Genoa Generating Station

The Genoa Generating Station comprises the bulk of Dairyland Cooperative’s Genoa Site, along with the decommissioned La Crosse Boiling Water Reactor. Located on the banks of the Mississippi River, the Genoa Station is situated approximately 20 miles to the south of the Dairyland headquarters in La Crosse, Wisconsin.

Genoa Station #1 was the first coal-powered steam plant in Genoa. Called “G-1”, it was built in 1941 by the Tri-State Power Cooperative. When Tri-State and Wisconsin Power merged in December of 1941, the site fell under the operation of the newly formed Dairyland Cooperative. G-1 was a 14 megawatt facility that, for a time, was the largest rural electric cooperative plant in the entire nation. It held this title until it was shut down in 1985. By 1989 it was completely dismantled.

Genoa Station #3 is the successor to Genoa Station #1. Completed in 1969, it has a generating capacity of 378 megawatts and produces 2 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity every year. The plant cost roughly $56 million to build and supplies energy to a residential community that averages around 14,000 kilowatt-hours of usage per year. A 50 megawatt boiling reactor known as the La Crosse Boiling Water reactor was once used to generate a significant amount of power. It has since been deactivated.

Genoa Station #3 is an extremely efficient power plant model, due primarily to its efficient use of steam. It uses a “double reheat” of the steam that it uses to generate electricity. The coal it uses is a specially blended mixture that travels to its facilities by way of barge along the Mississippi. Once the coal arrives, it is crushed and fed into the boilers. Here, it heats water and creates the steam that turns a generator shaft to produce electricity. The “double reheat” allows more of the steam to be used to generate electricity before being vented to relieve pressure.

The Genoa Generating Station recycles a high percentage of the byproducts of coal-firing. Heavier waste byproducts from the coal-firing process, known as bottom ash or slag, are recycled to be used in the manufacture of asphalt. This asphalt is used to pave rural community roads and parking lots. Lighter waste particles such as fly-ash, thrown from the pulverized coal, are sequestered for use as an additive in concrete and asphalt. The Genoa Generating Station also has an agreement to share its excess electric output with Great River Energy.

Unfortunately, many power plants like Genoa that were built in the mid-20th century contained asbestos insulation and other materials to protect expensive equipment from heat damage and corrosion.  Though not known by employees at the time, many workers in these power plants were being exposed to a deadly carcinogen on a regular basis.  Asbestos exposure is known to result in asbestosis and a type of cancer called mesothelioma.