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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Doyle signs bill to begin reform of wind permiting

From a news release issued by Governor Jim Doyle:

NEW BERLIN – Governor Jim Doyle today signed into law Senate Bill 185, creating more uniform standards for siting wind projects and strengthening Wisconsin’s wind industry.

“With our resources and strategic location, we have a tremendous opportunity to become a worldwide leader in wind energy,” Governor Doyle said. “This bill is a clear statement to the wind industry that Wisconsin is open for business and will create more jobs for hardworking Wisconsin families.”

The legislation accomplishes an integral recommendation of the Governor’s Task Force on Global Warming. The bill requires the Public Service Commission to establish uniform standards regulating the construction and operation of wind energy systems. It allows proposed wind energy systems that are one megawatt or larger to appeal decisions by local authorities with the PSC.

Since coming into office, Governor Doyle has worked to make Wisconsin a leader in renewable energy. Governor Doyle created the Task Force on Global Warming to bring together a prominent and diverse group of key Wisconsin business, industry, government, energy and environment leaders to examine the effects and solutions to global warming in Wisconsin. Using current national and local research, the task
force analyzed possible solutions to global warming challenges that pose a threat to Wisconsin’s economic and environmental health. The task force is charged with creating a state plan of action to deliver to the Governor to reduce Wisconsin’s contribution to global warming.

Governor’s plan for energy independence includes: Generating 25 percent of our electricity and 25 percent of the fuels for our cars and trucks from renewable sources by the year 2025; capturing 10 percent of the market share for renewable energy and bioproducts; and utilizing Wisconsin’s tremendous capability for research to become the country’s leader in making alternative energies more affordable and
available to all.

Tours of green, renewable homes coming this weekend

From an article in the Wausau Daily Herald:

The Midwest Renewable Energy Association is sponsoring its annual Wisconsin Solar Tour this weekend.

The tour showcases businesses and homes that are energy efficient, sustainable or are powered with renewable energies.

Organizers expect a big turnout this year as more and more people are looking to make energy efficiency upgrades to their homes and look to alternative energy. On top of normal grants given out by Wisconsin’s Focus on Energy program, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act is giving additional tax incentives — typically up to 30 percent — to people doing such projects.

There are several Marathon County businesses and homes participating in the tour. For a complete list visit the-mrea.org.

The business portion of the tour is from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday. Home tours are from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday.

If you’re in the Stevens Point area this weekend, Wisconsin Public Service, in conjunction with MREA, is sponsoring guided bus tours of local solar homes and businesses as part of the annual Wisconsin Solar Tour.

More information and registration details here.

Doyle signs bill to begin reform of wind permiting

From a news release issued by Governor Jim Doyle:

NEW BERLIN – Governor Jim Doyle today signed into law Senate Bill 185, creating more uniform standards for siting wind projects and strengthening Wisconsin’s wind industry.

“With our resources and strategic location, we have a tremendous opportunity to become a worldwide leader in wind energy,” Governor Doyle said. “This bill is a clear statement to the wind industry that Wisconsin is open for business and will create more jobs for hardworking Wisconsin families.”

The legislation accomplishes an integral recommendation of the Governor’s Task Force on Global Warming. The bill requires the Public Service Commission to establish uniform standards regulating the construction and operation of wind energy systems. It allows proposed wind energy systems that are one megawatt or larger to appeal decisions by local authorities with the PSC.

Since coming into office, Governor Doyle has worked to make Wisconsin a leader in renewable energy. Governor Doyle created the Task Force on Global Warming to bring together a prominent and diverse group of key Wisconsin business, industry, government, energy and environment leaders to examine the effects and solutions to global warming in Wisconsin. Using current national and local research, the task
force analyzed possible solutions to global warming challenges that pose a threat to Wisconsin’s economic and environmental health. The task force is charged with creating a state plan of action to deliver to the Governor to reduce Wisconsin’s contribution to global warming.

Governor’s plan for energy independence includes: Generating 25 percent of our electricity and 25 percent of the fuels for our cars and trucks from renewable sources by the year 2025; capturing 10 percent of the market share for renewable energy and bioproducts; and utilizing Wisconsin’s tremendous capability for research to become the country’s leader in making alternative energies more affordable and
available to all.

UW-L rally: Burning coal isn’t cool

From an article by K.J. Lang in the La Crosse Tribune:

Some University of Wisconsin-La Crosse students want to kick coal off campus.

Students plan to rally at 3 p.m. today to show their opposition to UW-L burning coal for heating. Similar rallies will happen across the nation as part of the Sierra Club's "National Day of Action."

UW-L is among nine UW campuses still using coal, according to the state Department of Administration. Yet of the 1,925 facilities that report air emissions in Wisconsin, only 50 burned coal in 2008, said Ralph Patterson, emission inventory team leader for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

Several speakers at UW-L will talk about the effect burning coal has on climate change, human health and clean air.

"Coal is a dirty, outdated way to be powering our campuses and health facilities," said Jennifer Feyerherm, director of Wisconsin's Clean Energy Campaign for Sierra Club.

The Sierra Club contends UW-L, UW-Eau Claire, UW-Stevens Point and UW-Stout all are in violation of the Clean Air Act because they didn't install modern pollution controls when making plant renovations, said Feyerherm.

The Department of Administration considers the four UW plants to be in compliance, said Emily Winecke, communications specialist with the department.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Meeting held at CVTC to discuss future of energy usage

From a story on WEAU-TV:

Teachers, students, and local professionals gathered Friday to talk about ways to prepare for energy usage in the future.

The event called "Tomorrow's Energy Technology" was held at CVTC in Eau Claire Friday.

Business people from agriculture, construction, transportation, and energy industries talked about the trends, challenges, and opportunities coming in the future of energy.

CVTC President Bruce Barker says "As our economy recovers we have to look at what the new growth industry is, and in West Central WI, renewable fuel can certainly be a growth industry."

Dueling surveys produce different results on climate change and energy

Two surveys released on September 28, 2009, produced widely different results on Wisconsinites' opinions on climate change and renewable energy.

From a news release about the survey conducted by the Forest County Potawatomi:


[Crandon, Wisc.] In anticipation of state legislation to reduce greenhouse gasses which cause climate change, a recent statewide poll shows a majority of Wisconsin voters favor action by the State of Wisconsin to reduce carbon emissions.

When asked, “Do you favor or oppose the State of Wisconsin taking action to reduce (its) emissions of gases like carbon dioxide in Wisconsin that cause global warming?” nearly three-fourths of voters (70%) favor the State of Wisconsin taking action to reduce carbon emissions. Only 24% of voters oppose taking action.

Support for action to reduce emissions also crosses party lines, with majorities of Republicans (53%), independents (67%) and Democrats (87%) favoring action by the State of Wisconsin.

“Carbon pollution threatens to dramatically change our world for the worse,” said Forest County Potawatomi Attorney General Jeff Crawford. “We have a responsibility to our children and grandchildren to be good stewards of the environment.”

The poll also found that two-thirds of Wisconsin voters favor requiring utilities to generate 25% of their electricity from renewable sources by 2025.

From the press release on the survey conducted by Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce:

MADISON – With jobs dominating the public’s mind, a statewide poll of voters found over 60 percent say Wisconsin should not enact its own global warming policies, favoring national and international approaches, WMC reported Monday.

Also, voters oppose global warming proposals that hit them in the pocketbook with increased energy prices or potential job losses, the poll found. In 2007, Governor Jim Doyle convened a Global Warming Task Force that called for numerous new regulations to limit greenhouse gas emissions. The Legislature is likely to consider some of those proposals later this session.

Dueling survey results differ on climate change and energy

Two surveys released on September 28, 2009, produced widely different results on Wisconsinites' opinions on climate change and renewable energy.

From a news release about the survey conducted by the Forest County Potawatomi:


[Crandon, Wisc.] In anticipation of state legislation to reduce greenhouse gasses which cause climate change, a recent statewide poll shows a majority of Wisconsin voters favor action by the State of Wisconsin to reduce carbon emissions.

When asked, “Do you favor or oppose the State of Wisconsin taking action to reduce (its) emissions of gases like carbon dioxide in Wisconsin that cause global warming?” nearly three-fourths of voters (70%) favor the State of Wisconsin taking action to reduce carbon emissions. Only 24% of voters oppose taking action.

Support for action to reduce emissions also crosses party lines, with majorities of Republicans (53%), independents (67%) and Democrats (87%) favoring action by the State of Wisconsin.

“Carbon pollution threatens to dramatically change our world for the worse,” said Forest County Potawatomi Attorney General Jeff Crawford. “We have a responsibility to our children and grandchildren to be good stewards of the environment.”

The poll also found that two-thirds of Wisconsin voters favor requiring utilities to generate 25% of their electricity from renewable sources by 2025.

From the press release on the survey conducted by Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce:

MADISON – With jobs dominating the public’s mind, a statewide poll of voters found over 60 percent say Wisconsin should not enact its own global warming policies, favoring national and international approaches, WMC reported Monday.

Also, voters oppose global warming proposals that hit them in the pocketbook with increased energy prices or potential job losses, the poll found. In 2007, Governor Jim Doyle convened a Global Warming Task Force that called for numerous new regulations to limit greenhouse gas emissions. The Legislature is likely to consider some of those proposals later this session

Guided Solar Tour, October 2 & 3

Get on the Bus!

If you’re in the Stevens Point area this weekend, Wisconsin Public Service, in conjunction with MREA, is sponsoring guided bus tours of local solar homes and businesses as part of the annual Wisconsin Solar Tour.

More information and registration details here.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Anti-wind article damages Isthmus credibility

To the Editor of Isthmus:

There’s a word to describe the unexamined regurgitation of antiwind talking points sprinkled throughout Brian McCombie’s article “The War Over Wind,” September 11, 2009), but journalism isn’t it. Stenography is much closer to the mark.

But this one-sided article raises an unsettling question: why did the reporter, and by extension Isthmus, leave out so much counterbalancing material in its haste to present windpower in an unambiguously negative light?

Why, for example, was there no mention of Madison Gas & Electric’s Kewaunee County wind energy project? This 17-turbine installation has produced emission-free electricity since 1999. Much of its output feeds MGE’s hugely successful Green Power Tomorrow program. Earlier this year, the two townships hosting the project approved an extension of the project’s conditional use permits without any debate or discussion whatsoever. Considering how controversial the project was 11 years ago, when the townships voted on MGE’s application, this is a remarkable change of attitude. This suggests that the local residents have managed to adapt to life among wind turbines, even though some of the neighbors can hear the whooshing sounds at times.

In another material omission, the reporter failed to mention a recent Court of Appeals decision that overturned Calumet County’s arbitrarily restrictive wind energy ordinance. Taking note of Wisconsin’s 15-year-old wind energy siting law, the Court ruled in July that local units of government lack the power to adopt permitting standards of general applicability on wind energy systems. The ruling effectively dismantled the legal foundation supporting blanket restrictions on wind development that had been adopted by a dozen or so counties and towns. By overlooking this critically important bit of judicial history, the reporter effectively implied that the bills supported by the Wind for Wisconsin coalition constituted a naked power grab, when in fact the Court found that local governments had been overstepping their authority all along.

The fact-checking that went into this article appears to be non-existent. (Example No. 1: Invenergy, not Alliant, built and operates the 86-turbine project near Horicon Marsh. Example No. 2: Wisconsin has a legislatively mandated renewable energy goal of 10% by 2015, not the 25% by 2025 claimed in the article.) However, these examples of slipshod reporting seem positively benign when compared with the frothy brew of distortions, innuendo, omissions of fact, unfounded speculation and outright hysteria served up by your reporter.

Indeed, with this one article, you managed to toss into the dumpster whatever credibility your publication had built up over the years in the area of environmental reporting.

Michael Vickerman
Executive Director
RENEW Wisconsin
222 S. Hamilton St.
Madison, WI 53703

Dueling surveys produce different results on climate change and energy

Two surveys released on September 28, 2009, produced widely different results on Wisconsinites' opinions on climate change and renewable energy.

From a news release about the survey conducted by the Forest County Potawatomi:


[Crandon, Wisc.] In anticipation of state legislation to reduce greenhouse gasses which cause climate change, a recent statewide poll shows a majority of Wisconsin voters favor action by the State of Wisconsin to reduce carbon emissions.

When asked, “Do you favor or oppose the State of Wisconsin taking action to reduce (its) emissions of gases like carbon dioxide in Wisconsin that cause global warming?” nearly three-fourths of voters (70%) favor the State of Wisconsin taking action to reduce carbon emissions. Only 24% of voters oppose taking action.

Support for action to reduce emissions also crosses party lines, with majorities of Republicans (53%), independents (67%) and Democrats (87%) favoring action by the State of Wisconsin.

“Carbon pollution threatens to dramatically change our world for the worse,” said Forest County Potawatomi Attorney General Jeff Crawford. “We have a responsibility to our children and grandchildren to be good stewards of the environment.”

The poll also found that two-thirds of Wisconsin voters favor requiring utilities to generate 25% of their electricity from renewable sources by 2025.

From the press release on the survey conducted by Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce:

MADISON – With jobs dominating the public’s mind, a statewide poll of voters found over 60 percent say Wisconsin should not enact its own global warming policies, favoring national and international approaches, WMC reported Monday.

Also, voters oppose global warming proposals that hit them in the pocketbook with increased energy prices or potential job losses, the poll found. In 2007, Governor Jim Doyle convened a Global Warming Task Force that called for numerous new regulations to limit greenhouse gas emissions. The Legislature is likely to consider some of those proposals later this session.

Dueling survey results differ on climate change and energy

Two surveys released on September 28, 2009, produced widely different results on Wisconsinites' opinions on climate change and renewable energy.

From a news release about the survey conducted by the Forest County Potawatomi:


[Crandon, Wisc.] In anticipation of state legislation to reduce greenhouse gasses which cause climate change, a recent statewide poll shows a majority of Wisconsin voters favor action by the State of Wisconsin to reduce carbon emissions.

When asked, “Do you favor or oppose the State of Wisconsin taking action to reduce (its) emissions of gases like carbon dioxide in Wisconsin that cause global warming?” nearly three-fourths of voters (70%) favor the State of Wisconsin taking action to reduce carbon emissions. Only 24% of voters oppose taking action.

Support for action to reduce emissions also crosses party lines, with majorities of Republicans (53%), independents (67%) and Democrats (87%) favoring action by the State of Wisconsin.

“Carbon pollution threatens to dramatically change our world for the worse,” said Forest County Potawatomi Attorney General Jeff Crawford. “We have a responsibility to our children and grandchildren to be good stewards of the environment.”

The poll also found that two-thirds of Wisconsin voters favor requiring utilities to generate 25% of their electricity from renewable sources by 2025.

From the press release on the survey conducted by Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce:

MADISON – With jobs dominating the public’s mind, a statewide poll of voters found over 60 percent say Wisconsin should not enact its own global warming policies, favoring national and international approaches, WMC reported Monday.

Also, voters oppose global warming proposals that hit them in the pocketbook with increased energy prices or potential job losses, the poll found. In 2007, Governor Jim Doyle convened a Global Warming Task Force that called for numerous new regulations to limit greenhouse gas emissions. The Legislature is likely to consider some of those proposals later this session.

Green Jobs: Growing Wisconsin Employment, Sept. 29, Milwaukee

"Green Jobs: Growing Wisconsin Employment" is part of a series of forums at Discovery World and aims to assess Wisconsin's future in the green jobs market.

The forum, sponsored by the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters, UW-Milwaukee, Midwest Renewable Energy Association, We Energies, Wisconsin Environmental Initiative and Johnson Controls, begins at 7:30 a.m. and ends at 9 a.m. Breakfast begins at 7:15 a.m.

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett will provide remarks about his city's efforts to cultivate green jobs.

Confirmed panelists include:

* UW-Milwaukee Engineering School Dean Michael R. Lovell
* Tom Boldt, CEO of Boldt Construction
* UW-Madison School of Agriculture Dean Molly Jahn
* Clay Nesler, Vice President, Global Energy and Sustainability, Johnson Controls, Inc.

The event is organized by WisPolitics.com/WisBusiness.com with the help of MMAC, Discovery World, and UW-Milwaukee. More sponsorship opportunities are available; contact Jim Greer at 608-237-6296 or greer@wispolitics.com.

The event is open to the public, and the price is $30 per person. But WisPolitics.com and WisBusiness.com subscribers, members of the Wisconsin Academy, the UW-Milwaukee community, and members of MMAC and Discovery World are able to attend for $20 per person.

The price includes the breakfast buffet but not parking.

Call Debra Jordan (414) 287-4127 or djordan@mmac.org to register.

Trempealeau Municipal Electric Department partners with Focus on Energy

Focus on Energy announced that customers of Trempealeau Municipal Electric Department will become eligible for programs and services from Focus on Energy:

Customers will be able to participate in the Business, Residential and Renewable Energy offerings under the Focus on Energy umbrella:

· Business Programs that help manufacturers, commercial businesses, farmers, schools and local governments reduce operating costs, increase their bottom line and improve productivity and employee and customer comfort. The programs offer technical expertise, training and financial incentives to help implement innovative energy management projects.

· Wisconsin ENERGY STAR Homes, Home Performance with ENERGY STAR and Apartment & Condo Efficiency Services Programs that encompass new and existing homes, multi-family construction and remodeling projects for all types of residential dwellings. These programs help homeowners and landlords integrate energy improvements into their remodeling projects, as well as deliver newly-built homes, apartments and condominiums that are comfortable, safe, durable and energy efficient.

· Lighting and appliance programs that increase the availability of ENERGY STAR qualified products ranging from compact fluorescent light bulbs to heating and cooling equipment. These efforts deliver lower energy bills for residents and businesses and increased sales for retailers and contractors.

· Renewable Energy Programs that help residents and businesses harness energy from sunlight, wind and organic materials.

· Targeted Home Performance that reduces energy bills while increasing comfort and safety for income-qualified participants.

Solar panels electrify Shorewood schools

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

Panel by panel, small-scale solar power is building around the state.

Solar photovoltaic systems capable of generating about 15 kilowatts of electricity were connected to the power grid Friday at the intermediate and high schools in Shorewood. That's about enough to power two homes.

It's among nearly 600 projects installed across Wisconsin with financial support from the state Focus on Energy program.

The two systems in Shorewood were installed by UrbanRE Vitalization Group LLC of Milwaukee.

The Shorewood project was financed with the help of a $35,000 grant from the state Focus on Energy program and a $50,000 grant from We Energies.

"By helping clients work with both Focus on Energy and We Energies, we will be able to extend our reach and get more people to start thinking about renewable energy," said Lisa Schaal of UrbanRE.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Seven careers in wind farm development

From an article by Sarah Lozanova in RenewableEnergyWorld.com:

Currently about 85,000 people are employed in the wind energy industry, up from 50,000 last year. These jobs are very diverse, and include turbine manufacturing, wind farm development, wind farm construction, and turbine maintenance.

Developing an industrial-scale wind farm requires a team of people with a variety of abilities. Here's a look at some of the jobs involved as well as the skills necessary for this line of work. . . .

UW-Milwaukee hosts event for green jobs

From an article by Kyra Shishko in The Badger Herald (Madison, WI):

A forum regarding the rise of green jobs is slated to take place at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Monday.

The event is following a similar forum held in Madison this past Friday, which was sponsored jointly by the Wisconsin School of Business, the Wisconsin Sustainable Business Counsel and the Law Firm of Godfrey and Kahn.

Green jobs are jobs that not only create opportunities for unemployed individuals, but also help to reduce waste and pollution and benefit the environment, said Thomas Egger, associate director of the Business, Enviornment and Social Responsibility program at the Wisconsin School of Business.

“What we wanted to do was bring some very knowledgeable people together to talk about both what’s happening in our climate and identify why we’re talking about climate change and green jobs together,” Eggert said. “Most of what we are talking about links to green jobs.”

Eggert added the key topic of the discussion Friday was how to prepare for climate change in residences and how to create more jobs involving re-insulating houses, putting in new windows and other energy-efficient changes.

“We ask the public to look at how they are heating their houses,” Eggert said.

Eggert added these ideas could create up to 200,000 to 300,000 jobs.

Government Affairs Director of the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce Steven Bass agreed the importance of the correlation between the struggling economy and the opportunity to create new jobs to help the environment is the driving force behind next week panel discussion in Milwaukee.

“Everyone in business knows that a strong economy and a good environment do not need to be mutually exclusive. The economic landscape, both nationally and globally, is more competitive than ever,” Bass said. “If a state can put itself at the forefront of energy efficiency it has the potential to create a competitive edge, especially for us here in Wisconsin.”

A Northwoods institute works on cutting edge research

From a story by John DesRivieres on WSAW-TV:

With issues like the economy and health care on every body's mind, it can be easy to forget about environmental issues.

But there's a little known place in the Northwoods, where scientists are working with government officials to help make a greener nation.

"It's used by legislators, policy makers, forest managers," says Eric Gustafson, the Director of Applied Eco-Systems Studies.

Eric Gustafson says he knows as well as anybody how important energy independence is.

"The nation has a growing demand for energy, we've come to realize for a number of reasons that dependence on foreign oil is not a good thing," Gustafson says.

Gustafson and a team of scientists are conducting several studies that will help shape the nation's environmental policies.

At the top of the list, renewable energy.

The Institute is researching how to grow hybrid poplar trees that can grow up to four times faster than an average tree.

Poplar trees are a great source of ethanol and can be burned to create electricity.

"The ability to grow trees rapidly and convert them into energy has a great impact not only for the climate but the stability of politics in the world," says Gustafson.

CWESt’s Report Adds Noise to Wind Debate

Commentary by
Peter Maldonado
RENEW Wisconsin
September 25, 2009

A document released by the wind opposition group Coalition for Wisconsin’s Environmental Stewardship (CWESt) claims to find a cause-effect link between wind turbines and reduced property values, but the self-described study fails to provide significant statistical data supporting its contention. The document, titled “Wind Turbine Impact Study,” also contains a “literature review” that turns out to be nothing more than a Google search trawling through opposition web sites for subject matter.

Given CWESt’s opposition to expanding wind generating facilities in Wisconsin, one can understand the organization’s decision to release a preliminary draft of this paper only a few days before the Legislature’s vote on Senate Bill 185, a bill directing the Public Service Commission to develop uniform permitting standards for wind energy systems. As stated in the cover page, the author, Appraisal Group One (AGO), specializes in “forensic appraisal, eminent domain, stigmatized properties and valuation research.” Our aim here is not to criticize the stated purpose of the report, merely to assess the validity of its methods and results. As the old adage goes, “garbage in, garbage out.”

The first part of the study is an opinion survey of realtors including salespeople, brokers, appraisers, and land developers. The study lists the number of titles represented, not the actual number of people surveyed, and therefore the number sounds inflated. “Licensed Real estate salesperson” comprised the largest group at 34, yet a later figure shows that only 18 respondents actually listed and sold a property with a view of turbines. This survey records every realtor’s opinion on this matter even though only half of them have had direct experience with properties near wind turbines.

The problem posed by a sparse sample size has a more profound effect on the ensuing study of property values. The paper looks at transactions near the Blue Sky Green Field (Fond du Lac County) and Forward (Fond du Lac and Dodge counties) wind farms and compares them with areas without wind turbines. Curiously, Alliant’s Cedar Ridge project was not assessed due to lack of data, so the paper states, even though that project also went on line in 2008. There were only six sales of properties recorded within the area of each wind farm. AGO’s graphs point out how far below the curve the values of the properties within the wind farm are, but six is hardly a significant number to sample. The samples of out-of-area sales that form the curves for Blue Sky Green Field and Forward are small in their own right (62 and 28, respectively). Compare those small data sets with the 811 transactions within Kewaunee County alone that factor into the forthcoming Lawrence Berkeley National Lab (LBNL) analysis at ten different sites nationwide.

The final section, the literature review, attacks wind turbines from all angles, straying from the paper’s ostensible purpose of analyzing property values. In a nutshell, this section surveys a broad range of impacts, including health, safety, wildlife, land use, quality of life, technological performance, tax policy and local economic effects. We tried an experiment and found that most of the bibliography contents can be located by using Google and searching for “property value impact wind turbine.” Not surprising, most of the web sites that appear in the search results are operated by groups opposed to wind development, presumably to support additional restrictions on windpower development. Nearly all of the citations can be found on these websites. To the extent the references include studies that were not negative to windpower development, they are dismissed in the CWESt paper as examples of propaganda underwritten by the wind industry. Moreover, one of the studies that found no significant impacts was brushed off as a masters thesis of an environmental science graduate student, a detail that might lead a reader to question the credibility of the source material.

As it turns out, the graduate student in question is Ben Hoen, whose novel and methodologically rigorous study of wind turbine impacts in New York state took into account viewshed effects. This approach is one of three tests incorporated in the aforementioned LBNL study. One line of research examines to what effect distance from turbines may have on property values after the facility was constructed. Another compares viewshed impacts on home sales and property values. The third test attempts to detect nuisance effects on property values. Expected to be released later this year, the LBNL report shapes up to be the most rigorous study on the subject of property values and wind turbines. Compared with the robustness of this forthcoming report, bolstered by 811 transactions in Wisconsin, the CWESt paper is weak tea, light on data and lacking in scientific integrity. Even though the data collection and analysis process is complete, LBNL will not publish its report until its findings have been thoroughly peer-reviewed. Until CWESt’s paper goes through a similarly rigorous review process, its findings should be taken with a grain of salt.

Peter Maldonado is a volunteer for RENEW Wisconsin, a sustainable energy advocacy organization. Peter holds a B.A. in Environmental Policy from Lawrence University. These commentaries also posted on RENEW’s blog: http://renewwisconsinblog.org

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Seven careers in wind farm development

From an article by Sarah Lozanova in RenewableEnergyWorld.com:

Currently about 85,000 people are employed in the wind energy industry, up from 50,000 last year. These jobs are very diverse, and include turbine manufacturing, wind farm development, wind farm construction, and turbine maintenance.

Developing an industrial-scale wind farm requires a team of people with a variety of abilities. Here's a look at some of the jobs involved as well as the skills necessary for this line of work. . . .

Seven careers in wind farm development

From an article by Sarah Lozanova in RenewableEnergyWorld.com:

Currently about 85,000 people are employed in the wind energy industry, up from 50,000 last year. These jobs are very diverse, and include turbine manufacturing, wind farm development, wind farm construction, and turbine maintenance.

Developing an industrial-scale wind farm requires a team of people with a variety of abilities. Here's a look at some of the jobs involved as well as the skills necessary for this line of work. . . .

Report outlines potential severity of climate change in Wisconsin

From an article by Larry Bivins in the Wisconsin Rapids Tribune:

WASHINGTON -- The record-setting heat during the summer of 1988 could become the norm in Wisconsin if steps aren't taken to curb emissions that cause global warming, according to a new report.

Hotter summers and increased flooding caused by heavier rainfall are among the extreme consequences the Union of Concerned Scientists found in a study of the impact of climate change on the Badger State.

Wisconsin also would experience long droughts, more smog-filled days, a possible increase in crop-destroying pests and up to a two-foot drop in the Great Lakes water levels.

The Wisconsin report is part of an ongoing effort by the advocacy group to examine how climate change would affect different regions.

"Over the past 50 years, we've seen higher average annual temperatures, more frequent downpours, longer growing seasons and fewer cold snaps," said Katharine Hayhoe, an atmospheric scientist at Texas Tech University and a co-author of the report.

The Union of Concerned Scientists is a Cambridge, Mass.-based nonprofit group of scientists and citizens that advocate for the environment. Its latest report is based on research and new data consistent with a study released in June by a consortium of 13 federal agencies.

The report assesses the impact of global warming on Wisconsin using two scenarios: one based on nothing being done to lower emissions, the other based on lower emissions resulting from an increased use of clean energy sources. The authors compared each scenario with a baseline period of 1961 to 1990.

"A comprehensive climate and energy approach -- combining a cap on emissions with policies that encourage renewable electricity, energy efficiency and cleaner transportation choices -- can reduce emissions 26 percent below 2005 levels by 2020 and 56 percent below 2005 levels by 2030 while saving consumers and businesses money," the report said.

UW-L serves students regional produce in support of area farmers

From an article by K.J. Lang in the La Crosse Tribune:

University of Wisconsin-La Crosse students are showing support for local family farms - with their stomachs.

Students at lunch Wednesday bit into Honey-crisp apples from La Crescent, Minn. They sipped creamy soup made with buttercup squash from Elk River, Minn., and topped their salad with grape tomatoes from Hillview Greenhouse Life Center, just a few blocks from campus.

Chartwells, the campus food service, served up the locally grown produce this week as part of a promotion, "It Takes You - Eat Local." The program was developed to support farmers who grow produce within a 150-mile radius of the campus, said Tom Dockham, resident district manager for Chartwells.

The program allows students to sample produce that can be sun ripened for more nutritional value and better taste, said Randy Hanson, Chartwells executive chef.

UW-L senior Craig Wagner said he usually isn't much of an apple cider drinker, but after tasting some from Lake City, Minn., his response was, "I wouldn't turn it down if they offered it again."

He was enthusiastic about the program behind the cider as well, saying, "I think it is important to support the local economy."

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Northcentral Wisconsin Home Energy Workshop

From an announcement issued by Focus on Energy:

Join Focus on Energy at the Third Annual Northcentral Wisconsin Home Energy Workshop at the Prentice High School. The program will feature educational seminars on topics including renewable energy systems (solar water and space heating, geothermal heat, solar electric systems, and wood heat), energy saving ideas for existing homes, and design considerations for energy efficiency in new construction.

This year we’ll be featuring information on homes right in our area that have taken advantage of various renewable energy technologies along with very basic energy conservation practices to save money and help the environment. The programs will also feature information on financial incentives and tax credits for energy upgrades and exhibits from renewable energy businesses. The keynote speaker for this year’s workshop will be Brian Driscoll, Community Relations Director for the Wisconsin Office of Energy Independence. Brian will discuss a variety of programs that the State of Wisconsin has initiated to help citizens, businesses, and municipalities achieve greater energy independence.

The workshop and seminar portion will run a half day so people can send the afternoon visiting local homes that have used the practices discussed during the morning workshops.

Refreshments and door prizes will be provided along with lots of resource information on various renewable energy alternatives and energy conservation. A brat fry sponsored by Price County Kids Against Hunger will be available immediately following the workshop.

There is a $10 fee for registration by September 25th ($15 for late registrations).

To register or for more information, please contact the Price County UW-Extension Office at 715-339-2555. To register on-line, click here.

Rallying support for rail service

From an article by Joe Potente in the Kenosha News:

MILWAUKEE — A summit on regional transit sounded something like a pep rally for public transportation by the time it wrapped up Friday.

A panel of transit backers from Kenosha, Racine and Milwaukee didn’t agree entirely on the viability of commuter rail in the region, but they were united on one major point: Now is the time to pass legislation to create a true regional transit authority with a dedicated sales tax.

And a national expert on transit and urban sustainability said that authority must be taken seriously in order for anything to get done.

Panelist Eric Isbister was blunt. Isbister said a lack of public transit near his Mequon-based business shuts his company off from many car-less members of an enormous workforce a few miles south in Milwaukee.

“We’ve got to stop romancing this issue,” said Isbister, chief executive officer of General MetalWorks Corp., a Mequon-based metal fabrication firm. “We’ve got to get results.”

Said Deborah Blanks, chief executive officer of the Milwaukee Social Development Commission: “It’s about access and opportunity. It’s a connector to prosperity.”

The summit, at the Italian Conference Center, was presented by the Urban Economic Development Association of Wisconsin, the Greater Milwaukee Committee and the city of Milwaukee.

Ride for Renewables & Harvest Fest, Sept. 26

From an announcement issued by the Midwest Renewable Energy Association:

Help raise funds to support the education programs at the Midwest Renewable Energy Association. The MREA is one of only a handful of institutions in the nation providing hands-on training for professionals and workshops for home and business owners. We help train the workforce that is installing wind and solar throughout the Midwest, and we provide the information for individuals to make renewables a part of their home or business.

Ride for Renewables
Ride 10-, 30- or 60-mile routes in the beautiful rolling hills of central Wisconsin. Hosted rest stations greet you throughout the course. Bike support will be available on site. Helmets required. Ride for Renewables registration begins at 11:00 a.m. at the Renew the Earth Institute. Ride at your own pace, and enjoy Harvest Fest when you return. Awards and prizes will be given away at 5 p.m., so stick around for dinner. With paid registration, you receive a free t-shirt, food, 2 beverage tickets, and all Harvest Fest activities and workshops.
Cost for Ride & Harvest Fest:
$30 per person
$10 for 13-18 year olds
Free under 13

Back 40 Disc Golf
Join us as we debut our new disc golf course and our first annual Back 40 Disc Golf Tournament. This fun event will be held on the grounds of the MREA�s Back 40 campground, approximately one mile from the ReNew the Earth Institute. Comprised of a nine-hole course intertwined with towering pines and open fields, the Back 40 disc golf experience promises to be fun and challenging, as well as a beautiful autumn scene! Disc Golf registration begins at noon at the Renew the Earth Institute. With paid registration, you receive food, 2 beverage tickets, and all Harvest Fest activities and workshops.
Cost for Disc Golf & Harvest Fest:
$20 per person
$10 for 13-18 year olds
Free under 13

Harvest Fest
MREA's annual Harvest Fest will begin at 2 p.m. on Saturday, September 26 featuring kids' activities such as cider pressing and pumpkin carving. Also attend small harvest-related workshops such as Preparing your Food for Winter, Improve Your Home Performance over Winter, and more. Take guided tours of the MREA grounds and learn about renewable energy and permaculture. At 5 p.m. enjoy a chili dinner featuring local and organic food, and beverages from Central Waters Brewing Company. With paid registration, you receive food, 2 beverage tickets, all activities and workshops.
Cost for Harvest Fest Only:
$10 per person
$5 for 13-18 year olds
Free under 13

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Turbines' negative impact on property value "quite a reach"

From an article by Colleen Kottke in The Northwestern (Oshkosh):

In the years since the Forward Wind Energy Center came on line, "For Sale" signs have popped up all over Gerry Meyer's rural neighborhood in the town of Byron. . . .

Meyer is convinced that the aesthetically displeasing look of the 400-foot turbines and subsequent ill effects experienced by nearby residents from the noise, vibration and light-flicker has caused housing values to plummet.

A just-released study commissioned by wind-power opponents concurs, saying that property values have fallen at least 19 percent for properties located near the We Energies wind farm in Fond du Lac County and 12 percent for those located near Invenergy's Forward Wind Energy Center in Fond du Lac and Dodge counties.

The study by Appraisal Group One was commissioned by a Calumet County affiliate of the state Coalition for Wisconsin Environmental Steward, a group fighting a We Energies wind farm project in Columbia County.

'Quite a reach'
Brian Manthey, a spokesman for We Energies, said the report failed to make accurate comparisons in properties used to track declining values.

"They compared subdivision and lake view lots when the properties in our wind farm area were considered agricultural lots back in 2006. Ultimately, they figured in the sale of four lots, which is tough to draw any comparisons when using such a small scale," said Manthey, who described the report's findings as "quite a reach."

Since construction of the 88-turbine project in the Blue Sky Green Field project in the towns of Calumet and Marshfield, Manthey said 12 homes have been sold; some homes sold above assessed value while others sold below fair market values. Manthey said the report is misleading in that it doesn't take into consideration other factors impacting property values.

Marathon Co. homeowner generates power with solar roof

From an article by in the D.J. Slater:

It has been in John Kregenow's nature for years to do his part to help the environment, and it goes beyond putting plastic in the recycling bin.

Kregenow, 57, of the town of Cassel, west and south of Marathon, reuses his old clothing as wash rags, maintains a compost pile, collects rainwater to use on his garden and grows vegetables for himself and food pantries.

So when he saw his roof was covered with cracking asphalt shingles nearly two years ago, he decided to invest in a solar roof.

Kregenow turned to Kulp's of Stratford, a roofing company, to install the solar roof, which actively started absorbing energy on Aug. 19.

Since that time, Kregenow has been able to generate $150 in energy. Kregenow typically spends $120 on his monthly energy bill.

"(My wife and I) are eager to see our September bill," he said.

Since mid-May, Kulp's has offered residents and businesses the chance to upgrade their properties with solar roofing, said Bob Kulp, co-owner of Kulp's. The systems allow property owners to generate electrical power from the sun, which can be used and sold to utility companies.

So far, Kulp's has installed the solar roof at Kregenow's home, has an order to install one on a home in Marshfield and has three other homeowners who are committed to buying the technology.

Public Service Commission Testimony & Filings

2011
08.22.11 RENEW asks PSC to stop We Energies' termination of renewable program
01.28.11 Comments of RENEW on the draft Strategic Energy Assessment

2010
09.08.10 RENEW opposes MGE's proposed green-pricing increase and ask for small-win tariff
08.20.10 RENEW opposes WPS' proposed green-pricing increase and asks for small-wind tariff

2009
10.22.09 RENEW's comments in opposition to recommendation to raise MGE's green power rate
10.06.09 RENEW supports Glacier Hills wind energy center; testimony of Michael Vickerman
10.06.09 RENEW supports Glacier Hills wind energy center; testimony of Mick Sagrillo
09.11.09 RENEW reaffirms support for coal plant conversion to wood
07.20.09 RENEW testimony supports Excel conversion of plant to wood
06.15.09 Comments of Clean Wisconsin and RENEW Wisconsin on the briefing memorandum on advanced renewable tariff development
02.17.09 Comments of RENEW Wisconsin and Clean Wisconsin in support of higher buy-back rates

2008
09.08.08 WPS' rate case, asking for a docket to set uniform buy-back rates across utilities

08.11.08 Alliant Energy's Cassville Plant: Plenty of Wind, Not Much Biomass

08.08.08 Alliant Energy's rate case; testimony asking for higher buy-back rates

Turbines' negative impact on property value "quite a reach"

From an article by Colleen Kottke in The Northwestern (Oshkosh):

In the years since the Forward Wind Energy Center came on line, "For Sale" signs have popped up all over Gerry Meyer's rural neighborhood in the town of Byron. . . .

Meyer is convinced that the aesthetically displeasing look of the 400-foot turbines and subsequent ill effects experienced by nearby residents from the noise, vibration and light-flicker has caused housing values to plummet.

A just-released study commissioned by wind-power opponents concurs, saying that property values have fallen at least 19 percent for properties located near the We Energies wind farm in Fond du Lac County and 12 percent for those located near Invenergy's Forward Wind Energy Center in Fond du Lac and Dodge counties.

The study by Appraisal Group One was commissioned by a Calumet County affiliate of the state Coalition for Wisconsin Environmental Steward, a group fighting a We Energies wind farm project in Columbia County.

'Quite a reach'
Brian Manthey, a spokesman for We Energies, said the report failed to make accurate comparisons in properties used to track declining values.

"They compared subdivision and lake view lots when the properties in our wind farm area were considered agricultural lots back in 2006. Ultimately, they figured in the sale of four lots, which is tough to draw any comparisons when using such a small scale," said Manthey, who described the report's findings as "quite a reach."

Since construction of the 88-turbine project in the Blue Sky Green Field project in the towns of Calumet and Marshfield, Manthey said 12 homes have been sold; some homes sold above assessed value while others sold below fair market values. Manthey said the report is misleading in that it doesn't take into consideration other factors impacting property values.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Fall sustainability study circle starting

An announcement in the La Crosse Tribune:

Coulee Partners for Sustainability will sponsor a Natural Step study circle from 4:30 to 6 p.m. on Mondays from Oct. 5 through Nov. 2 in the Community Room of People's Food Co-op.

Participants will learn about the Natural Step framework and plans for its use in the city and county of La Crosse. Additional topics include an analysis of home electricity bills and how to use simple devices such as the "Kill-a-Watt" meter to track electricity consumption and reduce energy usage.

The five sessions are free and open to the public. Study materials will be provided. To sign up, e-mail Rob Tyser at rtyser@gmail.com by Oct. 2. For more information, go online to
www.cpslax.org.

Solar water heating highly efficient

From an article in the Wausau Daily Herald:

When you hear the words solar energy, what comes to mind? Most people think of electricity. But the most mature and affordable solar technology is solar water heating.

People have been building and using solar water heaters since the 1800s. In fact, the very first mass-produced, commercially available water heaters were powered by the sun. The design and reliability of solar water heating equipment has improved over the years. A modern thermal collector can easily achieve 90 percent or more efficiency. And solar hot water systems can often operate for decades without needing repairs.

How it works
Because of our severe winters, solar water heaters designed for year-round use in Wisconsin must circulate an anti-freeze solution through the collectors. This heated fluid is pumped through a heat exchanger, where the solar heat is transferred to the domestic hot water. The heated water is typically stored in a tank that feeds into the existing hot water tank.

In sunny weather, the solar storage tank can often reach 150 degrees. Supplying the heater with water this hot keeps it from coming on. This saves a great deal of energy. But even if the storage tank reaches only 80 degrees to 90 degrees, the solar water heating system has raised the temperature of the water more than half way to the typical use temperature of 120 degrees and has saved more than half the energy.

For safety, the plumbing code requires an anti-scald valve to keep the domestic hot water from becoming dangerously hot. . . .

Focus on Energy provides reward checks to help Wisconsin residents with the cost of installing solar water heating equipment. Each reward is based on projected energy savings. A family of four installing a solar water heater typically receives a reward of $2,500. The federal government provides an unlimited 30 percent tax credit to help make renewable energy equipment more affordable.

Farmers Union applauds state Legislature for passing wind siting bill

From a news release issued by the Wisconsin Farmers Union:

Chippewa Falls, Wis. (Sept. 18, 2009) - Wisconsin Farmers Union praised the state Legislature for approving wind siting reform legislation earlier this week. WFU President Sue Carlson said it was an important step toward renewing the energy of rural Wisconsin's economy. The measure will implement uniform, statewide standards for small and medium-sized wind energy installations in the state.

"Allowing farmers and rural residents the ability to build wind turbines on their property can add to their bottom line while keeping energy dollars in Wisconsin," Carlson said. "Effective statewide wind siting standards will create green jobs and will enable farmers to continue be the economic drivers of our rural communities through new energy opportunities."

The wind siting bill passed the state assembly on Wednesday and the state senate on Tuesday. Broad bipartisan support marked its passage, and now the bill will move to the governor's desk to await his signature before becoming law. Once signed by the Gov. Jim Doyle, the law will trigger a rule-making process by the Public Service Commission to formulate statewide standards for wind siting in Wisconsin.

Legislators push region as electric vehicle hub

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

Southeastern Wisconsin shouldn't overlook its expertise in battery and energy research and development as it strives to become a center for water technologies, local lawmakers say.

With that in mind, state Rep. Jeff Stone (D-Milwaukee) and state Sen. Jeff Plale (D-South Milwaukee) on Monday will announce a series of proposals designed to make the region a hub for energy storage and plug-in electric vehicle research.

The proposal is linked to the region's being home to the headquarters and R&D center for Johnson Controls Inc. as it develops next-generation hybrid batteries for cars and trucks, said Stone. But it's also born of a desire to see plug-in vehicles on the road in larger numbers as a move to reduce air pollution.

Legislative proposals to be unveiled Monday, Stone said, would:

• Eliminate the sales tax for consumers who buy plug-in electric hybrid cars or all-electric cars.

• Scrap of the state's emissions-testing program, with the funds now spent on that program reallocated to a fund for grants for firms or universities conducting research into electric technologies and energy storage.

• Create tax credits for equipment used in research and development.

• Exempt electric-vehicle charging stations from the personal property tax for companies that want to install the charging stations in their parking ramps.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Solar water heating highly efficient

From an article Dan Michelsen, president of Performance Energy, in the Wausau Daily Herald:

When you hear the words solar energy, what comes to mind? Most people think of electricity. But the most mature and affordable solar technology is solar water heating.

People have been building and using solar water heaters since the 1800s. In fact, the very first mass-produced, commercially available water heaters were powered by the sun. The design and reliability of solar water heating equipment has improved over the years. A modern thermal collector can easily achieve 90 percent or more efficiency. And solar hot water systems can often operate for decades without needing repairs.

How it works
Because of our severe winters, solar water heaters designed for year-round use in Wisconsin must circulate an anti-freeze solution through the collectors. This heated fluid is pumped through a heat exchanger, where the solar heat is transferred to the domestic hot water. The heated water is typically stored in a tank that feeds into the existing hot water tank.

In sunny weather, the solar storage tank can often reach 150 degrees. Supplying the heater with water this hot keeps it from coming on. This saves a great deal of energy. But even if the storage tank reaches only 80 degrees to 90 degrees, the solar water heating system has raised the temperature of the water more than half way to the typical use temperature of 120 degrees and has saved more than half the energy.

For safety, the plumbing code requires an anti-scald valve to keep the domestic hot water from becoming dangerously hot. . . .

Focus on Energy provides reward checks to help Wisconsin residents with the cost of installing solar water heating equipment. Each reward is based on projected energy savings. A family of four installing a solar water heater typically receives a reward of $2,500. The federal government provides an unlimited 30 percent tax credit to help make renewable energy equipment more affordable.

Solar water heating highly efficient

From an article Dan Michelsen, president of Performance Energy, in the Wausau Daily Herald:

When you hear the words solar energy, what comes to mind? Most people think of electricity. But the most mature and affordable solar technology is solar water heating.

People have been building and using solar water heaters since the 1800s. In fact, the very first mass-produced, commercially available water heaters were powered by the sun. The design and reliability of solar water heating equipment has improved over the years. A modern thermal collector can easily achieve 90 percent or more efficiency. And solar hot water systems can often operate for decades without needing repairs.

How it works
Because of our severe winters, solar water heaters designed for year-round use in Wisconsin must circulate an anti-freeze solution through the collectors. This heated fluid is pumped through a heat exchanger, where the solar heat is transferred to the domestic hot water. The heated water is typically stored in a tank that feeds into the existing hot water tank.

In sunny weather, the solar storage tank can often reach 150 degrees. Supplying the heater with water this hot keeps it from coming on. This saves a great deal of energy. But even if the storage tank reaches only 80 degrees to 90 degrees, the solar water heating system has raised the temperature of the water more than half way to the typical use temperature of 120 degrees and has saved more than half the energy.

For safety, the plumbing code requires an anti-scald valve to keep the domestic hot water from becoming dangerously hot. . . .

Focus on Energy provides reward checks to help Wisconsin residents with the cost of installing solar water heating equipment. Each reward is based on projected energy savings. A family of four installing a solar water heater typically receives a reward of $2,500. The federal government provides an unlimited 30 percent tax credit to help make renewable energy equipment more affordable.

Wind turbine installations expected to double

From an article submitted by Focus on Energy and published in the Wausau Daily Herald:

Small systems an attainable way to generate renewable energy

For more than 1,000 years, we have been harnessing the power of wind to sail boats, pump water and grind grain. As time passed, new uses for wind power evolved and today it is used to generate clean renewable power for homes, businesses, farms and schools.

And demand for this clean power is growing as Focus on Energy co-funded small wind turbine installations are expected to more than double in 2009 compared with 2008.
Wind turbines have become an important technology in the search for a renewable way to generate electricity. And as this technology improves, a growing number of Wisconsin residents and businesses are investing their time and resources into this industry. In many of these cases, small wind turbines make the most sense.

A small wind turbine has a rated capacity of 100 kilowatts, or kW, or less. These systems work when wind passing over the turbine creates a rotary motion that turns an electric generator and creates electricity.

The electricity output of a wind turbine depends on its size and the wind's speed through the rotor. As wind speed increases, the energy produced increases exponentially. For example, a 10 percent increase in average annual wind speed from 10 mph to 11 mph can result in a 33 percent increase in total electricity production.

"A 10 kW wind turbine can generate about 10,000 to 16,000 kilowatt-hours (kWh) annually, a bit more than the amount of electricity a typical household uses," said Rich Hasselman, small wind technical lead for Focus on Energy, Wisconsin's statewide resource for energy efficiency and renewable energy.

Concordia University Wisconsin to host energy symposium

From a post by Craig McCarthy on Mequon Now:

A workshop on fuel economy takes place at Concordia University Wisconsin on September 18th and 19th. The event is entitled, 35.5: Your Target MPG, and will include presentations and panel discussions on energy independence.

One of the highlights of the two-day event will be energy efficient vehicles, like the Smart Car and the Toyota Prius, displayed around Concordia's Mequon campus. The American Lung Association will show off their Bio-fuel vehicle and members of the Milwaukee Hybrid Group will be on hand to talk with people about the important role hybrids are playing in achieving fuel efficiency.

“The goal of the symposium is to challenge people’s thinking about how our country can use less fuel,” said Dr. Lawrence Sohn, Interim Sustainability Coordinator at CUW. “Students, staff, faculty, and the community will not only view energy efficient vehicles during this event, they will get useful information that will help them drive and live more fuel efficient,” Sohn added.

“Fuel economy is a primary area in which the average citizen can easily make a significant impact, decreasing our dependence on fossil fuels, particularly from foreign sources,” indicated Prof. Bruce Bessert, Director of the Concordia Center for Environmental Stewardship. It also promotes the use of renewable energy sources while, at the same time, saving money in a tight economy,” he added. . . .

For more information on this event log onto, www.cuw.edu or visit http://energy.cuw.edu

Thursday, September 17, 2009

New rules for wind projects clear Assembly

IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 16, 2009

MORE INFORMATION
Michael Vickerman
RENEW Wisconsin
608.255.4044
mvickerman@renewwisconsin.org

Wisconsin wind energy prospects advanced with bipartisan Assembly support for legislation to set uniform statewide permitting rules.

Under the Wind for Wisconsin umbrella, more than 60 organizations as diverse as unions, trade associations, environmental advocates, health groups, and renewable energy manufacturers sought uniform permitting standards for future wind developments.

As in the State Senate, Senate Bill 185 won bipartisan approval from 48 Democrats and 17 Republicans voting in favor of passage.

Michael Vickerman, executive director of RENEW Wisconsin, a nonprofit sustainable energy advocacy organization, expects Governor Doyle to sign the bill into law.

“The Assembly’s vote is critical to reviving the development of a high priority renewable energy resource in accordance with Wisconsin energy policy,” said Vickerman.

“We believe that wind energy suppliers will see the action as an invitation to locate and do business in Wisconsin. Our economy will benefit from the investment and jobs in a sustainable energy future,” Vickerman said.

“We look forward to working with the Public Service Commission in shaping the specific standards for permitting wind projects,” Vickerman said.

“RENEW and our members thank Rep. James Soletski (D-Green Bay) and Rep. Phil Montgomery (R-Green Bay) for guiding the proposal through the Assembly. The entire legislature should be proud of this accomplishment, which we view as a prerequisite for a more aggressive renewable energy standard likely to be included in a comprehensive global warming legislative package,” commented Vickerman.

The bill now goes to Governor Doyle for his signature before becoming law.

Read additional statements from Rep. James Soletski and Assembly Speaker Mike Sheridan.

Renewable energy companies among those showing interest in closed Domtar mill

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

More than a year after it was shut down, the Domtar paper mill in Port Edwards continues to attract attention from those who want to use the site.

After issuing a reuse strategy in April that details proposed plans for the facility should the Canadian-based papermaker decide to sell it, village officials and local economic development leaders began receiving more inquiries about the property.
"Within the last couple of months, there have been about five (inquiries)," said Melissa Loken, economic development director for the Heart of Wisconsin Business Alliance. "Domtar is drawing more attention than a normal site."

Several of the roughly 30 parties that expressed interest since the mill shut down in June 2007 produce biofuels or other renewable energy products, such as solar panels, Loken said. Although those companies want their identities to remain confidential, several others were made public this week for the first time when south Wood County municipal officials submitted a federal stimulus grant application for a proposed Highway 54 bypass and bridge.

Onalaska-based Mathy Construction Co. has expressed interest in using part of the site for the storage of its petroleum products and possibly biofuels, Port Edwards Village Administrator Joe Terry said.

"The other thing that interested them is the concept of purchasing lower-grade waste heat from any of the neighboring facilities," Terry said.

Innovolis, a local alternative energy producer that, according to its Web site, uses tidal and river currents to generate power, also has expressed interest in using the site, as have University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point researchers, who are investigating the possible development of an $8 million experimental biorefinery.

Wind siting reform awaits governor's approval

From a Tom Content post on JSonline.com:

A bill to adopt uniform siting standards for small wind farms across the state is headed to Gov. Jim Doyle's desk.

The state Assembly passed the bill Wednesday, one day after the state Senate endorsed it. The Assembly voted 65 to 31 to approve the bill. The vote came after several amendments to the bill were rejected.

Supporters said the bill is needed to help meet the state's renewable energy targets and to help break a logjam of wind developments across the state. Opponents say the bill would rob local governments of local control over projects they say has resulted in wind developments being located too close to homes.

Read additional statements from RENEW Wisconsin, Rep. James Soletski, and Assembly Speaker Mike Sheridan.

Flood-damaged homes to make energy in Cassville

From an Asssociated Press article in the Telegraph Herald (Dubuque):

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa — Flood-damaged homes in Cedar Rapids may soon be generating electricity in southwest Wisconsin.

The Cedar Rapids/Linn County Solid Waste Agency on Tuesday approved a contract to sell at least 6,000 tons of ground-up wood debris to a Cassville, Wis., plant that will burn it to produce energy.

DTE Energy Services of Ann Arbor, Mich., has converted an old coal-fired plant in Cassville to one that will burn biomass.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Phillips Plastics Corporation® Saves $750,000 through Energy Efficiency Efforts

From a news release issued by Focus on Energy:

Focus on Energy provides $400,000 to boost energy saving efforts

(September 15, 2009)—A company-wide commitment to environmental stewardship from the shop floor to top management has led Phillips Plastics Corporation®, with facilities in Phillips, Eau Claire, Hudson, New Richmond, Medford, Menomonie and Prescott, Wis., to save more than $750,000 on its energy bills each year. This will not only help the manufacturer save money, but protect the environment and keep jobs in Wisconsin.

Phillips Plastic Corporation received $400,000 in financial incentives from Focus on Energy, Wisconsin's statewide resource for energy efficiency and renewable energy, to complete energy saving projects that will save more than 8.5 million kilowatt-hours of electricity and 78,000 therms of natural gas annually—enough energy to power 940 Wisconsin homes for a year.

Since 2002, Phillips Plastics has completed energy assessments at all 15 of its buildings to find cost-effective ways to save energy including traditional applications, innovative technologies, energy management plans and high-performance equipment upgrades. Major projects include:

· Numerous plant-wide lighting upgrades, including advanced controls where appropriate
· Adding variable speed drives on heating, cooling and ventilation equipment at multiple sites
· Installing energy efficient compressed air equipment
· Upgrading ventilation equipment in multiple sites
· Installing cutting edge chilled water technology at two sites
· Completing numerous feasibility studies to determine which projects to pursue

Westby lighting project gets thumbs up

From an article by Dorothy Jasperson in the Westby Times:

The Westby Area School Board of Education unanimously approved $34,820 to implement a replacement lighting project in areas of the high school and gymnasium.

The projected costs of the lighting projects are $54,820. Those costs will be offset by incentive programs offered through Wisconsin Focus on Energy and WPPI, the city of Westby power supplier.

Wisconsin Focus on Energy will pay a specific dollar amount for replacement of outdated electrical units, while WPPI will contribute up to 60 percent of the cost of the entire project. The school district will be required to make an investment to keep costs down and a 5.9 year payback for the lighting installation investment is projected at today’s cost of electricity.

Interest in sustainable-energy buildings grows

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

Sustainable building techniques are becoming increasingly popular in central Wisconsin and across the state, industry leaders say.

Most recently, the Mead Wildlife Area Education & Visitor Center near Milladore became the second new building in Wisconsin to receive LEED Platinum Green Building Certification, the highest possible level for sustainable-energy design.

"I believe the trend has been going up for the building of LEED-certified buildings in general," said Sue Loomans, executive director of the Wisconsin Green Building Alliance. "People are seeing the importance of sustainable building."

LEED, which stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is a nationwide energy-efficiency program developed by the U.S. Green Building Council and overseen by the Green Building Certification Institute.

The Mead building joins the Aldo Leopold Legacy Center near Baraboo, the renovated Hunzinger Construction Offices in Milwaukee and a private home in Madison in carrying the LEED Platinum rating.

Kohl's again named EPA Green Power Partner of the Year

From a news release posted on Yahoo!Finance:

MENOMONEE FALLS, Wis.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Kohl’s Department Stores (NYSE: KSS - News) will be named Green Power Partner of the Year during the annual Green Power Leadership Awards held Monday, Sept. 14 in Atlanta, Ga. Co-sponsored by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and Center for Resource Solutions (CRS), the Green Power Leadership Awards recognize the actions of organizations, programs and individuals that significantly advance the development of green power resources in three categories: on-site generation, green power purchase and Partner of the Year.

“To receive the Green Power Partner of the Year Award is a tremendous honor,” said Ken Bonning, Kohl’s executive vice president of store planning and logistics. “Since joining the Green Power Partnership in 2006, Kohl’s has continually demonstrated our support of green power through increasing our purchase of renewable energy credits, expanding our solar initiative and implementing strategies to manage our energy usage in an environmentally responsible way. We strive to set an example of how a business can consistently implement and explore sustainable solutions that make sense for the bottom line, the environment and the communities we serve.”

This is the third consecutive year Kohl’s will receive a Green Power Leadership Award, earning recognition for green power purchase in 2007 and on-site generation in 2008. This is Kohl’s first time receiving the Green Power Partner of the Year Award, which recognizes four EPA Green Power Partners annually who distinguish themselves through their green power purchases, leadership, overall strategy and impact on the green power market. . . .

Kohl’s currently ranks second in retail, fourth overall and fourth among Fortune 500 companies on EPA’s list of top Green Power Purchasers with a 2009 green power purchase of 600,990,000 kWh – more than double Kohl’s previous green power commitment and enough to meet 50 percent of the company’s purchased electricity use. According to U.S. EPA, Kohl’s green power purchase of 601 million kWh is equivalent to avoiding carbon dioxide emissions of more than 79,000 passenger vehicles per year, or is the equivalent amount of electricity needed to power nearly 60,000 average American homes annually.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

State Senate strongly backs new rules for wind projects

IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 15, 2009

MORE INFORMATION
Michael Vickerman
RENEW Wisconsin
608.255.4044
mvickerman@renewwisconsin.org

In a show of bipartisan support, the State Senate approved legislation that will open the door to new wind energy projects in Wisconsin.

Under the Wind for Wisconsin umbrella, more than 60 organizations as diverse as unions, trade associations, environmental advocates, health groups, and renewable energy manufacturers sought uniform permitting standards for future wind developments.

Six Republicans joined 17 Democrats to pass Senate Bill 185. The legislation directs the Public Service Commission to begin a rulemaking process that will lead to greater certainty and predictability in siting wind generation facilities.

“The Senate’s vote is critical to reviving the development of a high priority renewable energy resource in accordance with Wisconsin energy policy,” said Michael Vickerman, executive director of RENEW Wisconsin, a nonprofit sustainable energy advocacy organization.

“We believe that the wind energy suppliers will see the action as an invitation to locate and do business in Wisconsin. Our economy will benefit from the investment and jobs in a sustainable energy future,” Vickerman said.

“RENEW Wisconsin and its members thank the bill’s primary authors, Senator Jeff Plale (D-South Milwaukee) and Senator Randy Hopper (R-Fond du Lac), the leadership of both parties, and all of the state senators who recognized the need for a statewide approach to permitting windpower installations,” Vickerman added .

The Assembly will vote on the companion bill later this week. Then it will go to the governor.

State Senate strongly backs new rules for wind projects

IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 15, 2009

MORE INFORMATION
Michael Vickerman
RENEW Wisconsin
608.255.4044
mvickerman@renewwisconsin.org

In a show of bipartisan support, the State Senate approved legislation that will open the door to new wind energy projects in Wisconsin.

Under the Wind for Wisconsin umbrella, more than 60 organizations as diverse as unions, trade associations, environmental advocates, health groups, and renewable energy manufacturers sought uniform permitting standards for future wind developments.

Six Republicans joined 17 Democrats to pass Senate Bill 185. The legislation directs the Public Service Commission to begin a rulemaking process that will lead to greater certainty and predictability in siting wind generation facilities.

“The Senate’s vote is critical to reviving the development of a high priority renewable energy resource in accordance with Wisconsin energy policy,” said Michael Vickerman, executive director of RENEW Wisconsin, a nonprofit sustainable energy advocacy organization.

“We believe that the wind energy suppliers will see the action as an invitation to locate and do business in Wisconsin. Our economy will benefit from the investment and jobs in a sustainable energy future,” Vickerman said.

“RENEW Wisconsin and its members thank the bill’s primary authors, Senator Jeff Plale (D-South Milwaukee) and Senator Randy Hopper (R-Fond du Lac), the leadership of both parties, and all of the state senators who recognized the need for a statewide approach to permitting windpower installations,” Vickerman added .

The Assembly will vote on the companion bill later this week. Then it will go to the governor.

State Senate strongly backs new rules for wind projects

IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 15, 2009

MORE INFORMATION
Michael Vickerman
RENEW Wisconsin
608.255.4044
mvickerman@renewwisconsin.org

In a show of bipartisan support, the State Senate approved legislation that will open the door to new wind energy projects in Wisconsin.

Under the Wind for Wisconsin umbrella, more than 60 organizations as diverse as unions, trade associations, environmental advocates, health groups, and renewable energy manufacturers sought uniform permitting standards for future wind developments.

Six Republicans joined 17 Democrats to pass Senate Bill 185. The legislation directs the Public Service Commission to begin a rulemaking process that will lead to greater certainty and predictability in siting wind generation facilities.

“The Senate’s vote is critical to reviving the development of a high priority renewable energy resource in accordance with Wisconsin energy policy,” said Michael Vickerman, executive director of RENEW Wisconsin, a nonprofit sustainable energy advocacy organization.

“We believe that the wind energy suppliers will see the action as an invitation to locate and do business in Wisconsin. Our economy will benefit from the investment and jobs in a sustainable energy future,” Vickerman said.

“RENEW Wisconsin and its members thank the bill’s primary authors, Senator Jeff Plale (D-South Milwaukee) and Senator Randy Hopper (R-Fond du Lac), the leadership of both parties, and all of the state senators who recognized the need for a statewide approach to permitting windpower installations,” Vickerman added .

The Assembly will vote on the companion bill later this week. Then it will go to the governor.

State Senate strongly backs new rules for wind projects

IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 15, 2009

MORE INFORMATION
Michael Vickerman
RENEW Wisconsin
608.255.4044
mvickerman@renewwisconsin.org

In a show of bipartisan support, the State Senate approved legislation that will open the door to new wind energy projects in Wisconsin.

Under the Wind for Wisconsin umbrella, more than 60 organizations as diverse as unions, trade associations, environmental advocates, health groups, and renewable energy manufacturers sought uniform permitting standards for future wind developments.

Six Republicans joined 17 Democrats to pass Senate Bill 185. The legislation directs the Public Service Commission to begin a rulemaking process that will lead to greater certainty and predictability in siting wind generation facilities.

“The Senate’s vote is critical to reviving the development of a high priority renewable energy resource in accordance with Wisconsin energy policy,” said Michael Vickerman, executive director of RENEW Wisconsin, a nonprofit sustainable energy advocacy organization.

“We believe that the wind energy suppliers will see the action as an invitation to locate and do business in Wisconsin. Our economy will benefit from the investment and jobs in a sustainable energy future,” Vickerman said.

“RENEW Wisconsin and its members thank the bill’s primary authors, Senator Jeff Plale (D-South Milwaukee) and Senator Randy Hopper (R-Fond du Lac), the leadership of both parties, and all of the state senators who recognized the need for a statewide approach to permitting windpower installations,” Vickerman added .

The Assembly will vote on the companion bill later this week. Then it will go to the governor.

State Senate strongly backs new rules for wind projects

IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 15, 2009

MORE INFORMATION
Michael Vickerman
RENEW Wisconsin
608.255.4044
mvickerman@renewwisconsin.org

In a show of bipartisan support, the State Senate approved legislation that will open the door to new wind energy projects in Wisconsin.

Under the Wind for Wisconsin umbrella, more than 60 organizations as diverse as unions, trade associations, environmental advocates, health groups, and renewable energy manufacturers sought uniform permitting standards for future wind developments.

Six Republicans joined 17 Democrats to pass Senate Bill 185. The legislation directs the Public Service Commission to begin a rulemaking process that will lead to greater certainty and predictability in siting wind generation facilities.

“The Senate’s vote is critical to reviving the development of a high priority renewable energy resource in accordance with Wisconsin energy policy,” said Michael Vickerman, executive director of RENEW Wisconsin, a nonprofit sustainable energy advocacy organization.

“We believe that the wind energy suppliers will see the action as an invitation to locate and do business in Wisconsin. Our economy will benefit from the investment and jobs in a sustainable energy future,” Vickerman said.

“RENEW Wisconsin and its members thank the bill’s primary authors, Senator Jeff Plale (D-South Milwaukee) and Senator Randy Hopper (R-Fond du Lac), the leadership of both parties, and all of the state senators who recognized the need for a statewide approach to permitting windpower installations,” Vickerman added .

The Assembly will vote on the companion bill later this week. Then it will go to the governor.

END


RENEW Wisconsin (www.renewwisconsin.org) is an independent, nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization that acts as a catalyst to advance a sustainable energy future through public policy and private sector initiatives.

Tour highlights northwestern Wisconsin renewable energy installations






















From a post by Margaret Krome in The Capital Times:

At Farm Progress Days this summer, other farmers told me that they also are interested in creating solar or wind energy, but their decision hinges on whether they receive a sufficient payback on their investment. The rapid and extensive growth of renewable energies in Germany, Denmark and parts of Canada is attributed overwhelmingly to a single policy addressing this concern, called "feed-in tariffs." (In Europe, the word "tariff" can mean "price.") This policy encourages small businesses, households, farms, towns - anyone - to produce renewable energy by providing a stable price for that energy at a rate that considers the actual costs of producing it. It's an obvious idea, but currently in most parts of the United States, utilities set widely varying rates for renewable energy - rates that seldom properly calculate the costs of producing it.

Wisconsin policymakers are on the verge of considering this and other policies to support renewable energy. Last week I joined the Homegrown Renewable Energy Campaign bus tour of four sites in northwest Wisconsin that illustrate ways communities and entrepreneurs can benefit from those policies.

We visited the bus garage for the Cadott School District, which converted its bus engines two decades ago to use compressed natural gas, which cut up to two-thirds off the district's transportation costs.

We saw a small electric vehicle whose manufacturer is located in Wisconsin and may be one of the few vehicle manufacturers with growing, not shrinking, demand.

Pete Taglia, a scientist with Clean Wisconsin, explained how one policy under consideration, a low carbon fuel standard, would set a market standard for energy sources with a lower lifetime carbon footprint, rewarding fuel manufacturers, distributors, and ultimately users.

We visited Barron High School, which for over 20 years has been heated - and now is also cooled - by burning wood chips. A fuels for schools policy would help other schools use nearby biomass similarly.

We also saw biomass research plots at the University of Wisconsin's Spooner research station. A proposed biomass crop reserve program would reward farmers for taking land that's vulnerable to soil erosion and planting it to longer-term and less-erosive biomass crops.

Wisconsin would be wise to support homegrown renewable energy. Avoiding fossil fuels can help reduce climate change. Renewable energy projects offer many opportunities to build new jobs. And, as Valerie Adamski said, "It's nice not to be in the hands of a foreign oil company."

Wind for Wisconsin urges legislators to support wind siting reform

TO: WISCONSIN LEGISLATORS
FROM: THE MEMBERS OF WIND FOR WISCONSIN
SUBJECT: SUPPORT FOR AB 256 AND SB 185
DATE: 9/15/2009

The members of Wind for Wisconsin urge you to vote for AB 256 and SB 185 as amended by Substitute Amendment 2.

AB 256 and SB 185 have and deserve bipartisan support. The legislation:
• Increases Wisconsin’s energy independence;
• Reduces our dependence of fossil fuel which is subject to great price volatility;
• Will help create jobs;
• Will strengthen rural economies by giving land owners hosting wind turbines new income from rental payments.

The legislation offers benefits to our economy both for the short and long-term. The Operating Engineers report that construction of WEPCO’s Blue Sky Green Fields project created 400,000 labor hours. Wind projects that are developed in Wisconsin can also rely on the manufacturing capabilities of our state. For instance, Tower Tech in Manitowoc is poised to build the towers for Wisconsin-based wind farms. Passage of this legislation will also signal to national and international wind companies that Wisconsin is open for business.

We urge your support.
___________________________________________________
*Wind for Wisconsin is a single purpose coalition organized to pass wind siting reform with the financial support of Wind on the Wires and RENEW Wisconsin.

Groups state case for wind siting reform; State Senate votes today

Senate Bill 185 comes to the full Senate for a vote today. Two organizations issues news releases to express support for the bill:

CREWE Urges Bi-Partisan Support for Wind Siting Bill

(MADISON, Wis.)—Clean, Responsible Energy for Wisconsin’s Economy (CREWE) today urged state lawmakers to support the proposed uniform wind siting legislation as it heads to the Senate floor on Tuesday. Senate Bill 185/Assembly Bill 256 would create jobs and help Wisconsin meet its renewable energy requirements by having the Public Service Commission (PSC) set standards for large and small wind energy systems across the state.

“We can establish a green economy and add needed jobs to the state with the passing of SB 185/ AB 256, in which CREWE has taken an active role this year,” Thad Nation, executive director of CREWE, said. “I’m sure both Democrats and Republicans can agree that this bill will benefit Wisconsin’s ratepayers, taxpayers and environment.”

Currently, more than 600 megawatts of planned wind developments are stalled across Wisconsin due to midstream changes in regulations and procedures. A consistent and uniform siting policy will allow Wisconsin to take advantage of wind development and growth, Nation added.

From the news release issued by Clean Wisconsin:

MADISON — The Senate will vote on a piece of legislation Tuesday that will create new jobs, generate new investments in our state’s economy and encourage new renewable energy businesses to locate in Wisconsin.

Senate Bill 185, or wind siting legislation, will bring family-supporting jobs to the state while replacing the patchwork of local regulations with sensible statewide standards for permitting wind farms.

At the same time, Democratic representatives of the Assembly will hold a press conference Tuesday at 10:30 to share their job creation agenda for Wisconsin; wind siting plays a crucial role in their plan. The Assembly votes on the bill Wednesday.

In early August, the bill passed the Senate Committee on Commerce, Energy, Utilities and Rail 6-1. In June, it passed the Assembly Committee on Energy and Utilities 10-2.

“This legislation will create jobs, generate clean energy and put us on the path to energy independence,” says Ryan Schryver, clean energy advocate for Clean Wisconsin, the state’s largest environmental advocacy organization. “Wisconsin has lost a record number of jobs in recent months, and this legislation is a needed
mechanism to re-create some of the jobs the state has lost.”

Monday, September 14, 2009

Plenty of positive news to ponder

From an editorial in the Wisconsin Rapids Tribune:

Summer's done? Already?

Despite its late date, Labor Day weekend kind of snuck up on the Wisconsin Rapids area this year. One reason: Cooler weather often made the warmest of seasons tough to recognize.

Still, with one last long holiday weekend and the unofficial end of summer to enjoy, it's hard to complain -- especially with the kickoff of local high school sports and the start of the college and professional football season.

Here are few more reasons to be thankful while relaxing, or contemplating all the yard work that needs to be done.

Seen what Mid-State Technical College has been doing lately? The school based in Grand Rapids is working to expand its five renewable energy programs.

This will be an important field in the coming years, as government and businesses work to "go green" for economic and environmental reasons.

Employers will need qualified workers in these burgeoning sectors, and it's encouraging to see a local institution like Mid-State leading the way.

The college has been working with Energy Composites Corp. on a training program for future employees of the company, which plans to add at least 400 jobs to Wisconsin Rapids with a wind energy component plant.

In addition to Mid-State's renewable thermal energy, renewable electricity and bio-refinery technology programs that began a year ago, the school's renewable energy specialist and energy conservation specialist programs started up this week.

U.S. Rep. Dave Obey, D-Wausau, was in town Monday to check up on the programs for which he helped secure $428,000 in President Barack Obama's 2009-10 budget.

The future looks bright if Wisconsin Rapids can build upon the solid base educational institutions like Mid-State and companies like Energy Composites are building. . . .