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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Kenosha could receive $900,000 in federal funds for energy efforts

From an article by Matthew Olson in the Kenosha News:

Kenosha could obtain more than $900,000 in federal funds to improve energy efficiency, which the city hopes can complement other funding the city is seeking.

The U.S. Department of Energy announced last week that the state of Wisconsin and Wisconsin municipalities are eligible for $37.1 million in Energy Efficiency and Conservation block grants. The city of Kenosha is eligible for $902,500 as part of that funding.

These grants are intended for energy-efficiency strategies, conserving energy through transportation programs and material conservation programs, among other potential projects. Municipalities will need to submit an application to the Department of Energy for proposed projects to use these funds.

Kenosha Mayor Keith Bosman said the city proposed several projects to the state while seeking federal stimulus money that would fit under these energy guidelines. Those projects include a $4 million request to convert all of the city’s street lights to light-emitting diode (LED) technology in an effort to reduce energy use and costs. The city installed LED lights along 39th Avenue, between 60th and 67th streets, last fall.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Transporter says wind-power shipments 'took off' in March

From an article by Tom Content in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

Suppliers to the auto industry may want to shift their focus to wind components, given incentives for renewable energy included in the federal stimulus package.

Wisconsin has always been a supply-chain state, to the farm industry with implements, then to the auto industry with motors. But the effort to woo the wind-power industry to the state is centered north of Milwaukee, the former machine shop to the world.

The focus on wind is coming from The New North, the economic development initiative of northeastern Wisconsin, home to Tower Tech in Manitowoc, Badger Transport in Clintonville and dozens of other suppliers to the wind industry.

The wind industry had been growing at a record pace year after year until it was hit by the economic slowdown like other businesses, said Jeff Anthony of the American Wind Energy Association.

The wind industry's growth has been something to watch, said Al Johnson, president of Badger Transport, which ships the wind industry's oversized components.

"We do everything," he said. "We do the towers and the blades and the cells."

Johnson's company has been involved in the wind industry since 1997, and seen it grow from less than one-third of his company's sales to more than 90% today.

"I was involved in it when it was feast or famine for quite a number of years."

Companies clustered
Across northeastern Wisconsin, 95 companies are supplying the wind industry, creating an economic cluster that the region seeks to capitalize on.

"When we focus on the wind industry, our message is not: 'Come to northeast Wisconsin and build your wind farm,' but rather: 'Come to northeast Wisconsin if you are involved with the supply-chain side of the wind industry,' " said Josh Morby, spokesman for The New North.

Wisconsin ridesharing Web site goes statewide

A news release from the Wisconsin Department of Transportation:

Any commuter in Wisconsin who would like to find someone to “share the ride” to work, may now access the Wisconsin Department of Transportation’s (WisDOT’s) interactive ride matching service online. A program that was originated several years ago for residents of the heavily populated southeastern region of the state is now available statewide.

“We are pleased to offer this interactive service to commuters across the state,” said WisDOT Secretary Frank Busalacchi. “Ridesharing saves money for commuters, reduces the number of cars on the road during the busiest hours of the day and reduces pollution from car exhaust. Now, commuters in areas that are faced with some of the longest commutes will have an equal opportunity to find carpool matches.”

Karen Schmiechen, program manager for the Wisconsin Rideshare Program, said the program is easy to use, free and without obligation. Commuters enter their commute information and immediately receive matches for carpooling, vanpooling, park and ride lots and even biking. The computer shows matches with similar commutes and work hours. Bikers are also matched by level of expertise. Users make their own contacts with matches to set up ridesharing arrangements.

The program was computerized two years ago, and has become so popular WisDOT decided to make it available to all state residents.

Wisconsin is one of many states and municipalities across the country offering this service. As gasoline prices fluctuate, and the economy remains unstable, ridesharing is a viable alternative, saving dollars and the environment.

For more information go to the state’s Rideshare Web site.

Wisconsin ridesharing Web site goes statewide

A news release from the Wisconsin Department of Transportation:

Any commuter in Wisconsin who would like to find someone to “share the ride” to work, may now access the Wisconsin Department of Transportation’s (WisDOT’s) interactive ride matching service online. A program that was originated several years ago for residents of the heavily populated southeastern region of the state is now available statewide.

“We are pleased to offer this interactive service to commuters across the state,” said WisDOT Secretary Frank Busalacchi. “Ridesharing saves money for commuters, reduces the number of cars on the road during the busiest hours of the day and reduces pollution from car exhaust. Now, commuters in areas that are faced with some of the longest commutes will have an equal opportunity to find carpool matches.”

Karen Schmiechen, program manager for the Wisconsin Rideshare Program, said the program is easy to use, free and without obligation. Commuters enter their commute information and immediately receive matches for carpooling, vanpooling, park and ride lots and even biking. The computer shows matches with similar commutes and work hours. Bikers are also matched by level of expertise. Users make their own contacts with matches to set up ridesharing arrangements.

The program was computerized two years ago, and has become so popular WisDOT decided to make it available to all state residents.

Wisconsin is one of many states and municipalities across the country offering this service. As gasoline prices fluctuate, and the economy remains unstable, ridesharing is a viable alternative, saving dollars and the environment.

For more information go to the state’s Rideshare Web site.

Climate scientist supports carbon tax and rebate

From a story by Tom Content in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

A federal carbon tax should be enacted but the money should be sent back to taxpayers, a leading climate scientist suggested Wednesday.

James Hansen, director of the Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York,who has been studying the buildup of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere for decades, said Wednesday that the U.S. government should enact a carbon fee-and-dividend that would persuade consumers to change how they use energy and reward those who reduce their carbon footprints.

"The person who does better than average in reducing carbon emissions will actually make money," he said.

In a keynote address to the Renewable Energy Summit in Milwaukee, Hansen said a national global warming policy is needed to thwart and reduce the buildup of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

"We have reached a point where there is a crisis," he said. . . .

Under Hansen's proposal, a tax, equivalent to $1 per gallon of gas would raise $670 billion a year, which would result in $3,000 being sent back to every adult in the country, and $1,500 per child, capped at a maximum of $9,000 for a family of four or more.

Hansen urged President Barack Obama to "have a fireside chat" to discuss the need for a carbon fee and of the need for Americans to change their energy habits.

A tax would also be a step toward energy independence from imported oil, said Hansen, who said a representative of the government of Saudi Arabia bristled at the idea during a dinner conversation.

"They realize that if you did this, the next time gasoline is $4 a gallon, $2 or $3 would stay in the U.S. and just be distributed back to the citizens as a dividend rather than all $4 going to the Middle East," Hansen said.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Energy Composites (Wisconsin Rapids) joins American Wind Energy Association

From a news release posted on Yahoo! Finance:

WISCONSIN RAPIDS, Wis.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Energy Composites Corporation (OTCBB:ENCC - News) announced today that it has become a member of the American Wind Energy Association, the trade association that promotes wind power growth through advocacy, communication and education. In addition to the company’s membership, Sam Fairchild, ECC’s Chief Executive Officer, will take an active role in helping AWEA push its renewable energy agenda forward.

Fairchild praised AWEA’s tenacity and strength as an advocate of renewable energy solutions, noting that “AWEA is the national voice for the U.S. wind industry, with a strong record of success and an excellent portfolio of information and analytic resources available to its members. Membership in AWEA strengthens our launch platform for the Company’s wind energy strategy, including blade manufacturing and MRO services. Over the next several weeks we will share with investors each of the concrete steps we are taking to make that strategy a reality.”

Fairchild added that “ECC’s commitment to the wind market is very strong -- we see composites playing a larger and larger role in the successful transformation of wind power as the nation’s alternative energy solution. ECC’s advancements in design, materials, production techniques and product technologies will provide us with a significant competitive edge as we roll out our wind market penetration strategy. We are also focused on expanding our field services capability to become a major player in composites maintenance, repair and overhaul for the wind sector.”

Jamie Mancl, ECC’s founder and President, noted, “I am confident that we can bring as much value to AWEA as we expect membership in the organization will bring to us. We believe that greater use of advanced composites in the wind energy supply chain will drive substantially higher financial returns to wind farm developers and greater value to the nation as a whole.”

Friday, March 27, 2009

Wausau to receive federal money for 'green' initiatives

From an article by Larry Bivins in the Wausau Daily Herald:

WASHINGTON -- Wausau will receive nearly $200,000 for energy efficiency and conservation projects, President Barack Obama's administration announced Thursday.

The money is part of more than $37 million the Department of Energy has allocated for Wisconsin under Obama's economic recovery package. In addition to the $183,900 for Wausau, the department has designated $374,000 for Marathon County. . . .

Activities the money can support include energy audits and making residential and commercial buildings more energy efficient, improving building codes and inspections, and creating financial incentive programs for energy efficiency improvements. It also can go toward transportation programs that conserve energy, projects that reduce or capture greenhouse gas emissions from landfills, and making traffic signals and street lights more energy efficient.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Discussing Wisconsin's "Energy Future" in La Crosse

From a story reported by Sara Kronenberg on WKBT-TV:

It's an ongoing search for new, green solutions that will not only save money, but also the the environment.

Community, county and school leaders met Tuesday at the La Crosse Center for "Our Energy Future," a conference about new energy answers.

Wisconsin is on its way to developing more widespread green energy solutions that could save organizations money.

Organizers say making the transition from coal burning dependency might require people to scale back on their own energy needs.

"The answers are always local, always personal," says Dave Dumke with the Wisconsin Counties Association. "They're always in your own home, in your own business, and if you're governing a school district. If we have massive change like that, we'll solve the problem."

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Three presentations: Solar hot water, renewable economic impacts, and wind outlook

From two presentations by Michael Vickerman at the 2009 Wisconsin Renewable Energy Summit:

Getting Serious About Solar Hot Water
Value Proposition to System Owner
+ Less expensive (on a life-cycle basis)
+ Predictable return
+ Negligible risk

Value Proposition to Society
+ Emission-free
+ Non-depleting
+ Indigenous
+ Highly secure

SHW Potential in Wisconsin
+ Can offset between 2.6% to 4.1% of NG use
+ Avoiding 150 million therms/year
+ Saving $150 million annually (2006 prices)
+ Offsetting 820,000 metric ton of CO2


Economic Development Impacts of Renewable Energy

Economies of scale are achieved by shrinking the labor contribution relative to output, which explains why utility-scale energy is less expensive than do-it-yourself energy.

Distributing renewable energy through customer-sited systems increases job-hours per energy unit produced as well as promoting entrepreneurship and small business development. . . .

From Small Systems – Big Results in Germany:
+ Utilities are required to accept power from customer-sited RE systems through fixed, long-term buyback rates
+ 15% of Germany’s electricity now generated from renewables
+ In 2007 $14 billion invested in RE
+ Germany has half the world’s PV capacity
+ Payoff: 300,000 people employed in the RE sector.

And in Wisconsin:
+ 338 Focus on Energy-funded RE systems installed
+ 40% increase over 2007
+ $3.5MM incentives obligated
+ Full-service installers -- 35 PV; 24 biogas; 64 SHW; 21 wind; 15 biomass.


From another presentation at the Wisconsin Wind Energy Supply Chain Workshop:

Windpower in Wisconsin: Outlook for 2009 and Beyond


Why Promote Windpower?
Clean = Environmental
Non-depleting = Energy Security
Fixed Price = Risk Management
Creates Wealth = Economic Development
Scalable to Utilities = Practicality

The current Renewable Energy Standard (RES) will yield an additional ~4.2 billion kWh/yr of qualifying renewable electricity by 2015, assuming no load growth.

Assuming that windpower generates 90% of that quantity, about 1,600 MW of wind capacity must come on line between 2004 and 2015 to satisfy the RES.

Three presentations: Solar hot water, renewable economic impacts, and wind outlook

From two presentations by Michael Vickerman at the 2009 Wisconsin Renewable Energy Summit, Milwaukee:

Getting Serious About Solar Hot Water
Value Proposition to System Owner
+ Less expensive (on a life-cycle basis)
+ Predictable return
+ Negligible risk

Value Proposition to Society
+ Emission-free
+ Non-depleting
+ Indigenous
+ Highly secure

SHW Potential in Wisconsin
+ Can offset between 2.6% to 4.1% of NG use
+ Avoiding 150 million therms/year
+ Saving $150 million annually (2006 prices)
+ Offsetting 820,000 metric ton of CO2


Economic Development Impacts of Renewable Energy

Economies of scale are achieved by shrinking the labor contribution relative to output, which explains why utility-scale energy is less expensive than do-it-yourself energy.

Distributing renewable energy through customer-sited systems increases job-hours per energy unit produced as well as promoting entrepreneurship and small business development. . . .

From Small Systems – Big Results in Germany:
+ Utilities are required to accept power from customer-sited RE systems through fixed, long-term buyback rates
+ 15% of Germany’s electricity now generated from renewables
+ In 2007 $14 billion invested in RE
+ Germany has half the world’s PV capacity
+ Payoff: 300,000 people employed in the RE sector.

And in Wisconsin:
+ 338 Focus on Energy-funded RE systems installed
+ 40% increase over 2007
+ $3.5MM incentives obligated
+ Full-service installers -- 35 PV; 24 biogas; 64 SHW; 21 wind; 15 biomass.


From another presentation at the Wisconsin Wind Energy Supply Chain Workshop:

Windpower in Wisconsin: Outlook for 2009 and Beyond


Why Promote Windpower?
Clean = Environmental
Non-depleting = Energy Security
Fixed Price = Risk Management
Creates Wealth = Economic Development
Scalable to Utilities = Practicality

The current Renewable Energy Standard (RES) will yield an additional ~4.2 billion kWh/yr of qualifying renewable electricity by 2015, assuming no load growth.

Assuming that windpower generates 90% of that quantity, about 1,600 MW of wind capacity must come on line between 2004 and 2015 to satisfy the RES.

Alliant Energy to host Supplier Diversity Symposium, April 24, Dubuque

From a news release issued by Alliant Energy:

CEDAR RAPIDS, IA – Alliant Energy Corp. (NYSE: LNT) will host the 3rd annual Supplier Diversity Symposium in Dubuque, Iowa on Friday, April 24. This event is designed to give minority and women business owners the opportunity to network with purchasing professionals, learn about supplier diversity efforts in the Midwest, and gain insight into the issues affecting Alliant Energy's current business and regulatory environment.

Alliant Energy implemented the program to encourage diverse suppliers to compete for Alliant Energy’s business. The company’s spending totaled more than $100 million in 2007 and 2008 with minority and woman-owned businesses.

“We anticipate spending over $60 million with diverse vendors again this year and are looking to further increase our diverse vendor base,” said Chris Lindell, Vice President - Shared Services for Alliant Energy. “We feel the company benefits from the creativity and new perspectives diverse suppliers have to offer.”

More than 100 minority and women business owners from Iowa and Wisconsin have pre-registered for the free event at the Grand River Center, 500 Bell St., Dubuque, IA. A short program will be held, beginning at 8:00 a.m.

Alliant Energy to host Supplier Diversity Symposium, April 24, Dubuque

From a news release issued by Alliant Energy:

CEDAR RAPIDS, IA – Alliant Energy Corp. (NYSE: LNT) will host the 3rd annual Supplier Diversity Symposium in Dubuque, Iowa on Friday, April 24. This event is designed to give minority and women business owners the opportunity to network with purchasing professionals, learn about supplier diversity efforts in the Midwest, and gain insight into the issues affecting Alliant Energy's current business and regulatory environment.

Alliant Energy implemented the program to encourage diverse suppliers to compete for Alliant Energy’s business. The company’s spending totaled more than $100 million in 2007 and 2008 with minority and woman-owned businesses.

“We anticipate spending over $60 million with diverse vendors again this year and are looking to further increase our diverse vendor base,” said Chris Lindell, Vice President - Shared Services for Alliant Energy. “We feel the company benefits from the creativity and new perspectives diverse suppliers have to offer.”

More than 100 minority and women business owners from Iowa and Wisconsin have pre-registered for the free event at the Grand River Center, 500 Bell St., Dubuque, IA. A short program will be held, beginning at 8:00 a.m.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Windpower in Wisconsin: Outlook for 2009 and Beyond

From a presentation by Michael Vickerman to the Wisconsin Association of Energy Engineers, April 29, 2009:
Why Promote Windpower?
Clean = Environmental
Non-depleting = Energy Security
Fixed Price = Risk Management
Creates Wealth = Economic Development
Scalable to Utilities = Practicality

The current Renewable Energy Standard (RES) will yield an additional ~4.2 billion kWh/yr of qualifying renewable electricity by 2015, assuming no load growth.

Assuming that windpower generates 90% of that quantity, about 1,600 MW of wind capacity must come on line between 2004 and 2015 to satisfy the RES.

Getting Serious About Solar Water Heating (SWH)

From a presentation by Michael Vickerman at the 2009 Wisconsin Renewable Energy Summit, Milwaukee, March 25-28:
Value Proposition to System Owner
+ Less expensive (on a life-cycle basis)
+ Predictable return
+ Negligible risk

Value Proposition to Society
+ Emission-free
+ Non-depleting
+ Indigenous
+ Highly secure

SHW Potential in Wisconsin
+ Can offset between 2.6% to 4.1% of NG use
+ Avoiding 150 million therms/year
+ Saving $150 million annually (2006 prices)
+ Offsetting 820,000 metric ton of CO2

Economic Development Impacts of Renewable Energy

Form a presentation by Michael Vickerman at the 2009 Wisconsin Renewable Energy Summit, Milwaukee, March 25-28:
Economies of scale are achieved by shrinking the labor contribution relative to output, which explains why utility-scale energy is less expensive than do-it-yourself energy.

Distributing renewable energy through customer-sited systems increases job-hours per energy unit produced as well as promoting entrepreneurship and small business development. . . .

From Small Systems – Big Results in Germany:
+ Utilities are required to accept power from customer-sited RE systems through fixed, long-term buyback rates
+ 15% of Germany’s electricity now generated from renewables
+ In 2007 $14 billion invested in RE
+ Germany has half the world’s PV capacity
+ Payoff: 300,000 people employed in the RE sector.

And in Wisconsin:
+ 338 Focus on Energy-funded RE systems installed
+ 40% increase over 2007
+ $3.5MM incentives obligated
+ Full-service installers -- 35 PV; 24 biogas; 64 SHW; 21 wind; 15 biomass.

Fact sheet addresses turbines and health

From Turbines and Health published by the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA):

The American Lung Association’s agenda for the new administration, Protect the Air We Breathe: An Agenda for Clean Air, states: “Climate, energy and clean air are inexorably linked. Solutions that lead to cleaner air must be included in any approach to cleaner, more efficient energy use and reductions in global warming.”

Wind energy is one such solution - a clean energy source that can provide communities with decreased greenhouse gas emissions, along with air quality improvements and corresponding human health benefits. . . .

+ The wind industry takes health concerns seriously . . .
+ Wind energy can help improve air quality . . .
+ Wind energy can help reduce global warming pollutants . . .
+ Wind plants are very quiet compared to other types of industrial facilities, such as manufacturing plants. But wind plants typically are located in rural or low-density residential areas, where turbine noise may be more obvious because background noise is lower than in urban areas. On the other hand, the turbine noise may often be masked by the noise of the wind itself - especially since turbines are located where the wind speed is higher than average and because they operate only when the wind is blowing.
+ The sounds emitted from wind turbines can be mechanical, from internal equipment such as the gearbox or yaw drive, or aerodynamic, from air moving past the rotor blades. Current turbine designs effectively reduce mechanical sound through sound proofing; therefore, the aerodynamic sound, often described as a “whooshing” sound, is what can normally be heard.
+ There is no reliable evidence that low-frequency sound from wind turbines is a problem . . .
+ Shadow flicker occurrence is easily calculated . . .
+ Shadow flicker is not harmful to persons with epilepsy. The allegation is sometimes made that shadow flicker from wind turbines can cause epileptic seizures. This is not true—shadow flicker from wind turbines occurs much more slowly than the light “strobing” associated with seizures. The strobe rates necessary to cause seizures in people with photosensitive epilepsy are 3 to 5 flashes per second and large wind turbine blades cannot rotate this quickly.

Fact sheet addresses turbines and health

From Turbines and Health published by the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA):

The American Lung Association’s agenda for the new administration, Protect the Air We Breathe: An Agenda for Clean Air, states: “Climate, energy and clean air are inexorably linked. Solutions that lead to cleaner air must be included in any approach to cleaner, more efficient energy use and reductions in global warming.”

Wind energy is one such solution - a clean energy source that can provide
communities with decreased greenhouse gas emissions, along with air quality improvements and corresponding human health benefits. . . .

+ The wind industry takes health concerns seriously . . .
+ Wind energy can help improve air quality . . .
+ Wind energy can help reduce global warming pollutants . . .
+ Wind plants are very quiet compared to other types of industrial facilities, such as manufacturing plants. But wind plants typically are located in rural or low-density residential areas, where turbine noise may be more obvious because background noise is lower than in urban areas. On the other hand, the turbine noise may often be masked by the noise of the wind itself - especially since turbines are located where the wind speed is higher than average and because they operate only when the wind is blowing.
+ The sounds emitted from wind turbines can be mechanical, from internal equipment such as the gearbox or yaw drive, or aerodynamic, from air moving past the rotor blades. Current turbine designs effectively reduce mechanical sound through sound proofing; therefore, the aerodynamic sound, often described as a “whooshing” sound, is what can normally be heard.
+ There is no reliable evidence that low-frequency sound from wind turbines is a problem . . .
+ Shadow flicker occurrence is easily calculated . . .
+ Shadow flicker is not harmful to persons with epilepsy. The allegation is sometimes made that shadow flicker from wind turbines can cause epileptic seizures. This is not true—shadow flicker from wind turbines occurs much more slowly than the light “strobing” associated with seizures. The strobe rates necessary to cause seizures in people with photosensitive epilepsy are 3 to 5 flashes per second and large wind turbine blades cannot rotate this quickly.

Doyle seeks full cost of Milwaukee-Madison high-speed rail

From an article by Larry Sandler and Patrick Marley in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
State officials are seeking federal stimulus money to pay the full $519 million cost of a proposed 110-mph Milwaukee-to-Madison passenger train line, not just part of it, Gov. Jim Doyle says.

If the grant is approved, trains could be running as soon as late 2012 or early 2013, cutting the travel time between Wisconsin's two largest cities to 1 hour, 7 minutes, officials say. That's about 20 minutes faster than the same trip by automobile, depending on traffic.

Service would start with six daily round trips, connecting Milwaukee's downtown Amtrak-Greyhound station with a new station at Madison's Dane County Regional Airport, with additional stops in Brookfield, Oconomowoc and Watertown.

At the same time, service on Amtrak's Milwaukee-to-Chicago Hiawatha line would increase from the current seven daily round trips to 10, with all of the Madison-to-Milwaukee trains continuing to Chicago. If Chicago wins its bid for the 2016 Olympics, the trains would provide a link between the main Olympic sites and the cycling venues in Madison.

But even without the Olympics, authorities expect the Milwaukee-to-Madison trains to carry 1.08 million riders a year within a couple years after service starts, said Randy Wade, the state's passenger rail chief. Hiawatha ridership jumped 24% last year, to 766,167.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Wisconsin: Saudi Arabia of biomass

From an article by Jim Massey in The Country Today:

RICHLAND CENTER - While low commodity prices are a challenge for farmers, they could provide an opportunity for the biomass industry to grow in Wisconsin, farmers and landowners were told March 6 at a biomass briefing.

Southwest Badger Resource Conservation and Development Council officials shared the results of three biomass studies at the briefing, held to coincide with a quarterly council meeting.

Council Coordinator Steve Bertjens said southern Wisconsin has become a prime target for biomass production and the studies were conducted to determine the economic feasibility of growing and harvesting the material.

Gov. Jim Doyle recently announced that the UW-Madison Charter Street Power Plant would burn 250,000 tons of biomass per year by 2012 and power plants in Cassville and Jo Daviess County, Ill., will use a combined 800,000 tons of biomass per year. Officials said the challenge will be coming up with that much biomass to burn.

Three Southwest Badger RCandD projects - a biomass inventory and analysis project, switchgrass establishment and harvesting demonstrations, and the true costs of harvesting woody biomass in Wisconsin's Driftless Area - are in the works. . . .

Brett Hulsey, president of Better Environmental Solutions, said if all of Wisconsin's biomass reserves were used for energy production it could displace about half of the coal burned in the state.

"We are a biomass Saudi Arabia," Hulsey said. "We could use wood waste, corn stover, prairie grasses and even dairy manure as energy sources."

Friday, March 20, 2009

Electric car fans wait for future - JSOnline

From an article by Scott Williams in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
Dennis Erovick and his favorite toy might be arriving at the crossroad of phenomenon and fad.

The Cedarburg man purchased an electric car last year and persuaded city officials to allow the slow-moving, pint-sized vehicle on local roads.

But gasoline prices have since dropped from $4 a gallon to $2 a gallon, putting a damper on consumer demand for alternative modes of transportation.

Even the most ardent believers in electric cars are unsure whether this futuristic innovation has much of a future.

'It's very iffy right now,' said dealer Tim Thompson, whose Green Autos business in Janesville has not sold a single electric car since October.

'Do I think it's coming? Yes,' Thompson said. 'It just isn't there yet.'
But enthusiastic drivers such as Erovick remain enamored of their new cars, which are designed to protect the environment from emissions while reducing U.S. dependence on oil. A kindred spirit has emerged in President Barack Obama, who wants a million electric cars on American roads within six years.

Unlike hybrids, which combine electrical power with gasoline, the so-called neighborhood electric vehicle runs entirely on electricity. Once fully charged, it is generally good for about eight hours of driving.

Grants available to fund staff positions on energy savings

From a news release issued by Focus on Energy:

MADISON, Wis. (March 17, 2009) - Focus on Energy, Wisconsin's energy efficiency and renewable energy initiative, announced new staffing grants today to help businesses, manufacturers, farms, schools and government facilities throughout the state complete energy efficiency projects.

"Businesses don't need to let staffing issues become a barrier to energy savings," said Ken Williams, Focus on Energy's Business Programs director. "Focus on Energy is committed to helping companies overcome barriers that prevent them from completing energy efficiency projects."

The grants will fund up to $80,000 for a full- or part-time employee or consultant to work on-site and manage energy efficiency projects that otherwise would not be completed due to a lack of human resources. Grant funding will go toward the salary and benefits of a project manager who will oversee and engineer energy savings projects.

The grant is designed to help businesses hire new staff or retain existing employees who might otherwise be at risk of lay-off. Partnering or neighboring companies are encouraged to submit a joint application and share an employee or consultant between businesses.

"Focus offered a similar program last year that was very popular and produced even more energy savings projects than expected," Williams explained. "We are pleased to offer an expanded version of the program for 2009."

Interested businesses should visit focusonenergy.com/competitive_incentives for more information. Applications must include a list of potential projects, as funding is based on the energy savings from those projects and is paid when projects are completed. Applications must be received by April 30, 2009. In addition, completed energy efficiency projects are also eligible for Focus on Energy financial incentives that can be found at focusonenergy.com/incentives/business.

March 16-20: Fix a Leak Week

From a news release issued by the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin:

MADISON - How long will you ignore that drip in the shower? How about the leaky spigot outside the house, or that running toilet? Household leaks waste both valuable water resources and money. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) the average household can leak up to 11,000 gallons of water per year—enough to fill a backyard swimming pool!

That's why the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (PSC) is promoting “Fix a Leak Week” during March 16 to 20 to remind homeowners to check their plumbing fixtures and irrigation systems for leaks. Common types of leaks found in the home include leaking toilet flappers, dripping faucets, and other leaking valves. Fixing easily corrected household water leaks can save homeowners more than 10 percent on their water bills.

PSC Chairperson Eric Callisto noted, “Leaky faucets and toilets waste our precious water resources, and fixing leaks is one of the cheapest and easiest ways to conserve water and save energy.”

To check for leaks in your home, first determine whether you’re wasting water, then identify the source of the leak. Check your water meter before and after a two-hour period when no water is being used. If the meter changes at all, you probably have a leak.


In addition, leaks waste the electricity used to pump the water.

For more information on conserving water, visit the PSC web site or the Fix a Leak Week site.

High-speed rail boosted by stimulus but still years away

From an article by Chris Hubbuch in the La Crosse Tribune:

The inclusion of money for commuter rail development in the federal stimulus package has boosted the spirits of train advocates and increased the likelihood of high-speed rail service between Chicago and the Twin Cities.

But it likely will be years before any additional trains roll through La Crosse or Winona, Minn.

Included in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act signed into law last month was $8 billion to develop high-speed passenger train systems. Obama’s budget proposal includes $1 billion a year in grants to states for high-speed rail over the next five years.

“That was an important acceleration of this whole years-long quest,” said Jim Hill, executive director of the La Crosse Area Development Corporation.

The rail funding comes at a time when ridership -- driven largely by Amtrak’s popular Chicago-Milwaukee service -- is surging. Wisconsin rail use rose more than 23 percent in 2008. The number of passengers getting on and off the Empire Builder in La Crosse was up 13 percent.

Commuter rail advocates long have lobbied to bolster train service between Chicago and the Twin Cities via La Crosse, and a long-standing multi-state plan calls for developing such a corridor that would carry six additional daily trains. The route also is among the U.S. Department of Transportation’s designated high-speed rail corridors.

The first step is extending service to Madison.

If Gov. Jim Doyle is successful in getting a piece of the stimulus money, the state could begin work on the line to Madison, said Randy Wade, passenger rail manager for the Wisconsin Department of Transportation. That could take two to three years, he said, and continuing to the Twin Cities would take another two to three years.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Focus on Energy offers new grants for large renewable energy projects

From a news release issued by Focus on Energy:

(March 18, 2009) - In 2008 Focus on Energy, Wisconsin's energy efficiency and renewable energy initiative, awarded financial incentives totaling more than $2.5 million to help businesses statewide finance the installation of renewable energy systems. And in 2009, even more businesses will have the opportunity to become energy independent as Focus on Energy is offering special opportunity grants for up to $500,000 to support large renewable energy systems.

These grants, combined with the tax credits and other funding opportunities in the new American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which was signed into law Feb. 17, 2009, should help to make significant renewable energy projects a reality for hundreds of Wisconsin businesses.

"We believe there is an emerging demand for renewable energy systems at a larger level," said Don Wichert, renewable energy program director. "As concerns over the effects of fossil fuel based energy use, pollution and America's dependence on energy from overseas increase, it is our hope Wisconsin businesses will take advantage of these grants - and the new federal incentives - to take control over their energy use."

Eligible businesses must submit grant proposals to Focus on Energy by May 27, 2009. Funds will be awarded for the following technologies:

Solar Electric
Solar energy can be converted directly to electricity with photovoltaic (PV) cells. As light strikes the PV cell, it creates an electrical potential that generates a current of electricity. To implement solar electricity, businesses can use this grant for the installation of solar electric systems larger than 50 kilowatts (kW). The grant will award a maximum of $250,000.

Solar Water Heating
The sun's energy can be used to heat water for commercial and industrial applications. Businesses interested in implementing solar water heating can use this grant for the installation of solar water heating systems that offset more than 15,000 therms per year. The grant will award a maximum of $250,000.

Wind Energy
The energy present in wind can be converted into electricity with a wind turbine. Wind passing over the turbine creates a rotary motion that turns an electric generator and creates electricity. This grant will provide financial support for the installation of commercially available wind energy systems larger than 100 kW. This grant will award a maximum of $250,000.

Biogas/Landfill Gas/Biomass/Hydro
This grant will provide financial support for the installation of industrial/municipal and farm anaerobic digestion, landfill gas, biomass combustion and hydroelectric projects that generally cost $2 million to $5 million. These systems can help supply space heating, process heating, cooling and electricity. The grant will award a maximum of $500,000.

Focus on Energy offers new grants for large renewable energy projects

From a news release issued by Focus on Energy:

(March 18, 2009) - In 2008 Focus on Energy, Wisconsin's energy efficiency and renewable energy initiative, awarded financial incentives totaling more than $2.5 million to help businesses statewide finance the installation of renewable energy systems. And in 2009, even more businesses will have the opportunity to become energy independent as Focus on Energy is offering special opportunity grants for up to $500,000 to support large renewable energy systems.

These grants, combined with the tax credits and other funding opportunities in the new American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which was signed into law Feb. 17, 2009, should help to make significant renewable energy projects a reality for hundreds of Wisconsin businesses.

"We believe there is an emerging demand for renewable energy systems at a larger level," said Don Wichert, renewable energy program director. "As concerns over the effects of fossil fuel based energy use, pollution and America's dependence on energy from overseas increase, it is our hope Wisconsin businesses will take advantage of these grants - and the new federal incentives - to take control over their energy use."

Eligible businesses must submit grant proposals to Focus on Energy by May 27, 2009. Funds will be awarded for the following technologies:

Solar Electric
Solar energy can be converted directly to electricity with photovoltaic (PV) cells. As light strikes the PV cell, it creates an electrical potential that generates a current of electricity. To implement solar electricity, businesses can use this grant for the installation of solar electric systems larger than 50 kilowatts (kW). The grant will award a maximum of $250,000.

Solar Water Heating
The sun's energy can be used to heat water for commercial and industrial applications. Businesses interested in implementing solar water heating can use this grant for the installation of solar water heating systems that offset more than 15,000 therms per year. The grant will award a maximum of $250,000.

Wind Energy
The energy present in wind can be converted into electricity with a wind turbine. Wind passing over the turbine creates a rotary motion that turns an electric generator and creates electricity. This grant will provide financial support for the installation of commercially available wind energy systems larger than 100 kW. This grant will award a maximum of $250,000.

Biogas/Landfill Gas/Biomass/Hydro
This grant will provide financial support for the installation of industrial/municipal and farm anaerobic digestion, landfill gas, biomass combustion and hydroelectric projects that generally cost $2 million to $5 million. These systems can help supply space heating, process heating, cooling and electricity. The grant will award a maximum of $500,000.

Kenosha proves to be model for Milwaukee streetcar plan

From an article by Matthew Olson in the Kenosha News:

As Milwaukee gets assistance for its own downtown streetcar, a Kenosha transit official sees that proposal as a boost to regional transit plans and not a threat to interest in Kenosha’s railways.

Part of the $410 billion federal spending bill signed last week by President Obama included a provision to divide $91.5 million in transit aid between the city and county of Milwaukee.

The $91.5 million in funding was initially approved in 1991, but was held up when Milwaukee city and county officials were unable to decide how to divide the money. The city’s 60 percent share is planned for a downtown streetcar line, while Milwaukee County’s funds destined for the county bus system.

The concept of a downtown streetcar is nothing new to Kenosha. The city restarted its downtown streetcar rail line in 2000, and an estimated 65,000 people rode on Kenosha’s rails last year.

Kenosha Area Transit Director Len Brandrup said Milwaukee officials have taken a look at Kenosha’s streetcar setup in recent years.

“We have an excellent working relationship with the city of Milwaukee and have had them visit the streetcar system and showed them what it meant to the community,” Brandrup said.

But a Milwaukee streetcar system could have a significant connection for Kenosha beyond initial research.

Pete Beitzel, chairman of the Milwaukee Connector Transit Study and vice president of the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce, said Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett’s current plan for the streetcar line would create a three-mile loop through downtown Milwaukee. That line is expected to connect with the Amtrak train/Greyhound bus station.

That transit station is also the likely Milwaukee stop for a potential Kenosha-Racine-Milwaukee (KRM) commuter rail link.

“Having the KRM in the same place would connect the station to downtown Milwaukee,” Beitzel said. “Now, you either have to get a cab or have someone pick you up (from the station).”

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Focus on Energy offers new grants for large renewable energy projects

From a news release issued by Focus on Energy:

(March 18, 2009) - In 2008 Focus on Energy, Wisconsin's energy efficiency and renewable energy initiative, awarded financial incentives totaling more than $2.5 million to help businesses statewide finance the installation of renewable energy systems. And in 2009, even more businesses will have the opportunity to become energy independent as Focus on Energy is offering special opportunity grants for up to $500,000 to support large renewable energy systems.

These grants, combined with the tax credits and other funding opportunities in the new American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which was signed into law Feb. 17, 2009, should help to make significant renewable energy projects a reality for hundreds of Wisconsin businesses.

"We believe there is an emerging demand for renewable energy systems at a larger level," said Don Wichert, renewable energy program director. "As concerns over the effects of fossil fuel based energy use, pollution and America's dependence on energy from overseas increase, it is our hope Wisconsin businesses will take advantage of these grants - and the new federal incentives - to take control over their energy use."

Eligible businesses must submit grant proposals to Focus on Energy by May 27, 2009. Funds will be awarded for the following technologies:

Solar Electric
Solar energy can be converted directly to electricity with photovoltaic (PV) cells. As light strikes the PV cell, it creates an electrical potential that generates a current of electricity. To implement solar electricity, businesses can use this grant for the installation of solar electric systems larger than 50 kilowatts (kW). The grant will award a maximum of $250,000.

Solar Water Heating
The sun's energy can be used to heat water for commercial and industrial applications. Businesses interested in implementing solar water heating can use this grant for the installation of solar water heating systems that offset more than 15,000 therms per year. The grant will award a maximum of $250,000.

Wind Energy
The energy present in wind can be converted into electricity with a wind turbine. Wind passing over the turbine creates a rotary motion that turns an electric generator and creates electricity. This grant will provide financial support for the installation of commercially available wind energy systems larger than 100 kW. This grant will award a maximum of $250,000.

Biogas/Landfill Gas/Biomass/Hydro
This grant will provide financial support for the installation of industrial/municipal and farm anaerobic digestion, landfill gas, biomass combustion and hydroelectric projects that generally cost $2 million to $5 million. These systems can help supply space heating, process heating, cooling and electricity. The grant will award a maximum of $500,000.

Focus on Energy offers new grants for large renewable energy projects

From a news release issued by Focus on Energy:

(March 18, 2009) - In 2008 Focus on Energy, Wisconsin's energy efficiency and renewable energy initiative, awarded financial incentives totaling more than $2.5 million to help businesses statewide finance the installation of renewable energy systems. And in 2009, even more businesses will have the opportunity to become energy independent as Focus on Energy is offering special opportunity grants for up to $500,000 to support large renewable energy systems.

These grants, combined with the tax credits and other funding opportunities in the new American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which was signed into law Feb. 17, 2009, should help to make significant renewable energy projects a reality for hundreds of Wisconsin businesses.

"We believe there is an emerging demand for renewable energy systems at a larger level," said Don Wichert, renewable energy program director. "As concerns over the effects of fossil fuel based energy use, pollution and America's dependence on energy from overseas increase, it is our hope Wisconsin businesses will take advantage of these grants - and the new federal incentives - to take control over their energy use."

Eligible businesses must submit grant proposals to Focus on Energy by May 27, 2009. Funds will be awarded for the following technologies:

Solar Electric
Solar energy can be converted directly to electricity with photovoltaic (PV) cells. As light strikes the PV cell, it creates an electrical potential that generates a current of electricity. To implement solar electricity, businesses can use this grant for the installation of solar electric systems larger than 50 kilowatts (kW). The grant will award a maximum of $250,000.

Solar Water Heating
The sun's energy can be used to heat water for commercial and industrial applications. Businesses interested in implementing solar water heating can use this grant for the installation of solar water heating systems that offset more than 15,000 therms per year. The grant will award a maximum of $250,000.

Wind Energy
The energy present in wind can be converted into electricity with a wind turbine. Wind passing over the turbine creates a rotary motion that turns an electric generator and creates electricity. This grant will provide financial support for the installation of commercially available wind energy systems larger than 100 kW. This grant will award a maximum of $250,000.

Biogas/Landfill Gas/Biomass/Hydro
This grant will provide financial support for the installation of industrial/municipal and farm anaerobic digestion, landfill gas, biomass combustion and hydroelectric projects that generally cost $2 million to $5 million. These systems can help supply space heating, process heating, cooling and electricity. The grant will award a maximum of $500,000.

Don't blow chance for wind power

Wisconsin State Journal, March 18, 2009
Wisconsin Power & Light's plans to look more toward the wind as a power source should underscore for lawmakers the need to support wind farm development.

Wisconsin cannot afford to let the statewide interest in harnessing clean, renewable power from the wind be frustrated by local "not in my backyard" campaigns against wind farms.

The goal should be to adopt statewide standards for siting wind farms that limit local government regulation and provide developers with an opportunity to appeal. The standards should also preserve local authority to restrict or reject wind farms when warranted.

Interest in wind power is growing following state regulators' rejection last year of a new coal-fired power plant proposed by WPL, As an alternative to coal, the utility planning to develop more wind, biomass and natural gas power sources.

Other power companies are following a similar strategy.

Wind is the key element, projected to meet 90 percent of Wisconsin's goal to more than double the renewable energy contribution to electric needs over the next six years.

But wind power confronts a barrier.

Developers of small wind farms, unlike developers of large wind farms, fall outside the regulation of the state Public Service Commission. They left to local regulation.

Too often, local governments are cowed by "not in my backyard" worries about the impact of wind turbines -- worries that may be based on misinformation but that local governments lack the expertise to evaluate.

The result is impossible-to-meet restrictions that draw small wind farm development to halt.

For example, in 2007 Trempealeau County adopted a wind power ordinance so restrictive that it effectively banned wind farms.

A solution emerged with a proposal to require the PSC to issue model rules specifying what restrictions local governments could impose on wind farms. The bill also granted developers a right to appeal.

Lawmakers failed to pass the proposal last year. This year should make that legislation a top priority.

Homegrown timber now okay

From a story on WISC-TV:

MADISON, Wis. -- While timber is an abundant resource in Wisconsin, building with home-grown lumber in the state used to be impossible, unless the wood was a person's own. Now, that's changing.

Starting in April, small sawmills like one owned by Jim Birkemeier, of Spring Green, will be selling locally-grown wood to home builders and home owners who want a sustainable lifestyle, WISC-TV reported.

Until recently, state building standards prevented small sawmills like Birkemeier's from doing just that.

Republican state Sen. Dale Schultz's 17th district was one of the legislators that pushed the change through the senate. He said that the bipartisan effort to keep wood local will help keep money local.

"We can do it by having a smaller carbon footprint, and at the same time adding value to our resource," said Schultz. "Making a sustainable economy as well as a sustainable environment."

But it's not just about the economy or about living "green." It's about keeping forests healthy.

Alex Greene, of Red Beard Lumber, said, "The trees with inferior genetics and things like that, you're taking those out. From a management point of view, you're continually improving the quality and the volume of your forest."

Greene and Birkemeier will now be certified to sell local lumber to home builders and home owners, but not to retailers.

Mid-state tech gets funds for renewable energy programs

From an article by Adam Wise in the Stevens Point Journal:

Mid-State Technical College this year will receive $428,000 in federal funding for its five renewable energy programs.

College officials recently received word of the money, which is part of President Barack Obama's $410 billion spending bill.

"The funding will support instruction, program development, equipment purchase and coordination of the programs," MSTC President John Clark said. "We're trying to be the remedy for the (local) job loss, particularly in the paper industry."

The school offers associate degree programs in biorefinery technology, renewable electricity and renewable thermal energy. It plans to expand its programs to include energy efficiency technician and renewable energy specialist degrees this fall.

As of September, MSTC will provide five of the six renewable energy associate degree programs in the state.

Although Clark doesn't expect the school to receive the money for a few months, the administration is identifying specific needs now so it will be ready to put the money to use, he said.

The three current programs have successfully recruited many displaced paper industry workers from the area to train them for the 21st-century careers, said Sue Budjac, vice president of academic affairs.

"Because we are out in front, the grant really allows us to provide one-of-a-kind, state-of-the-art training opportunities, which will certainly attract enrollment," Budjac said.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

March 16-20: Fix a Leak Week

From a news release issued by the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin:

MADISON - How long will you ignore that drip in the shower? How about the leaky spigot outside the house, or that running toilet? Household leaks waste both valuable water resources and money. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) the average household can leak up to 11,000 gallons of water per year—enough to fill a backyard swimming pool!

That's why the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (PSC) is promoting “Fix a Leak Week” during March 16 to 20 to remind homeowners to check their plumbing fixtures and irrigation systems for leaks. Common types of leaks found in the home include leaking toilet flappers, dripping faucets, and other leaking valves. Fixing easily corrected household water leaks can save homeowners more than 10 percent on their water bills.

PSC Chairperson Eric Callisto noted, “Leaky faucets and toilets waste our precious water resources, and fixing leaks is one of the cheapest and easiest ways to conserve water and save energy.”

To check for leaks in your home, first determine whether you’re wasting water, then identify the source of the leak. Check your water meter before and after a two-hour period when no water is being used. If the meter changes at all, you probably have a leak.


In addition, leaks waste the electricity used to pump the water.

For more information on conserving water, visit the PSC web site or the Fix a Leak Week site.

Grants available to fund staff positions on energy savings

From a news release issued by Focus on Energy:

MADISON, Wis. (March 17, 2009) - Focus on Energy, Wisconsin's energy efficiency and renewable energy initiative, announced new staffing grants today to help businesses, manufacturers, farms, schools and government facilities throughout the state complete energy efficiency projects.

"Businesses don't need to let staffing issues become a barrier to energy savings," said Ken Williams, Focus on Energy's Business Programs director. "Focus on Energy is committed to helping companies overcome barriers that prevent them from completing energy efficiency projects."

The grants will fund up to $80,000 for a full- or part-time employee or consultant to work on-site and manage energy efficiency projects that otherwise would not be completed due to a lack of human resources. Grant funding will go toward the salary and benefits of a project manager who will oversee and engineer energy savings projects.

The grant is designed to help businesses hire new staff or retain existing employees who might otherwise be at risk of lay-off. Partnering or neighboring companies are encouraged to submit a joint application and share an employee or consultant between businesses.

"Focus offered a similar program last year that was very popular and produced even more energy savings projects than expected," Williams explained. "We are pleased to offer an expanded version of the program for 2009."

Interested businesses should visit focusonenergy.com/competitive_incentives for more information. Applications must include a list of potential projects, as funding is based on the energy savings from those projects and is paid when projects are completed. Applications must be received by April 30, 2009. In addition, completed energy efficiency projects are also eligible for Focus on Energy financial incentives that can be found at focusonenergy.com/incentives/business.

Monday, March 16, 2009

March 16-20: Fix a Leak Week

From a news release issued by the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin:

MADISON - How long will you ignore that drip in the shower? How about the leaky spigot outside the house, or that running toilet? Household leaks waste both valuable water resources and money. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) the average household can leak up to 11,000 gallons of water per year—enough to fill a backyard swimming pool!

That's why the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (PSC) is promoting “Fix a Leak Week” during March 16 to 20 to remind homeowners to check their plumbing fixtures and irrigation systems for leaks. Common types of leaks found in the home include leaking toilet flappers, dripping faucets, and other leaking valves. Fixing easily corrected household water leaks can save homeowners more than 10 percent on their water bills.

PSC Chairperson Eric Callisto noted, “Leaky faucets and toilets waste our precious water resources, and fixing leaks is one of the cheapest and easiest ways to conserve water and save energy.”

To check for leaks in your home, first determine whether you’re wasting water, then identify the source of the leak. Check your water meter before and after a two-hour period when no water is being used. If the meter changes at all, you probably have a leak.


In addition, leaks waste the electricity used to pump the water.

For more information on conserving water, visit the PSC web site or the Fix a Leak Week site.

NewPage to finish biorefinery study by year's end

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

More than a year after garnering $30 million in federal grant money to build an ethanol plant in Wisconsin Rapids, NewPage officials continue to consider the project's viability, a company spokeswoman said.

Although the Miamisburg, Ohio-based papermaker has completed a preliminary phase of the study into the project's viability, spokeswoman Shannon Semmerling expects the study to last until the end of 2009.

"The (Department of Energy) and NewPage will (then) review the findings and determine how to proceed," Semmerling said. "I would expect that we will learn more about Project Independence as 2009 comes to a close."

In January 2008, the Energy Department selected NewPage as one of four companies nationwide to receive a total of $114 million that will be made available to build small-scale biorefineries.

The refinery will produce about 370 barrels of biofuel a day -- or about 5.5 million gallons a year -- out of wood chips and mill residue, according to the Energy Department. The resulting fuel will replace natural gas at the mill and can be converted into renewable diesel fuel.

Luck School District recognized with LEED Award












From left: Steve Rubenzer of SDS Architect, Congressman David Obey, District Administrator Rick Palmer and School Board President Robert Clifton of Luck School District, Charlie Schneider of Focus on Energy


From a news release issued by Focus on Energy:

Focus on Energy, Wisconsin's energy efficiency and renewable energy initiative, presented Luck School District in Luck, Wis. with a plaque in recognition of earning the United States Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification on Friday, March 13. U.S. Congressman David Obey was on-hand during the presentation.

Luck School District is the second school in Wisconsin to receive a LEED certification and achieve this prestigious green building standard on an existing building. LEED standards address whole building maintenance issues including chemicals, energy and water efficiency performance, indoor air quality and recycling programs, among others standards to maximize operational efficiency and minimize environmental impacts.

"These efforts have saved money, reduced energy use and created a cleaner environment," said Congressman Obey. "I applaud Luck School District for providing the best education that comes from leading by example."

With the help of Focus on Energy's expertise and more than $120,000 in cash incentives, Luck School District has saved more than 495,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity and 25,000 therms of natural gas-enough energy to power 75 homes for a year. The district will also save more than $77,000 in energy costs annually. Luck School District's numerous accomplishments to earn LEED certification include:

+ A $2.1 million upgrade to its heating and cooling system.
+ Received a Department of Natural Resources grant to help implement an advanced recycling program.
+ Started a "green cleaning" program.
+ Provided continuing education to teachers though the Focus sponsored K-12 Energy Education Program (KEEP).
+ Kept students and teachers from the K-12 district actively involved with projects and monitoring success.

Platteville prof. studying community digester

From an article by Jim Massey in The Country Today:

PLATTEVILLE - Tim Zauche believes a community manure digester could be a win-win situation for UW-Platteville and dairy farmers near the city.

The UW-Platteville chemistry and engineering-physics professor is studying the feasibility of building an anaerobic digester on campus or at the university's farm to convert manure into a variety of energy sources. Area farmers have expressed interest in the concept, he said.

"The reason I got into this is I want to help farmers become more profitable and help the environment," Zauche said. "If we're not going to help the farmers' bottom line, why even do it?"

Zauche met with about 25 Platteville-area dairy farmers earlier this year to discuss the project.

"They were like, 'Hey, milk prices are down, we're strapped for capital. We don't want to own (the digester), but we can see the benefits of using it,' " Zauche said.

Zauche said he's not sure who would own the digester. It could be set up as a farmer cooperative, owned and operated by the university, or leased to a private firm that would operate it.

He estimated it would cost $1.5 million to $2 million for a digester that would process manure from 1,200 cows. About a dozen farmers are seriously interested in the project, Zauche said.

One of those farmers is Steve Weigel, who operates a 100-cow dairy farm about a mile north of Platteville. He said he would like to discontinue hauling his manure daily and haul to a digester instead.

Companies look for ways to cut back in tough times

From an article by Rick Barrett in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

Todd Nelson, owner of the Kalahari Resort, fires off in staccato fashion the belt-tightening measures taken at his Wisconsin Dells water park.

• Seventy employee cell phones eliminated. Saving: $4,500 a month.

• Wristbands for water park customers changed to a cheaper model. Saving: $60,000 a year.

• A new laundry water recycling system: $70,000 a year.

• Six company cars sold, saving thousands of dollars in fuel, insurance and maintenance.

• More than 100 employee e-mail addresses canceled. Saving: $8,000 annually in account fees.

• Employees attending trade shows now stay at cheaper hotels rather than the convention hotel.

"They can drive an extra three miles to a Comfort Inn," Nelson said.

For most companies, cost-cutting is key to surviving this recession. Layoffs and job reductions have been the most painful measures, but other less dramatic steps also can result in significant saving and can help a company's long-term health. . . .

Some companies have found huge savings through energy conservation.

The Kalahari installed a 103-panel solar hot water system that heats 60% of the water in the resort's laundry room.

Low-flow shower heads were installed in guest rooms, reducing water consumption by 2.46 million gallons per year.

The resort has a goal of cutting its electric bill by 30%, using dozens of measures such as motion-sensor lights in public areas.

'Green' power premium part of energy solution

From an editorial in the Eau Claire Leader-Telegram:

The issue: A proposed program would allow Xcel Energy customers to voluntarily pay extra for renewable power.

Our view: Bills would rise, but the program would give all of us a role in weaning our nation from fossil fuels.

In these days of economic uncertainty, paying more than you have to on a monthly bill seems like the equivalent of letting money go up in smoke.

But when it comes to utility costs, the opposite actually is true.

Xcel Energy's Wisconsin customers may soon have the option of paying a bit extra for their electricity to spur the production of more energy from "green" sources such as wind, solar and biomass. Boosting the use of renewable energy reduces reliance on nonrenewable sources, especially greenhouse-gas-producing coal. The price of renewable energy may be higher now, but spending more in the short term means less of our money will be converted into smoke - or at least carbon dioxide - in the long run. . . .

As noted earlier, customers who worry about the size of their existing bills may be skeptical of voluntarily paying more. That's understandable, and Xcel estimates only 3 to 5 percent of its Wisconsin customers will enroll. However, the higher the participation, the less costly renewable power becomes: Ten percent of Madison Gas and Electric's customers are enrolled in a similar program, and the premium they pay for wind power dropped from $2.67 to $1 per 100 kilowatts between 1999 and 2008.

Like any complex problem, weaning ourselves from fossil fuels - and the environmental havoc they bring - will take a concerted effort on many fronts. Big players such as utility companies, businesses and government regulators all have roles - but so does anyone who flips a light switch.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Doyle will speak at Wind Industry Supply Chain Seminar, Appleton, March 31


Wisconsin Wind Energy Supply Chain Seminar

Appleton, Wisconsin
March 31, 2009

Wisconsin Wind Energy Supply Chain Seminar will focus on wind turbine manufacturing challenges and opportunities in the state of Wisconsin. Over 8,000 components and parts are used in the construction of utility-scale wind turbines, offering opportunities for a wide range of manufacturers and service providers in Wisconsin. The existing manufacturing and service industries, as well as academic and other institutions in Wisconsin makes it an ideal state to benefit from the growth of the wind energy industry.

Hear from The Honorable Jim Doyle Governor of Wisconsin
Tuesday, March 31, 1:30 PM – 2:00 PM

Governor Jim Doyle is focused on creating opportunity for all of Wisconsin’s people and is building upon current efforts to create jobs, make America energy independent, and address the global climate crisis.



Complete program. Register online.

Doyle will speak at Wind Industry Supply Chain Seminar, Appleton, March 31


Wisconsin Wind Energy Supply Chain Seminar

Appleton, Wisconsin
March 31, 2009

Wisconsin Wind Energy Supply Chain Seminar will focus on wind turbine manufacturing challenges and opportunities in the state of Wisconsin. Over 8,000 components and parts are used in the construction of utility-scale wind turbines, offering opportunities for a wide range of manufacturers and service providers in Wisconsin. The existing manufacturing and service industries, as well as academic and other institutions in Wisconsin makes it an ideal state to benefit from the growth of the wind energy industry.

Hear from The Honorable Jim Doyle Governor of Wisconsin
Tuesday, March 31, 1:30 PM – 2:00 PM

Governor Jim Doyle is focused on creating opportunity for all of Wisconsin’s people and is building upon current efforts to create jobs, make America energy independent, and address the global climate crisis.



Complete program. Register online.

Doyle will speak at Wind Industry Supply Chain Seminar, March 31, Appleton


Wisconsin Wind Energy Supply Chain Seminar

Appleton, Wisconsin
March 31, 2009

Wisconsin Wind Energy Supply Chain Seminar will focus on wind turbine manufacturing challenges and opportunities in the state of Wisconsin. Over 8,000 components and parts are used in the construction of utility-scale wind turbines, offering opportunities for a wide range of manufacturers and service providers in Wisconsin. The existing manufacturing and service industries, as well as academic and other institutions in Wisconsin makes it an ideal state to benefit from the growth of the wind energy industry.

Hear from The Honorable Jim Doyle Governor of Wisconsin
Tuesday, March 31, 1:30 PM – 2:00 PM

Governor Jim Doyle is focused on creating opportunity for all of Wisconsin’s people and is building upon current efforts to create jobs, make America energy independent, and address the global climate crisis.





Complete program. Register online.

Wind farm possible near Green Lake

From an article in the Beaver Dam Daily Citizen:

Wisconsin Power & Light is poised to boost its investment in wind power - if state regulators approve the Madison utility company's plan to develop the Bent Tree wind farm in southeastern Minnesota.

WPL has an agreement with NextEra Energy Resources, a Juno Beach, Fla., subsidiary of FPL Group, to buy power from NextEra's wind farm in Crystal Lake, Iowa. It calls for 100 megawatts a year for 25 years with an additional 100 megawatts from the same location for one year.

As part of the deal, WPL could obtain rights from NextEra to build a wind farm in Green Lake, about 70 miles northeast of Madison.

"We don't have any plans, at this point, when or if or how we would develop that site," said Rob Crain, spokesman for WPL parent, Alliant Energy. "But certainly, we view it as a quality site ... that provides us with flexibility down the line."

NextEra had objected to WPL's Bent Tree proposal, saying WPL should instead buy power from Crystal Lake. "As the case proceeded, we (decided) it didn't have to be an either/or scenario," Crain said.

He said the agreement with NextEra could be one piece of WPL's alternative to a proposed power plant at Cassville.

The state Public Service Commission rejected plans in late 2008 for the 300-megawatt, mostly coal-fired generator with up to 20 percent of its fuel from waste agricultural products, saying the proposal was too costly and would create too much pollution.

WPL also is considering small, biomass-only power plants, Crain said, as well as turning a natural gas-fired power plant used now just for peak times into a combined-cycle plant that uses waste heat to create additional energy.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

State gets $200 million for weatherization and energy

From an article in The Capital Times:

Wisconsin will receive almost $200 million from the economic stimulus package in weatherization and energy funding, according to an announcement Thursday by Gov. Jim Doyle.

The $196,990,133 in funding includes $141,502,133 for the Weatherization Assistance Program and another $55,488,000 for the State Energy Program.

Doyle also announced Department of Energy Secretary Steven Chu will be in Wisconsin on Friday. While in Wisconsin, the two will meet with local energy, business, and labor leaders and help weatherize a Milwaukee home.

"This important funding puts hardworking Wisconsin families to work and puts our state and country on a path towards energy independence," Doyle said. "I look forward to partnering with Secretary Chu and the Obama administration in charting a cleaner and brighter future for generations to come."

Almost $8 billion from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act will go to weatherization of homes, including adding more insulation, sealing leaks and modernizing heating and air conditioning equipment, which is expected to pay for itself many times over.

The Weatherization Assistance Program will allow an average investment of up to $6,500 per home in energy efficiency upgrades and will be available for families making up to 200 percent of the federal poverty level, or about $44,000 a year for a family of four.
For more information on energy assistance or weatherization needs for qualified residential households, call 866-432-8947.

Energy savings are no small potatoes at McCain Foods

From a news release issued by Focus on Energy:

With potato-processing plants around the world, McCain Foods has a total production capacity to make more than one million pounds of french fries an hour. In fact, the company makes one-third of all frozen french fries in the world. Despite the high performance required by its plants, saving energy is no small potatoes for McCain Foods.

With the help of Focus on Energy, Wisconsin's energy efficiency and renewable energy initiative, McCain Foods' plants in Appleton, Fort Atkinson, Plover and Rice Lake, Wis. have reduced energy consumption by 4 million kilowatt-hours of electricity and 647,688 therms of natural gas annually - enough energy to power 1,070 homes for a year. The company will also save $875,000 on its energy bills each year.

"Focus on Energy was an invaluable asset to help us find energy saving solutions," said Andrew Green, plant engineering manager at McCain Foods. "Their technical expertise and assistance have assured us that we'll see a strong return on investment for our projects."

Since 2008, McCain Foods has received $485,000 in cash incentives from Focus on Energy to boost its efforts toward becoming more energy efficient. Together, the company's four Wisconsin plants have completed many energy saving projects, including plant-wide lighting upgrades, heating and cooling system improvements, updates to compressed-air systems, the installation of a variable-speed drive on a wastewater-treatment system and more.

But the biggest energy saver is an innovative heat recovery system installed at the Plover plant last month. The system captures "waste" heat from the plant's three exhaust stacks and uses it to preheat water for the boiler system. Reusing this heat enables the plant to significantly reduce its natural gas use and saves $594,000 a year. Focus awarded a $300,000 incentive to help get the project off the ground.

The view from atop MATC turbine in Mequon





















Jenny Heinzen, RENEW president and wind technology instrutor at Lakeshore Technical College, took this photo the V-17 wind turbine above the Mequon campus of the Milwaukee Area Technical College.

An article by Tom Kertscher in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported on the turbine when it became operational:

Mequon - The largest wind turbine on a technical college campus in Wisconsin has been erected at Milwaukee Area Technical College in Mequon, where officials hope that what's been dubbed "Blades of Freedom" will reduce campus energy costs and help train students for sustainable energy jobs of the future.

The turbine, which at 160 feet high and 56 feet wide easily is visible from Highland Road, also is aimed at raising awareness among the public about renewable sources of energy, said Michael Townsend, vice president of the Mequon campus.
Facebook subscirbers can see more photos in Jenny's photo album.

State to get $200 million for weatherization, energy

From an article in The Capital Times:

Wisconsin will receive almost $200 million from the economic stimulus package in weatherization and energy funding, according to an announcement Thursday by Gov. Jim Doyle.

The $196,990,133 in funding includes $141,502,133 for the Weatherization Assistance Program and another $55,488,000 for the State Energy Program.

Doyle also announced Department of Energy Secretary Steven Chu will be in Wisconsin on Friday. While in Wisconsin, the two will meet with local energy, business, and labor leaders and help weatherize a Milwaukee home.

"This important funding puts hardworking Wisconsin families to work and puts our state and country on a path towards energy independence," Doyle said. "I look forward to partnering with Secretary Chu and the Obama administration in charting a cleaner and brighter future for generations to come."

Almost $8 billion from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act will go to weatherization of homes, including adding more insulation, sealing leaks and modernizing heating and air conditioning equipment, which is expected to pay for itself many times over.

The Weatherization Assistance Program will allow an average investment of up to $6,500 per home in energy efficiency upgrades and will be available for families making up to 200 percent of the federal poverty level, or about $44,000 a year for a family of four.


For more information on energy assistance or weatherization needs for qualified residential households, call 866-432-8947.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Xcel asks for 'green pricing' option

From an article by Kevin Murphy in the La Crosse Tribune:

MADISON — Xcel Energy customers could choose to have more of the electricity they use come from renewable sources if the Wisconsin Public Service Commission approves a request Xcel submitted Friday.

The Voluntary Renewable Energy Source program would allow Xcel to charge $1.15 per 100 kilowatts for power produced by wind, solar or biomass sources but not from hydro, said David Donovan, Xcel’s manager of regulatory policy.
For typical residential customers using 750 kilowatts of power a month, the “green pricing” premium would add $8.62 to their existing $81.57 bill.

Xcel is the last utility in the state to offer an optional green energy plan for customers, Donovan said, but the company generates 14 percent of its power from renewable sources and has added 1,200 megawatts of wind power in recent years.

“Now there is a demand for it. Not just from residential customers, but commercial and industrial customers are interested in renewables beyond our base rate,” he said.

Xcel asks for ‘green pricing’ option

From an article by Kevin Murphy in the La Crosse Tribune:

MADISON — Xcel Energy customers could choose to have more of the electricity they use come from renewable sources if the Wisconsin Public Service Commission approves a request Xcel submitted Friday.

The Voluntary Renewable Energy Source program would allow Xcel to charge $1.15 per 100 kilowatts for power produced by wind, solar or biomass sources but not from hydro, said David Donovan, Xcel’s manager of regulatory policy.
For typical residential customers using 750 kilowatts of power a month, the “green pricing” premium would add $8.62 to their existing $81.57 bill.

Xcel is the last utility in the state to offer an optional green energy plan for customers, Donovan said, but the company generates 14 percent of its power from renewable sources and has added 1,200 megawatts of wind power in recent years.

“Now there is a demand for it. Not just from residential customers, but commercial and industrial customers are interested in renewables beyond our base rate,” he said.

Xcel asks for ‘green pricing’ option

From an article by Kevin Murphy in the La Crosse Tribune:

MADISON — Xcel Energy customers could choose to have more of the electricity they use come from renewable sources if the Wisconsin Public Service Commission approves a request Xcel submitted Friday.

The Voluntary Renewable Energy Source program would allow Xcel to charge $1.15 per 100 kilowatts for power produced by wind, solar or biomass sources but not from hydro, said David Donovan, Xcel’s manager of regulatory policy.
For typical residential customers using 750 kilowatts of power a month, the “green pricing” premium would add $8.62 to their existing $81.57 bill.

Xcel is the last utility in the state to offer an optional green energy plan for customers, Donovan said, but the company generates 14 percent of its power from renewable sources and has added 1,200 megawatts of wind power in recent years.

“Now there is a demand for it. Not just from residential customers, but commercial and industrial customers are interested in renewables beyond our base rate,” he said.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

$25 million in federal funds will help bus system delay crisis

From an article by Larry Sandler in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
A $25 million cash infusion from the federal stimulus package will delay - but not avert - a financial crisis at the Milwaukee County Transit System, county officials and outside experts agree.

Wisconsin's biggest bus system is in line to receive nearly one-third of the $81.6 million that the stimulus legislation will send to the state for transit. And County Executive Scott Walker, who has opposed other stimulus funding, says he will accept the bus money.

Milwaukee County's share of the dollars will go toward buying new buses and other equipment for the transit system. Walker said that will meet his criteria for accepting stimulus funds, because the county won't have to match part of the federal money with local tax dollars and won't be required to fund ongoing operations that weren't already planned.

Last year, the Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission and the Public Policy Forum warned that the transit system would be forced to slash service by 35% as early as 2010 unless it won new state or local funding.

The funding crisis stems largely from the way county officials used federal aid to avoid pumping more property tax dollars into the bus system. For years, Congress gave the county money to buy new buses, but the county legally spent the cash on major maintenance to keep old buses running longer. Those federal dollars are running out just as the transit system needs to start replacing about one-third of its aging fleet.

With the stimulus money, the county can buy some but not all of the 155 buses it needs, said planning commission Executive Director Ken Yunker.

That postpones the transit system's day of reckoning, but doesn't eliminate the need for a long-term solution, Public Policy Forum President Rob Henken said.

"Realistically, we're probably talking about buying at least a year," Walker said.

Electric-vehicle approval not yet put to the test in Wausau

From an article by D.J. Slater in the Wausau Daily Herald:

A new city ordinance has allowed people to drive electric vehicles in Wausau for nearly two months, but you'd be hard-pressed to find one on the streets.

Two city residents who jointly own one of the cars haven't taken it out since the ordinance took effect. And fewer than 100 of the vehicles are registered statewide.

Jim Sweo and Tracy Riehle bought their neighborhood electric vehicle in the summer of 2007, when gasoline prices soared past $3 a gallon. Since then, gas has dropped to about $2 a gallon, and the two owners have been using their gasoline-powered cars.

Riehle said the weather, not the gas-price drop, has encouraged her to keep using her regular vehicle. The NEV can get through snow, but not as effectively as a regular car. After the snow melts, Riehle plans to start using the electric vehicle for in-town errands, such as dropping her children off at school and picking up groceries.

"With my business, I've been really busy," said Riehle, who owns Snow Services, a snow-removal company. "I really didn't get a chance to use it. Now, with it getting warmer out, I'll start using it again."

Riehle was driving the vehicle the past two summers until she found out it was illegal to do so on city streets. The City Council passed an ordinance Jan. 13 allowing electric vehicles on most city streets with speed limits 35 mph or lower.

Electric cars run on several 12-volt batteries that are recharged through a standard household 110-volt outlet. The cars take between six to eight hours to charge and can travel between 30 to 35 miles on a full charge.

In 2007, the electric vehicle saved Riehle about $1,500 in fuel costs, she said. While she uses electricity to charge the car, she said she hasn't noticed a significant increase in her monthly electric bill.

The NEV doesn't require the normal maintenance needed for other cars, such as oil changes. Riehle's car comfortably seats four people and has plastic windows wrapped around the vehicle, providing a 360-degree view of the street when driving.

Holmen considers ‘buy local’ proposal

From an article by Jo Anne Killeen in the Onalaska Holmen Courier-Life:

The “buy local” argument that surfaced recently before the Holmen Village Board is an economic development issue and Holmen’s Economic Development Committee is putting together a proposal to present to the board that would change bid acceptance policies.

The issue was raised at last month’s board meeting when the board voted 5-2 to accept an out of town bid versus a more local bid. The “local” bid for a new squad car, which came from Sparta, was only $65 higher than the lowest bidder from Hartford. Trustee Nancy Proctor, along with Trustee Tony Szak were the two votes arguing to buy local.

The board also recently gave a bid to a West Salem company when a Holmen bidder was $46 higher.

“We ought to stay local with the economy the way it is,” Proctor said.

State law requires municipalities who put something out to bid to accept the lowest bid without preferences when there are no other local ordinances allowing them to do otherwise.

Trustee Ryan Olson, who chairs the economic development committee, said he sided with the majority on the squad car vote because of Village President John Chapman’s argument that the integrity of the bidding process was at stake.

Olson also said the decision might have been good government, but not good business. The committee members all agreed local procurement is an economic sustainability issue and discussed alternatives.

At the EDC meeting March 3, Olson said the village could do one of two things. It could develop, adopt and implement an ordinance and then wait to be challenged on it or it could approach state legislators to further define what “preference” means in state procurement laws.

Q&A on solar electricity and solar hot water

From an interview with Clay Sterling by Michael Burke published in The Journal Times (Racine):

Q. What is an off-grid home, and how did you achieve that?

A. There’s no physical connection between the home’s electrical system and the utility. You have an on-site power generation system, so you are your own utility. In my case, the sources are both solar and wind electric.

You store that energy in a battery pack for immediate or later use. Generally, those are sized for about three days of no power input — and generally, in three days you’ll have some power input.

But there are times, like in November, December and March, when you’re not generating enough. So you have to back up the whole system with a gasoline generator.

Q. Are we talking about do-it-yourself or professionally installed solar projects?

A. Professionally installed. We train homeowners and DIY people, but now 60-70 percent of people who go through program are in the trades. The systems are also being manufactured in ways that speed up installation for electrical and plumbing shops that want to offer this work.

Q. Where can one install a useful solar system?

A. For solar electricity, you need no shading from at least 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. every day of the year, and the sun’s position changes. Sometimes a roof is a suitable place. Sometimes a backyard, on a pole or on the ground.

Solar hot water, on the other hand, is very forgiving. You can have a little shade throughout the day with little or no impact.

Q. What are the investment costs and payback times for solar electric?

A. Before you install anything, you have to address energy efficiency. A homeowner could reduce electrical loads by 30-50 percent with energy-efficient measures. For every dollar you spend on energy efficiency, you reduce system cost by $3-$5.

A 4-5 kilowatt photovoltaic system for an average home would cost about $40,000 today, complete. After doing energy-efficiency measures, it would cost about $28,000.

Using $40,000, Focus on Energy would give a 25 percent rebate. A federal tax credit would knock off another 30 percent, for a final cost of about $21,000.

You’re still looking at a long time to pay off this system. But you can assume that each year the cost of energy will rise and value of dollar will decline.

The $28,000 system would end up costing you $14,700.

Q. What about solar hot water costs?

A. About $7,000-10,000 for a system. After the rebate and tax credit, you might spend $4,725. It would connect to a traditional hot water heater but reduce the amount of energy needed to heat water. It would supply 50-75 percent of an average home’s water-heating needs, averaged over a whole year.