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Monday, March 29, 2010

Rothschild biomass plant won't be 'monster' pollution source

From an article by Robert Imrie in the Wausau Daily Herald:

ROTHSCHILD -- A proposed power plant that would burn wood to generate electricity and steam would be a "monster" source of pollution, causing neighbors to suffer from asthma and lung cancers, organizers of an effort to kill the project said Thursday.

The planned $255 million We Energies plant on the grounds of the Domtar paper mill along Business Highway 51 would burn waste wood to power the mill and generate electricity for consumers. View gallery

"We don't want to be their guinea pigs," Paul Schwantes told about 150 people packed into a room at the Village Hall, urging them to contact local political leaders. "This is a call to action. Tell them you do not want this project in our backyard."

Schwantes said he was disappointed that only about 150 people in a village of 5,000 turned out to get more information about a "huge issue" in town. . . .

We Energies has applied to the state Public Service Commission to build Wisconsin's first biomass plant in Rothschild. A decision is expected by the end of the year, said Brian Manthey, a spokesman for the Milwaukee-based utility.

The project would allow We Energies, a subsidiary of Wisconsin Energy Corp., to comply with a state mandate that 10 percent of Wisconsin's electricity come from renewable sources by 2015.

In a telephone interview after the meeting Thursday, Manthey said the plant should not produce any more risk of asthma or lung cancers in the village, because the emissions will fall "well under" the state Department of Natural Resources standards for clean air.

Some compromise reached in Clean Energy Jobs Act

From a report by Chuck Quirmbach on Wisconsin Public Radio:

(STATE CAPITOL) A key lawmaker says some compromises have been reached in the global warming bill now in the State Legislature. But he says more deal-making is ahead.

During the last couple of weeks, legislators have been working behind closed doors trying to agree on changes to the Clean Energy Jobs Act. At an energy forum in Milwaukee, Senate author Mark Miller said some agreements have been reached. The Madison-area Democrat says there are deals on idling of trucks, reducing carbon in transportation fuels, tariffs for utilities purchasing power from renewable sources, and whether to link Wisconsin car fuel efficiency standards to California's. He says the golden state plan is gone.

Miller says the plan to reduce carbon in fuels ran into a lot of opposition, and wasn’t a major part of the bill. The changes are good news to the Democrats leading candidate for governor, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett. Barrett says any new carbon in fuels standard would also have hurt the state.

Sen. Miller says lawmakers are also trying to accelerate job creation goals in the Clean Energy Jobs Act. He says he's hoping to announce final compromises next week.

Some compromise reached in Clean Energy Jobs Act

From a report by Chuck Quirmbach on Wisconsin Public Radio:

(STATE CAPITOL) A key lawmaker says some compromises have been reached in the global warming bill now in the State Legislature. But he says more deal-making is ahead.

During the last couple of weeks, legislators have been working behind closed doors trying to agree on changes to the Clean Energy Jobs Act. At an energy forum in Milwaukee, Senate author Mark Miller said some agreements have been reached. The Madison-area Democrat says there are deals on idling of trucks, reducing carbon in transportation fuels, tariffs for utilities purchasing power from renewable sources, and whether to link Wisconsin car fuel efficiency standards to California's. He says the golden state plan is gone.

Miller says the plan to reduce carbon in fuels ran into a lot of opposition, and wasn’t a major part of the bill. The changes are good news to the Democrats leading candidate for governor, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett. Barrett says any new carbon in fuels standard would also have hurt the state.

Sen. Miller says lawmakers are also trying to accelerate job creation goals in the Clean Energy Jobs Act. He says he's hoping to announce final compromises next week.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Over 200 businesses pledge support for Clean Energy Jobs Act

From a news release issued by Clean Wisconsin:

Regionally Diverse Large and Small Businesses Among Supporters

MADISON -- In a show of support for the Clean Energy Jobs Act, the Wisconsin business community delivered a letter signed by over 200 Wisconsin businesses to state legislators today highlighting the economic and job-creation benefits of strong energy efficiency and renewable energy policies.

"As businesses currently working in the production, installation and maintenance of energy efficiency and renewable energy systems we understand better than anyone that clean energy policies create jobs and stimulate local economies," read the letter. "By enacting statewide policies that will help Wisconsinites make their homes and businesses more energy efficient or invest in renewable energy, the state Legislature will create thousands of jobs and help support local businesses like ours..."

Studies have repeatedly demonstrated the job-creation potential of the Clean Energy Jobs Act. A recent study from the Office of Energy Independence estimates that the bill would create over 15,000 jobs in the state.

"Wisconsin’s businesses support the Clean Energy Jobs Act because they recognize its enormous potential to create jobs and aid economic recovery," said Keith Reopelle, senior policy director at Clean Wisconsin. "With strong renewable energy and energy efficiency policies, Wisconsin can become a leader in the production of clean energy technologies."

"Clean energy policies like those in the Clean Energy Jobs Act help businesses like Wave Wind grow," said Dionne Lummus at Wave Wind Energy located in Sun Prairie. "Increased demand for renewable energy means an increased demand for our services, which translates to more jobs and economic growth in Wisconsin."

A report released this morning by the Union of Concerned Scientists shows that securing 25 percent of the state’s renewable electricity by 2025, a main provision of the bill, is affordable and easily achievable. In fact, the report illustrates that generating 25 percent of Wisconsin’s current electricity load would require only 5 percent of the state’s renewable energy potential.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Revitalizing Wisconsin with Homegrown Renewable Energy

From a PowerPoint presentation (posted as a PDF) by Michael Vickerman, RENEW Executive Director:

+ Where We Are Today
+ Renewable Energy Standard
+ Renewable Buyback Rates/Incentives
+ Outlook for Clean Energy Jobs Act bill

Over 200 businesses pledge support for Clean Energy Jobs Act

From a news release issued by Clean Wisconsin:

Regionally Diverse Large and Small Businesses Among Supporters

MADISON -- In a show of support for the Clean Energy Jobs Act, the Wisconsin business community delivered a letter signed by over 200 Wisconsin businesses to state legislators today highlighting the economic and job-creation benefits of strong energy efficiency and renewable energy policies.

"As businesses currently working in the production, installation and maintenance of energy efficiency and renewable energy systems we understand better than anyone that clean energy policies create jobs and stimulate local economies," read the letter. "By enacting statewide policies that will help Wisconsinites make their homes and businesses more energy efficient or invest in renewable energy, the state Legislature will create thousands of jobs and help support local businesses like ours..."

Studies have repeatedly demonstrated the job-creation potential of the Clean Energy Jobs Act. A recent study from the Office of Energy Independence estimates that the bill would create over 15,000 jobs in the state.

"Wisconsin’s businesses support the Clean Energy Jobs Act because they recognize its enormous potential to create jobs and aid economic recovery," said Keith Reopelle, senior policy director at Clean Wisconsin. "With strong renewable energy and energy efficiency policies, Wisconsin can become a leader in the production of clean energy technologies."

"Clean energy policies like those in the Clean Energy Jobs Act help businesses like Wave Wind grow," said Dionne Lummus at Wave Wind Energy located in Sun Prairie. "Increased demand for renewable energy means an increased demand for our services, which translates to more jobs and economic growth in Wisconsin."

A report released this morning by the Union of Concerned Scientists shows that securing 25 percent of the state’s renewable electricity by 2025, a main provision of the bill, is affordable and easily achievable. In fact, the report illustrates that generating 25 percent of Wisconsin’s current electricity load would require only 5 percent of the state’s renewable energy potential.

Over 200 businesses pledge support for Clean Energy Jobs Act

From a news release issued by Clean Wisconsin:

Regionally Diverse Large and Small Businesses Among Supporters

MADISON -- In a show of support for the Clean Energy Jobs Act, the Wisconsin business community delivered a letter signed by over 200 Wisconsin businesses to state legislators today highlighting the economic and job-creation benefits of strong energy efficiency and renewable energy policies.

"As businesses currently working in the production, installation and maintenance of energy efficiency and renewable energy systems we understand better than anyone that clean energy policies create jobs and stimulate local economies," read the letter. "By enacting statewide policies that will help Wisconsinites make their homes and businesses more energy efficient or invest in renewable energy, the state Legislature will create thousands of jobs and help support local businesses like ours..."

Studies have repeatedly demonstrated the job-creation potential of the Clean Energy Jobs Act. A recent study from the Office of Energy Independence estimates that the bill would create over 15,000 jobs in the state.

"Wisconsin’s businesses support the Clean Energy Jobs Act because they recognize its enormous potential to create jobs and aid economic recovery," said Keith Reopelle, senior policy director at Clean Wisconsin. "With strong renewable energy and energy efficiency policies, Wisconsin can become a leader in the production of clean energy technologies."

"Clean energy policies like those in the Clean Energy Jobs Act help businesses like Wave Wind grow," said Dionne Lummus at Wave Wind Energy located in Sun Prairie. "Increased demand for renewable energy means an increased demand for our services, which translates to more jobs and economic growth in Wisconsin."

A report released this morning by the Union of Concerned Scientists shows that securing 25 percent of the state’s renewable electricity by 2025, a main provision of the bill, is affordable and easily achievable. In fact, the report illustrates that generating 25 percent of Wisconsin’s current electricity load would require only 5 percent of the state’s renewable energy potential.

Letter writer asks Sen. Schultz to support Clean Energy Jobs Act

From a letter to State Senator Dale Schultz from Shelly Laffin, RENEW Wisconsin's treasurer, who lives in Spring Green:

Dear Senator Schultz,

I recently learned from the Spring Green Home News that you do not support any provisions of the Clean Energy Jobs Act. Your district is distinctly suited to benefit from two parts of the Act in particular.

There are wind projects in Lafayette, Grant and Iowa counties that will be built if the Renewable Portfolio Standard is increased, especially with a mandated percentage of the energy projects to be built in Wisconsin. Wind projects in those counties not only will supply clean energy and jobs, but local towns and counties will receive annual payments. I am sure you know that the local economies in those areas are depressed and would materially benefit. Wind projects are good neighbors, which I’m also sure you are aware of, based on the ten year operating history of the Montfort Wind Farm in Iowa County.

Another critical provision in the Act is the Advanced Renewable Tariff component. While I see that you support tax credits for food processing plant modernization, you perhaps have not made the linkage to food processing waste and energy generation that many cheese plants would like to incorporate in their operations. Several cheese companies are considering anaerobic digestion for their plants (in your district), but cannot make the financial aspects work without an advanced renewable tariff as a standard offer. Grants are fine, but they work best to support technologies in initial stages of market development, rather than as a permanent feature to sustain a market. Preliminary analysis has been done on the cost of advanced renewable tariffs that could be offered by investor owned Wisconsin utilities (www.renewwisconsin.org). In offering approximately 11 cents per kilowatt hour, at a fully subscribed level of 1.5% of customer retail sales, the cost for a typical Wisconsin residential customer (~usage at 10,000 kilowatt hours per year) would average an extra 83 cents a month ($10.00 per year). The analysis uses the marginal amount that would be added to each investor owned utility’s current avoided cost. As the avoided cost rate continually increases over time, this marginal amount diminishes or disappears.

When I look at the Wisconsin State Capitol, the county courthouse in Lancaster and other early government projects, the investment in better building, better craftsmanship and better materials has stood the test of time. It is pitiful that we now exhibit such lack of vision that we cannot enthusiastically invest in Wisconsin’s future as our ancestors did. The two items I mentioned translate into local development, local jobs and local industry (ala Cuba City’s Wausaukee Composites – wind nacelle housings).

Wisconsin is currently the national leader in dairy farm digesters. The opportunity that comes from being a focal point in the country for anaerobic digestion technology will slip away, and has already begun to slip (federal digester funding targeted to New York state), without taking the next step – advanced renewable tariffs. The Focus on Energy Program has a very limited budget for renewables in general and this technology in particular. With a granting program, choices of winners and losers tend to be based on the program and state agency priorities, not necessarily the customer’s needs. DATCP does not have a RD&D budget to move farm digesters from being a large farm option to a viable mid-size farm option. Farms, in cooperation with investors, coops and using other business models could make the move themselves, with the assurance of an advanced renewable tariff. Wisconsin has already attracted the attention of German companies who would like to make investments in Wisconsin digester projects. And finally, Wisconsin is home to the company that has, by far, the most farm digester installations in the U.S. – GHD, Inc. in Chilton, Wisconsin. We would be crazy to forgo such a unique opportunity to support our agricultural community. I truly wish you could see it that way.

Another critical opportunity for Wisconsin is the promising mid-size wind industry. Several companies in eastern Wisconsin are obtaining UL listing for their equipment and are attracting investors to finance the building of small and mid-sized wind turbines in Wisconsin. Their chances of success improve greatly if there are buyback rates in Wisconsin to sustain consistent sales of wind equipment. Without the tariffs, Wisconsin is defaulting to wind turbines built in China. The industrial infrastructure is still in place that would make these companies viable, but the support of advanced renewable tariffs for small systems is critical.

The advanced renewable tariffs reward only equipment and projects that actually produce energy. As a contrast, grants are paid for projects whether they subsequently produce energy at the level promised, or do not. Higher buyback rates and tariffs do not pick and choose winners in the marketplace. They reward energy production - period. I fail to see why you would not support the advanced renewable tariff provision of the Clean Energy Jobs Act. The Wisconsin Distributed Resources Collaborative, with most of Wisconsin’s utilities as members, (www.wisconsindr.org) has investigated many options and administrative structures for advanced renewable tariffs over a range of cost recovery methods for utilities. Alliant Energy modeled its advanced renewable tariff offering (fully subscribed in less than a year) on tariff work done by the Wisconsin Distributed Resources Collaborative. By limiting tariff subscription levels and capping eligible project sizes, utilities and utility customers are protected from unmanageable financial impacts.

Wisconsin did not deregulate its retail electric utilities as did some other states in the 1990’s. Customer-based renewable electric projects are therefore restricted to selling energy to retail electric providers, at prices largely based on energy production from fully amortized coal plants. A variety of renewable energy businesses are in your district and will be able to thrive at a modest and controlled cost to utility customers. Small renewable companies in your district, such as Timmerman’s Talents, Platteville (solar and wind), point to the future growth and vigor that will be possible with support for renewable energy through an advanced tariff. There is no other energy policy on the horizon that would have more benefit for small growing renewable businesses.

I hope that you will reconsider your current position and support these two Clean Energy Jobs Act provisions.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

We Energies wind project to use alliance of Wisconsin firms

From a news release issued by We Energies:

We Energies announced today that it has developed a Wisconsin-based alliance to design and build the Glacier Hills Wind Park, which will be located in the towns of Randolph and Scott in Columbia County. The project is expected to generate more than 400 million emission-free kilowatt hours annually -- enough to power 45,000 homes.

The construction alliance will include The Boldt Company of Appleton, Michels Corporation of Brownsville and Edgerton Contractors, Inc. of Oak Creek.

“Developing the Glacier Hills Wind Park through this home-state construction alliance will benefit Wisconsin's economy while achieving a low cost approach to generating more energy from renewable resources,” said Rick Kuester, executive vice president of Wisconsin Energy Corporation, the parent of We Energies. "The project will be built with the talents of these Wisconsin companies and local craft labor.”

From an article on Recharge News:

Vestas gets 145MW US turbine order from We Energies

Wind turbine manufacturer Vestas has received a 145 MW order from US utility We Energies. The order is for 81 V90 1.8 MW wind turbines for the Glacier Hills Wind Park in Wisconsin.

The turbines will delivered in early 2011, with comissioning of the wind farm expected by the end of 2011. The order also includes a two-year service and maintenance agreement. Vestas said that the announcement does not affect the company’s expectations for 2010, as announced on 10 February.

Vestas supplied We Energies’ first wind turbines in 1999, and in 2007 supplied 88 V.82 1.65 MW turbines for the Blue Sky Green Field project which was completed in 2008.

Over 200 businesses pledge support for Clean Energy Jobs Act

From a news release issued by Clean Wisconsin:

Regionally Diverse Large and Small Businesses Among Supporters

MADISON -- In a show of support for the Clean Energy Jobs Act, the Wisconsin business community delivered a letter signed by over 200 Wisconsin businesses to state legislators today highlighting the economic and job-creation benefits of strong energy efficiency and renewable energy policies.

"As businesses currently working in the production, installation and maintenance of energy efficiency and renewable energy systems we understand better than anyone that clean energy policies create jobs and stimulate local economies," read the letter. "By enacting statewide policies that will help Wisconsinites make their homes and businesses more energy efficient or invest in renewable energy, the state Legislature will create thousands of jobs and help support local businesses like ours..."

Studies have repeatedly demonstrated the job-creation potential of the Clean Energy Jobs Act. A recent study from the Office of Energy Independence estimates that the bill would create over 15,000 jobs in the state.

"Wisconsin’s businesses support the Clean Energy Jobs Act because they recognize its enormous potential to create jobs and aid economic recovery," said Keith Reopelle, senior policy director at Clean Wisconsin. "With strong renewable energy and energy efficiency policies, Wisconsin can become a leader in the production of clean energy technologies."

"Clean energy policies like those in the Clean Energy Jobs Act help businesses like Wave Wind grow," said Dionne Lummus at Wave Wind Energy located in Sun Prairie. "Increased demand for renewable energy means an increased demand for our services, which translates to more jobs and economic growth in Wisconsin."

A report released this morning by the Union of Concerned Scientists shows that securing 25 percent of the state’s renewable electricity by 2025, a main provision of the bill, is affordable and easily achievable. In fact, the report illustrates that generating 25 percent of Wisconsin’s current electricity load would require only 5 percent of the state’s renewable energy potential.

We Energies selects builder for Rothchild project

From an article by Pete Bach in the Green Bay Press Gazette:

APPLETON — The Boldt Company announced Tuesday it will provide all construction services for We Energies' new 50 megawatt biomass cogeneration plant at the Domtar Corp. paper mill in Rothschild near Wausau.

The total project cost was pegged at $255 million.

"We're excited about that," said Bob DeKoch, Boldt president and chief operating officer. "We Energies is a great customer of ours and has been for a long time."
We Energies, the Milwaukee-based provider of electricity and natural gas to more than 1 million customers, said the project will create about 400 construction jobs and 150 permanent jobs.

DeKoch said the company will hire some new field craftsmen. The company believes the project management staff and engineering staff are sufficient to handle the job.
"We plan the work with all our customers and particularly our repeat customers so we make sure we have capacity available for them," DeKoch said.

Boldt's most recent work with We Energies was the 145 megawatt Blue Sky Green Field Wind Energy Center in Fond du Lac County.

We Energies filed a petition March 15 to seek approval from the Wisconsin Public Service Commission for the Domtar plant, said WE spokeswoman Irissol Arce.
Construction will begin next spring if the PSC gives the green light by the end of the year, she said. On that timetable, the plant would be complete in the first half of 2013, We Energies said.

The facility is designed to use forest residue, clean wood waste and wood shavings to generate electricity and steam in sufficient amounts to assist Domtar's paper making operations and wean the Montreal-based firm off fossil fuels.

Tomah school’s energy savings reach $92,000

From an article by John Froelich in the Tomah Journal:

The Tomah School District’s energy management program, which was inaugurated last fall, is paying off with an estimated $92,500 in savings.

Dave Stutzman, the district’s buildings and energy manager, gave a report of activities to the Tomah Board of Education Thursday evening. Stutzman said, “Our staff is making a difference on our energy bills.”

Stutzman, who was hired last August, said energy use was down nine percent across the board in November, close to the 10 percent annual reduction goal. He said the action plan and energy study “... are the roadmap for our future.”

The action plan was created in September. Staff building energy plans were initiated beginning in November.

Stutzman said there was a big reduction in the amount of therms used in November and December.

He had praise for Miller School which was “...consistently low” in energy use. ”The staff in that building are following best practices to the letter,” he said.

Behavioral modification -- getting staff to close doors and shut off lights -- is an important part of the process.

Milwaukee-area companies step up green energy efforts; China ahead of U.S.

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

Johnson Controls Inc. is expanding its advanced battery research and testing space at its Glendale headquarters, one sign of the Milwaukee area's efforts in the race for green economy jobs.

Mary Ann Wright, a key Johnson Controls advanced battery executive, said the Glendale-based firm is matching dollar-for-dollar a $299 million stimulus grant that is aimed at creating a domestic supply chain for advanced batteries, a sector dominated by firms in China and other Asian countries.

"We're not in the game relative to supplying the materials and technology in this space right now," she said Wednesday.

The stimulus funding will help not only to set up the company's lithium battery factory in Holland, Mich., but also "to help stand up an industry," she said.

"Our plan prior to this stimulus was to expand our manufacturing and technological base in Europe and China," Wright said. "As a result of the investment the U.S. government taxpayers are making, this is where we're going to build it - and then expand to our global footprint."

Her comments came as the Green Energy Summit kicked off Wednesday at the Midwest Airlines Center. Speakers at the summit said Milwaukee is positioned for an economy that's transitioning toward the clean-technology sector and greener energy choices. . . .

A new report to be released Thursday shows the challenge facing the clean-tech sector. Global clean-energy investments have risen by 300% since 2005, but for the first time last year, China took the lead in investment in clean-energy technologies, according to data released by The Pew Charitable Trusts.

"The facts speak for themselves," said Bloomberg New Energy Finance Chief Executive Michael Liebreich in a statement. "2009 clean energy investment in China totaled $34.6 billion, while in the U.S. it totaled $18.6 billion. China is now clearly the world leader in attracting new capital and making new investments in this area."

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Poll: Wisconsin voters overwhelmingly support clean energy policies

From a news release issued by Clean Wisconsin:

76% support policies stronger than those in the Clean Energy Jobs Act

MADISON — More than three-quarters of Wisconsin voters support renewable energy policies requiring 30 percent of our state’s power to come from renewable sources, according to polling data released today by a bipartisan research group.

"An overwhelming majority of Wisconsin’s voters recognize the need to replace our dependence on dirty, imported fossil fuels with new investments in clean, renewable energy," said Keith Reopelle, senior policy director at Clean Wisconsin, an environmental advocacy organization celebrating 40 years of service. "With no fossil fuel reserves of our own, transitioning toward renewable energy sources such as wind, solar, crops, and agricultural waste will help Wisconsin become more energy independent and economically prosperous."

According to the data released today, 76 percent of Wisconsin voters support passing policies "ensuring that 30 percent of the state’s electricity comes from renewable sources." Known as a renewable electricity standard, current policy ensures that only 10 percent of Wisconsin’s electricity comes from renewable sources by 2015. The Clean Energy Jobs Act would set new goals by ensuring that 25 percent of our electricity comes from renewable resources by 2025.

"This data highlights the need to pass a strong renewable electricity standard in the Clean Energy Jobs Act," said Reopelle. "Spending $16 billion dollars every year on out-of-state fossil fuels drains Wisconsin’s economy. By investing in renewable energy, we can create jobs and keep much of that money right here at home."

Get a flavor of the MREA Energy Fair



Join us for the 21st Annual Energy Fair June 18-20, 2010.

Each year the MREA Energy Fair transforms rural Central Wisconsin into the global hot spot for renewable energy education. The Energy Fair brings over 20,000 people from nearly every state in the U.S. and several countries around the world to learn, connect with others and ready them for action at home. The Energy Fair is the nation's longest running energy education event of its kind.

Advance Energy Fair tickets and Reservations for Back 40 Camping will be available starting April 1st.

The Energy Fair features:

•Over 275 exhibitors - sustainable living and energy products
•Over 200 workshops - from introductory level to hands-on education
•Clean Energy Car Show - demonstration vehicles and workshops
•Green Home Pavilion – focused on building and remodeling in a sustainable way
•Sustainable Tables – workshops, chef demos, and a farmers market bringing sustainability to your dinner table
•Inspirational keynotes, lively entertainment, great food, and local beer.
The Energy Fair is held in Custer, WI just seven miles east of Stevens Point. Join us for the 21st Annual Energy Fair June 18-20, 2010. For more information about the Fair, contact the Midwest Renewable Energy Association at 715-592-6595 or visit the website: www.the-mrea.org.

Melrose dairy modernizes with energy efficiency in mind

From a news release issued by Focus on Energy:

Madison, Wis. (March 24, 2010) – Focus on Energy, Wisconsin's statewide program for energy efficiency and renewable energy, in partnership with Xcel Energy, awarded Pfaffs Prairie Dairy in Melrose $25,000 to install high-performance, energy-efficient equipment throughout the farm.

“I knew that I had to change something. Our stanchion barn was obsolete and if I didn’t modernize, I would have to get out of dairying,” said Tom Pfaff, owner of PfaffsPrairie Dairy. “I like the animals too much, and I wanted to be able to hand the farm over to my kids if they want to go into farming.”

With technical expertise and financial incentives from Focus and Xcel Energy, the Pfaffs builta new free-stall barn and installed high-velocity low speed (HVLS) fans, heat recovery, a water heater, a heat exchanger on the pipeline, and waterers. The equipment will save the dairy more than 188,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity and 10 kilowatts in demand reduction annually—enough energy to power 20 homes for a year. The farm will also benefit from an estimated $18,000 savings on its energy bills
each year.

“The free-stall design takes advantage of natural ventilation and the cows enjoy a constant supply of fresh air,” said Pfaff. “When we do need the fans, they can move the air and you don’t even know they are on.”

Green Energy Summit kicks off

From a news release issued by Johnson Controls:

MILWAUKEE – (March 24, 2010) – Johnson Controls (NYSE: JC), the global industrial leader in providing energy efficient and sustainable products, services and solutions, will showcase notable Wisconsin energy projects and best practices at the 2010 Green Energy Summit, March 24-26, at the Midwest Airlines Center in Milwaukee.

“Supporting the advancement of renewable and green energy technology is essential to the economic and environmental future of Wisconsin,” said Don Albinger, vice president of renewable energy solutions at Johnson Controls Building Efficiency. “The Green Energy Summit is a great way to bring Wisconsin business leaders together to share solutions and ideas that will create a more sustainable future. Johnson Controls is proud to be a founding partner of the summit.”

Johnson Controls executives will participate in key plenary sessions and workshops that demonstrate the future of green energy solutions in the state.

Featured Sessions
• Green Business Strategies for the Midwest – Mary Ann Wright, vice president and managing director of Johnson Controls’ Business Accelerator for Advanced Energy Storage Solutions, will address how hybrid and electric lithium-ion battery technologies are leading the charge to a sustainable energy future.
• Green Energy Initiatives and Development – Don Albinger, vice president of renewable energy solutions at Johnson Controls Building Efficiency, will discuss how the integration of energy efficiency and renewable solutions can help schools, businesses and government buildings reduce costs while making a positive impact on the environment.
• Job Opportunities in the New Green Economy – Jim Simpson, director of higher education solutions in the Americas for Johnson Controls Building Efficiency, will talk about the future of green jobs in Wisconsin as they relate to colleges and universities.

Other topical sessions that Johnson Controls representatives will speak at include The Role of Water in the New Green Economy, Energy Efficiency and Energy Management, and a Solar Thermal Symposium.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Green Energy Summit starts today!

The 2010 Green Energy Summit will be held March 24-26 at the Midwest Airlines Center in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The theme of this seventh annual Summit is “The New Green Economy – Opportunities and Challenges.”

The 2010 Summit has three sub-themes – one for each of its three days. Wednesday, March 24, will be Green Business Day; Thursday,March 25, Green Energy Day; and Friday,March 26, Green Career Pathways/Sustainability Day.

This major conference will be of interest to representatives of businesses, government, and education (including faculty and students fromWisconsin colleges and universities and area high schools).

Keynote speakers include:

Will Steger
Founder of the Will Steger Foundation,
co-founder of the Center for Global Environmental Education,
and recipient of the National Geographic
Adventure Lifetime Achievement Award

Ed Begley, Jr.
Author of Living Like Ed: A Guide to the Eco-Friendly Life,
principal of television series, Living With Ed

Lonnie Thompson
Ohio State University

Charles A. Hall
Professor of Environmental Science
State University of New York, Syracuse

Complete program schedule.

Case Builds for the Clean Energy Jobs Act Bills

From Wisconsin Renewable Quarterly, Spring 2010, the newsletter of RENEW Wisconsin:

After holding five public hearings on the Clean Energy Jobs Act (CEJA) legislation, the committees’ co-chairs signaled their plan to hammer out a set of substitute proposals in meetings among themselves.

While waiting for the expected substitute amendment sometime in late March, proponents continue to build the public case for passage in this legislative session.

The refashioned bill will likely retain the core provisions in the original, specifically:
+ 25% renewable energy standard(RES) by 2025;
+ 10% in-state renewable energy set-aside, also by 2025; and
+ Energy efficiency goals to begin reduction of consumption in 2011.

The original legislation (AB 649/SB 450) also contained a requirement that the Public Service Commission (PSC) increase buyback rates for small renewable systems. This controversial section is likely to be reworked substantially in the substitute amendment.

Since the introduction of the bills in early January, many affected interests have bombarded the print and electronic media with news releases, advertisements, economic analyses, news conferences, commentaries, and photo opportunities in hopes of influencing the Legislature before the session ends.

Just to list a few examples from the proponents:
+ RENEW Wisconsin released a study in February showing that increased renewable energy buyback rates, by themselves, would have a minimal impact on base residential electricity rates;

Other newsletter articles:
Tour Spotlights Homegrown Renewables
Energizing Fort Atkinson Schools
Clearing Up Lakes with Clean Energy
Of Molehills and Renewable Energy
Calendar

Case Builds for the Clean Energy Jobs Act Bills

From Wisconsin Renewable Quarterly, Spring 2010, the newsletter of RENEW Wisconsin:

After holding five public hearings on the Clean Energy Jobs Act (CEJA) legislation, the committees’ co-chairs signaled their plan to hammer out a set of substitute proposals in meetings among themselves.

While waiting for the expected substitute amendment sometime in late March, proponents continue to build the public case for passage in this legislative session.

The refashioned bill will likely retain the core provisions in the original, specifically:
+ 25% renewable energy standard(RES) by 2025;
+ 10% in-state renewable energy set-aside, also by 2025; and
+ Energy efficiency goals to begin reduction of consumption in 2011.

The original legislation (AB 649/SB 450) also contained a requirement that the Public Service Commission (PSC) increase buyback rates for small renewable systems. This controversial section is likely to be reworked substantially in the substitute amendment.

Since the introduction of the bills in early January, many affected interests have bombarded the print and electronic media with news releases, advertisements, economic analyses, news conferences, commentaries, and photo opportunities in hopes of influencing the Legislature before the session ends.

Just to list a few examples from the proponents:
+ RENEW Wisconsin released a study in February showing that increased renewable energy buyback rates, by themselves, would have a minimal impact on base residential electricity rates;

Other newsletter articles:
Tour Spotlights Homegrown Renewables
Energizing Fort Atkinson Schools
Clearing Up Lakes with Clean Energy
Of Molehills and Renewable Energy
Calendar

Case Builds for the Clean Energy Jobs Act Bills

From Wisconsin Renewable Quarterly, Spring 2010, the newsletter of RENEW Wisconsin:

After holding five public hearings on the Clean Energy Jobs Act (CEJA) legislation, the committees’ co-chairs signaled their plan to hammer out a set of substitute proposals in meetings among themselves.

While waiting for the expected substitute amendment sometime in late March, proponents continue to build the public case for passage in this legislative session.

The refashioned bill will likely retain the core provisions in the original, specifically:
+ 25% renewable energy standard(RES) by 2025;
+ 10% in-state renewable energy set-aside, also by 2025; and
+ Energy efficiency goals to begin reduction of consumption in 2011.

The original legislation (AB 649/SB 450) also contained a requirement that the Public Service Commission (PSC) increase buyback rates for small renewable systems. This controversial section is likely to be reworked substantially in the substitute amendment.

Since the introduction of the bills in early January, many affected interests have bombarded the print and electronic media with news releases, advertisements, economic analyses, news conferences, commentaries, and photo opportunities in hopes of influencing the Legislature before the session ends.

Just to list a few examples from the proponents:
+ RENEW Wisconsin released a study in February showing that increased renewable energy buyback rates, by themselves, would have a minimal impact on base residential electricity rates;

Other newsletter articles:
Tour Spotlights Homegrown Renewables
Energizing Fort Atkinson Schools
Clearing Up Lakes with Clean Energy
Of Molehills and Renewable Energy
Calendar

Milwaukee Brewing Co. saves big on energy costs by brewing biodiesel

From an article and video on BizTimes:



Every Monday morning, a crew of workers inside the Milwaukee Brewing Company brews up a special batch of product. Unlike the brewery’s beer, this product is usable right away, and becomes fuel for the brewing process.

For more than one year, the company has been making biodiesel at its brewery at 613 S. 2nd St., in Milwaukee’s Fifth Ward neighborhood. The brewery is owned by Jim McCabe, who also owns the Milwaukee Ale House, which has locations in Milwaukee’s Third Ward and Grafton. The cooking oil from both locations is transformed into burnable biodiesel inside the brewery.

The brewery produces about 110 gallons of biodiesel on most Monday mornings. During warm months, that is enough fuel to power a full day’s brewing each week.

“When we look at our energy bill today compared to one year ago, there’s a big difference,” McCabe said.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Case Build for the Clean Energy Jobs Act Bills

From Wisconsin Renewable Quarterly, Spring 2010, the newsletter of RENEW Wisconsin:

After holding five public hearings on the Clean Energy Jobs Act (CEJA) legislation, the committees’ co-chairs signaled their plan to hammer out a set of substitute proposals in meetings among themselves.

While waiting for the expected substitute amendment sometime in late March, proponents continue to build the public case for passage in this legislative session.

The refashioned bill will likely retain the core provisions in the original, specifically:
+ 25% renewable energy standard(RES) by 2025;
+ 10% in-state renewable energy set-aside, also by 2025; and
+ Energy efficiency goals to begin reduction of consumption in 2011.

The original legislation (AB 649/SB 450) also contained a requirement that the Public Service Commission (PSC) increase buyback rates for small renewable systems. This controversial section is likely to be reworked substantially in the substitute amendment.

Since the introduction of the bills in early January, many affected interests have bombarded the print and electronic media with news releases, advertisements, economic analyses, news conferences, commentaries, and photo opportunities in hopes of influencing the Legislature before the session ends.

Just to list a few examples from the proponents:
+ RENEW Wisconsin released a study in February showing that increased renewable energy buyback rates, by themselves, would have a minimal impact on base residential electricity rates;

Other newsletter articles:
Tour Spotlights Homegrown Renewables
Energizing Fort Atkinson Schools
Clearing Up Lakes with Clean Energy
Of Molehills and Renewable Energy
Calendar

Grant will help develop small-farm manure digester

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

Wisconsin farmers have long known there’s money in manure, but extracting power was an option only for the biggest herds.

The state’s secretary of agriculture announced a $200,000 grant Friday to help a Tomah manufacturer develop a manure digester that could help small farms turn waste into electricity.

Though Wisconsin leads the nation in the agricultural use of anaerobic digesters, current technology — which requires on-site construction of concrete or steel structures — is best suited to farms with at least 1,000 animals.

USEMCO has developed a tank that makes it economical for farms with as few as 100 cows. The first model, which at peak production should generate enough electricity to power about 45 homes, will be tested on a 150-cow Chaseburg dairy.

Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection Secretary Rod Nilsestuen said small-farm digesters could bolster the state’s manufacturing and agriculture industries while promoting clean energy.

If the test is successful, USEMCO president Pat Rezin expects the demand for digesters could mean 15 to 20 new jobs and an addition to his Tomah plant.

Proof of pollution easy to see

A letter to the editor of the Eau Claire Leader Telegram:

I was alarmed this month when the National Weather Service issued air quality alerts several times for the Chippewa Valley. These are supposed to happen in big cities, not here.

I have flown hot air balloons in this area for more than 10 years, and the visibility used to be good for more than 30 miles. I haven't had visibility that good for more than five years. Initially, it was more evident at 1,000 feet, where we usually fly, but now it seems to be hazy all the time.

According to a National Weather Service publication, "Certainly natural forms of haze do exist. But ... the type of haze commonly seen over the eastern half of the United States during summer is not predominantly natural. It is in fact primarily a vast blanket of man-made pollution." The problem is that it's been such a gradual change that we don't notice it.

I look forward to taking my grandchildren on a balloon flight someday, but I doubt they will ever witness the incredible views I once did. While this makes me sad, what concerns me more is what we are leaving for future generations. Our quality of life is already being affected by the constant haze in the air.

The Web site www.airnow.gov provides a map of the Air Quality Index for the U.S. An air quality alert is issued when a dome of high pressure sits over an area for an extended time and traps the pollutants we emit. It's like having the ventilation fan quit working in your bathroom. As the number of alerts increases, so do respiratory problems.

How bad will it have to get before we do more to fix this? I don't care whether you call it global warming or climate change, whether you're worried about polar bears or peak oil, whether you're a Republican or Democrat: We need to get going.
The phrase used in the 1970s was, "The solution to pollution is dilution." That seemed logical then because the oceans and atmosphere seemed so vast, but we learned that you can't just dump everything in the water. We've done a pretty good job of cleaning up our waters, but now we have managed to reach the turning point of how much pollution our atmosphere can hold.

The climate change issue is primarily concerned with CO2 emissions and global warming, but the haze and pollution we experience has the same cause and solution. The solution is to reduce our emissions and to use more clean energy.

We are smart people in the Chippewa Valley, and I think we know what needs to be done, but we say it's either "inconvenient" or "the payback isn't fast enough" or "I'm not going to do anything until everyone else does too." The time for excuses is done; we need to step up.

I don't think things will ever be the same as they were unless we start making some big changes. I don't believe anything until I see it with my own eyes, but now I can't deny that things are getting worse, even in our backyard. This has been "An Inconvenient Proof" for me.

Idso lives in Eau Claire.

Facts about proposed Rothchild biomass plant

A letter to the editor of the Wausau Daily Herald:

Over the past two months, several hundred area residents have taken time to engage with us in positive, open conversations about the sustainable biomass energy plant that we're proposing to build in Rothschild. Unfortunately, some facts continue to be misrepresented.

Fact: While there are many types of biomass that can be used for fuel, our plant will burn wood waste and wood waste only. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources permit clearly defines the biomass fuel to be used. Any deviation from that would result in strict penalties. Further, Wisconsin's abundant forests can provide biomass fuel for many decades to come.

Fact: Our new biomass facility will reduce emissions at the Domtar mill site by approximately 30 percent through the replacement of the mill's aging boilers with newer, cleaner boilers.

Fact: The project will be constructed by Wisconsin companies -- companies that will hire an estimated 400 local workers to build the plant. And importantly, along with the generation of renewable power, a cleaner running paper mill and the addition of 150 jobs related to sustainable wood harvesting, the new biomass plant will boost Domtar's sustainable papermaking operations. That means the Domtar mill will be better positioned to continue providing quality jobs for future generations of area residents. It is our desire and responsibility to answer your questions and to present the facts and data on this important project in an open and responsible way. We look forward to continuing our conversations.

Al Mihm, We Energies, Milwaukee

Friday, March 19, 2010

Poll: Wisconsin voters overwhelmingly support clean energy policies

From a news release issued by Clean Wisconsin:

76% support policies stronger than those in the Clean Energy Jobs Act

MADISON — More than three-quarters of Wisconsin voters support renewable energy policies requiring 30 percent of our state’s power to come from renewable sources, according to polling data released today by a bipartisan research group.

"An overwhelming majority of Wisconsin’s voters recognize the need to replace our dependence on dirty, imported fossil fuels with new investments in clean, renewable energy," said Keith Reopelle, senior policy director at Clean Wisconsin, an environmental advocacy organization celebrating 40 years of service. "With no fossil fuel reserves of our own, transitioning toward renewable energy sources such as wind, solar, crops, and agricultural waste will help Wisconsin become more energy independent and economically prosperous."

According to the data released today, 76 percent of Wisconsin voters support passing policies "ensuring that 30 percent of the state’s electricity comes from renewable sources." Known as a renewable electricity standard, current policy ensures that only 10 percent of Wisconsin’s electricity comes from renewable sources by 2015. The Clean Energy Jobs Act would set new goals by ensuring that 25 percent of our electricity comes from renewable resources by 2025.

"This data highlights the need to pass a strong renewable electricity standard in the Clean Energy Jobs Act," said Reopelle. "Spending $16 billion dollars every year on out-of-state fossil fuels drains Wisconsin’s economy. By investing in renewable energy, we can create jobs and keep much of that money right here at home."

Poll: Wisconsin voters overwhelmingly support clean energy policies

From a news release issued by Clean Wisconsin:

76% support policies stronger than those in the Clean Energy Jobs Act

MADISON — More than three-quarters of Wisconsin voters support renewable energy policies requiring 30 percent of our state’s power to come from renewable sources, according to polling data released today by a bipartisan research group.

"An overwhelming majority of Wisconsin’s voters recognize the need to replace our dependence on dirty, imported fossil fuels with new investments in clean, renewable energy," said Keith Reopelle, senior policy director at Clean Wisconsin, an environmental advocacy organization celebrating 40 years of service. "With no fossil fuel reserves of our own, transitioning toward renewable energy sources such as wind, solar, crops, and agricultural waste will help Wisconsin become more energy independent and economically prosperous."

According to the data released today, 76 percent of Wisconsin voters support passing policies "ensuring that 30 percent of the state’s electricity comes from renewable sources." Known as a renewable electricity standard, current policy ensures that only 10 percent of Wisconsin’s electricity comes from renewable sources by 2015. The Clean Energy Jobs Act would set new goals by ensuring that 25 percent of our electricity comes from renewable resources by 2025.

"This data highlights the need to pass a strong renewable electricity standard in the Clean Energy Jobs Act," said Reopelle. "Spending $16 billion dollars every year on out-of-state fossil fuels drains Wisconsin’s economy. By investing in renewable energy, we can create jobs and keep much of that money right here at home."

La Crosse ‘summit' lobbies for high-speed line on Amtrak route

From an article by Richard Mial in the La Crosse Tribune:

One hundred high-speed rail advocates, several riding Amtrak from Minnesota, gathered Thursday in La Crosse to promote having the proposed Chicago-to-Twin Cities passenger train follow the river route used by Amtrak.

Billed as a rail "summit," the event at Train Station BBQ featured Wisconsin Transportation Secretary Frank Busalacchi and Minnesota Department of Transportation Commissioner Tom Sorel as keynote speakers.

"I really feel that this route will come out on top," said Winona, Minn., Mayor Jerry Miller, who heads the Minnesota High-Speed Rail Commission of officials from communities on Amtrak's Empire Builder line.

"That route is the only shovel-ready route," Miller told the group.

But the two state officials were noncommittal about which of three options might be chosen:

•Amtrak's Empire Builder route through Tomah, La Crosse, Winona and Red Wing into St. Paul.
•Through Rochester to the Twin Cities. Rochester has never had a passenger rail connection to the Twin Cities.
•From Madison north to Eau Claire.
The two state transportation departments will recommend a choice to the Federal Rail Administration in late 2010 or early 2011, said Tom Faella, director of the La Crosse Metropolitan Planning Organization.

Wisconsin has received $8 million in federal stimulus to upgrade the Hiawatha route between Milwaukee and Chicago, and to begin planning an extension to the Twin Cities from Madison, which will have passenger rail service from Milwaukee.

Local rail ‘summit' lobbies for high-speed line on Amtrak route

From an article by Richard Mial in the La Crosse Tribune:

One hundred high-speed rail advocates, several riding Amtrak from Minnesota, gathered Thursday in La Crosse to promote having the proposed Chicago-to-Twin Cities passenger train follow the river route used by Amtrak.

Billed as a rail "summit," the event at Train Station BBQ featured Wisconsin Transportation Secretary Frank Busalacchi and Minnesota Department of Transportation Commissioner Tom Sorel as keynote speakers.

"I really feel that this route will come out on top," said Winona, Minn., Mayor Jerry Miller, who heads the Minnesota High-Speed Rail Commission of officials from communities on Amtrak's Empire Builder line.

"That route is the only shovel-ready route," Miller told the group.

But the two state officials were noncommittal about which of three options might be chosen:

•Amtrak's Empire Builder route through Tomah, La Crosse, Winona and Red Wing into St. Paul.
•Through Rochester to the Twin Cities. Rochester has never had a passenger rail connection to the Twin Cities.
•From Madison north to Eau Claire.
The two state transportation departments will recommend a choice to the Federal Rail Administration in late 2010 or early 2011, said Tom Faella, director of the La Crosse Metropolitan Planning Organization.

Wisconsin has received $8 million in federal stimulus to upgrade the Hiawatha route between Milwaukee and Chicago, and to begin planning an extension to the Twin Cities from Madison, which will have passenger rail service from Milwaukee.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Dairy farmer: Clean energy bill's opponents lack perspective

From a guest column in The Country Today by Rick Adamski, an organic dairy farmer near Seymour, Outagamie County:

As a dairy farmer, I understand that wise investments reduce operating costs. On our farm we have seen the need to save energy as a means to flourish in a changing economy.

The state needs to learn this lesson. We can create opportunities in rural Wisconsin to become net energy producers through some common-sense policies such as the advanced renewable portfolio standard, the low-carbon fuel standard and the Energy Crop Reserve Program, three policies being considered in the Clean Energy Jobs Act (Assembly Bill 649 and Senate Bill 450). All of these policies encourage adoption of more renewable energy sources and open up a market for Wisconsin farmers.

But I especially want to emphasize the importance of another common-sense policy being considered: advanced renewable tariffs.

Advanced renewable tariffs are essentially a statewide, uniform buyback rate for renewable energy that is fed into the grid. Locally owned, small-scale energy systems won't happen without these tariffs. Individuals need to know how much they will be paid for their energy before they invest.

I was fortunate to have had a We Energies experimental small wind buyback rate, which allowed me to build a wind turbine on our farm. It is unfortunate that there are people across the state with better wind resources than ours but worse buyback rates that keep them from producing renewable energy and earning a return. We need this bill to allow entrepreneurs to have fair access, no matter what utility they have.

While it seems an advanced renewable tariff is just common sense, some interests are actively trying to defeat this policy. Perspective is a quality that seems to be absent in so many political debates today, and the debate around the Clean Energy Jobs Act is no exception. It sure seems to me like the critics of this bill have a different understanding of the past or a lack of memory of the past.

At the basis of their argument is their belief that fossil fuels are cheap and will always be cheap. Both of those beliefs are wrong. We forget we are subsidizing fossil fuels. In the case of coal, currently 10 percent of the gross production is exempt from taxation. That is hardly a market-driven force.

Time out for education on clean energy bill

A letter to the editor of The Capital Times by Keith Spruce of Milwaukee:

Dear Editor: Some opposition to the Clean Energy & Jobs Act (SB 450 & AB 649) rests on allegations of increases in the cost of energy under the act. This opposition could not find more contradiction when compared with the recent energy cost study report by Wisconsin’s Public Service Commission.

The Feb. 19 PSC study concludes that in all likelihood Wisconsin will be spending more on electricity in the long run if we don’t act to embrace renewable portfolio standards and take more aggressive action on energy efficiency. Somehow the cited a Wisconsin Policy Research Institute/Beacon Hill Institute study used as a basis to argue increased energy costs by some of the opposition could not be more off-key from our own state’s PSC analysis.

Every year, $16 billion leaves Wisconsin to pay for fuel. The Clean Energy Jobs Act is designed to improve our economy, save money and create jobs.

Maybe it’s a good to time to find common ground as we enter the post-peak-oil era and leave behind cheap fossil fuel that threatens us even more than a warm bottle of beer from global warming could.

Keith Spruce
Milwaukee

Outagamie Co. farmer: Clean energy bill's opponents lack perspective

From a guest column in The Country Today by Rick Adamski, an organic dairy farmer near Seymour:

As a dairy farmer, I understand that wise investments reduce operating costs. On our farm we have seen the need to save energy as a means to flourish in a changing economy.

The state needs to learn this lesson. We can create opportunities in rural Wisconsin to become net energy producers through some common-sense policies such as the advanced renewable portfolio standard, the low-carbon fuel standard and the Energy Crop Reserve Program, three policies being considered in the Clean Energy Jobs Act (Assembly Bill 649 and Senate Bill 450). All of these policies encourage adoption of more renewable energy sources and open up a market for Wisconsin farmers.

But I especially want to emphasize the importance of another common-sense policy being considered: advanced renewable tariffs.

Advanced renewable tariffs are essentially a statewide, uniform buyback rate for renewable energy that is fed into the grid. Locally owned, small-scale energy systems won't happen without these tariffs. Individuals need to know how much they will be paid for their energy before they invest.

I was fortunate to have had a We Energies experimental small wind buyback rate, which allowed me to build a wind turbine on our farm. It is unfortunate that there are people across the state with better wind resources than ours but worse buyback rates that keep them from producing renewable energy and earning a return. We need this bill to allow entrepreneurs to have fair access, no matter what utility they have.

While it seems an advanced renewable tariff is just common sense, some interests are actively trying to defeat this policy. Perspective is a quality that seems to be absent in so many political debates today, and the debate around the Clean Energy Jobs Act is no exception. It sure seems to me like the critics of this bill have a different understanding of the past or a lack of memory of the past.

At the basis of their argument is their belief that fossil fuels are cheap and will always be cheap. Both of those beliefs are wrong. We forget we are subsidizing fossil fuels. In the case of coal, currently 10 percent of the gross production is exempt from taxation. That is hardly a market-driven force.

Elk Mound Dairy featured in "Farm Energy Success Stories"

From a news release issued by the Environmental Law & Policy Center:

A new report from the Environmental Law & Policy Center (ELPC) demonstrates how farmers and rural small businesses are making clean energy the newest cash crop. From a Pennsylvania syrup maker that cut its energy costs in half, to an Illinois dairy that generates electricity frommanure (using a Wisconsin company’s technology), to a Montana brewery that taps solar power, clean energy is improving the bottom line for rural America.

Farm Energy Success Stories highlights clean energy projects made possible with grants and loan guarantees from the Farm Bill’s Rural Energy for America Program (REAP). The report cover highlights a Wisconsin solar project in Burlington, Wisconsin and another Wisconsin solar project in Oak Creek is highlighted as a Success Story. A previous report highlighted the manure digester at Five Star Dairy in Elk Mound.

Wisconsin has benefitted from this federal program due to our clean energy leadership, as other states struggle to compete. Wisconsin farmers and rural small businesses have received over $15 million (third highest) in funding under the program, with most awards being for manure digesters, helping to make Wisconsin the national leader for (planned) farm digester development.

However, even with REAP funding, many of these digesters have not yet been built because Wisconsin’s farmers often have trouble getting a fair deal from utilities for their clean “cow power.” The Clean Energy Jobs Act -- as currently drafted prior to weakening amendments -- would change that by providing fair Advanced Renewable Tariffs (a.k.a. “renewable energy buyback rates”) for farm energy projects statewide.

“With the help of farmers, ranchers and rural small businesses, America and Wisconsin can make great strides toward solving our energy problems.” said Andy Olsen, Senior Policy Advocate for ELPC. “A strong Clean Energy Jobs Act can also create rural economic development, energy independence and a cleaner environment one farm at a time.”

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

PSC appoints wind siting council

A news release from the Public Service Commission:

The Public Service Commission (PSC) today announced appointments to Wisconsin’s Wind Siting Council, an advisory body created by 2009 Wisconsin Act 40 (Act 40). Act 40 directs the PSC to develop administrative rules that specify the restrictions that may be imposed on the installation or use of wind energy systems. The new law also requires the PSC to appoint a Wind Siting Council that will advise the PSC as it develops uniform wind siting standards for Wisconsin.

“I am very pleased to have the Wind Siting Council up and running,” said PSC Chairman Eric Callisto. “Wind siting regulation is complex and sometimes controversial. I look forward to the Council’s input as we develop these rules for Wisconsin, and I thank the Council members for their service.”

Council members were selected to adhere to Act 40’s specific categorical requirements. The following people have been appointed to serve on Wisconsin’s Wind Siting Council:

Dan Ebert, WPPI Energy
David Gilles, Godfrey & Kahn
Tom Green, Wind Capital Group
Jennifer Heinzen, Lakeshore Technical College
Andy Hesselbach, We Energies
George Krause Jr., Choice Residential LLC
Lloyd Lueschow, Green County
Jevon McFadden, University of Wisconsin School of Medicine & Public Health
Tom Meyer, Restaino & Associates
Bill Rakocy, Emerging Energies of Wisconsin, LLC
Dwight Sattler, Landowner
Ryan Schryver, Clean Wisconsin
Michael Vickerman, RENEW Wisconsin
Larry Wunsch, Landowner
Doug Zweizig, Union Township

PSC appoints wind siting council

A news release from the Public Service Commission:

The Public Service Commission (PSC) today announced appointments to Wisconsin’s Wind Siting Council, an advisory body created by 2009 Wisconsin Act 40 (Act 40). Act 40 directs the PSC to develop administrative rules that specify the restrictions that may be imposed on the installation or use of wind energy systems. The new law also requires the PSC to appoint a Wind Siting Council that will advise the PSC as it develops uniform wind siting standards for Wisconsin.

“I am very pleased to have the Wind Siting Council up and running,” said PSC Chairman Eric Callisto. “Wind siting regulation is complex and sometimes controversial. I look forward to the Council’s input as we develop these rules for Wisconsin, and I thank the Council members for their service.”

Council members were selected to adhere to Act 40’s specific categorical requirements. The following people have been appointed to serve on Wisconsin’s Wind Siting Council:

Dan Ebert, WPPI Energy
David Gilles, Godfrey & Kahn
Tom Green, Wind Capital Group
Jennifer Heinzen, Lakeshore Technical College
Andy Hesselbach, We Energies
George Krause Jr., Choice Residential LLC
Lloyd Lueschow, Green County
Jevon McFadden, University of Wisconsin School of Medicine & Public Health
Tom Meyer, Restaino & Associates
Bill Rakocy, Emerging Energies of Wisconsin, LLC
Dwight Sattler, Landowner
Ryan Schryver, Clean Wisconsin
Michael Vickerman, RENEW Wisconsin
Larry Wunsch, Landowner
Doug Zweizig, Union Township

PSC Appoints Wind Siting Council

A news release from the Public Service Commission:

The Public Service Commission (PSC) today announced appointments to Wisconsin’s Wind Siting Council, an advisory body created by 2009 Wisconsin Act 40 (Act 40). Act 40 directs the PSC to develop administrative rules that specify the restrictions that may be imposed on the installation or use of wind energy systems. The new law also requires the PSC to appoint a Wind Siting Council that will advise the PSC as it develops uniform wind siting standards for Wisconsin.

“I am very pleased to have the Wind Siting Council up and running,” said PSC Chairman Eric Callisto. “Wind siting regulation is complex and sometimes controversial. I look forward to the Council’s input as we develop these rules for Wisconsin, and I thank the Council members for their service.”

Council members were selected to adhere to Act 40’s specific categorical requirements. The following people have been appointed to serve on Wisconsin’s Wind Siting Council:

Dan Ebert, WPPI Energy
David Gilles, Godfrey & Kahn
Tom Green, Wind Capital Group
Jennifer Heinzen, Lakeshore Technical College
Andy Hesselbach, We Energies
George Krause Jr., Choice Residential LLC
Lloyd Lueschow, Green County
Jevon McFadden, University of Wisconsin School of Medicine & Public Health
Tom Meyer, Restaino & Associates
Bill Rakocy, Emerging Energies of Wisconsin, LLC
Dwight Sattler, Landowner
Ryan Schryver, Clean Wisconsin
Michael Vickerman, RENEW Wisconsin
Larry Wunsch, Landowner
Doug Zweizig, Union Township

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

PSC appoints wind siting council

A news release from the Public Service Commission:

The Public Service Commission (PSC) today announced appointments to Wisconsin’s Wind Siting Council, an advisory body created by 2009 Wisconsin Act 40 (Act 40). Act 40 directs the PSC to develop administrative rules that specify the restrictions that may be imposed on the installation or use of wind energy systems. The new law also requires the PSC to appoint a Wind Siting Council that will advise the PSC as it develops uniform wind siting standards for Wisconsin.

“I am very pleased to have the Wind Siting Council up and running,” said PSC Chairman Eric Callisto. “Wind siting regulation is complex and sometimes controversial. I look forward to the Council’s input as we develop these rules for Wisconsin, and I thank the Council members for their service.”

Council members were selected to adhere to Act 40’s specific categorical requirements. The following people have been appointed to serve on Wisconsin’s Wind Siting Council:

Dan Ebert, WPPI Energy
David Gilles, Godfrey & Kahn
Tom Green, Wind Capital Group
Jennifer Heinzen, Lakeshore Technical College
Andy Hesselbach, We Energies
George Krause Jr., Choice Residential LLC
Lloyd Lueschow, Green County
Jevon McFadden, University of Wisconsin School of Medicine & Public Health
Tom Meyer, Restaino & Associates
Bill Rakocy, Emerging Energies of Wisconsin, LLC
Dwight Sattler, Landowner
Ryan Schryver, Clean Wisconsin
Michael Vickerman, RENEW Wisconsin
Larry Wunsch, Landowner
Doug Zweizig, Union Township

We Energies files application for biomass plant

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

Seeking to expand its renewable power portfolio beyond wind farms, We Energies on Monday filed an application with state regulators to build a $255 million biomass power plant near Wausau.

The project would supply steam to Domtar Corp.'s paper mill in Rothschild and create up to 150 jobs, the utility said in its application to the state Public Service Commission.

The 50-megawatt power plant would generate enough power to supply 40,000 typical homes, We Energies said.

We Energies, which announced the project last fall, said it would like the Public Service Commission to rule on the project by year-end to help it stay on a timeline aimed at the project qualifying for a 30% federal tax credit.

Qualifying for the tax credit would enable the project's cost for the utility and We Energies ratepayers be cheaper, said Brian Manthey, utility spokesman. If the tax credit is available, We Energies projects the project would raise customers' rates by 1% to 1.25%, he said.

It's unclear what the actual dollar impact of the project would be for ratepayers, but at today's rates it would be roughly $1 a month for the typical residential customer.

Construction would start next year and last for about 30 months. The project is expected to create about 400 temporary construction jobs in addition to jobs at the power plant and in the logging and forestry sector.

Bill would make way for area transit authority

From an article by Richard Mial in the La Crosse Tribune:

Should local communities have the right to charge an additional half-percent sales tax to operate mass transit systems?

That's an issue being considered in the Legislature in the last month before it ends its session for the year.

State Rep. Jennifer Shilling, D-La Crosse, said she is in favor of "empowering" local communities to take steps to shore up transit funding.

She has introduced a bill authorizing La Crosse County to have a regional transit authority - an additional level of government that could impose taxes for mass transit.

Already, the Chippewa Valley, Dane County and Chequamegon Bay communities along Lake Superior have such an authority, although none have enacted it yet.

If passed by the state, it wouldn't happen automatically. The county board first must pass a law and then voters must approve a referendum.

Shilling and other local representatives spoke at a public hearing Thursday on several provisions to allow specific communities to enact RTAs.

While Shilling's Assembly Bill 791 would give such authority to La Crosse County, legislators have suggested it makes more sense to enact a law that would allow any county to create a transit authority if its citizens vote to do so.

Shilling told the committee that, "An RTA would reduce costs for users, provide residents and visitors with additional transit options, reduce road congestion for drivers, ease parking needs and decrease energy consumption and air pollution."

Dick Granchalek, president of the Greater La Crosse Area Chamber of Commerce, said mass transit can be good for business.

Waste Management converts gas from trash into electricity

From an article by Joe Taschler in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

Germantown — The gas given off by rotting garbage is suddenly chic.

As interest in renewable fuels grows in the United States, old banana peels, rotten meat and moldy fruit are decomposing in landfills in a process that creates combustible gas used to generate electricity, heat buildings and power vehicles.

To be sure, there isn't enough landfill gas to satisfy the nation's or even the state's energy demands, but its use is increasing as the fuel solidifies its place in the growing kaleidoscope of alternative energy sources.

In metro Milwaukee, Waste Management Inc. is expanding electricity-generating capacity, adding a fourth landfill gas-powered turbine to its power plant in Germantown. The newest turbine is scheduled to begin producing electricity in early June.

The gas is collected from the company's landfill sites in Germantown and Menomonee Falls. Once all four turbines are operating, they will provide enough electricity to power about 10,000 households, Waste Management says.

"People don't realize that you can power 10,000 homes with what we're doing here," said Dale Stark, Waste Management's power plant manager at the Germantown site.

Nationwide, the number of landfill gas projects has grown to 510, up from 136 in 1995, the first year for which the Environmental Protection Agency began compiling such data. The projects generate more than 12 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity per year and deliver about 100 billion cubic feet of landfill gas to end users or pipelines per year.

Monday, March 15, 2010

PSC: Clean energy naysayers have it wrong

From a letter to the Wisconsin legislature from Public Service Commission (PSC) Chair Eric Callisto:

Yesterday [March 12, 2010], several interest groups wrote legislators urging opposition to the Clean Energy Jobs Act. The groups warned that the cost of renewable energy standards and enhanced energy efficiency programs would be "enonnous" and the benefits only "nominal." Once again, the clean energy naysayers have it wrong. Enhanced renewable portfolio standards and increasing our efforts in energy efficiency reduce our dependence on imported energy, keep more of our energy dollars here at home, and help to ensure that Wisconsin and our country is competitive in the global energy economy.

You should know that the memo from clean energy opponents includes some key factual errors.

In particular, it claims that enhanced energy efficiency programs will add $700 million in new costs for consumers, citing a report by the Energy Center of Wisconsin (ECW). In reality, we will save money on our energy bills the IOOre we do on energy efficiency. It is common sense -- the less energy we consume, the less we pay on our utility bills.

As for the ECW report, what it actually concludes is that Wisconsin consumers will save $900 million per year in energy costs if we invest between $350 and $400 million in energy efficiency programs; and if we invest roughly $700 million in energy efficiency. Wisconsin consumers will save $2 billion per year in energy costs. . . . Incidentally, ECW also found that enhancing our energy efficiency programs would support between 7000 and 9000 new jobs. The
bottom line is that if we don't invest in energy efficiency, we will be spending significantly more on new generation.

The memo also claims that meeting a 25 percent renewable portfolio standard will add more than $15 billion in extra costs for consumers. Increasing our renewable energy portfolio can reduce Wisconsin energy costs in the long run, particularly when implemented alongside enhanced energy efficiency programs - as the Clean Energy Jobs Act envisions. The enclosed, recent Public Service Commission analysis, confirms that.

PSC: Clean energy naysayers have it wrong

From a letter to the Wisconsin legislature from Public Service Commission (PSC) Chair Eric Callisto:

Yesterday [March 12, 2010], several interest groups wrote legislators urging opposition to the Clean Energy Jobs Act. The groups warned that the cost of renewable energy standards and enhanced energy efficiency programs would be "enonnous" and the benefits only "nominal." Once again, the clean energy naysayers have it wrong. Enhanced renewable portfolio standards and increasing our efforts in energy efficiency reduce our dependence on imported energy, keep more of our energy dollars here at home, and help to ensure that Wisconsin and our country is competitive in the global energy economy.

You should know that the memo from clean energy opponents includes some key factual errors.

In particular, it claims that enhanced energy efficiency programs will add $700 million in new costs for consumers, citing a report by the Energy Center of Wisconsin (ECW). In reality, we will save money on our energy bills the IOOre we do on energy efficiency. It is common sense -- the less energy we consume, the less we pay on our utility bills.

As for the ECW report, what it actually concludes is that Wisconsin consumers will save $900 million per year in energy costs if we invest between $350 and $400 million in energy efficiency programs; and if we invest roughly $700 million in energy efficiency. Wisconsin consumers will save $2 billion per year in energy costs. . . . Incidentally, ECW also found that enhancing our energy efficiency programs would support between 7000 and 9000 new jobs. The bottom line is that if we don't invest in energy efficiency, we will be spending significantly more on new generation.

The memo also claims that meeting a 25 percent renewable portfolio standard will add more than $15 billion in extra costs for consumers. Increasing our renewable energy portfolio can reduce Wisconsin energy costs in the long run, particularly when implemented alongside enhanced energy efficiency programs - as the Clean Energy Jobs Act envisions. The enclosed, recent Public Service Commission analysis, confirms that.

PSC: Clean energy naysayers have it wrong

From a letter to the Wisconsin legislature from Public Service Commission (PSC) Chair Eric Callisto:

Yesterday [March 12, 2010], several interest groups wrote legislators urging opposition to the Clean Energy Jobs Act. The groups warned that the cost of renewable energy standards and enhanced energy efficiency programs would be "enonnous" and the benefits only "nominal." Once again, the clean energy naysayers have it wrong. Enhanced renewable portfolio standards and increasing our efforts in energy efficiency reduce our dependence on imported energy, keep more of our energy dollars here at home, and help to ensure that Wisconsin and our country is competitive in the global energy economy.

You should know that the memo from clean energy opponents includes some key factual errors.

In particular, it claims that enhanced energy efficiency programs will add $700 million in new costs for consumers, citing a report by the Energy Center of Wisconsin (ECW). In reality, we will save money on our energy bills the IOOre we do on energy efficiency. It is common sense -- the less energy we consume, the less we pay on our utility bills.

As for the ECW report, what it actually concludes is that Wisconsin consumers will save $900 million per year in energy costs if we invest between $350 and $400 million in energy efficiency programs; and if we invest roughly $700 million in energy efficiency. Wisconsin consumers will save $2 billion per year in energy costs. . . . Incidentally, ECW also found that enhancing our energy efficiency programs would support between 7000 and 9000 new jobs. The
bottom line is that if we don't invest in energy efficiency, we will be spending significantly more on new generation.

The memo also claims that meeting a 25 percent renewable portfolio standard will add more than $15 billion in extra costs for consumers. Increasing our renewable energy portfolio can reduce Wisconsin energy costs in the long run, particularly when implemented alongside enhanced energy efficiency programs - as the Clean Energy Jobs Act envisions. The enclosed, recent Public Service Commission analysis, confirms that.

Friday, March 12, 2010

West Allis town hall meeting highlights clean energy jobs

From a news release issued by Wisconsin Environment:

West Allis –The Clean Energy Jobs Act will benefit West Allis and the greater Milwaukee area by creating new jobs, reducing dependence on fossil fuels and helping to protect the environment for future generations. That was the message at a town hall meeting last night at the West Allis public library to discuss the Clean Energy Jobs Act, a bill being considered by the legislature targeted at developing the state’s clean energy economy.

At the meeting, business and labor leaders stressed the importance of the legislature passing the Clean Energy Jobs Act to drive the creation of new jobs in the Milwaukee area through manufacturing and installation of clean energy technologies such and wind turbines and solar panels, along with energy efficiency and home retrofit programs.

“Helios USA will be the first solar manufacturer in Wisconsin,” said Steve Ostrenga, CEO of Helios USA, a company preparing to open a new plant in Milwaukee that will employ 54 workers. “We are optimistic about the future of Helios USA given the combination of ready workers, available resources and movement of clean energy policy in the state Legislature.”

In February, Spanish firm Ingeteam cited similar reasons for choosing the Menomonee Valley to open their first North American factory to build wind turbine generators, a plant that will employ 270 workers. The company said the area’s manufacturing base and proximity to the I‐94 corridor were major draws giving Wisconsin a competitive advantage.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Workshop: Renewable energy for international development, Costa Rica, May 15-24, 2010

From a course description from Madison Area Technical College:

Course Number 20-623-290-090 Class Number 61386
Three Credits Hybrid Format (Study Abroad + Online)
May 15–24, 2010

Renewable Energy for International Development provides an examination of energy and economics in developing countries with special consideration given to renewable energy sources. The course will combine 8-weeks of online instruction with 10 days of travel and study abroad in Costa Rica. Students will learn to specify, design, and install renewable energy systems for developing countries. Field work will include design and installation of one or more of the following types of renewable energy systems:
+Small solar electric system (<200W off-grid)
+Micro-Hydropower generator (<2kW)
+Small scale wind generator (<1kW)
+Solar thermal hot water system

Workshop: Renewable energy for international development, Costa Rica, May 15-24, 2010

From a course description from Madison Area Technical College:

Course Number 20-623-290-090 Class Number 61386
Three Credits Hybrid Format (Study Abroad + Online)
May 15–24, 2010

Renewable Energy for International Development provides an examination of energy and economics in developing countries with special consideration given to renewable energy sources. The course will combine 8-weeks of online instruction with 10 days of travel and study abroad in Costa Rica. Students will learn to specify, design, and install renewable energy systems for developing countries. Field work will include design and installation of one or more of the following types of renewable energy systems:
+Small solar electric system (<200W off-grid)
+Micro-Hydropower generator (<2kW)
+Small scale wind generator (<1kW)
+Solar thermal hot water system

Lake Geneva company could grow with passage of Clean Energy Jobs Act

From an article by Kayla Bunge in the Janesville Gazette:

LAKE GENEVA — John Kivlin despises the word “sustainability” for all the political and social stereotypes it stirs up.

But he can find few other words that accurately describe his philosophy on renewable energy and its ability to create local jobs and fuel the state economy, he said.

“(Investing in renewable energy) is sort of like buying locally,” he said. “You buy food from the producer, and you keep that cash here. This is the same. You produce the energy here and you keep the jobs and money here.”

Kivlin and his Lake Geneva-based company, Convergence Energy, a solar energy design and installation company, are poised to reap the benefits of the growing popularity of renewable energy among consumers, businesses and utilities.

“We’re buying almost all of our energy from out-of-state sources at best and from countries that really don’t like us, like Venezuela and Saudi Arabia, at worst,” he said. “The more that we can wean ourselves off that and become self-sufficient, the better. We’ll keep cash in the state, and it can be reinvested to create more jobs, and we’ll reduce the amount of carbon that’s emitted at the same time.”

Convergence Energy designs, integrates and installs solar electric, solar hot water and geothermal systems in homes and small businesses. The company also is starting a solar farm so consumers who can’t afford a solar energy system can invest in renewable energy and make money off the power sold to the electric company.

Kivlin said the company has installed systems at dozens of homes and businesses since it started in 2008. But he said the company stands to grow as more people look to renewable energy as a way to reduce their energy costs and their carbon footprint and if the proposed Clean Energy Jobs Act takes hold in the state.

The legislation calls for state-regulated utilities to increase to 25 percent by 2025 the amount of energy they get from renewable energy sources. The bill also calls for the state to reduce energy consumption.

The proposal could create 15,000 jobs in Wisconsin by 2025.

Opponents of the legislation say utilities will have to invest billions of dollars in renewable energy to comply with the aggressive mandates. Supporters say the state stands to lose billions of dollars if it continues to rely on coal.

Kivlin said the Clean Energy Jobs Act is forcing demand among utilities and fuels interest among homeowners and business owners.

“It’s driving more businesses like mine to start up and create jobs,” he said. “This could grow the industry in the state and the nation. The seeds are planted.”

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Coalition works toward energy independence for Driftless Region

A letter to the editor of the Vernon Broadcaster by Todd Ossman:

Thanks for covering the E3 Coalition’s work with Viola and other communities to help southwest Wisconsin achieve energy independence.

In addition to the $65,000 planning grant we were awarded, we have applied for more than $1.1 million in efficiency upgrades and renewable energy projects for seven communities in the region, including Viroqua. This EECBG award should be made public within days or weeks and our prospects are very encouraging.

What “energy independence” means, in this case, is getting 25 percent of our electricity, heating and transportation fuels from renewable sources by 2025. That may seem idealistic, but it’s an achievable goal. More importantly, each step towards that goal reduces our energy costs, which means more resources stay with our families and in our communities.

The state Office of Energy Independence grant allows us to start down that road. We’ve already begun collecting data on communities’ current energy and fuel use. Then we can determine which energy efficiency measures allow us to meet all our needs while reducing our electricity and fuel use. The last step in our energy planning process will be to explore potential sources of renewable, home-grown power. Each step along the implementation path from efficiency to biomass or solar power generation spells more local jobs and income.

It’s true that having an energy independence plan will help Viola and other Driftless Region communities secure other stimulus funding, but that’s not the only—or even the main—benefit. We’re building a stronger and self-sufficient local energy economy that will serve the Driftless Region for decades to come.

Missing the bus

From an editorial in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

Failure to get behind one plan threatens to again doom state legislation that local transit systems desperately need to continue serving their communities.

There is widespread support for the creation of regional transit authorities that would provide the dedicated funding necessary for transit systems in southeastern Wisconsin - especially the Milwaukee County Transit System. But there is a possibility that nothing will happen in the current legislative session. And if that proves to be the case, supporters in the Legislature should look no farther than their mirrors for someone to blame.

Instead of uniting behind one sound proposal - such as that offered by the governor and legislative leaders in January - legislators have offered different versions of RTA legislation that only serve to confuse the issue.

On Thursday, legislators are expected to hold a public hearing on the issue in Madison. Transit riders, business leaders, union leaders, local officials and others should make sure their voices are heard. They should stress the importance of transit in building jobs and the economy, and they should tell legislative leaders to unite behind one proposal and make sure it is approved this spring. Transit systems and the families and businesses that rely on them cannot afford to wait much longer for relief.

Ridership on the Milwaukee County Transit System was down 9% last year to a 35-year low, as Journal Sentinel reporter Larry Sandler reported on Monday. The reasons are wide-ranging: the economy, the loss of a contract with Milwaukee Public Schools and certainly a continuing pattern of fare increases and/or route cuts that discourages riders.

And things won't get any better as long as governments that fund transit have to rely on an already overburdened property tax. To provide the funding that systems require and at the same time offer property taxpayers relief, legislators need to approve legislation that would authorize the creation of regional transit authorities.

That legislation should include a 0.5% sales tax increase for Milwaukee County, as the governor's bill proposes and other funding means in other counties.

Businesses support Clean Energy Jobs Act

From a commentary by Guy Selsmeyer, president of Northern Biogas, in the Wausau Daily Herald:

One sector of the Wisconsin economy, renewable energy, continues to create jobs, despite the economic recession. Already this year, three new businesses in renewable energy manufacturing have made headlines, creating nearly 1,000 manufacturing jobs in Wisconsin in the next few years.

It is therefore perplexing that we continue to hear claims from certain interest groups that policies encouraging renewable energy generation will eliminate jobs in Wisconsin. Renewable energy business see firsthand the potential for new job creation in the renewable energy industry.

Northern Biogas provides design and construction services for anaerobic digestion. Along with various other benefits, anaerobic digesters produce energy from local, organic resources such as livestock manure. Wisconsin spends $16 billion annually to import fossil fuels such as coal, oil, and natural gas from out-of-state.

Fortunately, our state has an abundance of natural resources, such as woody biomass, solar, wind, and livestock manure, in addition to other energy sources such a food processing waste and landfill gas. Unlike traditional energy sources plagued with volatile fuel prices, there are no fuel costs associated with wind and solar, while biomass and biogas use locally produced fuel with no or low costs.

Stable energy prices create certainty for utilities and consumers and provide security against unpredictable fuel cost increases.

The Clean Energy Jobs Act is a smart policy that will improve our economy and make us more competitive. An Enhanced Renewable Portfolio Standard (E-RPS), providing for 25 percent of our electricity from renewable energy resources by 2025, will keep us on pace with neighboring states.