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Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Central Wisconsin puts focus on 'green' energy

From an article by Nathaniel Shuda in the Wisconsin Rapids Tribune:

With renewable energy becoming an increasingly popular topic across the country, central Wisconsin leaders hope to be on the cutting edge as demand grows.

Mid-State Technical College classes have begun for two new renewable energy programs, and three others already were in place. Demand is fueling the need for a sustainable/renewable energy training center at the school's Wisconsin Rapids campus, officials said.

"This is a really solid start," Mid-State President John Clark said Monday during a meeting with U.S. Rep. Dave Obey, D-Wausau. "We're hoping (others) will be using this as a pattern for future projects."

Leaders hope to use a $428,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Labor, which Obey earmarked within President Barack Obama's $410 billion budget bill earlier this year, to purchase solar panels, wind turbines and other lab equipment.

Mid-State also is working with leaders at Energy Composites Corp. in Wisconsin Rapids and the North Central Wisconsin Workforce Development Board to develop a first-of-its-kind curriculum for wind-energy and composites training, an endeavor for which the board recently garnered a $100,000 grant from the state Department of Workforce Development.

Energy Composites continues its efforts to obtain LEED Platinum certification for its planned 350,000-square-foot manufacturing plant that will produce blades for industrial wind turbines in Wisconsin Rapids, President Jamie Mancl said.

"We're trying to put everything together," Mancl said Tuesday, after a closed session meeting with the Wisconsin Rapids Common Council to discuss the company developer's agreement with the city. "It's going to take some time, but we're still on schedule."

Energy Composites isn't the only company that has been working on such a certification.

The Mead Wildlife Area Education & Visitor Center, near Milladore, announced Wednesday it received LEED Platinum Green Building Certification status, the highest level of sustainable design.

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