy technology. The odor of manure at Gordondale Farms has been all but eliminated and flies are virtually nonexistent, as all eggs and larvae are killed as the manure is processed.

The solids separated in the process also make excellent bedding for the herd, cutting down on the e-coli virus and other pathogens that can be transferred to the animals by use of other bedding materials. In addition, the solids are used to fertilize the farm’s 1,000 acres of fields and gardens.

Focus on Energy’s Renewable Energy pilot program helped offset the cost of the installation at Gordondale Farm through an installation grant in 2002. Since then, Focus on Energy also has helped with funding for updates to the digester.


Madison-based Veridian Homes, Wisconsin’s largest homebuilder, recently unveiled “Welcome Home,” an energy efficient prototype home that incorporates a solar domestic hot water system and other techniques Wisconsin builders can use to construct more comfortable, safe, durable and energy efficient homes. The result is a 40 percent more energy efficient home than a home built to Wisconsin’s Uniform Dwelling Code.

Veridian’s commitment to constructing all of its homes to meet Wisconsin ENERGY STARÒ Homes program qualifications means more than 600 new Wisconsin ENERGY STAR Homes are being built in the Madison area every year. Those homes save enough energy to light 69 additional homes in Wisconsin, prevent over 800,000 pounds of carbon dioxide (CO2) from being released into the atmosphere and remove the environmental equivalent of nearly 60 cars from the road.

A key innovation in the home is the solar domestic hot water system that provides half of the home’s hot water needs. Backed up by a conventional water heater, the system will help insulate the homeowners from energy cost spikes while saving them up to $100 per year in energy costs.

The “Welcome Home” was built as part of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Building America program and the Wisconsin ENERGY STAR Homes program. It is one of only a handful of homes nationwide constructed to meet Building America’s standards for energy efficient homes.

About Focus on Energy
Focus on Energy is a public-private partnership offering energy information and services to energy utility customers throughout Wisconsin. The goals of this program are to encourage energy efficiency and use of renewable energy, enhance the environment and ensure the future supply of energy for Wisconsin. Since July 2001, the program has helped Wisconsin’s businesses and residents reduce their annual energy consumption by more than 515 million kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity and more than 25 million therms of natural gas.

For more information, call 800-762-7077 or visit