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Tuesday, June 30, 2009

A sustainable energy checklist for green communities

From a brief guide published by Focus on Energy:

Cities and towns across Wisconsin are seeking ways to address concerns about global climate change while improving the environment and their local quality of life.

Environmentally-friendly or “green” options for communities have long included programs to encourage recycling and the purchase of recycled products, improving public transportation and developing new zoning ordinances that reduce urban sprawl.

Recently, many communities have begun to seek strategies for achieving carbon reduction goals as a way of becoming greener. Because fossil energy use is the primary source of carbon emissions, communities are turning to energy efficiency and
renewable energy to make their energy production and use more sustainable.

The guide answers the following questions:
WHAT IS SUSTAINABLE ENERGY?
HOW DOES SUSTAINABLE ENERGY PLANNING FIT
INTO OTHER GREEN COMMUNITY GOALS?
HOW DO COMMUNITIES GET STARTED?
SUSTAINABLE ENERGY OPPORTUNITIES AND RESOURCES

Video celebrates 10th anniversary of Kewaunee County wind farm


From a news release issued by Madison Gas and Electric:

MADISON, Wis. - (Business Wire) Wisconsin's first large-scale wind farm began producing clean, renewable electric power 10 years ago today in Kewaunee County. The 17-turbine, 11.22-megawatt facility built and owned by Madison Gas and Electric (MGE) is located near Rosiere. Since 1999, the facility has produced over 215,000 megawatt-hours of electricity, enough power to supply 3,000 homes annually.

The facility was built in direct response to MGE customers who wanted to purchase green energy for their homes and businesses. The wind farm's generating capacity available for green energy sales was sold out in less than four months. Over the last 10 years, MGE has increased its wind energy portfolio by 12 times as strong customer support for renewable energy continues. MGE customers have one of the highest participation rates nationally in green energy programming offered by investor-owned utilities.

"We are grateful to the landowners and communities that support this project," said Lynn Hobbie, MGE senior vice president. "We also thank the customers who have made our green pricing program so successful."

"In 10 years, wind generation has completed the transition from boutique energy to a bulk power," said Michael Vickerman, executive director of RENEW Wisconsin. "Early commitments to wind power from utilities like MGE helped make that happen and were instrumental to that industry's subsequent growth and maturation."

At the time, MGE's Rosiere facility was the largest wind farm in the Eastern United States. Today the wind farm is one of nine commercial facilities in Wisconsin. Wind-generating capacity in Wisconsin totals nearly 450 megawatts.

A sustainable energy checklist for green communities

From a brief guide published by Focus on Energy:

Cities and towns across Wisconsin are seeking ways to address concerns about global climate change while improving the environment and their local quality of life.

Environmentally-friendly or “green” options for communities have long included programs to encourage recycling and the purchase of recycled products, improving public transportation and developing new zoning ordinances that reduce urban sprawl.

Recently, many communities have begun to seek strategies for achieving carbon reduction goals as a way of becoming greener. Because fossil energy use is the primary source of carbon emissions, communities are turning to energy efficiency and
renewable energy to make their energy production and use more sustainable.

The guide answers the following questions:
WHAT IS SUSTAINABLE ENERGY?
HOW DOES SUSTAINABLE ENERGY PLANNING FIT
INTO OTHER GREEN COMMUNITY GOALS?
HOW DO COMMUNITIES GET STARTED?
SUSTAINABLE ENERGY OPPORTUNITIES AND RESOURCES

Video celebrates 10th anniversary of Wisconsin wind farm



From a news release issued by Madison Gas and Electric:

MADISON, Wis. - (Business Wire) Wisconsin's first large-scale wind farm began producing clean, renewable electric power 10 years ago today in Kewaunee County. The 17-turbine, 11.22-megawatt facility built and owned by Madison Gas and Electric (MGE) is located near Rosiere. Since 1999, the facility has produced over 215,000 megawatt-hours of electricity, enough power to supply 3,000 homes annually.

The facility was built in direct response to MGE customers who wanted to purchase green energy for their homes and businesses. The wind farm's generating capacity available for green energy sales was sold out in less than four months. Over the last 10 years, MGE has increased its wind energy portfolio by 12 times as strong customer support for renewable energy continues. MGE customers have one of the highest participation rates nationally in green energy programming offered by investor-owned utilities.

"We are grateful to the landowners and communities that support this project," said Lynn Hobbie, MGE senior vice president. "We also thank the customers who have made our green pricing program so successful."

"In 10 years, wind generation has completed the transition from boutique energy to a bulk power," said Michael Vickerman, executive director of RENEW Wisconsin. "Early commitments to wind power from utilities like MGE helped make that happen and were instrumental to that industry's subsequent growth and maturation."

At the time, MGE's Rosiere facility was the largest wind farm in the Eastern United States. Today the wind farm is one of nine commercial facilities in Wisconsin. Wind-generating capacity in Wisconsin totals nearly 450 megawatts.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Five simple summer tips to save you money and energy

From a news release issued by Focus on Energy:

As temperatures creep higher, so do energy bills.

Fortunately, Focus on Energy, Wisconsin’s energy efficiency and renewable energy initiative, has a number of simple tips to get your home ready for summer — saving you energy and money. The following are Focus on Energy’s top five tips for keeping your cool this summer:

1. Install a Programmable Thermostat. These help save money and keep homes
comfortable by automatically adjusting temperature settings while the homeowner is asleep or away. A tip for getting savings is to set it five degrees higher in the summer when the house is unoccupied for eight hours or more. Homeowners can save about $100 a year by properly setting their programmable thermostats and maintaining those settings.
2. Replace an Outdated Cooling System. When replacing an air conditioner it’s important to look for the ENERGY STAR®, as these units can use up to 14 percent less energy than standard models. Also, consider a timer for window units. Set the timer for a half hour before you return home so it’s not running when no one is there.
3. Install a Ceiling Fan. Used in combination with your air conditioner, ceiling fans allow you to raise your thermostat setting by as much as four degrees without reducing your comfort. However, be sure to turn the fan off when you’re not in the room to save energy — ceiling fans cool people, not rooms.
4. Replace standard bulbs with CFLs. Turning off lights when you are not using them helps to keep a room cool, but another tip is to replace standard light bulbs with ENERGY STAR qualified bulbs — they produce about 75 percent less heat, which helps cut energy costs associated with home cooling. Additionally, replacing your five most used light bulbs with ENERGY STAR qualified bulbs can save at least $35 a year.
5. Install Window Treatments. Shut out the hot summer sun by closing windows and pulling shades or curtains on south- and west-facing windows. This helps to reduce the amount of solar heat coming through the windows.

A Short Guide to Setting Up a City-Scale Retrofit Program

From an introduction to a guide just released by the Center on Wisconsin Strategy (COWS) and Green for All:

Green For All and COWS have just released A Short Guide to Setting Up a City-Scale Retrofit Program. This guide provides a model for designing and implementing energy efficiency retrofitting programs on a citywide scale, with a goal of making these retrofits available to more households and providing good, entry-level jobs with career pathways that are accessible to low-income communities and communities of color.

Energy efficiency retrofits of our homes, schools, and workplaces are the first steps to building an inclusive clean energy economy by addressing climate change, putting people in careers, and reducing working families' energy bills. Despite their overwhelming economic and environmental benefits, current retrofitting programs have limited capacity and limited scope. Many are available only to income-eligible individuals, or to those with the money up-front to do the work. Furthermore, many current retrofitting programs only create low-wage, short-term jobs, rather than providing pathways into sustainable careers in construction and green building.

Clearly, a new model is needed. This guide is a tool for local organizations, business leaders, entrepreneurs, elected officials, and others in cities across the country to use to promote energy efficiency in their communities. It outlines all of the important aspects of such a program, including policies, labor standards, community coalitions, and long-term funding options.

Iowa Renewable Energy Expo, Sept. 12-13

From the Iowa Renewable Energy Association (I-RENEW):

I-Renew's Energy and Sustainability Expo 2009 will be a celebration of the change that persistence can bring. We've got a lot to celebrate. We'll start by emphasizing the continued growth of green jobs in Iowa and finish by presenting a full spectrum of alternative energy and sustainability options.

Kate Gordon, Vice President of the Center for American Progress, is one of two keynote speakers. Ms. Gordon was, until June of this year, Co-Director of the National Apollo Alliance. The Apollo Alliance is a coalition of labor, business, environmental and community leaders working to catalyze a clean energy revolution that will put millions of Americans to work in a new generation of high-quality, green-collar jobs. Kate is nationally recognized for her work on the intersection of clean energy and economic development policy, and especially for helping to shape the modern definition of "green-collar jobs" as "well-paid, career track jobs that contribute directly to reserving or enhancing the environment." She has a long history of working for economic justice and labor issues. She serves on several boards, including the Midwest Agriculture Energy Network and the National Green Industries Policy Retreat.

Registration open for Solar Decade Conference, Oct. 2, Milwaukee

Now in its fifth year, the Wisconsin Solar Decade Conference is your opportunity to see firsthand the latest developments in the world of solar energy. Register today to hear from top industry experts and attend dozens of exhibits, workshops and panel discussions as you discover the state of the technology, the state of the market and where both will be tomorrow!

•Learn about the latest solar energy applications for your home and business
•Discover opportunities to tap the renewable energy market and expand your business
•Network with fellow builders, contractors, homeowners and business owners

Green inn will be first of its kind in Midwest

From an article in Walworth County Today:

DELAVAN TOWNSHIP — A totally "green," 19-room, luxury bed and breakfast inn being developed in Delavan Township will be the first of its kind in the Midwest.

The Green Leaf Inn, located off Wisconsin Highway 50 and west of Wisconsin Highway 67, plans to open in the summer of 2010 and will make Walworth County a major point of interest for the burgeoning eco-tourist movement.

The Inn will incorporate green energy sources, renewable and sustainable materials and practices, and environmentally responsible land and water use, according to a news release

That is the goal of Catherine McQueen and Fritz Kreiss, the owners of the Green Leaf. The couple has been in the energy industry for more than 17 years, and has been involved with the green energy movement from the start of their professional partnership, but the hospitality industry is a whole new field for them. With the Green Leaf, they've jumped in feet first."

"Walworth County is a wonderful location," Kreiss said. "Within easy driving distance to the three major population centers in the area (Chicago, Milwaukee, and Madison), yet still relatively unspoiled. Lake Geneva was one of the most popular tourist destinations in the area in the 20th Century. We want to set the stage to keep it that way in the twenty-first."

Their goal is to meet the highest standards for green building in all aspects of the Inn's design and construction. The list of technologies and practices involved has proven to be daunting. "We had a background in green energy: solar, wind, geothermal, biomass," says McQueen. "One of our early business ventures involved combined heat and power (CHP) units. But sustainable building, sustainable landscaping, water use, renewable materials, low-impact practices...we've put together quite a list of things to consider." With no previous experience in the hospitality industry, they've also had to learn about aspects of zoning and permitting that were new to them.

"We want the Green Leaf Inn to be a learning center," says Kreiss. "I think we can say it has already succeeded in that respect."

Friday, June 26, 2009

Midwest Renewable Energy Association on Facebook

Join the other 534 Facebook fans of the Midwest Renewable Energy Association --

You'll pick up news, notices of events, and tibits like this:

Total # of attendees at the 20th Annual Energy Fair: 23,206. That's up from last year! Absolutely phenomenal. .

Concordia readies environmental stewardship center

From an article in The Business Journal of Milwaukee:

Concordia University Wisconsin announced Wednesday that it plans to break ground in July for its new Center for Environmental Stewardship.

Construction of the 13,000 square-foot, two-story building is set to begin July 14. The structure will be built in Mequon on a bluff overlooking Lake Michigan and work is expected to be completed in time for the start of the 2010 academic year.

The total cost of the building is expected to be between $3.5 million and $3.75 million and is being funded exclusively through charitable gifts already secured for the project.

Concordia officials said the building demonstrates the university’s commitment to environmental education, freshwater conservation and emphasis on sustainable energy resources. Plans for the center include laboratories, classrooms and a large seminar room that can accommodate 200 people for presentations.

With its lakefront exposure, Concordia officials say the building will be a center for the study of the Great Lakes and other environmental issues. The building will be designed to be a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) gold-level building.

“When completed, the center will offer many educational programs and research in water stewardship and other sustainability education topics for Concordia students as well as visiting area schools and the greater community,” said Bruce Bessert, director of the Concordia Center for Environmental Stewardship program.

Concordia has added new degrees because of the new center, and now offers a bachelor’s degree in environmental studies and education with a minor in environmental studies, and a master’s degree in education with an emphasis on environmental education.

Hudson solar business gains honors

From a news release issued by Focus on Energy:

Focus on Energy honored Craig Tarr of Hudson-based Energy Concepts with the 2009 Market Provider of the Year Award. The award was presented at the Midwest Renewable Energy Association’s (MREA) 20th annual Energy Fair on June 21, 2009 in Custer, Wis.

The Market Provider of the Year Award was conceived as a way to recognize renewable energy contractors who exemplify the goals and expectations of the Focus on Energy Program. The award provides the opportunity to honor one such contractor each year for their commitment and dedication to excellent customer service and quality renewable energy systems installation. Contractors who receive this award are exceptional in their passion, intelligence and dedication when it comes to providing renewable energy services.

“Craig’s 20 years of experience in the engineering industry has contributed greatly to his highly successful growth in the renewable energy industry,” said Emily Hickey, market provider program coordinator. “Wisconsin truly benefits from having well qualified businesses like Energy Concepts grow our renewable energy markets.”

The renewable energy division of Energy Concepts was launched in 2006, and in just two short years the company transitioned from a sole proprietorship to an engineering and full-service renewable energy company with six full-time employees. This success is due largely to Tarr’s ability to establish and maintain a strong reputation for professionalism and high quality, and his ability to tackle and accomplish solar and wind systems of any size. And his mechanical engineering background, as well as LEED perspective, allow him to step outside the box and rise to challenges. In 2005, Tarr was accepted into The Climate Project, Al Gore’s initial training program for 1,000 citizens from around the United States. In addition, Tarr has taken an aggressive approach to establishing Energy Concepts as a renewable energy leader through outreach and participation in industry events, and has proven to be a great Focus on Energy partner.

Energy Efficiency Day, June 27, Benton, WI

From Habitat for Humanity of Grant County:

Feb. 2009 Heating Bill-$66.00!
Learn About Energy Saving Options & Programs Available to the public which made a $66.00 heating bill possible [for a Habitat for Humanity home in Benton, WI].

Location: Work Site, 177 White Street, Benton WI
Date: Saturday, June 27th
Time: 9am—3 Sessions, attend one or more

Program
Welcome and Introductions—9:00-9:30am
• President of Habitat for Humanity
• Senator Dale Schultz
• Partner Families
• Presenters

Session I—9:30-10:00 Building for Efficiency, Gary Kramer Using Insulated Concrete Forms, In- floor Heating Systems, and Structural Home Options

Session II—10:00-10:30 Solar Hot Water Heating Systems—Todd Timmerman of Timmerman’s Talents and Habitat for Humanity

Break 10:30-11:00 - Cookies & Conversation

Session III— 11:00-11:45 Home Energy Audits and Blower Door Testing—Mark Henning, 7th Power Solutions

Co-sponsors
Focus on Energy SW Community Action Program
USDA Workforce Development

Habitat for Humanity Contact Information
Phone: 608-348-9119
Mailing Address: PO Box 617 Platteville, WI 53818
Office: 135 S Hickory Street Platteville
Email: grantcountyhabitat@yahoo.com
Web Site: www.grantcountyhabitat.com

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Rooftops are ill-suited for wind turbines

From a fact sheet published by Focus on Energy:

Rooftop wind turbines are one of the most talked about trends in renewable energy. City dwellers and suburbanites, inspired by the spread of large turbines and intrigued by the idea of producing their own energy, are today inquiring about rooftop wind systems in record numbers.

But just how viable are these systems? Can small rooftop wind turbines ever produce enough electricity to make the investment worthwhile? Find out the answers to these and other commonly asked questions below. . . .

Will a small rooftop turbine power my whole house?
No. Small turbines can only produce small quantities of electricity due to their small rotors.

Rooftops are ill-suited to harness the wind regardless of their location due to the trees and buildings surrounding a home. Rooftops in the city are particularly difficult places to harness the breeze. Not only are cities less windy than the countryside, but the air is turbulent because of trees and the variation in heights of buildings. Turbulence can wear out a turbine and reduce its life expectancy.

One analysis showed that a common type of rooftop turbine (being tested by Madison Gas Electric) "had generated about 45 kWh in about eight months (in a year about 65 kWh). The average single family WI home uses 10,000 kWh/year. Are you ready to live on 65 kWh/year?"

Rooftops are ill-suited for wind turbines

From a fact sheet published by Focus on Energy:

Rooftop wind turbines are one of the most talked about trends in renewable energy. City dwellers and suburbanites, inspired by the spread of large turbines and intrigued by the idea of producing their own energy, are today inquiring about rooftop wind systems in record numbers.

But just how viable are these systems? Can small rooftop wind turbines ever produce enough electricity to make the investment worthwhile? Find out the answers to these and other commonly asked questions below. . . .

Will a small rooftop turbine power my whole house?
No. Small turbines can only produce small quantities of electricity due to their small rotors.

Rooftops are ill-suited to harness the wind regardless of their location due to the trees and buildings surrounding a home. Rooftops in the city are particularly difficult places to harness the breeze. Not only are cities less windy than the countryside, but the air is turbulent because of trees and the variation in heights of buildings. Turbulence can wear out a turbine and reduce its life expectancy.

One analysis showed that a common type of rooftop turbine (being tested by Madison Gas Electric) "had generated about 45 kWh in about eight months (in a year about 65 kWh). The average single family WI home uses 10,000 kWh/year. Are you ready to live on 65 kWh/year?"

Rooftops are ill-suited for wind turbines

From a fact sheet published by Focus on Energy:

Rooftop wind turbines are one of the most talked about trends in renewable energy. City dwellers and suburbanites, inspired by the spread of large turbines and intrigued by the idea of producing their own energy, are today inquiring about rooftop wind systems in record numbers.

But just how viable are these systems? Can small rooftop wind turbines ever produce enough electricity to make the investment worthwhile? Find out the answers to these and other commonly asked questions below. . . .

Will a small rooftop turbine power my whole house?
No. Small turbines can only produce small quantities of electricity due to their small rotors.

Rooftops are ill-suited to harness the wind regardless of their location due to the trees and buildings surrounding a home. Rooftops in the city are particularly difficult places to harness the breeze. Not only are cities less windy than the countryside, but the air is turbulent because of trees and the variation in heights of buildings. Turbulence can wear out a turbine and reduce its life expectancy.

One analysis showed that a common type of rooftop turbine (being tested by Madison Gas Electric) "had generated about 45 kWh in about eight months (in a year about 65 kWh). The average single family WI home uses 10,000 kWh/year. Are you ready to live on 65 kWh/year?"

Rooftops are ill-suited for wind turbines

From a fact sheet published by Focus on Energy:

Rooftop wind turbines are one of the most talked about trends in renewable energy. City dwellers and suburbanites, inspired by the spread of large turbines and intrigued by the idea of producing their own energy, are today inquiring about rooftop wind systems in record numbers.

But just how viable are these systems? Can small rooftop wind turbines ever produce enough electricity to make the investment worthwhile? Find out the answers to these and other commonly asked questions below. . . .

Will a small rooftop turbine power my whole house?
No. Small turbines can only produce small quantities of electricity due to their small rotors.

Rooftops are ill-suited to harness the wind regardless of their location due to the trees and buildings surrounding a home. Rooftops in the city are particularly difficult places to harness the breeze. Not only are cities less windy than the countryside, but the air is turbulent because of trees and the variation in heights of buildings. Turbulence can wear out a turbine and reduce its life expectancy.

One analysis showed that a common type of rooftop turbine (being tested by Madison Gas Electric) "had generated about 45 kWh in about eight months (in a year about 65 kWh). The average single family WI home uses 10,000 kWh/year. Are you ready to live on 65 kWh/year?"

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Revitalizing Ourselves Through Renewable Energy



From a presentation by RENEW's Michael Vickerman (above) at the Energy Fair of the Midwest Renewable Energy Association:

Energy Policy Must Recognize Energy Realities
+ Supplies of liquid fuels peaked in 2008
+ Capital is disappearing before our very eyes
+ Energy and food are the original currencies
+ The shift from stores to flows is inevitable
+ Current economy is highly energy-intensive
+ Energy return on energy invested (EROEI) must inform decision-making
+ We can’t afford to prop up existing energy sinks or engage in wealth-draining military adventures

Three paths to choose
+ Business as usual
+ Clean green technology
+ Curtailment and community

Revitalizing Ourselves Through Renewable Energy


















From a presentation by RENEW's Michael Vickerman (above) at the Energy Fair of the Midwest Renewable Energy Association:

Energy Policy Must Recognize Energy Realities
+ Supplies of liquid fuels peaked in 2008
+ Capital is disappearing before our very eyes
+ Energy and food are the original currencies
+ The shift from stores to flows is inevitable
+ Current economy is highly energy-intensive
+ Energy return on energy invested (EROEI) must inform decision-making
+ We can’t afford to prop up existing energy sinks or engage in wealth-draining military adventures

Three paths to choose
+ Business as usual
+ Clean green technology
+ Curtailment and community

Revitalizing Ourselves Through Renewable Energy


















From a presentation by RENEW's Michael Vickerman (above) at the Energy Fair of the Midwest Renewable Energy Association:

Energy Policy Must Recognize Energy Realities
+ Supplies of liquid fuels peaked in 2008
+ Capital is disappearing before our very eyes
+ Energy and food are the original currencies
+ The shift from stores to flows is inevitable
+ Current economy is highly energy-intensive
+ Energy return on energy invested (EROEI) must inform decision-making
+ We can’t afford to prop up existing energy sinks or engage in wealth-draining military adventures

Three paths to choose
+ Business as usual
+ Clean green technology
+ Curtailment and community

Revitalizing Ourselves Through Renewable Energy



















From a presentation by RENEW's Michael Vickerman at the Energy Fair of the Midwest Renewable Energy Association:

Energy Policy Must Recognize Energy Realities
+ Supplies of liquid fuels peaked in 2008
+ Capital is disappearing before our very eyes
+ Energy and food are the original currencies
+ The shift from stores to flows is inevitable
+ Current economy is highly energy-intensive
+ Energy return on energy invested (EROEI) must inform decision-making
+ We can’t afford to prop up existing energy sinks or engage in wealth-draining military adventures

Three paths to choose
+ Business as usual
+ Clean green technology
+ Curtailment and community

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Revitalizing Ourselves Through Renewable Energy

From the presentation by RENEW's Michael Vickerman on June 21, 2009, at the Energy Fair of the Midwest Renewable Energy Association, Custer, WI:

Energy Policy Must Recognize Energy Realities
+ Supplies of liquid fuels peaked in 2008
+ Capital is disappearing before our very eyes
+ Energy and food are the original currencies
+ The shift from stores to flows is inevitable
+ Current economy is highly energy-intensive
+ Energy return on energy invested (EROEI) must inform decision-making
+ We can’t afford to prop up existing energy sinks or engage in wealth-draining military adventures

Three paths to choose
+ Business as usual
+ Clean green technology
+ Curtailment and community

Energy fair stresses jobs, training and ROI

From an article by George Leopold and video posted on EE Times:

CUSTER, Wis. — With the U.S. economy still in the tank and the ranks of the unemployed still growing, many visitors to this year's Midwest Renewable Energy Association's Energy Fair came here looking for work or a career change.

Engineers and other professionals flocked to sessions on subjects like "green-collar careers" at the 20th annual event in this bucolic central Wisconsin community. Renewable energy experts stressed the job-creating potential of emerging solar, wind and other alternative energy sources.

Meanwhile, vendors, mindful of the still-high up front costs for renewable energy systems, emphasized what they claimed is the shrinking time needed to recoup the cost of investment in new energy systems.

Workshops were heavy on the nuts and bolts of renewable energy, ranging from how to become a certified installer to the latest building codes and tax exemptions for energy-efficent homes and retrofits. Much of the discussion here was driven by Obama administration plans to pour billions of dollars into renewable energy programs aimed specifically at creating green jobs.

Job seekers were told they should have an intergrated set of professional skills covering electrical, electronics and even plumbing. One expect, Jason La Fleur of the green energy education group Eco Achievers, estimated that 110,000 solar energy installers will be needed over the next year.

Solar installation tops a growing list of green jobs that La Fleur said includes "eco-preneurs," urban planners and sustainable systems managers. Engineers already possess many of the skills needed to fill these new jobs, he added.

A Short Guide to Setting Up a City-Scale Retrofit Program

From an introduction to a guide just released by the Center on Wisconsin Strategy (COWS) and Green for All:

Green For All and COWS have just released A Short Guide to Setting Up a City-Scale Retrofit Program. This guide provides a model for designing and implementing energy efficiency retrofitting programs on a citywide scale, with a goal of making these retrofits available to more households and providing good, entry-level jobs with career pathways that are accessible to low-income communities and communities of color.

Energy efficiency retrofits of our homes, schools, and workplaces are the first steps to building an inclusive clean energy economy by addressing climate change, putting people in careers, and reducing working families' energy bills. Despite their overwhelming economic and environmental benefits, current retrofitting programs have limited capacity and limited scope. Many are available only to income-eligible individuals, or to those with the money up-front to do the work. Furthermore, many current retrofitting programs only create low-wage, short-term jobs, rather than providing pathways into sustainable careers in construction and green building.

Clearly, a new model is needed. This guide is a tool for local organizations, business leaders, entrepreneurs, elected officials, and others in cities across the country to use to promote energy efficiency in their communities. It outlines all of the important aspects of such a program, including policies, labor standards, community coalitions, and long-term funding options.

Energy fair stresses jobs, training and ROI

From an article by George Leopold and video posted on EE Times:

CUSTER, Wis. — With the U.S. economy still in the tank and the ranks of the unemployed still growing, many visitors to this year's Midwest Renewable Energy Association's Energy Fair came here looking for work or a career change.

Engineers and other professionals flocked to sessions on subjects like "green-collar careers" at the 20th annual event in this bucolic central Wisconsin community. Renewable energy experts stressed the job-creating potential of emerging solar, wind and other alternative energy sources.

Meanwhile, vendors, mindful of the still-high up front costs for renewable energy systems, emphasized what they claimed is the shrinking time needed to recoup the cost of investment in new energy systems.

Workshops were heavy on the nuts and bolts of renewable energy, ranging from how to become a certified installer to the latest building codes and tax exemptions for energy-efficent homes and retrofits. Much of the discussion here was driven by Obama administration plans to pour billions of dollars into renewable energy programs aimed specifically at creating green jobs.

Job seekers were told they should have an intergrated set of professional skills covering electrical, electronics and even plumbing. One expect, Jason La Fleur of the green energy education group Eco Achievers, estimated that 110,000 solar energy installers will be needed over the next year.

Solar installation tops a growing list of green jobs that La Fleur said includes "eco-preneurs," urban planners and sustainable systems managers. Engineers already possess many of the skills needed to fill these new jobs, he added.

A Short Guide to Setting Up a City-Scale Retrofit Program

From an introduction to a guide just released by the Center on Wisconsin Strategy (COWS) and Green for All:

Green For All and COWS have just released A Short Guide to Setting Up a City-Scale Retrofit Program. This guide provides a model for designing and implementing energy efficiency retrofitting programs on a citywide scale, with a goal of making these retrofits available to more households and providing good, entry-level jobs with career pathways that are accessible to low-income communities and communities of color.

Energy efficiency retrofits of our homes, schools, and workplaces are the first steps to building an inclusive clean energy economy by addressing climate change, putting people in careers, and reducing working families' energy bills. Despite their overwhelming economic and environmental benefits, current retrofitting programs have limited capacity and limited scope. Many are available only to income-eligible individuals, or to those with the money up-front to do the work. Furthermore, many current retrofitting programs only create low-wage, short-term jobs, rather than providing pathways into sustainable careers in construction and green building.

Clearly, a new model is needed. This guide is a tool for local organizations, business leaders, entrepreneurs, elected officials, and others in cities across the country to use to promote energy efficiency in their communities. It outlines all of the important aspects of such a program, including policies, labor standards, community coalitions, and long-term funding options.

Monday, June 22, 2009

A turbine and exhibitor staff await the onslaught of people who attended the 20th Energy Fair under fair skies in Custer, WI, June 19-21, 2009.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

River Falls opens doors on new 'green' City Hall

From an article by Andy Rathbun in the Pioneer Press:

River Falls has a new City Hall, and just like the city it represents, it's a state leader in being "green."

The firm that designed the newly opened, 27,000-square-foot building says it's the first LEED-registered city hall in Wisconsin. It features lots of sunlight, is made of recycled materials and has the latest mechanics designed to save energy.

LEED — or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design — is a designation made by the U.S. Green Building Council for buildings that meet or exceed certain environmentally friendly requirements. Buildings are ranked as certified, silver, gold or platinum, and the new City Hall is expected to be designated either silver or gold.

It's far cry from the old City Hall, located in a cramped 1912 building originally built as a library.

"This is like night and day," said city Planning Director Mariano "Buddy" Lucero of his new office. His old office was windowless, but in this new space, there's so much sunlight coming in that he doesn't even have to turn on the lights, he said.

The City Hall was built for about $5.2 million, said Mark Paschke of River Falls-based Frisbie Architects, the firm that designed the building. Making the facility adhere to environmentally friendly standards did not make it more expensive to build — its costs are in line with other new office buildings its size, he said.

And the design is meant to cut future utility costs.

Many of the lights that do get turned on are controlled by motion detectors. It's one of the ways the building conserves energy. High-efficiency boilers and air conditioners will make the building 34 percent more energy-efficient than required by code, city officials said.

About a third of the building's power comes from the purchase of renewable energy; River Falls is a leader in using such sources in the Midwest. The building's roof also was built with solar power in mind.

Wind siting bill passes major legislative hurdle with strong bipartisan support

From a news release issued by Clean Wisconsin:

Madison, Wis. – Wisconsin could soon see greater growth in the promising wind energy industry after the Assembly Committee on Energy and Utilities passed Assembly Bill 256 today, a bipartisan bill that would encourage growth in the clean energy industry by replacing a chaotic patchwork of local regulations with sensible statewide standards for permitting safe wind farms.

“Wind energy holds the potential to address many of the greatest problems facing our state –it can clean our environment and reduce global warming pollution while reducing our dependence on fossil fuels and creating jobs for hard working Wisconsinites,” said Amber Meyer Smith, program director at Clean Wisconsin the state’s largest environmental advocacy organization. “With so much to gain, we’re extremely encouraged that the legislature seems poised to eliminate administrative barriers holding up the development of this promising infant industry.”

As other industries struggled in poor economic times and cut workers, the wind energy industry grew immensely in 2008 – increasing its national workforce by 70 percent to over 85,000 workers. Unfortunately, while wind developers stand ready to invest in Wisconsin’s economy and put Wisconsinites to work building safe wind farms, a complicated system of over-stringent local regulations currently puts our state at a disadvantage to neighboring states, holding up more than an estimated 500 megawatts of wind farm development in the state.

Assembly Bill 256 would charge the Wisconsin Public Service Commission with studying and determining safe permitting standards for wind farms, then replacing the current disorganized system that discourages the growth of the wind energy industry with sensible statewide standards.

Wind siting bill passes major legislative hurdle with strong bipartisan support

From a news release issued by Clean Wisconsin:

Madison, Wis. – Wisconsin could soon see greater growth in the promising wind energy industry after the Assembly Committee on Energy and Utilities passed Assembly Bill 256 today, a bipartisan bill that would encourage growth in the clean energy industry by replacing a chaotic patchwork of local regulations with sensible statewide standards for permitting safe wind farms.

“Wind energy holds the potential to address many of the greatest problems facing our state –it can clean our environment and reduce global warming pollution while reducing our dependence on fossil fuels and creating jobs for hard working Wisconsinites,” said Amber Meyer Smith, program director at Clean Wisconsin the state’s largest environmental advocacy organization. “With so much to gain, we’re extremely encouraged that the legislature seems poised to eliminate administrative barriers holding up the development of this promising infant industry.”

As other industries struggled in poor economic times and cut workers, the wind energy industry grew immensely in 2008 – increasing its national workforce by 70 percent to over 85,000 workers. Unfortunately, while wind developers stand ready to invest in Wisconsin’s economy and put Wisconsinites to work building safe wind farms, a complicated system of over-stringent local regulations currently puts our state at a disadvantage to neighboring states, holding up more than an estimated 500 megawatts of wind farm development in the state.

Assembly bill 256 would charge the Wisconsin Public Service Commission with studying and determining safe permitting standards for wind farms, then replacing the current disorganized system that discourages the growth of the wind energy industry with sensible statewide standards.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

World's largest energy fair this weekend, Custer, WI

From the Wisconsin Rapids Tribune:

The world’s largest and longest-running energy fair is being held in central Wisconsin.

Midwest Renewable Energy Association is holding its 20th annual Energy Fair next Friday through Sunday at the ReNew the Earth Institute in Custer.

It feature hundreds of workshops and exhibits emphasizing clean energy and sustainable living.

General admission for the fair is $15 each day or $35 for all three days.

A major sponsor is Madison-based Focus on Energy. It works with eligible Wisconsin residents and businesses to install cost-effective energy efficiency projects.

Wind siting bill passes major legislative hurdle with strong bipartisan support

From a news release issued by Clean Wisconsin:

Madison, Wis. – Wisconsin could soon see greater growth in the promising wind energy industry after the Assembly Committee on Energy and Utilities passed Assembly Bill 256 today, a bipartisan bill that would encourage growth in the clean energy industry by replacing a chaotic patchwork of local regulations with sensible statewide standards for permitting safe wind farms.

“Wind energy holds the potential to address many of the greatest problems facing our state –it can clean our environment and reduce global warming pollution while reducing our dependence on fossil fuels and creating jobs for hard working Wisconsinites,” said Amber Meyer Smith, program director at Clean Wisconsin the state’s largest environmental advocacy organization. “With so much to gain, we’re extremely encouraged that the legislature seems poised to eliminate administrative barriers holding up the development of this promising infant industry.”

As other industries struggled in poor economic times and cut workers, the wind energy industry grew immensely in 2008 – increasing its national workforce by 70 percent to over 85,000 workers. Unfortunately, while wind developers stand ready to invest in Wisconsin’s economy and put Wisconsinites to work building safe wind farms, a complicated system of over-stringent local regulations currently puts our state at a disadvantage to neighboring states, holding up more than an estimated 500 megawatts of wind farm development in the state.

Assembly bill 256 would charge the Wisconsin Public Service Commission with studying and determining safe permitting standards for wind farms, then replacing the current disorganized system that discourages the growth of the wind energy industry with sensible statewide standards.

Computer standby could be UWSP cost saver

From an article by Nick Paulson in the Stevens Point Journal:

A new power-saving computer program at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point should save the university thousands of dollars a year.

The Desktop Power Management Initiative will switch groups of campus computers to a standby or hibernation mode during periods of low use, especially overnight.

It is a fairly common idea on college campuses, but UWSP needed to find a program that would only put the computers to sleep rather than shut them off. That will allow the Information Technology department to do systemwide work at night that requires access to all computers.

"Typically in the past years, in order for IT to be able to do upgrades, we would tell everyone to leave the computers on," said Bob Oehler, director of facilities services and chairman of the sustainability task force that broached the idea. "A culture has developed that when you leave at night, you leave your computer on."

While that method allows for easy network access, it also has meant a bigger electric bill. Not counting daytime standby switches, university staff members estimate overnight hibernation should save at least $30,000 a year. The program will cost about $25,000 to install after grants.

Wind Siting Bill Passes Major Legislative Hurdle with Strong Bipartisan Support

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 17th, 2009
Contact: Amber Meyer Smith, Program Director, 608.251.7020 ext. 16, 608.347.6026 (cell)

Madison, Wis. – Wisconsin could soon see greater growth in the promising wind energy industry after the Assembly Committee on Energy and Utilities passed Assembly Bill 256 today, a bipartisan bill that would encourage growth in the clean energy industry by replacing a chaotic patchwork of local regulations with sensible statewide standards for permitting safe wind farms.

“Wind energy holds the potential to address many of the greatest problems facing our state – it can clean our environment and reduce global warming pollution while reducing our dependence on fossil fuels and creating jobs for hard working Wisconsinites,” said Amber Meyer Smith, program director at Clean Wisconsin the state’s largest environmental advocacy organization. “With so much to gain, we’re extremely encouraged that the legislature seems poised to eliminate administrative barriers holding up the development of this promising infant industry.”

As other industries struggled in poor economic times and cut workers, the wind energy industry grew immensely in 2008 – increasing its national workforce by 70 percent to over 85,000 workers. Unfortunately, while wind developers stand ready to invest in Wisconsin’s economy and put Wisconsinites to work building safe wind farms, a complicated system of over-stringent local regulations currently puts our state at a disadvantage to neighboring states, holding up more than an estimated 500 megawatts of wind farm development in the state.

Assembly bill 256 would charge the Wisconsin Public Service Commission with studying and determining safe permitting standards for wind farms, then replacing the current disorganized system that discourages the growth of the wind energy industry with sensible statewide standards.

“In challenging economic times, why not help investors put Wisconsinites to work supplying clean energy to power our homes, schools and businesses?” said Smith. “The Assembly Committee on Energy and Utilities deserves praise for carefully crafting legislation that ensures safe wind farms will be permitted across the state.”

Unlike energy produced from dirty fossil fuels, wind farms developments serve as an investment in Wisconsin’s economy by putting Wisconsinites to work producing clean, renewable energy. With growth of the wind energy industry, Wisconsinites will manufacture wind turbine parts, operate machinery necessary to erect and maintain wind turbines, and build access roads. Wind farms also provide a valuable new source of revenue to farmers who can lease their land to wind farm companies to harvest energy from the sky as farmers continue to cultivate crops from fields below.

“Why send billions of dollars out of state for dirty, polluting fossil fuels when we could invest in our own economy and produce clean energy right here in Wisconsin?” said Smith. “We applaud the representatives on the Assembly Committee on Energy and Utilities for their bipartisan vote today to make Wisconsin a cleaner, better place to live.”

Assembly Bill 256 now moves to the Senate and the full Assembly for a vote. The full Assembly could vote on the measure as early as next week.

###

Clean Wisconsin, an environmental advocacy organization, protects Wisconsin’s clean water and air and advocates for clean energy by being an effective voice in the state legislature and by holding elected officials and polluters accountable. Founded in 1970 as Wisconsin’s Environmental Decade, Clean Wisconsin exposes corporate polluters, makes sure existing environmental laws are enforced, and educates citizens and businesses. On behalf of its 10,000 members and its coalition partners, Clean Wisconsin protects the special places that make Wisconsin such a wonderful place to live, work and play. Phone: 608-251-7020, Fax: 608-251-1655, Email: information@cleanwisconsin.org, Website: www.cleanwisconsin.org.

News releases

2009
08.05.09 Wind siting reform gains strong bipartisan vote in committee
07.15.09 If It Is Broke Please Fix It: Wisconsin Needs Uniform Siting Standards
06.17.09 Wind Siting Reform Gains Strong Bipartisan Committee Vote - Wind for Wisconsin
06.17.09 Wind siting bill passes major legislative hurdle with strong bipartisan support - Clean Wisconsin

Free energy efficiency improvements for mobile home residents

From a news release issued by Focus on Energy:

HUDSON, Wis. (June 17, 2009) — Mobile home residents in the St. Croix area who purchase their gas and electricity from utilities who participate in the Focus on Energy Program, including St. Croix Gas, River Falls Municipal Utilities and Xcel Energy, have the opportunity for a free home energy evaluation and possible free energy efficiency improvements.

This initiative, called the Mobile Home Duct Sealing Pilot, is part of Focus on Energy’s Home Performance with ENERGY STAR® Program, and is designed to create cost effective energy savings in mobile homes by testing for and correcting a certain set of inefficiencies, primarily leaky duct work. All testing and work is free to the mobile home owner.

The Mobile Home Duct Sealing Pilot, like Home Performance energy evaluations, uses the most advanced, state-of-the-art equipment to test homes, identify problems and implement recommended improvements. Duct sealing and other improvements are then tested to ensure the work is done to program standards. Partnering consultants and contractors delivering the Pilot were selected through a competitive bidding process. All the services are free to the homeowner, and the entire process can be completed in one day.

Wind Siting Reform Gains Strong Bipartisan Committee Vote

Date: June 17, 2009
Contact: Noah Seligman, 608-215-9370

The Assembly Committee on Energy and Utilities passes AB 256, wind siting reform, on a 10-2 vote The 12-member Assembly Committee on Energy & Utilities voted 10-2 to advance AB 256 (Senate companion SB 185), wind siting reform, to the full Assembly. The vote was bipartisan, with six Democrats and four Republicans on the committee voting in favor of the bill. Wind siting reform has 20 cosponsors in the Assembly and 11 in the Senate, with support from both parties.

A substitute amendment was added on an 11-1 vote that would require the PSC to hold two public hearings outside of Dane County as part of its rule-making. The amendment also provided additional wildlife protections, technical changes, and inclusion of Smart Growth planning in regulating wind energy projects.

“The bipartisan committee approval demonstrates strong consensus on the need for wind siting reform,” said Curt Pawlisch, spokesman for Wind for Wisconsin. “Wind siting reform will be an engine for economic activity in Wisconsin, attract new investment opportunities, and support current state energy policy.”

SB 185/AB 256 directs the Public Service Commission (PSC) to initiate an administrative rule-making process to establish statewide siting standards for wind energy projects. The PSC is an independent regulatory agency dedicated to serving the public interest. The bill draft requires the PSC to establish an advisory committee of diverse interests to advise the Commission on the rules. The legislature will have the opportunity to review the proposed rules prior to their publication.

Wind for Wisconsin is optimistic that a floor vote in the Assembly would garner the same strong bipartisan support demonstrated in committee and among cosponsors.
###

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Farmers talk about living near wind turbines

Farmers talk about living near turbines

Farmers talk about living near turbines

Milwaukee program wins green jobs grant

From an article by Joel Dresang in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

The United States Conference of Mayors has recognized the Milwaukee Conservation Leadership Corps as a good example of training young workers for green jobs.

The group cited the job training program Friday with a $550,000 check from the Wal-Mart Foundation, which Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett said will be used for expansion. Barrett said the corps shows what private, public and nonprofit sectors can do together to develop workers while improving the environment.

The program involves Johnson Controls Inc. and the Student Conservation Association and trains disadvantaged high school students in conservation practices, putting them to work in Milwaukee-area parks. About 80 students will participate in the Milwaukee Conservation Leadership Corps this summer.

Wind siting reform and local control

From Wind for Wisconsin:

SB 185/AB 256 would direct the PSC to establish statewide siting standards for wind energy projects. Projects fewer than 100 MW in size would still be reviewed and approved by a local unit of government after the rules are adopted.

+ The status quo is the only approach to wind siting that would leave local control completely unchanged. The status quo has stalled over 600 MW of potential wind projects forfeiting thousands of Wisconsin jobs and millions of investment dollars.
+ The bill draft requires the PSC to establish an advisory committee of diverse interests to advise the Commission on the rules. Representatives from local units of government will be part of that advisory committee.
+ In 2006 the WTA passed a resolution at its annual convention entitled “Uniform Standards for Public Health or Safety of Wind Energy Systems.” The resolution called for uniform standards, and was the impetus for wind siting reform legislation.
+ The bill draft from the previous legislative session was negotiated with the Wisconsin Counties Association and the Wisconsin Towns Association. The WTA was in favor of wind siting reform last session while the WCA was neutral.1 The bill draft for the current legislative session is substantively similar.
+ An amendment from the Wisconsin Realtors Association (supported by Wind for Wisconsin) allows local governments to deny a project application if a project would be sited in an area that has been primarily designated for future residential or commercial development.2
+ Under SB 185/AB 256, local units of government would maintain their central role in the regulatory process for wind energy systems. Applications for wind energy projects under 100 MW in size would still be subject to review and approval at the local level.

Local governments would be responsible for enforcing permit standards. Local governments would maintain control over their roads including restoration requirements and regulating driveway use (access roads).

In the coming weeks, the state Legislature will have a chance to make it easier for clean energy creating wind turbines to proliferate in Wisconsin…Critics likely will charge that the bill is an attack on local control. However, it still lets local governments make wind-siting decisions, and allows those who disagree with them to appeal to the PSC and the courts.3
-Eau Claire Leader-Telegram


References
1 The WTA has registered in opposition in 2009. The WCA has remained neutral.
2 Maps adopted under s. 66.1001(2)(b) on or before June 1, 2009.
3 http://www.leadertelegram.com/story-opinions.asp?id=BJP8BE09JFU

Monday, June 15, 2009

World's largest energy fair held in central Wis. begins this weekend

From the Wisconsin Rapids Tribune:

The world’s largest and longest-running energy fair is being held in central Wisconsin.

Midwest Renewable Energy Association is holding its 20th annual Energy Fair next Friday through Sunday at the ReNew the Earth Institute in Custer.

It feature hundreds of workshops and exhibits emphasizing clean energy and sustainable living.

General admission for the fair is $15 each day or $35 for all three days.

A major sponsor is Madison-based Focus on Energy. It works with eligible Wisconsin residents and businesses to install cost-effective energy efficiency projects.

Jefferson business turns to sun

From an article by Steve Sharp in the Watertown Daily Times:

JEFFERSON - Area dignitaries turned out by the dozens Thursday afternoon to salute and support Jefferson business leader Steve Lewis as he embarks on his quest to generate clean, solar energy. Part of Lewis' goal is to serve as an inspiration to others to undertake solar energy-capturing projects of their own.

Ninety-nine solar panels now sit atop the north roof of Lewis' Jefferson Area Business Center (JABC) and provide emission-free, sustainable energy by converting sunlight into electricity. The photovoltaic, renewable energy system is the largest commercial project of its kind in the county.

Thursday's reception at the JABC on Wisconsin Drive, just steps south of Highway 18, brought out a cross-section of community leaders, including Jefferson School District Superintendent Michael Swartz, Jefferson Mayor Gary Myers, city Administrator Tim Freitag, Jefferson County Board Chairwoman Sharon Schmeling and Watertown Daily Times Publisher Jim Clifford. Also in attendance were WPPI Energy President and CEO Roy Thilly, Emily Hickey from Focus on Energy and Al Dittmar of Carroll Electric.

“In making preparations for the project, my first analysis wasn't how much the system would produce but how much I could cut my electrical consumption, because the best electron is the electron that is not used,” Lewis told the crowd. He added the unique project is another example of his propensity to undertake business projects using his heart as a guide.

Green Drinks in Eau Claire, June 17

Come relax with friends and make some new ones as we get together and discuss environmental issues that are important to YOU at Eau Claire’s first ever Green Drinks. Green Drinks is an opportunity for folks interested in “green” environmental issues to come together over drinks and conversations to find out what interesting things are going on in the Chippewa Valley. Green Drinks is unique because there is no agenda, there are no dues, there’s no board of directors – it’s just a social opportunity for people to come together and talk with other like-minded environmentalists about ideas, events, and issues going on around our community.

A common sentiment often heard in the local environmental community is that there is no clearinghouse of information regarding environmental issues. Green Drinks has already successfully served Wisconsin communities as a place to share ideas in La Crosse, Madison, and Green Bay – it’s time to add Eau Claire to that list!

Green Drinks Eau Claire
Every 3rd Wednesday of the Month
6:30-8:OOPM
Haymarket Grill
101 Graham Avenue
Eau Claire, WI 54701

If you have any questions or ideas please email Tom Stolp or call 715-835-4248. For directions or more information on the Haymarket Grill visit http://www.haymarketgrill.com

Wind Energy is a Safe, Proven Technology



Scientists conclude that there is no evidence wind turbines have an adverse impact on human health.(1) Wind opponents have circulated deceptive videos and misleading photos in an attempt to scare legislators into inaction.

+ Wind energy is safe, secure, and reliable
+ Reject the fear campaign from wind opponents
+ SB 185/AB 256 would establish a responsible forum for reviewing scientific information regarding wind energy There are over 120 Gigawatts(2) of wind turbines installed worldwide, and since 2005, global wind generation capacity has more than doubled.

Currently, 76 countries are using commercial wind energy.(3) The U.S. military uses wind turbines to reduce fuel costs and the need for fuel shipments in dangerous areas.(4)

Wind turbines provide safe and reliable energy. At present there are well over 10,000utility-scale wind turbines installed and operating in North America, and tens of thousands of people who live and work in proximity to these wind turbines. Of these individuals, a very small number have claimed that their health has been adversely affected by wind turbines. Surveys of peer-reviewed scientific literature have consistently found no evidence linking wind turbines to human health concerns.

Wind power opponents frequently quote Nina Pierpont to frighten the public and convince decision makers that wind power is dangerous. Her view is not supported by scientists who specialize in acoustics, low frequency sound and related human health impacts. It is important to point out that Dr. Pierpont’s writings have not been published in peer-reviewed journals, a fact that raises questions as to the scientific validity of her research.

References
1 http://www.canwea.ca/media/release/release_e.php?newsId=37
2 1 Gigawatt = 1 billion watts.
3 http://www.wwindea.org/home/images/stories/worldwindenergyreport2008_s.pdf
4 http://www.csmonitor.com/2006/0907/p01s04-usmi.html

The Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA) has compiled a list of articles and publications on the subject from reputable sources in Europe and North America. Below are summaries of these articles:

1. “Infrasound from Wind Turbines – Fact, Fiction or Deception?” by Geoff Leventhall in Vol. 34 No.2 (2006) of the peer-reviewed journal Canadian Acoustics. This paper looks at the question of whether or not wind turbines produce infrasound at levels that can impact humans. It directly addresses assertions frequently made by Dr. Nina Pierpont, author of a recent book entitled “Wind Turbine Syndrome”. “In the USA, a high profile objector (Nina Pierpont of Malone NY) placed an advertisement in a local paper, consisting entirely of selected quotations from a previously published technical paper by van den Berg (Van den Berg 2004). However the comment “[i.e. infrasonic]”, as shown in Fig 3, was added in the first line of the first quotation in a manner which might mislead naive readers into believing that it was part of the original. The van den Berg paper was based on A-weighted measurements and had no connection with infrasound. So, not only is the advertisement displaying the advertiser’s self deception, but this has also been propagated to others who have read it.

[…] The comment, [i.e. infrasonic], added into Fig 3 gives incorrect information. Claims of infrasound are irrelevant and possibly harmful, should they lead to unnecessary fears.”
www.wind.appstate.edu/reports/06-06Leventhall-Infras-WT-CanAcoustics2.pdf

2. “Wind Turbine Facilities Noise Issues” by Dr. Ramani Ramakrishnan for the Ontario Ministry of the Environment. This study looked into the claims made in the doctoral thesis of G.P. van den Berg, a source frequently cited by Dr. Pierpont. It concluded that: “The research work undertaken by G. P. van den Berg didn’t provide scientific evidence to support the few major hypotheses postulated concerning the wind turbine noise characteristics.”
http://www.ene.gov.on.ca/envision/env_reg/er/documents/2008/Noise%20Report.pdf

3. “Wind Turbine Acoustic Noise”, A White Paper by Dr. Anthony Rodgers at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. This paper looked into the issue of both sound and infrasound (low frequency sound) and concluded “There is no reliable evidence that infrasound below the perception threshold produces physiological or psychological effects.”

4. “Research into Aerodynamic Modulation of Wind Turbine Noise”, University of Salford, UK, July 2007. This paper looked into claims that it was not infrasound, but “amplitude modulation” (AM) that presented problems. The paper concludes that “This shows that in terms of the number of people affected, wind farm noise is a small-scale problem compared with other types of noise; for example the number of complaints about industrial noise exceeds those about windfarms by around three orders of magnitude” and that “The low incidence of AM and the low numbers of people adversely affected make it difficult to justify further research funding in preference to other more widespread noise issues.” http://usir.salford.ac.uk/1554/1/Salford_Uni_Report_Turbine_Sound.pdf

5. “Electricity generation and health” in the peer-reviewed journal The Lancet. The paper concludes that “Forms of renewable energy generation are still in the early phases of their technological development, but most seem to be associated with few adverse effects on health” http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17876910

6. “Health impact of wind turbines”, prepared by the Municipality of Chatham-Kent Health & Family Services Public Health Unit. This is a comprehensive review of available literature on the subject. This paper concludes and concurs with the original quote from Chatham-Kent’s Acting Medical Officer of Health, Dr. David olby: “In summary, as long as the Ministry of Environment Guidelines for location criteria of wind farms are followed, it is my opinion that there will be negligible adverse health impacts on Chatham-Kent citizens. Although opposition to wind farms on aesthetic grounds is a legitimate point of view, opposition to wind farms on the basis of potential adverse health consequences is not justified by the evidence.” http://www.chatham-kent.ca/NR/rdonlyres/CA6E8804-
D6FF-42A5-B93B-5229FA127875/7046/5a.pdf


7. Energy, sustainable development and health, World Health Organization, June 2004. The study finds that “Renewable sources, such as photovoltaic and wind energy, are associated with fewer health effects. [...] The increased use of renewable energy, especially wind, solar and photovoltaic energy, will have positive health benefits, some of which have been estimated.” There is also a table on page 79 showing the relative health effects of nearly all sources of energy, which clearly shows wind as negligible. http://www.euro.who.int/document/eehc/ebakdoc08.pdf

Dealer hopes electric scooters will take off

From an article by Nick Paulson in the Stevens Point Journal:

A dealership in Stevens Point has become one of four in the state to sell a tailpipe emission free, electric scooter.

Laszewski & Sons began carrying the VX-1, made by Vectrix, this year after noticing an increased interest in electric vehicles because of rising gas prices and a growing interest in thinking green.

The VX-1 still leaves some carbon footprint when charging, but its 36 grams per kilometer emission is less than half of similar scooters, or about a quarter the emissions of a Toyota Prius, according to Vectrix's Web site.

"We were looking at the market, and we think this is what the future holds," said Vice President Scott Laszewski.

The scooter is completely electric. Just plug it into a standard wall outlet and it takes about two hours for an 80 percent charge, and three to five hours for a full charge.

Depending on driving conditions, a charge can get up to 60 miles. The scooter is approved for freeway use and can reach around 60 mph. A motorcycle license is required to drive one.

Friday, June 12, 2009

USDA announces funding for Biomass Crop Assistance Program

From an article on Farm Energy:

Today, June 11, USDA issued a Notice of Funds for Availability (NOFA) for the Collection, Harvest, Storage and Transportation (CHST) portion of the Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP). You can read the official notice here. Funding for the remaining components of BCAP (annual and establishment payments) will be announced in the final rule at a later date. . . .

Collection, Harvest Storage and Transportation Assistance
The CHST payments under BCAP provide biomass producers or owners with a $1 for $1 matching payment when they deliver biomass to a biomass conversion facility. For each dollar a biomass producer receives from the facility, the USDA will pay an additional dollar, up to $45 per dry ton, for up to 2 years. This payment is intended to help biomass producers with the costs of biomass collection, harvest, storage and transportation.

A biomass producer or owner can be the owner of the land where the biomass is produced or a person with the right to collect or harvest biomass off of the land, such as a renter or contractor.

A biomass conversion facility is any facility using biomass to produce heat, power, biobased products or next-generation biofuels like cellulosic ethanol or biomass pellets.

There is broad eligibility for the types of biomass eligible for payments. The only specific exclusions are biomass from state and federal lands, commodity grains and fibers, animal wastes and by-products, food and yard waste and algae. However, only 20% of funding made available for CHST payments (estimated to be $25 million for 2009 but may increase) can go to residues from Title I commodity crops.

Renewable energy in your home

From a story on WJFW-TV, Rhinelander:

NEWBOLD - With government tax incentives and rebates from Wisconsin Focus on Energy--installing renewable energy systems is becoming more affordable.

Marc DeBrock's interest in renewable energy spiked after attending the Midwest Renewable Energy Association's annual Energy Fair.

DeBrock tells Newswatch 12, "I saw what was going on there and what people were adapting into their lives and the renewable energy systems, so it's always been in the back of my mind."

That was 15 years ago. Now after years researching he finally installed his own renewable energy system--solar thermal panels.

"It's used for both hot water and space heating"

Fluid inside theses panels are heated by the sun. The liquid then travels through a tube and heats water inside this 415-gallon holding tank. Where it's then distributed for use in the bathroom and kitchen.

DeBrock says, "Depending on how warm the water is in the tank, it can go out anywhere from 90 to 100 degrees up to 150 degrees."

The water also heats coils underneath the floor--heating the house.

He says, "Once enough hot water is produced, I can send the rest of the heat into the radient floor heat."

But solar-thermal panels aren't the only way that Marc's using renewable energy for his home.

DeBrock adds, "Site location of the house, I think is one of the simplest ways to make your house more efficient."

When Marc built his house four years ago, he took that into consideration--building his house to maximize the most natural energy.

End unnecessary obstacles to wind power

From an editorial in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

The single biggest constraint on increasing wind generation of electricity in Wisconsin is the permitting process, according to Clean, Responsible Energy for Wisconsin's Economy, a group working on implementing the recommendations of the Governor's Task Force on Global Warming. And one of the biggest problems in the permitting process is local opposition to wind farms.

CREWE has said that over 600 megawatts of planned wind developments are stalled across Wisconsin "due to midstream changes in regulations and procedures." The Journal Sentinel's Thomas Content pointed out in an article on Monday that more than a dozen wind projects around the state have been slowed by local opposition.

That can't continue. What's needed, as CREWE officials argue, is regulatory reform and, specifically, uniform siting standards for all wind farms that would be built in the state. Such legislation has been introduced. It deserves adoption by the Legislature.

USDA announces funding for Biomass Crop Assistance Program

From an article on Farm Energy:

Today, June 11, USDA issued a Notice of Funds for Availability (NOFA) for the Collection, Harvest, Storage and Transportation (CHST) portion of the Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP). You can read the official notice here. Funding for the remaining components of BCAP (annual and establishment payments) will be announced in the final rule at a later date. . . .

Collection, Harvest Storage and Transportation Assistance
The CHST payments under BCAP provide biomass producers or owners with a $1 for $1 matching payment when they deliver biomass to a biomass conversion facility. For each dollar a biomass producer receives from the facility, the USDA will pay an additional dollar, up to $45 per dry ton, for up to 2 years. This payment is intended to help biomass producers with the costs of biomass collection, harvest, storage and transportation.

A biomass producer or owner can be the owner of the land where the biomass is produced or a person with the right to collect or harvest biomass off of the land, such as a renter or contractor.

A biomass conversion facility is any facility using biomass to produce heat, power, biobased products or next-generation biofuels like cellulosic ethanol or biomass pellets.

There is broad eligibility for the types of biomass eligible for payments. The only specific exclusions are biomass from state and federal lands, commodity grains and fibers, animal wastes and by-products, food and yard waste and algae. However, only 20% of funding made available for CHST payments (estimated to be $25 million for 2009 but may increase) can go to residues from Title I commodity crops.

Unnecessary obstacles

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, June 12, 2009
The single biggest constraint on increasing wind generation of electricity in Wisconsin is the permitting process, according to Clean, Responsible Energy for Wisconsin's Economy, a group working on implementing the recommendations of the Governor's Task Force on Global Warming. And one of the biggest problems in the permitting process is local opposition to wind farms.

CREWE has said that over 600 megawatts of planned wind developments are stalled across Wisconsin "due to midstream changes in regulations and procedures." The Journal Sentinel's Thomas Content pointed out in an article on Monday that more than a dozen wind projects around the state have been slowed by local opposition.

That can't continue. What's needed, as CREWE officials argue, is regulatory reform and, specifically, uniform siting standards for all wind farms that would be built in the state. Such legislation has been introduced. It deserves adoption by the Legislature.

A report released Monday by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs said that cutting carbon dioxide emissions won't be cheap, but delaying action on addressing global warming will be worse, both for the environment and the Midwest economy, according to another article by Content. The group is urging that the Midwest turn the challenge of energy and climate change into a competitive advantage and says enactment of greenhouse gas regulations is "essential to the Midwest's future prosperity and competitiveness."

A recent study has preliminarily concluded that winds may be slowing in parts of the country because of global warming. However, the findings are still speculative, and those changes appear to be less in states bordering the Great Lakes. Wind power, we're confident, still can play a key part in a balanced energy mix and help to develop the green economy in Wisconsin and create new jobs.

Wisconsin has made significant progress on wind energy, but wind power still accounts for only about 5% of the power supply. That needs to be improved. Transportation difficulties, budget cuts and competition from other states are also obstacles to that improvement, and each needs to be dealt with.

But Wisconsin can improve its position, and the first step is approving uniform wind siting regulations for the state. Local officials and residents should still have a say, and not every project deserves approval. Some sites are clearly better than others. But the best way to deal with developing new sites is to have a uniform wind siting standard on which developers and energy companies can rely.

Wisconsin can do great things with wind and other alternative sources of energy. The time to start is now.