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Saturday, January 30, 2010

Free bus from Milwaukee to Madison to testify on Clean Energy Jobs bill, Feb. 2

A legislative alert and free offer from the Sierra Club and Clean Wisconsin:

WISCONSIN NEEDS THE CLEAN ENERGY JOBS BILL THIS SESSION!


You are invited to join your neighbors who intend to “pack the house” at the state Capitol as the Legislature holds public hearings on the Wisconsin Clean Energy Jobs Act (AB 649/SB 450). We urge you to take advantage of a free bus ride to make your voice heard in Madison.

Date: Tuesday, February 2
Where: Bus leaves from the McKinley Marina parking lot, across from Alterra Café at the Lake, 1701 N. Lincoln Memorial Drive. Parking is free.
Time: Bus leaves Milwaukee at 8:00 a.m.
Return: Bus begins the return trip from Madison at 3:00 p.m., arriving in Milwaukee at about 5:00 p.m.
What will Happen: Info about the Clean Energy Jobs Act will be provided on the bus, and you will get a chance to meet with your legislators once you get to the Capitol. This is a great opportunity to travel to the capitol and back at no expense and make your voice heard.
How to Reserve a Seat: Call Katy at Clean Wisconsin: 608-251-7020, Extension 28. Leave a message saying you’d like to be on the bus and provide your name, phone number, and street address. Or RSVP your name, phone, and address to RSVP@cleanwisconsin.org.

The WI Clean Energy Jobs Act is based on recommendations developed by the Governor’s Global Warming Task Force. The Act creates critical energy efficiency, renewable energy and transportation policies to reduce the threat of climate change and revitalize our economy. Learn more on the Sierra Club’s website at: http://wisconsin.sierraclub.org/Involve/action.asp.

We have just three months to pass this bill, and it is vital that we show strong citizen support for taking real action on climate change.

Friday, January 29, 2010

RENEW: Hearing trivialized Advanced Renewable Tariffs

From a letter from RENEW Wisconsin to Senators Jeff Plale and Mark Miller, co-chairs of the Select Senate Committee on Clean Energy, who held a hearing on the Clean Energy Jobs Act bill on January 27:

Dear Senators Miller and Plale:

Thank you for holding a hearing yesterday of the Select Committee on Clean Energy on SB 450 (the Clean Energy Jobs Act bill). You heard a great deal of substantive commentary about much of the bill, particularly the sections dealing with energy efficiency and the expanded Renewable Energy Standard.

Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the discussion on the proposal to institute Advanced Renewable Tariffs in Wisconsin. Early in the hearing, a speaker framed the issue as “asking a little old lady in Cudahy to subsidize an expensive system in Mequon.” From that point, the discussion devolved into a kind of semi-orchestrated gang-tackling on this issue that continued unabated until I was called upon to speak, some seven hours and forty five minutes after the hearing began. While RENEW members who work for or with solar, wind and biogas energy installation companies were present during the hearing and had registered to speak, none were called prior to myself. All but two (Full Spectrum Solar and Ed Ritger) had to leave before the hearing ended.

Now, I don’t believe the first speaker, a labor leader, had intended to belittle the companies that install customer-sited renewable energy systems or dismiss their contribution to Wisconsin’s economy and environment. Nevertheless, the “little old lady from Cudahy” theme took a life of its own, and as a result, the very important issues of how to support these systems through utility rates and whether these rates should be mandated had become thoroughly trivialized by the end.

Allow me to repeat some of the points I made at yesterday’s hearing:

1. The vast majority of the distributed renewable generating units installed in Wisconsin serve schools, dairy farms and other small businesses, churches and local governments.

2. Utilities are not in the business of installing these systems themselves.

3. In many cases the renewable energy installation went forward because there was a special buyback rate available to accelerate the recovery of the original investment made by the customer. Yesterday, I gave the example of the Dane County community anaerobic digester project that, once operational, will treat manure taken from several nearby dairy farms in the Waunakee area and produce two megawatts of electricity with it. The electricity will be purchased by Alliant Energy through a voluntary biogas tariff worth 9.3 cents/kWh. Unfortunately, Alliant’s biogas program is fully subscribed and is no longer available to other dairy farmers, food processing companies and wastewater treatment facilities served by Alliant.

4. Companies that install solar, wind and biogas energy systems are quintessentially small businesses, many of them family-owned. Renewable energy contractors and affiliated service providers constitute one of the few market sectors where young adults who have acquired the necessary skills to do the job well can find meaningful work at decent pay.

5. By its very nature, distributed renewable energy delivers nearly 100% of its economic punch to the local economy.

Ag secretary promotes Clean Energy Jobs Act bill

From an article by Danielle Begalke in The Country Today:

EAU CLAIRE - The Clean Energy Jobs Act is aimed at amping up energy efficiency and conservation, curbing dependence on nonrenewable resources and creating more jobs in Wisconsin.

That's according to Wisconsin Agriculture Secretary Rod Nilsestuen, who expressed support for the bill during a Jan. 21 visit to northwestern Wisconsin.

The bill, which Gov. Jim Doyle introduced earlier this month, implements recommendations from his Global Warming Task Force to address climate change and ramp up the state's "green economy," a Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection news release said.

Nilsestuen visited with Wisconsin Farmers Union members in Chippewa Falls Jan. 21 before speaking at the joint Midwest Value-Added Agriculture Conference and Local Food Summit in Eau Claire.

"With the Clean Energy Jobs Act we'll put together a framework for moving Wisconsin toward becoming a much greener and cleaner state," Nilsestuen told conference attendees.

The proposed legislation calls for 20 percent of the state's energy to come from renewable sources by 2020 - and 25 percent by 2025.

"We consume $16 billion worth of out-of-state fuel for our cars and homes every year," Nilsestuen said. "You can easily see why we want those dollars to stay here in the state."

The secretary said he hopes to see more alternative fuel options become available for farms of all sizes.

"We have about 30 anaerobic digesters in the state," Nilsestuen said. He estimated that each digester provides enough energy to fuel 400 homes.

"We need to make these options more available, to make them sustainable and profitable for small farmers," he said.

RENEW: Hearing trivialized Advanced Renewable Tariffs

From a letter from RENEW Wisconsin to Senators Jeff Plale and Mark Miller, co-chairs of the Select Senate Committee on Clean Energy, who held a hearing on the Clean Energy Jobs Act bill on January 27:

Dear Senators Miller and Plale:

Thank you for holding a hearing yesterday of the Select Committee on Clean Energy on SB 450 (the Clean Energy Jobs Act bill). You heard a great deal of substantive commentary about much of the bill, particularly the sections dealing with energy efficiency and the expanded Renewable Energy Standard.

Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the discussion on the proposal to institute Advanced Renewable Tariffs in Wisconsin. Early in the hearing, a speaker framed the issue as “asking a little old lady in Cudahy to subsidize an expensive system in Mequon.” From that point, the discussion devolved into a kind of semi-orchestrated gang-tackling on this issue that continued unabated until I was called upon to speak, some seven hours and forty five minutes after the hearing began. While RENEW members who work for or with solar, wind and biogas energy installation companies were present during the hearing and had registered to speak, none were called prior to myself. All but two (Full Spectrum Solar and Ed Ritger) had to leave before the hearing ended.

Now, I don’t believe the first speaker, a labor leader, had intended to belittle the companies that install customer-sited renewable energy systems or dismiss their contribution to Wisconsin’s economy and environment. Nevertheless, the “little old lady from Cudahy” theme took a life of its own, and as a result, the very important issues of how to support these systems through utility rates and whether these rates should be mandated had become thoroughly trivialized by the end.

Allow me to repeat some of the points I made at yesterday’s hearing:

1. The vast majority of the distributed renewable generating units installed in Wisconsin serve schools, dairy farms and other small businesses, churches and local governments.

2. Utilities are not in the business of installing these systems themselves.

3. In many cases the renewable energy installation went forward because there was a special buyback rate available to accelerate the recovery of the original investment made by the customer. Yesterday, I gave the example of the Dane County community anaerobic digester project that, once operational, will treat manure taken from several nearby dairy farms in the Waunakee area and produce two megawatts of electricity with it. The electricity will be purchased by Alliant Energy through a voluntary biogas tariff worth 9.3 cents/kWh. Unfortunately, Alliant’s biogas program is fully subscribed and is no longer available to other dairy farmers, food processing companies and wastewater treatment facilities served by Alliant.

4. Companies that install solar, wind and biogas energy systems are quintessentially small businesses, many of them family-owned. Renewable energy contractors and affiliated service providers constitute one of the few market sectors where young adults who have acquired the necessary skills to do the job well can find meaningful work at decent pay.

5. By its very nature, distributed renewable energy delivers nearly 100% of its economic punch to the local economy.

Hearing on Clean Energy Jobs Act bill trivialized Advanced Renewable Tariffs

January 28, 2010

Senator Jeff Plale
Room 313 South, State Capitol
Madison, WI 53708

Senator Mark Miller
Room 317 East, State Capitol
Madison, WI 53708

Dear Senators Miller and Plale:

Thank you for holding a hearing yesterday of the Select Committee on Clean Energy on SB 450 (the Clean Energy Jobs Act bill). You heard a great deal of substantive commentary about much of the bill, particularly the sections dealing with energy efficiency and the expanded Renewable Energy Standard.

Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the discussion on the proposal to institute Advanced Renewable Tariffs in Wisconsin. Early in the hearing, a speaker framed the issue as “asking a little old lady in Cudahy to subsidize an expensive system in Mequon.” From that point, the discussion devolved into a kind of semi-orchestrated gang-tackling on this issue that continued unabated until I was called upon to speak, some seven hours and forty five minutes after the hearing began. While RENEW members who work for or with solar, wind and biogas energy installation companies were present during the hearing and had registered to speak, none were called prior to myself. All but two (Full Spectrum Solar and Ed Ritger) had to leave before the hearing ended.

Now, I don’t believe the first speaker, a labor leader, had intended to belittle the companies that install customer-sited renewable energy systems or dismiss their contribution to Wisconsin’s economy and environment. Nevertheless, the “little old lady from Cudahy” theme took a life of its own, and as a result, the very important issues of how to support these systems through utility rates and whether these rates should be mandated had become thoroughly trivialized by the end.

Allow me to repeat some of the points I made at yesterday’s hearing:

1. The vast majority of the distributed renewable generating units installed in Wisconsin serve schools, dairy farms and other small businesses, churches and local governments.

2. Utilities are not in the business of installing these systems themselves.

3. In many cases the renewable energy installation went forward because there was a special buyback rate available to accelerate the recovery of the original investment made by the customer. Yesterday, I gave the example of the Dane County community anaerobic digester project that, once operational, will treat manure taken from several nearby dairy farms in the Waunakee area and produce two megawatts of electricity with it. The electricity will be purchased by Alliant Energy through a voluntary biogas tariff worth 9.3 cents/kWh. Unfortunately, Alliant’s biogas program is fully subscribed and is no longer available to other dairy farmers, food processing companies and wastewater treatment facilities served by Alliant.

4. Companies that install solar, wind and biogas energy systems are quintessentially small businesses, many of them family-owned. Renewable energy contractors and affiliated service providers constitute one of the few market sectors where young adults who have acquired the necessary skills to do the job well can find meaningful work at decent pay.

5. By its very nature, distributed renewable energy delivers nearly 100% of its economic punch to the local economy.

In stark contrast to other states, Wisconsin has a well developed market structure for supporting small-scale renewables. Through the ratepayer-funded Focus on Energy program, there is in Wisconsin a human infrastructure that trains and educates thousands of young people to work in the renewable energy arena. Indeed, Wisconsin is a leader in this area. Our expectation is that these workers will apply their skills in the state, fabricating and installing renewable energy equipment in a thoroughly professional manner.

But if we don’t take equal care to create and sustain demand for their skills and services, these workers are apt to leave the state for greener pastures, and Wisconsin’s investment in their education will have gone unpaid. This is why the issue of Advanced Renewable Tariffs is so important to RENEW members.

The question of how to sustain and broaden the distributed generation marketplace is a serious matter that deserves careful consideration by the Legislature. As I mentioned yesterday, RENEW Wisconsin has a wealth of experience and expertise in designing forward-looking renewable energy policies, examples being the Act 141 renewable energy standard and We Energies’ voluntary renewable energy program, the most ambitious and innovative of its kind in the state.

We at RENEW would greatly appreciate the opportunity to meet with you and suggest some alternative approaches in the Advanced Renewable tariffs section that we believe would end the impasse between utilities and clean energy advocates and put the distributed energy sector on a sustainable growth trajectory. We would like very much the opportunity to discuss our alternative approach and provide any assistance you require in forging an acceptable compromise with the utilities.

One final point: yesterday you heard several utilities recommend that the Legislature strip out the Advanced Renewables Tariff section. RENEW urges you not to heed their advice. While we would support a reworking of this section, we cannot support abandoning this initiative altogether and cannot further support a bill that is silent on policies to advance the distributed energy marketplace. That is a bottom-line priority with us.


Sincerely,


Michael Vickerman
Executive Director

Nonprofits hope federal money will help upgrade heating systems

From an article by Nick Halter in the Wausau Daily Herald:

Wausau's struggling nonprofit community soon will receive a boost from federal stimulus money that will allow them to make energy efficiency upgrades.

The city has been given $60,000 from the U.S. Department of Energy to allocate to nonprofits that want to improve energy efficiency and lower utility bills. The nonprofits will be required to match each dollar given to them by the city.

If one thing was made clear Thursday in a meeting of the organizations and the city's Community Development staff, a lot of Wausau's nonprofits are badly in need of upgrades.

Seven organizations are likely to try to get their piece of the pie, and it's unlikely they all will get what they want.

At the top of most of the organizations' lists is replacing old, inefficient furnaces in their buildings. The Salvation Army, Bridge Community Health Clinic, the Wausau Area Hmong Mutual Association, the Woodson Art Museum, The Neighbors' Place and the YWCA all said they need new furnaces.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Business leaders, labor, utilities, farmers, and conservationists hail Clean Energy Jobs Act bill

From a news release issued by Clean Wisconsin:

MADISON – Prominent business leaders, labor representatives, farmers, health advocates, faith leaders, energy providers, and environmentalists were among residents from across the state who gathered at a public hearing held in the State Capitol today to ask their elected leaders to support and strengthen the Clean Energy Jobs Act.

"The diversity of support for this legislation is overwhelming," said Ryan Schryver, Clean Energy Advocate at Clean Wisconsin, the state’s largest environmental advocacy organization. "People from all walks of life gathered today to ask legislators to create jobs, clean our environment, protect our health, and support energy independence by passing this bill."

The Clean Energy Jobs Act holds the potential to be an economic boon for Wisconsin, creating demand for energy efficiency projects, putting residents to work harvesting wind and solar power, and creating markets for farmers to grow and sell biofuels.

According to an analysis performed by the Office of Energy Independence, the current version of the bill will create over 15,000 jobs for Wisconsinites in the construction and manufacturing industries alone. Strengthening the bill could lead to even greater job creation.

"We cannot afford to continue draining our economy by exporting billions on expensive, dirty fossil fuels," said Schryver. "Residents gathered today to say 'enough is enough' and demand that we create jobs and start investing in our own state by producing clean energy right here at home."

The Coalition for Clean Energy which includes Clean Wisconsin also made several suggested improvements to the Clean Energy Jobs Act bill:

+ Restore and protect the integrity of the Renewable Energy Standard (RES) (Renewable Portfolio Standard – RPS – in the current draft). . . .
+ Strengthening the language to ensure that Wisconsin does meet the 2 percent energyefficiency goal by requiring the Public Service Commission to direct efficiency investments necessary to reach that 2 percent goal. . . .
+ Increase the percentage of renewable energy that must be sited in Wisconsin to at least half of renewable energy generation required under the bill (i.e. 12.5% in 2025). . . .
+ Strengthen the Advanced Renewable Tariff (ART) language by making it apply statewide
and by including a statewide minimum MW cap and a minimum project size cap. . . .

Read all of the recommendations.

The coalition also includes Wisconsin Council of Churches, Citizens Utility Board, Wisconsin Community Action Program (WisCAP), Environmental Law & Policy Center; Environment Wisconsin, Midwest Environmental Advocates, Physicians for Social Responsibility, Sierra Club - John Muir Chapter, Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters.

Business leaders, labor, utilities, farmers, and conservationists hail Clean Energy Jobs Act bill

From a news release issued by Clean Wisconsin:

MADISON – Prominent business leaders, labor representatives, farmers, health advocates, faith leaders, energy providers, and environmentalists were among residents from across the state who gathered at a public hearing held in the State Capitol today to ask their elected leaders to support and strengthen the Clean Energy Jobs Act.

"The diversity of support for this legislation is overwhelming," said Ryan Schryver, Clean Energy Advocate at Clean Wisconsin, the state’s largest environmental advocacy organization. "People from all walks of life gathered today to ask legislators to create jobs, clean our environment, protect our health, and support energy independence by passing this bill."

The Clean Energy Jobs Act holds the potential to be an economic boon for Wisconsin, creating demand for energy efficiency projects, putting residents to work harvesting wind and solar power, and creating markets for farmers to grow and sell biofuels.

According to an analysis performed by the Office of Energy Independence, the current version of the bill will create over 15,000 jobs for Wisconsinites in the construction and manufacturing industries alone. Strengthening the bill could lead to even greater job creation.

"We cannot afford to continue draining our economy by exporting billions on expensive, dirty fossil fuels," said Schryver. "Residents gathered today to say 'enough is enough' and demand that we create jobs and start investing in our own state by producing clean energy right here at home."

The Coalition for Clean Energy which includes Clean Wisconsin also made several suggested improvements to the Clean Energy Jobs Act bill:

+ Restore and protect the integrity of the Renewable Energy Standard (RES) (Renewable Portfolio Standard – RPS – in the current draft). . . .
+ Strengthening the language to ensure that Wisconsin does meet the 2 percent energyefficiency goal by requiring the Public Service Commission to direct efficiency investments necessary to reach that 2 percent goal. . . .
+ Increase the percentage of renewable energy that must be sited in Wisconsin to at least half of renewable energy generation required under the bill (i.e. 12.5% in 2025). . . .
+ Strengthen the Advanced Renewable Tariff (ART) language by making it apply statewide
and by including a statewide minimum MW cap and a minimum project size cap. . . .

Read all of the recommendations.

The coalition also includes Wisconsin Council of Churches, Citizens Utility Board, Wisconsin Community Action Program (WisCAP), Environmental Law & Policy Center; Environment Wisconsin, Midwest Environmental Advocates, Physicians for Social Responsibility, Sierra Club - John Muir Chapter, Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters.

Osceola schools will consider more renewable energy and energy efficiency

From a news release issued by Clean Wisconsin:

OSCEOLA, WI — It’s never too early to teach people about energy efficiency, and in Osceola, students and community members are getting a firsthand education. By adding solar panels and thermal blankets to the middle school’s pool complex, the district has saved taxpayers $32,500 annually.

A prior energy review showed Osceola’s four schools were responsible for more than 70 percent of the energy used by the community’s public buildings. The solar panels and thermal blankets added to Osceola’s middle school pool complex in 2008 have reduced its energy usage by a remarkable 96 percent, saving $32,500 per year. The thermal blankets also reduced evaporation from the pools, saving 20,000 gallons of water per month. That’s one less day of pumping from village wells each year. Plus, it reduces the amount of pool chemicals used and how long dehumidifiers must run.

“We were pleasantly surprised by the cascade of benefits and savings from the pool project,” said Osceola energy coordinator and school board president Timm Johnson. “We hope that our experience is something that other schools, YMCAs and other institutions with pools are able to learn from and apply to their particular situations.”

And now, school officials and residents are eager for more. On January 26, the village and school boards met jointly to discuss next steps, including increasing their energy efficiency, renewable energy options and sustainability efforts. Osceola officials also agreed to consider making the village an “eco-municipality.” Nearly 30 communities across Wisconsin have already passed eco-municipality resolutions, which establish a sustainability framework to evaluate and improve policies and practices. The school and village boards are also inviting the public to a February 18 meeting, where community members can learn how they can become involved.

Wisconsin lands $800 million for high-speed train

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

Wisconsin will receive more than $800 million to build a high-speed rail line carrying passengers between Milwaukee and Madison at 110 mph and recapture a piece of a regional rail system largely abandoned six decades ago.

The high-speed line could be up and running as early as 2013, the state says.

President Barack Obama mentioned the federal investment in high-speed rail in his State of the Union speech Wednesday night and was expected to announce the specific awards for 13 projects nationally at an event in Florida on Thursday morning.

A fact sheet issued by the White House lists the $810 million for the stations and track improvements necessary for the high-speed line connecting the state's two largest cities, along with improvements to the Amtrak Hiawatha line between Milwaukee and Chicago that will serve as the building blocks for a 110-mph service along that route.

Ridership on that line nearly doubled from 397,518 passengers in 2002 to 766,167 in 2008, then leveled off in 2009. The decrease was blamed on the recession, which decreased travel across various modes of transportation.

The federal funding is part of an $8 billion package of rail grants approved by Congress in the 2009 economic recovery act. It provides money to build up the tracks and start operation of a high-speed rail connection that had been stalled in Wisconsin for decades.

"I am really pleased with President Obama's investment in the future of Wisconsin's economy," Gov. Jim Doyle said late Wednesday. "This is a major job creation project that will provide a long-term boost to our economy.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Farms and businesses win under Doyle’s Clean Energy Jobs Act

From a news release posted on WQOW.com:

(Press Release)– In a visit to the Wisconsin Farmers Union main office, Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection Secretary Rod Nilsestuen (DATCP) discussed the importance of Governor Doyle's Clean Energy Jobs Act designed to grow Wisconsin's economy by creating clean energy jobs and helping businesses and consumers use energy more efficiently.

"Every year, $16 billion leaves Wisconsin to pay for fuel to run our vehicles and heat our buildings," DATCP Secretary Rod Nilsestuen said. "We are not a state with coal, oil or natural gas, but we are a state with enormous manufacturing expertise, rich agricultural and forest land, and tremendous ability to research and innovate. The Clean Energy Jobs Act is designed to harness this potential to improve our economy, save money and confront climate change."

Governor Doyle's Clean Energy Jobs Act implements recommendations of his Global Warming Task Force to address climate change and grow the state's green economy. The package would:

+ Require use of renewable energy sources for 20 percent of Wisconsin's needs by 2020 and 25 percent by 2025. This will ensure more energy dollars remain in the state. Wisconsin currently spends $16 billion per year on imported energy to heat homes and fuel cars and trucks.

+ Increase energy efficiency and energy conservation efforts with graduated statewide electricity savings goals, leading to a 2 percent reduction in energy use by 2015 and annual reductions thereafter.

+ Create jobs, more than 1,800 in the first year, many of them construction jobs, according to new industry-recognized research. Economists and policy analysts estimate the package will create 800 to 1,800 new construction jobs per year through 2025 and more than 2,000 manufacturing jobs once the energy act provisions are fully implemented.

Governor releases FAQs on Clean Energy Jobs Act bill

From the frequently asked questions (FAQs) on the Clean Energy Jobs Act bill:

Enhanced Energy Efficiency and Conservation
Q: Won’t increased funding for statewide energy efficiency programs come out of the pockets of Wisconsin ratepayers? We shouldn’t be raising energy costs during an economic downturn by adding more fees to our utility bills.

A: Investing more money in energy efficiency has a demonstrable, risk-free payback for Wisconsin residents and businesses. Over the long run we will use less energy, which means we’ll actually be reducing our energy bills.

The cost of conserving energy is far less than the cost of building new power generation. Energy efficiency and conservation efforts are the least-cost means of mitigating carbon pollution.

Investing in energy efficiency also translates into stable, family-supporting jobs, particularly within the building and construction trades and at the 50+ businesses in Wisconsin that manufacture Energy Star appliances, windows, and other products. . . .

Renewable Fuels
Q: Will an Enhanced Renewable Portfolio Standard require the build-out of costly electric generation that Wisconsin doesn’t need, while doing nothing to reduce the demand for electricity? Don’t renewable energy sources cost more than coal and natural gas?

A: Each year, we send over $16 billion out of state to purchase coal, natural gas, and petroleum products to meet our energy demands. Every dollar we spend on these fossil fuels is a dollar that leaves Wisconsin. By increasing our state’s renewable portfolio standards, we are guaranteeing that more of our energy dollars remain here, and creating thousands of jobs for Wisconsin families in construction and building trades work, and, in the longer term, supply-chain jobs in our manufacturing, agricultural, and forestry sectors.

Also, the EPA has moved to regulate greenhouse gas emissions under the Clean Air Act, which means that costs associated with burning coal and natural gas will continue to rise. We cannot continue to pretend that exclusive reliance on fossil fuels for power generation is either sustainable or affordable in the long term. We need to speed our transition to a cleaner energy economy and position Wisconsin as a leader in this growing industry before other states get ahead of us.

As we add renewable sources of energy to our fleet, many of the older and less efficient fossil fuel burning units will gradually be retired, and Wisconsin’s generation capacity will fall in line with demand. Initial infrastructure costs associated with a transition to renewables will be off-set by producing cleaner and reliable renewable energy for Wisconsin over the long-term. Meanwhile, the cost of renewable generation technologies continues to fall when compared to fossil fuel alternatives.

Increased reliance on renewable energy is central to creating a more sustainable Wisconsin. Life cycle costs associated with fossil fuel have a significantly greater adverse impact on public health, quality of life, and the environment.

Advanced Renewable Tariffs
Q: Won’t Advanced Renewable Tariffs simply increase the cost of energy for everyone by subsidizing certain types of renewable technologies at a cost that is higher than the market would otherwise tolerate? Don’t Advanced Renewable Tariffs duplicate the efforts of the Renewable Portfolio Standard?

A: Evidence from around the world suggests that feed-in tariffs lead to faster deployment of renewable generation sources than a stand-alone Renewable Portfolio Standard. Advanced Renewable Tariffs will help harness the power of Wisconsin’s rich agricultural resources by making it easier and more cost-effective for farmers to take farm-waste and generate electricity with it to power their farming operations and deliver clean, renewable energy back to the grid.

Incenting the deployment of smaller-scale, more distributed renewable generation sources cuts down on our state’s transmission infrastructure costs and will reduce our reliance on out-of-state renewable power in the long term.

This policy helps level the playing field so individual homeowners, farmers, and businesses can earn a return on investments in renewable energy that is similar to the returns that utilities earn.

UWSP announces series on wood resources for energy

From an article in the Stevens Point Journal:

The University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point will present a series of public presentations on renewable wood resources for energy beginning Wednesday, Feb. 3.

The series will focus on woody biomass and the opportunities that exist to use this renewable resource to meet our energy needs today and in the future. The free lectures are open to the public and will be held on Wednesdays at 4 p.m. in Room 170 of the Trainer Natural Resources Building.

Eight regional and national speakers will define what woody biomass is, how it is harvested and used as a feedstock for direct heat and power generation. They will give an overview of the opportunities and potential of biofuels from woody biomass, the state of technology to extract biofuels from biomass, and where this industry is heading in the next five, ten and twenty years.

The first lecture, “Introduction to Forest Biomass,” will be presented by Don Peterson, president of Renewable Resource Solutions, LLC, on February 3. He will discuss the basics of woody biomass to potential end-use markets, as well as compare and contrast the positives and negatives of all aspects of woody biomass from extraction to utilization.

Fact check: Business group's radio ad uses bogus global warming data

From an article by Lisa Kaiser in the Shepherd Express (Milwaukee):

A new radio ad sponsored by the right-wing Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce (WMC)—attacking the proposed Clean Energy Jobs Act, just introduced in the state Legislature—is, as usual, full of misinformation.
Voices of two anonymous women claim that the bill would cost the average Wisconsin family more than a thousand dollars per year and lead to job losses, as well as high electricity rates and gas prices.

But that claim is based on an already debunked study by the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute (WPRI), largely funded by the ultraconservative Bradley Foundation, and the Beacon Hill Institute, a free-market think tank that accepted more than $50,000 from the Bradley Foundation in 2007 to develop a “tax model” for Wisconsin. (Yes, that is the same Wisconsin Policy Research Institute that was exposed in last week’s Shepherd Express for cooking their results to make their conservative board members happy.)

These two right-wing think tanks produced a report in November that purported to calculate the costs of recommendations of the Governor’s Task Force on Global Warming. That report alleged that the impacts of all of the task force’s recommendations would lead to roughly 50,000 job losses in the state over the next decade and cost the average Wisconsin resident more than $1,000.

But don’t believe it.

A Complete Fabrication
Thad Nation, executive director of the business alliance Clean, Responsible Energy for Wisconsin’s Economy (CREWE), which supports the bill, called the claims in the WMC ad “a complete fabrication” because it’s based on WPRI’s bogus study that analyzes the costs of all 13 task force recommendations—even though eight of the 13 are not included in the legislation.

“The [WPRI] study is not based on what’s actually included in the Clean Energy Jobs Act,” asserts a CREWE fact sheet.

Here are just a few errors:

•The WPRI study includes the cost of a cap and trade system. But the legislation doesn’t recommend a cap and trade system. That throws the study’s overall cost estimates into doubt.
•The WPRI study made a number of incorrect assumptions. For example, it assumed that 30% of the state’s energy sources would have to come from renewable sources by 2025, rather than the actual figure of 25%.
•The WPRI study doesn’t include the many economic benefits of the legislation.

For example, state Rep. Spencer Black, who helped to author the bill, argues that $20 billion leaves Wisconsin each year to purchase fuel from other states and countries. Redirecting that money toward clean energy sources in Wisconsin—for example, solar or wind power—will increase the state’s tax base and jobs while reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Regulators add protections for residents in latest wind farm approval

The Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (PSC) issued its final order on construction of We Energies' Glacier Hills Wind Park. The order included, among others, several provisions to allow residences to seek remedies should they feel bothered by turbines in the project (numbering follows the numbering in the written PSC order, pages 48-54):

10. WEPCO shall operate the project in a manner that meets noise limits of 50 dBA during daytime hours, and, upon complaint by an affected resident, shall be permanently reduced to 45 dBA during nighttime hours for areas related to the complaint. Nighttime hours are defined to include those hours between 10:OO p.m. to 6:00 a.m. daily, from April 1 through September 30. The requirement to meet the seasonally reduced nighttime noise limit shall be triggered by the receipt by WEPCO of any complaint regarding nighttime noise levels. Methods available for WEPCO to comply with both the daytime and nighttime noise limits shall include, but are not limited to, operational curtailment of the turbine or turbines contributing to the exceedance of the noise limits. WEPCO is relieved from meeting the nighttime noise limit if the affected resident agrees to a financial settlement. Compliance with noise limits shall be measured or otherwise evaluated at the outside wall of the non-participating residence. WEPCO
shall provide notification to potentially affected residents of the provisions of this Final Decision relating to noise limits prior to initial operation of the project.

11. WEPCO shall evaluate compliance with the noise limits included in this Final Decision as part of its post-construction noise study. The post-construction noise study shall be conducted as described in the most current version of the PSC Noise Measurement Protocol. WEPCO shall file a copy of the post-construction noise study report with the Commission.

12. WEPCO shall construct its project using a minimum setback from non-participating residences of 1,250 feet.

15. WEPCO shall work with local electric distribution companies to test for stray voltage at all dairy operations within one-half mile of any project facility, prior to construction and again after the project is completed. WEPCO shall work with the distribution utilities and farm owners to rectify any stray voltage problems arising from the construction and operation of the project. Prior to any testing, WEPCO shall work with Commission staff to determine the manner in which stray voltage measurements will be conducted and on which properties. WEPCO shall provide to Commission staff reports of the results of stray voltage testing.

16. WEPCO shall work with landowners to mitigate the effects of shadow flicker. WEPCO shall provide shadow flicker mitigation for residences experiencing 25 hours per year or more of shadow flicker. Residences shall be eligible for mitigation if computer modeling shows that shadow flicker would exceed 25 hours per year, and the property owner need not document the actual hours per year of shadow flicker to be eligible. Residences that exceed 25 hours per year of shadow flicker based on logs kept by the resident shall also be eligible for mitigation. The requirement to mitigate shadow flicker at eligible residences shall be triggered by the receipt by WEPCO of a complaint regarding shadow flicker. WEPCO shall allow the resident to choose a preferred reasonable mitigation technique, including but not limited to, installation at WEPCO's expense of blinds or planting. WEPCO shall provide notification to potentially affected residents of the provisions of this Final Decision relating to shadow flicker prior to initial operation of the project. WEPCO may provide shadow flicker mitigation for residences experiencing less than 25 hours per year of shadow flicker.

17. WEPCO shall maintain a log of all complaints received regarding the project. The log shall include, at a minimum, the name and address of the complainants, nature of the complaints, and steps taken by WEPCO to resolve the complaints. WEPCO shall make copies of this complaint log available, at no cost, to the monitoring committees authorized by the town of Randolph and town of Scott JDAs.

18. WEPCO shall coordinate with local first responders and air ambulance services regarding the development of an emergency evacuation plan, including the locations of alternate landing zones. The plan shall include provisions for public inspection of the plan, as appropriate. WEPCO shall file the final plan with the Commission, using the Commission's confidential filing procedures, if necessary.

19. WEPCO shall follow the provisions of the town of Scott and town of Randolph JDAs regarding radio and television interference. In addition, WEPCO shall consult with affected residents regarding the residents' preferred reasonable mitigation solution for radio and television interference problems, prior to implementing remedial measures, and that the preferred solution shall be made permanent.

20. WEPCO shall follow the provisions of the town of Scott and town of Randolph JDAs regarding cellular communications interference. In addition, WEPCO shall work with affected cellular providers to provide adequate coverage in the affected area. Mitigation techniques for lost or weakened cellular telephone communications shall include, but are not limited to, an additional micro-cell, cell, or base station facility to fill in the affected area. The micro-cell, cell, or base station may be installed on one of the structures within the wind energy facility.

21. WEPCO shall develop and file a plan with the Commission, for Commission approval prior to construction, to reduce the individual hardships to the Smitses and Regneruses. The plan shall be developed in consultation with these two families. The plan may include, but is not limited to: relocation of turbines to reduce the number of turbines within one-half mile to no more than seven turbines; providing annual payments to these two families, not to exceed the amount paid to participating residents receiving payment for one turbine lease; or, purchasing the properties at fair market value.

22. Compliance with setback provisions for non-participating residences shall be measured from the centerline of the turbine tower to the nearest point on the foundation of the residence.

25. WEPCO shall provide up to $150,000 of funding towards an operational curtailment and bat mortality study at GHWP, or a site with similar characteristics, as determined by Commission staff. These funds may be applied to a study effort undertaken by another entity or, if no other study can be identified, WEPCO shall develop and coordinate a study and shall seek additional funding from other entities.

26. WEPCO shall provide proposed designs of the required bat and bird studies to DNR and Commission staff for review, and Commission staff shall approve the final study design.

PSC adds protections for residents in latest wind farm approval

The Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (PSC) issued its final order on construction of We Energies' Glacier Hills Wind Park. The order included, among others, several provisions to allow residences to seek remedies should they feel bothered by turbines in the project (numbering follows the numbering in the written PSC order, pages 48-54):

10. WEPCO shall operate the project in a manner that meets noise limits of 50 dBA during daytime hours, and, upon complaint by an affected resident, shall be permanently reduced to 45 dBA during nighttime hours for areas related to the complaint. Nighttime hours are defined to include those hours between 10:OO p.m. to 6:00 a.m. daily, from April 1 through September 30. The requirement to meet the seasonally reduced nighttime noise limit shall be triggered by the receipt by WEPCO of any complaint regarding nighttime noise levels. Methods available for WEPCO to comply with both the daytime and nighttime noise limits shall include, but are not limited to, operational curtailment of the turbine or turbines contributing to the exceedance of the noise limits. WEPCO is relieved from meeting the nighttime noise limit if the affected resident agrees to a financial settlement. Compliance with noise limits shall be measured or otherwise evaluated at the outside wall of the non-participating residence. WEPCO shall provide notification to potentially affected residents of the provisions of this Final Decision relating to noise limits prior to initial operation of the project.

11. WEPCO shall evaluate compliance with the noise limits included in this Final Decision as part of its post-construction noise study. The post-construction noise study shall be conducted as described in the most current version of the PSC Noise Measurement Protocol. WEPCO shall file a copy of the post-construction noise study report with the Commission.

12. WEPCO shall construct its project using a minimum setback from non-participating residences of 1,250 feet.

15. WEPCO shall work with local electric distribution companies to test for stray voltage at all dairy operations within one-half mile of any project facility, prior to construction and again after the project is completed. WEPCO shall work with the distribution utilities and farm owners to rectify any stray voltage problems arising from the construction and operation of the project. Prior to any testing, WEPCO shall work with Commission staff to determine the manner in which stray voltage measurements will be conducted and on which properties. WEPCO shall provide to Commission staff reports of the results of stray voltage testing.

16. WEPCO shall work with landowners to mitigate the effects of shadow flicker. WEPCO shall provide shadow flicker mitigation for residences experiencing 25 hours per year or more of shadow flicker. Residences shall be eligible for mitigation if computer modeling shows that shadow flicker would exceed 25 hours per year, and the property owner need not document the actual hours per year of shadow flicker to be eligible. Residences that exceed 25 hours per year of shadow flicker based on logs kept by the resident shall also be eligible for mitigation. The requirement to mitigate shadow flicker at eligible residences shall be triggered by the receipt by WEPCO of a complaint regarding shadow flicker. WEPCO shall allow the resident to choose a preferred reasonable mitigation technique, including but not limited to, installation at WEPCO's expense of blinds or planting. WEPCO shall provide notification to potentially affected residents of the provisions of this Final Decision relating to shadow flicker prior to initial operation of the project. WEPCO may provide shadow flicker mitigation for residences experiencing less than 25 hours per year of shadow flicker.

17. WEPCO shall maintain a log of all complaints received regarding the project. The log shall include, at a minimum, the name and address of the complainants, nature of the complaints, and steps taken by WEPCO to resolve the complaints. WEPCO shall make copies of this complaint log available, at no cost, to the monitoring committees authorized by the town of Randolph and town of Scott JDAs.

18. WEPCO shall coordinate with local first responders and air ambulance services regarding the development of an emergency evacuation plan, including the locations of alternate landing zones. The plan shall include provisions for public inspection of the plan, as appropriate. WEPCO shall file the final plan with the Commission, using the Commission's confidential filing procedures, if necessary.

19. WEPCO shall follow the provisions of the town of Scott and town of Randolph JDAs regarding radio and television interference. In addition, WEPCO shall consult with affected residents regarding the residents' preferred reasonable mitigation solution for radio and television interference problems, prior to implementing remedial measures, and that the preferred solution shall be made permanent.

20. WEPCO shall follow the provisions of the town of Scott and town of Randolph JDAs regarding cellular communications interference. In addition, WEPCO shall work with affected cellular providers to provide adequate coverage in the affected area. Mitigation techniques for lost or weakened cellular telephone communications shall include, but are not limited to, an additional micro-cell, cell, or base station facility to fill in the affected area. The micro-cell, cell, or base station may be installed on one of the structures within the wind energy facility.

21. WEPCO shall develop and file a plan with the Commission, for Commission approval prior to construction, to reduce the individual hardships to the Smitses and Regneruses. The plan shall be developed in consultation with these two families. The plan may include, but is not limited to: relocation of turbines to reduce the number of turbines within one-half mile to no more than seven turbines; providing annual payments to these two families, not to exceed the amount paid to participating residents receiving payment for one turbine lease; or, purchasing the properties at fair market value.

22. Compliance with setback provisions for non-participating residences shall be measured from the centerline of the turbine tower to the nearest point on the foundation of the residence.

25. WEPCO shall provide up to $150,000 of funding towards an operational curtailment and bat mortality study at GHWP, or a site with similar characteristics, as determined by Commission staff. These funds may be applied to a study effort undertaken by another entity or, if no other study can be identified, WEPCO shall develop and coordinate a study and shall seek additional funding from other entities.

26. WEPCO shall provide proposed designs of the required bat and bird studies to DNR and Commission staff for review, and Commission staff shall approve the final study design.

Customers seeing savings on heating

From a blog post by Tom Content in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

Winter heating costs remain below last year, helped by both the weather and natural gas prices.

Customers of Wisconsin Power & Light Co., based in Madison, saw heating costs fall 30% in December, compared with December 2008. December's weather was colder than normal but it was warmer than the prior year.

For the last three months of the year, customers also saw heating costs fall 30%, compared with the same period last year, the utility said in its "natural gas update."

For October through December, a typical customer paid about $269, but that was $116 lower than the prior year.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Governor releases FAQs on Clean Energy Jobs Act bill

From the frequently asked questions (FAQs) on the Clean Energy Jobs Act bill:

Enhanced Energy Efficiency and Conservation
Q: Won’t increased funding for statewide energy efficiency programs come out of the pockets of Wisconsin ratepayers? We shouldn’t be raising energy costs during an economic downturn by adding more fees to our utility bills.

A: Investing more money in energy efficiency has a demonstrable, risk-free payback for Wisconsin residents and businesses. Over the long run we will use less energy, which means we’ll actually be reducing our energy bills.

The cost of conserving energy is far less than the cost of building new power generation. Energy efficiency and conservation efforts are the least-cost means of mitigating carbon pollution.

Investing in energy efficiency also translates into stable, family-supporting jobs, particularly within the building and construction trades and at the 50+ businesses in Wisconsin that manufacture Energy Star appliances, windows, and other products. . . .

Renewable Fuels
Q: Will an Enhanced Renewable Portfolio Standard require the build-out of costly electric generation that Wisconsin doesn’t need, while doing nothing to reduce the demand for electricity? Don’t renewable energy sources cost more than coal and natural gas?

A: Each year, we send over $16 billion out of state to purchase coal, natural gas, and petroleum products to meet our energy demands. Every dollar we spend on these fossil fuels is a dollar that leaves Wisconsin. By increasing our state’s renewable portfolio standards, we are guaranteeing that more of our energy dollars remain here, and creating thousands of jobs for Wisconsin families in construction and building trades work, and, in the longer term, supply-chain jobs in our manufacturing, agricultural, and forestry sectors.

Also, the EPA has moved to regulate greenhouse gas emissions under the Clean Air Act, which means that costs associated with burning coal and natural gas will continue to rise. We cannot continue to pretend that exclusive reliance on fossil fuels for power generation is either sustainable or affordable in the long term. We need to speed our transition to a cleaner energy economy and position Wisconsin as a leader in this growing industry before other states get ahead of us.

As we add renewable sources of energy to our fleet, many of the older and less efficient fossil fuel burning units will gradually be retired, and Wisconsin’s generation capacity will fall in line with demand. Initial infrastructure costs associated with a transition to renewables will be off-set by producing cleaner and reliable renewable energy for Wisconsin over the long-term. Meanwhile, the cost of renewable generation technologies continues to fall when compared to fossil fuel alternatives.

Increased reliance on renewable energy is central to creating a more sustainable Wisconsin. Life cycle costs associated with fossil fuel have a significantly greater adverse impact on public health, quality of life, and the environment.

Advanced Renewable Tariffs
Q: Won’t Advanced Renewable Tariffs simply increase the cost of energy for everyone by subsidizing certain types of renewable technologies at a cost that is higher than the market would otherwise tolerate? Don’t Advanced Renewable Tariffs duplicate the efforts of the Renewable Portfolio Standard?

A: Evidence from around the world suggests that feed-in tariffs lead to faster deployment of renewable generation sources than a stand-alone Renewable Portfolio Standard. Advanced Renewable Tariffs will help harness the power of Wisconsin’s rich agricultural resources by making it easier and more cost-effective for farmers to take farm-waste and generate electricity with it to power their farming operations and deliver clean, renewable energy back to the grid.

Incenting the deployment of smaller-scale, more distributed renewable generation sources cuts down on our state’s transmission infrastructure costs and will reduce our reliance on out-of-state renewable power in the long term.

This policy helps level the playing field so individual homeowners, farmers, and businesses can earn a return on investments in renewable energy that is similar to the returns that utilities earn.

Governor releases FAQs on Clean Energy Jobs Act bill

From the frequently asked questions (FAQs) on the Clean Energy Jobs Act bill:

Enhanced Energy Efficiency and Conservation
Q: Won’t increased funding for statewide energy efficiency programs come out of the pockets of Wisconsin ratepayers? We shouldn’t be raising energy costs during an economic downturn by adding more fees to our utility bills.

A: Investing more money in energy efficiency has a demonstrable, risk-free payback for Wisconsin residents and businesses. Over the long run we will use less energy, which means we’ll actually be reducing our energy bills.

The cost of conserving energy is far less than the cost of building new power generation. Energy efficiency and conservation efforts are the least-cost means of mitigating carbon pollution.

Investing in energy efficiency also translates into stable, family-supporting jobs, particularly within the building and construction trades and at the 50+ businesses in Wisconsin that manufacture Energy Star appliances, windows, and other products. . . .

Renewable Fuels
Q: Will an Enhanced Renewable Portfolio Standard require the build-out of costly electric generation that Wisconsin doesn’t need, while doing nothing to reduce the demand for electricity? Don’t renewable energy sources cost more than coal and natural gas?

A: Each year, we send over $16 billion out of state to purchase coal, natural gas, and petroleum products to meet our energy demands. Every dollar we spend on these fossil fuels is a dollar that leaves Wisconsin. By increasing our state’s renewable portfolio standards, we are guaranteeing that more of our energy dollars remain here, and creating thousands of jobs for Wisconsin families in construction and building trades work, and, in the longer term, supply-chain jobs in our manufacturing, agricultural, and forestry sectors.

Also, the EPA has moved to regulate greenhouse gas emissions under the Clean Air Act, which means that costs associated with burning coal and natural gas will continue to rise. We cannot continue to pretend that exclusive reliance on fossil fuels for power generation is either sustainable or affordable in the long term. We need to speed our transition to a cleaner energy economy and position Wisconsin as a leader in this growing industry before other states get ahead of us.

As we add renewable sources of energy to our fleet, many of the older and less efficient fossil fuel burning units will gradually be retired, and Wisconsin’s generation capacity will fall in line with demand. Initial infrastructure costs associated with a transition to renewables will be off-set by producing cleaner and reliable renewable energy for Wisconsin over the long-term. Meanwhile, the cost of renewable generation technologies continues to fall when compared to fossil fuel alternatives.

Increased reliance on renewable energy is central to creating a more sustainable Wisconsin. Life cycle costs associated with fossil fuel have a significantly greater adverse impact on public health, quality of life, and the environment.

Advanced Renewable Tariffs
Q: Won’t Advanced Renewable Tariffs simply increase the cost of energy for everyone by subsidizing certain types of renewable technologies at a cost that is higher than the market would otherwise tolerate? Don’t Advanced Renewable Tariffs duplicate the efforts of the Renewable Portfolio Standard?

A: Evidence from around the world suggests that feed-in tariffs lead to faster deployment of renewable generation sources than a stand-alone Renewable Portfolio Standard. Advanced Renewable Tariffs will help harness the power of Wisconsin’s rich agricultural resources by making it easier and more cost-effective for farmers to take farm-waste and generate electricity with it to power their farming operations and deliver clean, renewable energy back to the grid.

Incenting the deployment of smaller-scale, more distributed renewable generation sources cuts down on our state’s transmission infrastructure costs and will reduce our reliance on out-of-state renewable power in the long term.

This policy helps level the playing field so individual homeowners, farmers, and businesses can earn a return on investments in renewable energy that is similar to the returns that utilities earn.

Glacier Hills order includes protections for residents

The Public Service Commission of Wisconsin issued its final order on construction of We Energies' Glacier Hills Wind Park. The order included, among others, several provisions to allow residences to seek remedies should they feel bothered by turbines in the project (numbering follows the numbering in the written PSC order, pages 48-54):

10. WEPCO shall operate the project in a manner that meets noise limits of 50 dBA during daytime hours, and, upon complaint by an affected resident, shall be permanently reduced to 45 dBA during nighttime hours for areas related to the complaint. Nighttime hours are defined to include those hours between 10:OO p.m. to 6:00 a.m. daily, from April 1 through September 30. The requirement to meet the seasonally reduced nighttime noise limit shall be triggered by the receipt by WEPCO of any complaint regarding nighttime noise levels. Methods available for WEPCO to comply with both the daytime and nighttime noise limits shall include, but are not limited to, operational curtailment of the turbine or turbines contributing to the exceedance of the noise limits. WEPCO is relieved from meeting the nighttime noise limit if the affected resident agrees to a financial settlement. Compliance with noise limits shall be measured or otherwise evaluated at the outside wall of the non-participating residence. WEPCO
shall provide notification to potentially affected residents of the provisions of this Final Decision relating to noise limits prior to initial operation of the project.

11. WEPCO shall evaluate compliance with the noise limits included in this Final Decision as part of its post-construction noise study. The post-construction noise study shall be conducted as described in the most current version of the PSC Noise Measurement Protocol. WEPCO shall file a copy of the post-construction noise study report with the Commission.

12. WEPCO shall construct its project using a minimum setback from non-participating residences of 1,250 feet.

15. WEPCO shall work with local electric distribution companies to test for stray voltage at all dairy operations within one-half mile of any project facility, prior to construction and again after the project is completed. WEPCO shall work with the distribution utilities and farm owners to rectify any stray voltage problems arising from the construction and operation of the project. Prior to any testing, WEPCO shall work with Commission staff to determine the manner in which stray voltage measurements will be conducted and on which properties. WEPCO shall provide to Commission staff reports of the results of stray voltage testing.

16. WEPCO shall work with landowners to mitigate the effects of shadow flicker. WEPCO shall provide shadow flicker mitigation for residences experiencing 25 hours per year or more of shadow flicker. Residences shall be eligible for mitigation if computer modeling shows that shadow flicker would exceed 25 hours per year, and the property owner need not document the actual hours per year of shadow flicker to be eligible. Residences that exceed 25 hours per year of shadow flicker based on logs kept by the resident shall also be eligible for mitigation. The requirement to mitigate shadow flicker at eligible residences shall be triggered by the receipt by WEPCO of a complaint regarding shadow flicker. WEPCO shall allow the resident to choose a preferred reasonable mitigation technique, including but not limited to, installation at WEPCO's expense of blinds or planting. WEPCO shall provide notification to potentially affected residents of the provisions of this Final Decision relating to shadow flicker prior to initial operation of the project. WEPCO may provide shadow flicker mitigation for residences experiencing less than 25 hours per year of shadow flicker.

17. WEPCO shall maintain a log of all complaints received regarding the project. The log shall include, at a minimum, the name and address of the complainants, nature of the complaints, and steps taken by WEPCO to resolve the complaints. WEPCO shall make copies of this complaint log available, at no cost, to the monitoring committees authorized by the town of Randolph and town of Scott JDAs.

18. WEPCO shall coordinate with local first responders and air ambulance services regarding the development of an emergency evacuation plan, including the locations of alternate landing zones. The plan shall include provisions for public inspection of the plan, as appropriate. WEPCO shall file the final plan with the Commission, using the Commission's confidential filing procedures, if necessary.

19. WEPCO shall follow the provisions of the town of Scott and town of Randolph JDAs regarding radio and television interference. In addition, WEPCO shall consult with affected residents regarding the residents' preferred reasonable mitigation solution for radio and television interference problems, prior to implementing remedial measures, and that the preferred solution shall be made permanent.

20. WEPCO shall follow the provisions of the town of Scott and town of Randolph JDAs regarding cellular communications interference. In addition, WEPCO shall work with affected cellular providers to provide adequate coverage in the affected area. Mitigation techniques for lost or weakened cellular telephone communications shall include, but are not limited to, an additional micro-cell, cell, or base station facility to fill in the affected area. The micro-cell, cell, or base station may be installed on one of the structures within the wind energy facility.

21. WEPCO shall develop and file a plan with the Commission, for Commission approval prior to construction, to reduce the individual hardships to the Smitses and Regneruses. The plan shall be developed in consultation with these two families. The plan may include, but is not limited to: relocation of turbines to reduce the number of turbines within one-half mile to no more than seven turbines; providing annual payments to these two families, not to exceed the amount paid to participating residents receiving payment for one turbine lease; or, purchasing the properties at fair market value.

22. Compliance with setback provisions for non-participating residences shall be measured from the centerline of the turbine tower to the nearest point on the foundation of the residence.

25. WEPCO shall provide up to $150,000 of funding towards an operational curtailment and bat mortality study at GHWP, or a site with similar characteristics, as determined by Commission staff. These funds may be applied to a study effort undertaken by another entity or, if no other study can be identified, WEPCO shall develop and coordinate a study and shall seek additional funding from other entities.

26. WEPCO shall provide proposed designs of the required bat and bird studies to DNR and Commission staff for review, and Commission staff shall approve the final study design.

Glacier Hills order includes protections for residents

The Public Service Commission of Wisconsin issued its final order on construction of We Energies' Glacier Hills Wind Park. The order included, among others, several provisions to allow residences to seek remedies should they feel bothered by turbines in the project (numbering follows the numbering in the written PSC order, pages 48-54):

10. WEPCO shall operate the project in a manner that meets noise limits of 50 dBA during daytime hours, and, upon complaint by an affected resident, shall be permanently reduced to 45 dBA during nighttime hours for areas related to the complaint. Nighttime hours are defined to include those hours between 10:OO p.m. to 6:00 a.m. daily, from April 1 through September 30. The requirement to meet the seasonally reduced nighttime noise limit shall be triggered by the receipt by WEPCO of any complaint regarding nighttime noise levels. Methods available for WEPCO to comply with both the daytime and nighttime noise limits shall include, but are not limited to, operational curtailment of the turbine or turbines contributing to the exceedance of the noise limits. WEPCO is relieved from meeting the nighttime noise limit if the affected resident agrees to a financial settlement. Compliance with noise limits shall be measured or otherwise evaluated at the outside wall of the non-participating residence. WEPCO
shall provide notification to potentially affected residents of the provisions of this Final Decision relating to noise limits prior to initial operation of the project.

11. WEPCO shall evaluate compliance with the noise limits included in this Final Decision as part of its post-construction noise study. The post-construction noise study shall be conducted as described in the most current version of the PSC Noise Measurement Protocol. WEPCO shall file a copy of the post-construction noise study report with the Commission.

12. WEPCO shall construct its project using a minimum setback from non-participating residences of 1,250 feet.

15. WEPCO shall work with local electric distribution companies to test for stray voltage at all dairy operations within one-half mile of any project facility, prior to construction and again after the project is completed. WEPCO shall work with the distribution utilities and farm owners to rectify any stray voltage problems arising from the construction and operation of the project. Prior to any testing, WEPCO shall work with Commission staff to determine the manner in which stray voltage measurements will be conducted and on which properties. WEPCO shall provide to Commission staff reports of the results of stray voltage testing.

16. WEPCO shall work with landowners to mitigate the effects of shadow flicker. WEPCO shall provide shadow flicker mitigation for residences experiencing 25 hours per year or more of shadow flicker. Residences shall be eligible for mitigation if computer modeling shows that shadow flicker would exceed 25 hours per year, and the property owner need not document the actual hours per year of shadow flicker to be eligible. Residences that exceed 25 hours per year of shadow flicker based on logs kept by the resident shall also be eligible for mitigation. The requirement to mitigate shadow flicker at eligible residences shall be triggered by the receipt by WEPCO of a complaint regarding shadow flicker. WEPCO shall allow the resident to choose a preferred reasonable mitigation technique, including but not limited to, installation at WEPCO's expense of blinds or planting. WEPCO shall provide notification to potentially affected residents of the provisions of this Final Decision relating to shadow flicker prior to initial operation of the project. WEPCO may provide shadow flicker mitigation for residences experiencing less than 25 hours per year of shadow flicker.

17. WEPCO shall maintain a log of all complaints received regarding the project. The log shall include, at a minimum, the name and address of the complainants, nature of the complaints, and steps taken by WEPCO to resolve the complaints. WEPCO shall make copies of this complaint log available, at no cost, to the monitoring committees authorized by the town of Randolph and town of Scott JDAs.

18. WEPCO shall coordinate with local first responders and air ambulance services regarding the development of an emergency evacuation plan, including the locations of alternate landing zones. The plan shall include provisions for public inspection of the plan, as appropriate. WEPCO shall file the final plan with the Commission, using the Commission's confidential filing procedures, if necessary.

19. WEPCO shall follow the provisions of the town of Scott and town of Randolph JDAs regarding radio and television interference. In addition, WEPCO shall consult with affected residents regarding the residents' preferred reasonable mitigation solution for radio and television interference problems, prior to implementing remedial measures, and that the preferred solution shall be made permanent.

20. WEPCO shall follow the provisions of the town of Scott and town of Randolph JDAs regarding cellular communications interference. In addition, WEPCO shall work with affected cellular providers to provide adequate coverage in the affected area. Mitigation techniques for lost or weakened cellular telephone communications shall include, but are not limited to, an additional micro-cell, cell, or base station facility to fill in the affected area. The micro-cell, cell, or base station may be installed on one of the structures within the wind energy facility.

21. WEPCO shall develop and file a plan with the Commission, for Commission approval prior to construction, to reduce the individual hardships to the Smitses and Regneruses. The plan shall be developed in consultation with these two families. The plan may include, but is not limited to: relocation of turbines to reduce the number of turbines within one-half mile to no more than seven turbines; providing annual payments to these two families, not to exceed the amount paid to participating residents receiving payment for one turbine lease; or, purchasing the properties at fair market value.

22. Compliance with setback provisions for non-participating residences shall be measured from the centerline of the turbine tower to the nearest point on the foundation of the residence.

25. WEPCO shall provide up to $150,000 of funding towards an operational curtailment and bat mortality study at GHWP, or a site with similar characteristics, as determined by Commission staff. These funds may be applied to a study effort undertaken by another entity or, if no other study can be identified, WEPCO shall develop and coordinate a study and shall seek additional funding from other entities.

26. WEPCO shall provide proposed designs of the required bat and bird studies to DNR and Commission staff for review, and Commission staff shall approve the final study design.

Milwauke County still plans rapid transit bus service

From an article by Larry Sandler in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

Despite a setback in the county budget process, Milwaukee County officials still are planning for enhanced express bus service, also known as bus rapid transit.

County Executive Scott Walker's administration is preparing to give the County Board options in March for a one-route or two-route bus rapid transit system, using $36.6 million in federal funding, said Brian Dranzik, administration director for the county Department of Transportation and Public Works.

That cash is the county's portion of $91.5 million in long-idle federal transit aid, which Congress divided between the city's planned streetcar line and the county bus system after local officials couldn't agree on how to spend it. The money legally cannot be spent on the Milwaukee County Transit System's operating expenses.

Walker has long advocated using the federal money for bus rapid transit, or BRT, which supporters tout as offering the advantages of light rail at a lower cost. BRT lines typically use modern, energy-efficient buses that resemble light rail vehicles, running in reserved lanes or separate roadways, with stoplights rigged to turn green when the vehicles approach.

The Milwaukee County version would run in regular traffic but with automatic green lights for buses. Like their counterparts elsewhere, local BRT stops would have electronic signs showing the wait for the next bus.

In the 2010 county budget, Walker proposed a BRT line from the County Grounds in Wauwatosa through downtown Milwaukee to the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Supervisors sliced that plan out of the budget, saying they wanted more details.

Transit officials recently presented three options to the board's Transportation, Public Works and Transit Committee. One option would have used all the federal money to buy new buses, without adding BRT service.

Friday, January 22, 2010

RENEW Wisconsin denounces business group’s “fact-free flip-flop” in radio ad on energy bill

IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 21, 2010

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

RENEW denounces WMC’s “fact-free flip-flop” in radio ad on energy bill

RENEW Wisconsin’s Executive Director Michael Vickerman assailed the credibility of a new radio ad launched by Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce (WMC) that characterizes the Clean Energy Jobs Act bill as an unaffordable extravagance.

“WMC executed an astonishing fact-free flip-flop with its claim that the legislation (AB 649/SB 450) would raise an average family’s electricity bill by more than $1,000 a year. What’s astonishing about it that WMC is conveniently forgetting existing ratepayer protections, which it endorsed – and claimed credit for -- when similar legislation passed in 2006,” Vickerman said.

When the state’s current renewable portfolio standard (RPS) was passed (which directed utilities to source 10 percent of their electricity from renewable generation by 2015), WMC ran an article on its website with the headline “’Energy Efficiency and Renewables Act’ Will Protect Ratepayer Dollars.” That article can be accessed at http://www.wmc.org/display.cfm?ID=1256.

The article says that WMC was instrumental in ensuring that “ratepayer groups will have a clear opportunity to seek delays in the implementation of new renewable portfolio standards, should they have an unreasonable effect on electric rates.”

The Clean Energy Job Act bill would continue those ratepayer protections enacted in 2005 Act 141. So far no utility or energy advocacy group has requested an implementation delay under the current renewable energy standard.

In order for an average family’s bill to increase $1,000 a year, according to Vickerman, electric rates would have to double.

“That will never happen because groups like WMC, Citizens Utility Board, and the Wisconsin Industrial Energy Group would intervene aggressively on behalf of their member using the existing ratepayer protections,” Vickerman stated.

Since the adoption of Act 141’s renewable energy requirements, Madison Gas and Electric’s residential ratepayers have seen annual increases of only 0.8 percent through 2009, even though the utility is already in compliance with the 2015 standard, added Vickerman.

“This outrageous claim is just another example of WMC’s decision to lob grenades instead of working constructively to forge a responsible partnership with all parties to create family-supporting jobs in the clean energy sector,” Vickerman said.

“It’s clear that WMC made up its mind to oppose the Clean Energy Jobs Act bill long before its contents were even known to the public,” Vickerman stated.

“There is no more obvious proof of this than WMC’s sponsorship of a so-called study by the Wisconsin Pubic Research Institute (WPRI) that claims that the bill’s provisions to expand renewable energy supplies would cost utilities $16 billion.”

RENEW previously critiqued the WPRI report in a report titled “Think Tank Flunks Renewable Energy Analysis.” (http://renewmediacenter.blogspot.com/2009/12/think-tank-flunks-renewable-energy_22.html)

“WPRI’s assertions demonstrate yet again that if you torture your economic models long enough, they will confess to anything,” Vickerman said.

RENEW denounces WMC’s “fact-free flip-flop” in radio ad on energy bill

IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 21, 2010

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

RENEW denounces WMC’s “fact-free flip-flop” in radio ad on energy bill

RENEW Wisconsin’s Executive Director Michael Vickerman assailed the credibility of a new radio ad launched by Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce (WMC) that characterizes the Clean Energy Jobs Act bill as an unaffordable extravagance.

“WMC executed an astonishing fact-free flip-flop with its claim that the legislation (AB 649/SB 450) would raise an average family’s electricity bill by more than $1,000 a year. What’s astonishing about it that WMC is conveniently forgetting existing ratepayer protections, which it endorsed – and claimed credit for -- when similar legislation passed in 2006,” Vickerman said.

When the state’s current renewable portfolio standard (RPS) was passed (which directed utilities to source 10 percent of their electricity from renewable generation by 2015), WMC ran an article on its website with the headline “’Energy Efficiency and Renewables Act’ Will Protect Ratepayer Dollars.” That article can be accessed at http://www.wmc.org/display.cfm?ID=1256.

The article says that WMC was instrumental in ensuring that “ratepayer groups will have a clear opportunity to seek delays in the implementation of new renewable portfolio standards, should they have an unreasonable effect on electric rates.”

The Clean Energy Job Act bill would continue those ratepayer protections enacted in 2005 Act 141. So far no utility or energy advocacy group has requested an implementation delay under the current renewable energy standard.

In order for an average family’s bill to increase $1,000 a year, according to Vickerman, electric rates would have to double.

“That will never happen because groups like WMC, Citizens Utility Board, and the Wisconsin Industrial Energy Group would intervene aggressively on behalf of their member using the existing ratepayer protections,” Vickerman stated.

Since the adoption of Act 141’s renewable energy requirements, Madison Gas and Electric’s residential ratepayers have seen annual increases of only 0.8 percent through 2009, even though the utility is already in compliance with the 2015 standard, added Vickerman.

“This outrageous claim is just another example of WMC’s decision to lob grenades instead of working constructively to forge a responsible partnership with all parties to create family-supporting jobs in the clean energy sector,” Vickerman said.

“It’s clear that WMC made up its mind to oppose the Clean Energy Jobs Act bill long before its contents were even known to the public,” Vickerman stated.

“There is no more obvious proof of this than WMC’s sponsorship of a so-called study by the Wisconsin Pubic Research Institute (WPRI) that claims that the bill’s provisions to expand renewable energy supplies would cost utilities $16 billion.”

RENEW previously critiqued the WPRI report in a report titled “Think Tank Flunks Renewable Energy Analysis.” (http://renewmediacenter.blogspot.com/2009/12/think-tank-flunks-renewable-energy_22.html)

“WPRI’s assertions demonstrate yet again that if you torture your economic models long enough, they will confess to anything,” Vickerman said.

RENEW denounces WMC’s “fact-free flip-flop” in radio ad on energy bill

IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 21, 2010

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

RENEW denounces WMC’s “fact-free flip-flop” in radio ad on energy bill

RENEW Wisconsin’s Executive Director Michael Vickerman assailed the credibility of a new radio ad launched by Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce (WMC) that characterizes the Clean Energy Jobs Act bill as an unaffordable extravagance.

“WMC executed an astonishing fact-free flip-flop with its claim that the legislation (AB 649/SB 450) would raise an average family’s electricity bill by more than $1,000 a year. What’s astonishing about it that WMC is conveniently forgetting existing ratepayer protections, which it endorsed – and claimed credit for -- when similar legislation passed in 2006,” Vickerman said.

When the state’s current renewable portfolio standard (RPS) was passed (which directed utilities to source 10 percent of their electricity from renewable generation by 2015), WMC ran an article on its website with the headline “’Energy Efficiency and Renewables Act’ Will Protect Ratepayer Dollars.” That article can be accessed at http://www.wmc.org/display.cfm?ID=1256.

The article says that WMC was instrumental in ensuring that “ratepayer groups will have a clear opportunity to seek delays in the implementation of new renewable portfolio standards, should they have an unreasonable effect on electric rates.”

The Clean Energy Job Act bill would continue those ratepayer protections enacted in 2005 Act 141. So far no utility or energy advocacy group has requested an implementation delay under the current renewable energy standard.

In order for an average family’s bill to increase $1,000 a year, according to Vickerman, electric rates would have to double.

“That will never happen because groups like WMC, Citizens Utility Board, and the Wisconsin Industrial Energy Group would intervene aggressively on behalf of their member using the existing ratepayer protections,” Vickerman stated.

Since the adoption of Act 141’s renewable energy requirements, Madison Gas and Electric’s residential ratepayers have seen annual increases of only 0.8 percent through 2009, even though the utility is already in compliance with the 2015 standard, added Vickerman.

“This outrageous claim is just another example of WMC’s decision to lob grenades instead of working constructively to forge a responsible partnership with all parties to create family-supporting jobs in the clean energy sector,” Vickerman said.

“It’s clear that WMC made up its mind to oppose the Clean Energy Jobs Act bill long before its contents were even known to the public,” Vickerman stated.

“There is no more obvious proof of this than WMC’s sponsorship of a so-called study by the Wisconsin Pubic Research Institute (WPRI) that claims that the bill’s provisions to expand renewable energy supplies would cost utilities $16 billion.”

RENEW previously critiqued the WPRI report in a report titled “Think Tank Flunks Renewable Energy Analysis.” (http://renewmediacenter.blogspot.com/2009/12/think-tank-flunks-renewable-energy_22.html)

“WPRI’s assertions demonstrate yet again that if you torture your economic models long enough, they will confess to anything,” Vickerman said.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Electric heaters may not live up to money-saving claims

From an article by Kryssy Pease, Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism, in the Coulee News:

Electric heaters, which have long been a bad deal for most people trying to lower their energy bills, are an even worse deal in Wisconsin this winter because of falling prices for natural gas.

But that doesn’t stop manufacturers of electric heaters from using newspaper and Internet ads — some of which feature home-repair guru Bob Vila and pictures of Amish craftsmen — to attract buyers by promising big savings.

Jack Brennan, 70, of Green Bay, bought two $350 EdenPURE electric heaters after seeing an ad that vowed to “cut your heating bill by up to 50 percent.” When his next bill came from Wisconsin Public Service, it was three times higher than normal.

“I almost died,” Brennan said. “A gal from (Wisconsin) Public Service called me and she said, ‘What are you doing? What did you buy?’ When I told her I bought two of those heaters, she said, ‘Well, you just answered the question.’ “

Steve Kraus, media relations manager at Madison Gas and Electric, said ads promising big savings “are very deceptive,” but spokesmen from two major electric heater companies said they stand by their products.

Farmers Union policy priorities included in Clean Energy Jobs Act

From a news release issued by the Wisconsin Farmers Union:

Chippewa Falls, Wis. (January 21, 2010) - Three programs from the Wisconsin Farmers Union's Homegrown Renewable Energy Campaign will be included in Wisconsin's Clean Energy Jobs Act. During a news conference today with Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection Secretary Rod Nilsestuen, WFU Executive Director Scott Schultz said the farm organization is encouraged by the inclusion of several provisions in the bill that would benefit family farmers.

"This bill has potential for setting Wisconsin up for economic success by playing to family farmers' strengths," Schultz said. "The bill recognizes that farmers are part of the solution-not the problem-in securing a future rooted in homegrown, renewable energy."

One of the bill's provisions allows the Public Service Commission to set known buyback rates for the generation of renewable energy on the farm.

"Farmers and landowners who build cost-effective renewable energy installations will have guaranteed fixed rates to sell their electricity," Schultz said. "Electric companies will see benefits from those installations by receiving clean-energy credits that can be used in meeting state requirements."

Farmers Union policy priorities included in Clean Energy Jobs Act

From a news release issued by the Wisconsin Farmers Union:

Chippewa Falls, Wis. (January 21, 2010) - Three programs from the Wisconsin Farmers Union's Homegrown Renewable Energy Campaign will be included in Wisconsin's Clean Energy Jobs Act. During a news conference today with Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection Secretary Rod Nilsestuen, WFU Executive Director Scott Schultz said the farm organization is encouraged by the inclusion of several provisions in the bill that would benefit family farmers.

"This bill has potential for setting Wisconsin up for economic success by playing to family farmers' strengths," Schultz said. "The bill recognizes that farmers are part of the solution-not the problem-in securing a future rooted in homegrown, renewable energy."

One of the bill's provisions allows the Public Service Commission to set known buyback rates for the generation of renewable energy on the farm.

"Farmers and landowners who build cost-effective renewable energy installations will have guaranteed fixed rates to sell their electricity," Schultz said. "Electric companies will see benefits from those installations by receiving clean-energy credits that can be used in meeting state requirements."

RENEW denounces WMC’s “fact-free flip-flop” in radio ad on energy bill

IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 21, 2010

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

RENEW denounces WMC’s “fact-free flip-flop” in radio ad on energy bill

RENEW Wisconsin’s Executive Director Michael Vickerman assailed the credibility of a new radio ad launched by Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce (WMC) that characterizes the Clean Energy Jobs Act bill as an unaffordable extravagance.

“WMC executed an astonishing fact-free flip-flop with its claim that the legislation (AB 649/SB 450) would raise an average family’s electricity bill by more than $1,000 a year. What’s astonishing about it that WMC is conveniently forgetting existing ratepayer protections, which it endorsed – and claimed credit for -- when similar legislation passed in 2006,” Vickerman said.

When the state’s current renewable portfolio standard (RPS) was passed (which directed utilities to source 10 percent of their electricity from renewable generation by 2015), WMC ran an article on its website with the headline “’Energy Efficiency and Renewables Act’ Will Protect Ratepayer Dollars.” That article can be accessed at http://www.wmc.org/display.cfm?ID=1256.

The article says that WMC was instrumental in ensuring that “ratepayer groups will have a clear opportunity to seek delays in the implementation of new renewable portfolio standards, should they have an unreasonable effect on electric rates.”

The Clean Energy Job Act bill would continue those ratepayer protections enacted in 2005 Act 141. So far no utility or energy advocacy group has requested an implementation delay under the current renewable energy standard.

In order for an average family’s bill to increase $1,000 a year, according to Vickerman, electric rates would have to double.

“That will never happen because groups like WMC, Citizens Utility Board, and the Wisconsin Industrial Energy Group would intervene aggressively on behalf of their member using the existing ratepayer protections,” Vickerman stated.

Since the adoption of Act 141’s renewable energy requirements, Madison Gas and Electric’s residential ratepayers have seen annual increases of only 0.8 percent through 2009, even though the utility is already in compliance with the 2015 standard, added Vickerman.

“This outrageous claim is just another example of WMC’s decision to lob grenades instead of working constructively to forge a responsible partnership with all parties to create family-supporting jobs in the clean energy sector,” Vickerman said.

“It’s clear that WMC made up its mind to oppose the Clean Energy Jobs Act bill long before its contents were even known to the public,” Vickerman stated.

“There is no more obvious proof of this than WMC’s sponsorship of a so-called study by the Wisconsin Pubic Research Institute (WPRI) that claims that the bill’s provisions to expand renewable energy supplies would cost utilities $16 billion.”

RENEW previously critiqued the WPRI report in a report titled “Think Tank Flunks Renewable Energy Analysis.” (http://renewmediacenter.blogspot.com/2009/12/think-tank-flunks-renewable-energy_22.html)

“WPRI’s assertions demonstrate yet again that if you torture your economic models long enough, they will confess to anything,” Vickerman said.

END

RENEW Wisconsin 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.

Business leaders want transit for SE Wisconsin

From a blog post on by Andrew Weiland in the BizTimes Milwaukee:

Some of southeastern Wisconsin’s key business leaders said today that the creation of a regional transit authority to upgrade Milwaukee County’s bus system and create a Kenosha-Racine-Milwaukee (KRM) commuter rail is essential for the economic vitality of the region.

Backed by some of area's most prominent business executives, Gov. Jim Doyle announced today new legislation to create a Southeastern Regional Transit Authority (SERTA).

The plan includes a 0.5 percent sales tax increase in Milwaukee County to provide a dedicated funding source for the county’s financially troubled bus system.

Business leaders said mass transit is needed to help people get to work and is a key amenity to attracting talented workers to southeastern Wisconsin.

“This is not a want, this is an absolute need for the community,” said Tim Sullivan, president and chief executive officer of South Milwaukee-based Bucyrus International Inc. The announcement about the RTA legislation was held at the Bucyrus headquarters.

“It’s critical that this legislation pass during the spring 2010 session,” said Robert Mariano, chairman and CEO of Milwaukee-based Roundy’s Supermarkets Inc. “It is foolish to ignore, this is an economic development issue. Transit builds the economy.”

“For the vitality of southeastern Wisconsin, getting this bill through the legislature is critical,” said Scott VanderSanden, president of AT&T Wisconsin.

“We believe regional transit and the KRM is an important investment in the future of our region,” said J. Fisk Johnson, chairman and CEO of Racine-based S.C. Johnson & Son Inc. “More efficient and more affordable public transit can help make a city an even more attractive place for business and can help the vibrancy of a community. The lack of accessibility to Milwaukee and Chicago is a big reason it is more challenging to attract key people to our company.”

“It’s really frustrating to see the constant deterioration of public transit,” said Ed Zore, CEO of Milwaukee-based Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Co. “It’s really important for business to have a good public transit system.”

About 700 of his company’s employees use public transit, Zore said.