Alliant Energy utilizes goats as workers in ongoing construction efforts

Alliant Energy utilizes goats as workers in ongoing construction efforts

When the West Side Energy Center is complete in the Town of Beloit, it will bring power to roughly 550,000 homes.

The project is almost halfway complete, but already, more than 700 workers have put more than one million hours of work into the job.

“We have carpenters and cement masons that did the foundations,” said project manager Bob Newell. “We have electricians, we have sheet metal workers.”

With such a big project, Newell says workers have come from all over.

“We have travelers from northern Illinois and northern Wisconsin,” he said. “We even have people from as far as Georgia and Florida.”

I’m at a meeting for the Alliant Energy West Riverside Energy Center in Beloit. Later, I’ll be taking a look at construction progress… and also meeting some very special construction workers. Trust me, you won’t want to miss it. #News3

— Adam Duxter WISC-TV (@News3Adam) September 27, 2018

Even with all this help, there’s still one job Newell says his human workers can’t do.

In come the goats.

A team of nearly 100 Spanish goats patrol the southeast corner of the 315 acre Rock River Energy campus 24 hours a day. Their sole mission? To eat any plant that gets in their way.

“I looked at four ways to get rid of invasive species,” said Environmental Control Officer Dan Miracle. “This was probably the most beneficial to our project.”

I spent today touring the plant….meeting plenty of workers along the way. Tonight on @WISCTV_News3 hear about the workers whose only job is eating. #news3

— Adam Duxter WISC-TV (@News3Adam) September 27, 2018

Miracle says took the idea to his bosses at Alliant, where he admits it was met with some skepticism.

“I started by saying ‘Hear me out, this is going to be the craziest thing you’ve ever heard.'” Miracle said. “There were definitely a couple of snickers at first.”

Miracle and his team have been able to use the goats, part of a service called The Green Goat out of Monroe, to keep invasive plant species away from their building.

“We’re trying to do this in a sustainable manner,” Newell said.

The building will be finished in early 2020. Until then, the goats will patrol in search of weeds to eat.