How Chetek tornado debris is re-powering the community

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What the Chetek tornado changed into debris is now being changed into power.

More than 270 tons of debris have gone to Barron County’s incineration plant. The plant burns the debris, turning turbines that create power.

“We’re going to be able to turn part of this tragedy into electricity and energy and re-use it, rather than it be a legacy in a landfill,” said Al Zeltner, the incineration’s facility’s manager.

Workers at the facility have been extra busy since the tornado hit. Already, the inside of the building has about twice as much trash as normal. The facility creates 1.5 megawatts of power.

Most of the output is used to power a large cheese plant across the street. However, any remaining power goes to Xcel Energy to go on to the grid—meaning debris created by the tornado could potentially be used to power areas affected by the tornado.

“You just have to love the good that comes out of humanity,” Zellner said.