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Thursday, September 30, 2010

Wind power service firm expanding in New Berlin

A Danish firm's expansion is giving Wisconsin another player in the manufacturing sector geared toward alternative energy.

Avanti Wind has been in operation here for several years, making service lifts used by technicians who inspect and repair wind turbines and need to scale the turbines' tall towers.

Now the company has moved to expand here by moving production of aluminum ladders to Wisconsin from China and Germany, said Kent Pedersen, the company's U.S. general manager.

The pace of wind development across the country has slowed considerably this year - with the second quarter installations of wind power down 71% amid the slow economy and developers having a hard time getting financing.

"But we have done quite well in expanding our customer base in North America, and we've continued to grow in 2010 compared to 2009 and we expect that to continue next year," said Pedersen, whose privately held parent company, based near Copenhagen, has been in the ladder business in Denmark for more than 100 years.

The Avanti local expansion is a small example - creating just a few jobs - of what local economic development officials hope will be a growth sector for Wisconsin, among the biggest manufacturing states in the country.

"It's a market we look at and we see growth, we see jobs and we see capital investment," said Jim Paetsch, business development specialist with the Milwaukee 7 regional economic development group, during the Wisconsin Solar Decade conference Wednesday.

"We've got a lot of companies here that are set up in way such that their traditional strengths service those markets really well," Paetsch said. "And in a really bad economy that is one of the sectors that's growing."

Don't fall for the myths about CFLs; now is the time to start saving

From a news release issued by Focus on Energy:

When you install ENERGY STAR qualified compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) there are financial and energy savings to be realized; however, there are a few misconceptions about CFLs that have kept some homeowners on the fence. Focus on Energy, Wisconsin's statewide program for energy efficiency and renewable energy, is tackling those myths in an effort to educate Wisconsin residents and help them switch to CFLs. Starting Oct. 1, 2010, and for a limited time, Focus on Energy is offering CFLs for a discounted price at participating retail locations throughout the state.

"We are thrilled with the number of residents throughout Wisconsin who have reduced their energy use and utility bills by installing ENERGY STAR qualified CFLs, but there are still many who have not made the switch," said Linda Mae Schmitt, program manager for Focus on Energy. "It's my hope that by exposing common misconceptions about CFLs, we can encourage more people to take advantage of the many benefits of energy-efficient lighting. And now is the perfect time get on board. Why wouldn't you want to save money while also helping Wisconsin's environment?"

The release goes on to present the facts about the following myths:
Myth #1: CFLs are expensive.
Myth #2: CFLs won't fit in my fixtures.
Myth #3: CFLs are hazardous.
Myth #4: CFLs are hard to find.

ATC starts public meetings on proposed $425 million line in southwestern Wisconsin

From an article by Gregg Hoffman on WisBusiness.com

American Transmission Co. has started a series of public informational meetings on the Badger Coulee Project, a 150-mile, 345 kilowatt transmission line that would run through western Wisconsin.

ATC held sessions in Onalaska in La Crosse County on Monday and in Westby in Vernon County on Tuesday. A list of upcoming sessions can be found at the end of this story.

“We are very early in the process at this point,” said Sarah Justus, who is handling the public outreach for the project. “We are encouraging the public to become involved in the process. We want to get input from the people who live in the area.”

A group of business, labor and renewable energy organizations this week released a letter in support of the evaluation process.

“The multiple benefits of ATC’s proposed transmission line in western Wisconsin – reliability, economics and renewables – make good business sense," said Phil Prange, president and chief executive officer of the Wisconsin Business Council. "Any time you are presented with a solution that addresses multiple issues, you’ve got to pay attention. I encourage the business community to pay attention and get involved in the development of this project over the next several years.”

ATC bills the project as having multiple benefits. “It will improve reliability of service and upgrade access to electricity,” Justus said. ATC says western Wisconsin needs about $140 million in lower voltage updates, and this new line, with an estimated cost of $425 million, could offset much of that need in addition to providing other benefits.

Elk Mount dairy recognized for outstanding environmental efforts

From a news release issued by the Wisconsin Dairy Business Association:

The Dairy Business Association (DBA) is proud to announce that Five Star Dairy, LLC of Elk Mound, Wisconsin was selected to receive the 2010 DBA Environmental Excellence Award. This award was developed to recognize a Wisconsin dairy producer in honor of its outstanding waste and pollution prevention projects that protect Wisconsin’s natural resources.

Five Star Dairy, LLC (along with Dairyland Power and Stargest Power, LLC) constructed a thermophylic complete mix digester. The digester uses methane and other byproducts to generate electricity and provide power for approximately 600 homes in the Elk Mound area. Lee Jensen, General Manager of Five Star Dairy, also installed a lagoon cover so that the manure lagoon can work as a digester in the future. In addition, the cover keeps 1.5 million gallons of rain water out of the lagoon. As a result, less fuel is needed to spread the manure and incorporate nutrients into the soil. This project is the first successful thermophylic complete mix digester with a separate substrate tank for agriculture use.

“Wisconsin dairy producers are committed to environmental excellence through their everyday efforts on today’s dairy farms,” said Laurie Fischer, DBA Executive Director. “We are proud to recognize Five Star Dairy for its innovation and leadership in generating electricity with agricultural byproducts and going above and beyond to protect our environment and natural resources.”

The $54 question: Is rail worth it?

From a commentary by Steve Hiniker, executive director of 1000 Friends of Wisconsin, in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

With anti-rail activists whipped into a frenzy over threats that passenger rail services pose to Wisconsin and the state's finances, it's time to step back and take a closer look. Are rail opponents onto something, or are they on something?

Rail opponents rail against the cost of rail. They would like to have the money for rail either returned to Washington or spent on highways. Dream on. The $810 million is a part of a larger plan to restore intercity passenger rail across the United States. This is a federal project that won't be derailed by Wisconsin politics. Restoring rail is expensive, but transportation projects are expensive. The Zoo Interchange will cost more than $2 billion to reconstruct. The Marquette Interchange was close to $1 billion. Where's the outrage over that spending?

In any case, the money can't be spent on highways, and even if it was sent back to Washington, it would be reallocated to another state to build their rail system - leaving Wisconsin in the dust. (We also would be sending millions of our tax dollars to another state to build rail instead of us getting the hundreds of millions from other states.)

The core of rail opponents' argument seems to focus on the $54 question: Can we afford the annual operations costs of the added service? Those annual costs will amount to around $6 million a year. That amounts to one-fifth of one cent of our gas tax. So when a driver fills up with 20 gallons of gasoline at $2.70 per gallon, the bill will comes to $54. Just .04 (yes, 4 cents) out of that $54 will go to pay for intercity rail.

Their argument also assumes that there are absolutely no benefits associated with the 4-cent investment that comes with a $54 purchase. It assumes that no one will benefit from jobs created to build the service. That no one will benefit from the development that occurs around rail stations. And that no one will benefit from being able to relax rather than fight traffic on the interstate.

Opponents also like to say that the train fares will be unaffordable. According to the state Department of Transportation, one-way fares will be between $20 and $30 for the ride from Madison to Milwaukee. Compare that to the cost of driving. Using federal reimbursement rates for mileage, driving the 78 miles between Madison and Milwaukee costs $39. That means taking rail saves between $9 and $19 each trip. It saves a lot more for someone in Madison taking the train to Mitchell International Airport to catch a flight due to the saved costs of parking. And it will boost traffic at Mitchell.

It seems like there's a lot of rage over just 4 cents out of every $54.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Open house of solar homes and businesses, Oct. 2

Visit homes and businesses around the state to see renewable energy up close. In addition to showcasing solar and wind power, houses will feature energy efficiency, green building techniques, and sustainable living ideas. Speak with home and business owners and find out how renewable energy works for them. Self selected driving tours will be available throughout the state.

Tours are FREE and open to the public between 10 am and 4 pm. To view the locations and details of the sites in your area, go to http://www.the-mrea.org/solartour.php.

The Wisconsin solar tours are part of the National Solar Tours of the American Solar Energy Society that are happening in states across the country on the same day.

Open house of solar homes and businesses, Oct. 2

Visit homes and businesses around the state to see renewable energy up close. In addition to showcasing solar and wind power, houses will feature energy efficiency, green building techniques, and sustainable living ideas. Speak with home and business owners and find out how renewable energy works for them. Self selected driving tours will be available throughout the state.

Tours are FREE and open to the public between 10 am and 4 pm. To view the locations and details of the sites in your area, go to http://www.the-mrea.org/solartour.php.

The Wisconsin solar tours are part of the National Solar Tours of the American Solar Energy Society that are happening in states across the country on the same day.

Touring this year’s renewable energy crop, including digester at Montchevré-Betin, Belmont

Commentary
by Michael Vickerman, RENEW Wisconsin
September 27, 2010

One of the abiding pleasures of my job at RENEW Wisconsin is going out into the field to visit renewable energy installations. Many of the systems sprouting across the state owe their existence to state and federal policies that make these systems economically viable to their owners.

In turn, some of those policies owe their existence to RENEW, an advocacy organization that has elevated the Wisconsin renewable energy marketplace from a dreamy aspiration to a thriving marketplace employing hundreds of people and generating millions of dollars a year in local revenues.

Whenever I’m asked to describe our mission, I often say that we act as a catalyst for advancing a sustainable energy future in Wisconsin. Our vision of that future places small, entrepreneurial companies at the center of the transition toward clean, locally available energy resources that do not deplete over time.

RENEW endeavors to steer Wisconsin along this path through policy mechanisms that help renewable energy businesses establish themselves in an economy that for many decades has operated almost exclusively on fossil energy. Because of that dependence on concentrated energy sources like coal, natural gas and liquid hydrocarbons, which are still priced very cheaply, the shift to renewable energy has been an uphill battle. The incumbent energy sources are well-entrenched and will not hesitate to expend significant political capital to block policy initiatives aimed at putting renewable energy on a more equal playing field. Continued . . .

Touring this year’s renewable energy crop

Commentary
by Michael Vickerman, RENEW Wisconsin
September 27, 2010

One of the abiding pleasures of my job at RENEW Wisconsin is going out into the field to visit renewable energy installations. Many of the systems sprouting across the state owe their existence to state and federal policies that make these systems economically viable to their owners.

In turn, some of those policies owe their existence to RENEW, an advocacy organization that has elevated the Wisconsin renewable energy marketplace from a dreamy aspiration to a thriving marketplace employing hundreds of people and generating millions of dollars a year in local revenues.

Whenever I’m asked to describe our mission, I often say that we act as a catalyst for advancing a sustainable energy future in Wisconsin. Our vision of that future places small, entrepreneurial companies at the center of the transition toward clean, locally available energy resources that do not deplete over time.

RENEW endeavors to steer Wisconsin along this path through policy mechanisms that help renewable energy businesses establish themselves in an economy that for many decades has operated almost exclusively on fossil energy. Because of that dependence on concentrated energy sources like coal, natural gas and liquid hydrocarbons, which are still priced very cheaply, the shift to renewable energy has been an uphill battle. The incumbent energy sources are well-entrenched and will not hesitate to expend significant political capital to block policy initiatives aimed at putting renewable energy on a more equal playing field.

At RENEW’s urging, the State of Wisconsin has taken a few measured policy steps to carve out some room for renewable energy. The most important of these initiatives is a statewide incentives program (Focus on Energy) for small-scale renewable energy systems. Though most of Focus on Energy’s budget is set aside for energy conservation and efficiency, about $10 million a year is reserved for customer-sited renewable energy systems such as solar hot water, solar electric, biogas, biomass heating, and small wind.

This program, coupled with several voluntary utility initiatives, has elevated Wisconsin into a regional showcase for renewable energy systems serving dairy farms, cattle farms, orchards, greenhouses, breweries, cheese producers, corporate campuses, apartment buildings, municipal wastewater facilities, schools and technical colleges, and manufacturers.

The policy seeds planted 10 years ago are yielding an impressive crop of installations this year, broadly distributed throughout the state. As important as these policies are, however, these systems don’t get built unless someone decides to spend dollars today to receive a decades-long supply of energy tomorrow. We at RENEW would like to give a shout-out to the owners and installers of this year’s bumper crop of home-grown renewable energy, including:

 The City of Evansville, for hosting a 100 kilowatt (kW) Northwind turbine to serve its wastewater treatment plant. Installer: H &H Solar, Madison.
 Stonehouse Development, for building two Green Built apartment houses in the Madison area, each with 60 kilowatts of rooftop photovoltaic (PV) systems and solar water heating systems. Installers: Full Spectrum Solar, Madison (PV); Cardinal Solar, Sun Prairie, solar hot water.
 Random Lake School District, for hosting a 50 kW Endurance wind turbine on the high school grounds. Installer: Kettle View Renewable Energy, Random Lake.
 Fountain Prairie Inn and Farms, in Columbia County, for hosting a 50 kW Endurance wind turbine to serve its sustainable family farm. Installer: Seventh Generation Energy Systems, Madison.
 SCA Tissue, Menasha, for hosting four 20 kW Renewegy wind turbines at one of its facilities. Manufacturer and installer: Renewegy, Oshkosh.
 Milwaukee Area Technical College, for building the state’s largest PV system, to be used as a training center. The system is rated at 540 kW. Contractor: Johnson Controls, Milwaukee; Installer: Pieper Power, Milwaukee.
 Montchevré-Betin, Belmont, a producer of goat cheese, for upgrading its wastewater treatment capacity with an anaerobic digester and 335 kW generator. Contractor: Procorp, Milwaukee. System owner: Clear Horizons, Milwaukee.

I urge the citizens of Wisconsin to go out and see for themselves how fertile the territory is here for home-grown renewable energy. As you observe these installations out in the landscape, delivering clean energy year after year to the local area, you begin to appreciate the totality of benefits that these systems yield. If you talk to system owners or installers, you will feel their passion and soak in the positive energy that comes from being part of this growing community. They are, along with the installations themselves, the most persuasive advocates for extending and strengthening Wisconsin’s clean energy policies. They not only represent today’s jobs and business opportunities, but also tomorrow’s hope.


Eco-Justice Center
7133 Michna Road
Racine, WI

Phone: 262-681-8527

Email: eco-justice@racinedominicans.org

Addition/rennovations to 1912 Dutch Colonial house include: foam insulation, replacemnt windows, energy star appliances, durisol foundation blocks, eco-shake shingles, recycled red oak & red cedar flooring, marmoleum flooring, FSC pine trim, recycled marble, dual flush toilets, low-flow faucets, non-toxic paint & wood finishes, reclaimed brick & stone, composite decking.


System Components
Solar Electric (55 GE - 200 watt)
Passive Solar Design
Wind Electric (Bergey Excel-S)
Geothermal
Solar Domestic Hot Water (4 panel; 180 gal.)
Architect: Bruce Zahn

Builder: Pragmatic Construction

Installer: Full Spectrum

Monday, September 27, 2010

Stevens Point's environmentalism impresses visitors from Russia

From an article by B.C. Kowalski in the Stevens Point Journal:

As visitors from Stevens Point's Russian sister city, Rostov Veliky, leave today, they'll take with them a message of environmentalism.

That was the focus of a weeklong stay for Rostov Veliky Mayor Yuri Aleksandrovitch Boiko and four others as they traveled through Stevens Point.

Boiko said Stevens Point could serve as a good example of environmental consciousness for Rostov Veliky.

"The one thing that is really unique is the way Stevens Point residents respect nature, the way they relate to the environment," Boiko said through an interpreter. "What is really cool is that everyone seems to care about nature, from the young and old."

The Rostov Veliky delegation met with various groups related to the environment, including Trout Unlimited, a number of farms, a lake management roundtable and a watershed group from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point.

Boiko said he will take a number of environmental ideas back to Rostov Veliky. Of the 14 he listed in his journal, Boiko mentioned installing a solar panel at Liberty Park, buying an electric car for Rostov Veliky's stadium and creating an environmental youth group that would focus on Nero Lake.

Conference highlights solar energy progress

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

It was five years ago that renewable energy proponents dubbed this Wisconsin's Solar Decade - the 10 years that would move solar energy from the fringe to the mainstream.

In 2010, solar remains a fraction of the state's energy mix, but it's growing. And with it, interest is intensifying in manufacturing products for the solar industry.

As solar advocates prepare to host industry conferences this week, the solar industry is installing larger projects, and the cost per project is shrinking.

"It's not getting sunnier in Wisconsin, but prices are coming down and rates are going up," said Niels Wolter, solar electric program manager at Focus on Energy, the statewide energy efficiency initiative that provides incentives for renewable energy installations.

So far this year, the typical cost of a solar-electric system installed at a business with the help of Focus on Energy incentives has fallen 13% from a year ago. The price of these same systems installed on homes has fallen by 7%.

"We're seeing that it may cost $6,000 to $9,000 to install a solar hot water system on a home, and the payback may be around 12 to 14 years," said Amy Heart, Milwaukee solar coach and head of Midwest Renewable Energy Association's Milwaukee office.

A solar-electric, or photovoltaic, system may cost $15,000, but it has a payback of about 10 years, she said.

The main hurdle to broader deployment of solar remains the high upfront cost, as well as the complexity of the incentives available to bring down the cost, Wolter said.

In recent months, though, attention to solar has intensified in the area:

• Construction started this summer on the state's first solar panel factory, Helios USA, in Milwaukee's Menomonee Valley. Helios expects to employ 50 people by next summer.

"That's a good sign for Wisconsin, that there are going to be some jobs here on the manufacturing side in addition to the installation side of things," said Carl Siegrist, senior renewable energy strategist at Milwaukee utility company We Energies.

• The largest solar project to date in the state opened in Milwaukee. It's the Milwaukee Area Technical College PV Educational Laboratory, generating more than 500 kilowatts of power, all with the aim of training students for careers in renewable energy.

• The number of businesses engaged in solar is increasing. Two years ago, seven companies were installing solar in a 20-mile radius of Milwaukee. This year, that number has more than tripled, to 24.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Plans moving ahead for bio-refinery in Park Falls

From a story by Heather Sawaski on WAOW-TV, Wausau:

PARK FALLS (WAOW) -- Flambeau River Papers in Park Falls is going to get a little greener.

Company leaders say when the new biomass plant is complete, the mill will use all of its waste energy, making it the first mill in North America not to use any fossil fuels. That's a far cry from where the future of the paper mill stood just over 4 years ago. That's when CEO Butch Johnson bought it out of bankruptcy. That's when the idea of a biomass refinery in the Northwoods started to take shape.

"We're no smarter than the guys before us that went bankrupt," Johnson explained. "What can we do differently with our operation so we can ensure our employees, our partners in our project that we're going to keep going? So we looked at a green initiative from the get go."

The $300 will convert biomass from bark and sawdust into diesel for domestic markets.

Johnson says between logging, construction, and operation, the plant will bring in hundreds of jobs.

"We buy currently about 140,000 cords of wood for this paper mill," he said. "With the bio-refinery, we would be buying an additional 365,000 cords of wood."

Coal used to power “greenest” campus in state

From an article by Dustin Klein in The Pointer, UW-Stevens Point:

Many students would agree that the UW-Stevens point campus is very eco-friendly. Those same students might not know that UWSP burns coal at the physical plant on the north end of campus.


Joseph Rohrer, a sophomore forestry major, felt it speaks volumes about our university.

“Obviously, I’m not happy about [burning coal]. We’re supposed to be the greenest campus in the state, so it really says something about the other campuses,” he said.

The plant is used to heat the campus’ water and buildings, which is why it needs to burn its fuel. The physical plant runs all day long, despite rumors that it only runs at night.

According to Bob Govett, a 20-year veteran of the College of Natural Resources, the State of Wisconsin and the University work out a contract on the materials they burn. It comes in three different possibilities: coal, wood pellets, or natural gas. The decision about what to burn comes down to one thing: money. The campus burns the cheapest fuel available at the time.

“The coal is purchased under state contract, paper pellets under state contract, and the gas, again, is purchased under state contract,” Govett stated.

City Utilities of Richland Center celebrates solar project

From the Web site of City Utilities of Richland Center:

Electric customers in Richland Center are benefitting from a new application of solar power in the city. The community-owned utility recently installed an array of solar photovoltaic (PV) panels at City Hall.

City Utilities of Richland Center installed three dual axis trackers with a total output of 8.64 kilowatts, providing approximately 14,500 kilowatt-hours of emissions-free electricity each year.

“It is our objective to be a model for the use of renewable energy,” said Commission President Rod Perry. “By supporting community-wide renewable projects, City Utilities is illustrating the practical use of renewable energy and enticing customers to do the same.”

Solar PV systems collect energy from sunlight and convert it into electricity, providing renewable, emissions-free energy. These highly visible projects demonstrate the technology, while educating the community on their benefits, operation and performance.

City Utilities pursued various grant opportunities, including funding from its power supplier WPPI Energy, to help fund the purchase and installation of the solar PV systems. The project is contracted through H&H Solar Energy of Madison and became operational in September 2008.

“We’re working hard to lead by example,” said Perry. “The use of renewable energy is a simple step anyone can take to help create a cleaner energy future.”

The project

Three 2.88 kW dual-axis trackers
14,220 kWh per year
PV panels: Kyocera KD180
Installed by H & H Solar Energy Services
Output detail

Thursday, September 23, 2010

MMSD ready to fire up methane deal to power Jones Island

From an article by Marie Rohde in The Daily Reporter:

The Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District is poised to enter into a 20-year contract to buy methane gas to run the Jones Island Wastewater Treatment Plant, a move district officials say will save taxpayers tens of millions of dollars.

But the project will cost $94.7 million in infrastructure improvements.

“We will be able to purchase methane gas at 48 percent of the cost of natural gas,” said Kevin Shafer, MMSD’s executive director.

The district could begin using methane as early as January 2013, but the system would not be fully functional for several years after that.

While methane gas is increasingly used as a fuel to produce electricity, this plan is unusual in that it requires piping the gas 17 miles from the Emerald Park Landfill on the eastern edge of Muskego.

Federal aid helping rural Wisconsin power itself

From a story on WQOW, Eau Claire:

Dunn County (WQOW) - Millions of dollars in federal aid are heading to rural Wisconsin to help our farms and businesses. Part of the goal is for them to become more energy efficient. It's part of a program to reduce energy consumption and stir the economy.

Deborah Dillaway hopes to lead the way with her 90-foot wind turbine.

"We see people driving a car that's fuel efficient," Deborah says. "We see people with solar panels. As it comes more commonplace, more people will think of supplementing the use or dependence they have on fossil fuels."

This tower does just that, sitting on Deborah's 200-acre farm in Dunn County.

The turbine produces electricity, which is then transferred to the local energy cooperative, where it's used by other customers on the grid. For that, Deborah gets a credit on her bill.

She's one of the first in the area to make this investment.

"It has to start somewhere and people will see it," Deborah says.

And with a $93,000 dollar price tag, it is an investment. But the USDA helped, giving a $19,000 grant through a program meant to reduce rural energy consumption and stimulate local economies.

Forty-five farms and businesses in Wisconsin have received similar funding, totaling nearly $3 million in aid for projects.

Milwaukee ready to shine during Solar Week, Sept. 28 - Oct. 2

From a column by Gregg Hoffman on WisBusiness.com:

Contrary to stereotypes of the gloomy, cloudy Midwest, Milwaukee, and Wisconsin in general, are very conducive to effective use of solar energy, and in fact have developed into leaders in the country in that field.

That fact will be highlighted during Milwaukee Solar Week, Sept. 28-Oct. 2. Milwaukee Shines, the city of Milwaukee's solar program, will team with the Midwest Renewable Energy Association (MREA) and other organizations and businesses to showcase renewable energy successes and opportunities during the week.

We Energies and Focus on Energy also are hosting solar events during the week. Milwaukee Shines is coordinating the week.

“The city is fortunate to be hosting two premier professional solar conferences, which will highlight all Milwaukee has to offer a growing solar market,” said Matt Howard, director of Milwaukee’s Office of Environmental Sustainability.

Professionals and the general public will both find things of interest during the week.

“Milwaukee Solar Week has something for everyone,” said Amy Heart, Milwaukee’s Solar Coach and MREA’s Milwaukee Director. “This is a perfect chance to get information on installing solar on your home, find out how to get in the solar business or establish business connections in this growing industry.”

Heart emphasized that Milwaukee and Wisconsin do get an average of 4 ½ hours of sunlight per day. “That’s more than Germany, and Germany is an energy exporter,” she added.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Doyle announces $1.5 million for turbine component manufacturer

From a news release issued by Governor Jim Doyle:

CUBA CITY – Governor Jim Doyle today announced up to $1,506,000 in assistance to Wausaukee Composites and Grant County to support the company’s efforts to create 200 full-time jobs. The funding comes from the Community Development Block Grant for Economic Development program overseen by the Department of Commerce.

“My top priority this year has been to help move companies and communities forward and create good-paying jobs for our citizens," said Governor Doyle. “I’m pleased that we could help Wausaukee Composites expand its business and bring these new jobs to Grant County.”

Wausaukee Composites will use the state funding to build and equip an addition to their Cuba City facility. The company has committed to creating 200 new full-time positions to manufacture wind turbine components. The total project cost is $5,023,000.

Wausaukee Composites manufactures highly engineered composite components for original equipment manufacturers in the construction equipment, agricultural equipment, mass transportation, wind energy, medical imaging, commercial site furnishings, therapeutic systems, corrosion-resistant materials handling and recreation industries. They are a subsidiary of Sintex Industries, headquartered in India, with textile and structural plastics plants on four continents.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Children's museum will have solar panels for power and education

From an article in the Stevens Point Journal:

The front design for the Central Wisconsin Children's Museum new site at 1100 Main St. will blend in with the surrounding older buildings.

On Wednesday, the Stevens Point Historic Preservation/Design Review Commission approved the design by Arc Central, the architectural and design firm working on the renovations.

The Main Street front is part of an ongoing project to move the Children's Museum from the CenterPoint MarketPlace to its new location in what was called "The Connection." Because it is in the Main Street Historic District, the Main Street side of the building needed to be approved by the city commission.
Jim Lucas, project designer with Arc Central, said the idea was to "capture the flavor of downtown."

The museum's front also will have solar panels to collect light for the museum. The museum will sell back the excess energy to Wisconsin Public Service.

The museum will use the panels to teach children about alternative energy in a hands-on manner.

Report says high-speed rail will create 13,000 jobs in Wisconsin

From an article on BizTimes Daily:

When the new high-speed rail network is established in the Midwest, it will create 13,000 new jobs in Wisconsin, eliminate 780,000 car trips every year and conserve 2.76 million gallons of gasoline annually, according to a new report released today by the WISPIRG Foundation.

The organization attributed the estimate of the jobs created to the Midwest High-Speed Rail Association.

Kyle Bailey, program associate with WISPIRG, said the 13,000 jobs include both private development in and around intermodal stations and rail lines, manufacturing jobs related to train and car construction, and the development, maintenance and operations of the trains and intermodal stations.

Bailey said he did not know how many of the 13,000 jobs would be with private companies or the state.

“High-speed rail is part of the solution – boosting our economy and creating jobs, modernizing our transportation system and helping to solve our nation’s oil dependency, worsening congestion and pollution,” Bailey said. “High-speed rail gets us moving in the right direction.”

Bailey noted the growing popularity of the Amtrak Hiawatha line between Chicago and Milwaukee, which saw a 63-percent increase in ridership from 2004 to 2008, when more than 766,000 passengers rode the line.

Wisconsin’s Midwest regional rail line upgrades will speed the Hiawatha service up to 110 mph, reducing trip time from Chicago to Milwaukee to about an hour, and extend it to Madison and eventually La Crosse or Eau Claire and the Twin Cities.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Citizens Utility Board wants new biomass study

From an article by Kevin Murphy in the Wausau Daily Herald:

MADISON -- The Citizens Utility Board wants the Wisconsin Public Service Commission to take a harder look at the environmental impact a power plant planned for Rothschild might have.

CUB asked the PSC last week to reconsider its preliminary decision not to conduct an environmental impact statement for the 50 megawatt, biomass-fueled generating plant We Energies wants to build on the south side of the Domtar paper mill.

PSC staff has conducted a preliminary environmental assessment, or EA, of the project that found it would pose no significant threat to the quality of the human environment. CUB said, however, that that conclusion is contrary to PSC staff's own preliminary determination that the plant will have significant impacts unless mitigation measures are implemented.

Energy Composites signs deal with Danish company to supply turbine blades

From a news release issued by Energy Composites Corporation:

WISCONSIN RAPIDS, Wis. September 17, 2010 -- Energy Composites Corporation (“ECC”)
(NASDAQ OTC:ENCC) a leading provider of composites-based solutions to the clean-tech sector, today announced that it has entered into an agreement with SSP Technology A/S of Kirkeby, Denmark (“SSP”), with the purpose of entering into a strategic partnership and to establish a joint venture. This strategic alliance will support both companies’ efforts to supply competitive blades to wind turbine generators for North American customers.

With its base in Wisconsin Rapids, the joint venture will be well-situated in the midst of the upcoming Great Lakes/Midwest wind turbine market. In the coming years this region will set new demands and lead the market for turbine performance, blade size and manufacturing technologies.

SSP will offer customers the complete aerodynamic and structural design for blades and moulds, production of prototype blades, and ramp-up of blade production based on the partnership with ECC. ECC will manufacture blades for all customers based either on the customer’s own design or a blade design developed via the partnership with SSP. The joint venture will manufacture moulds and prefabricated root segments for both companies and their customers.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Webinar -- Rethinking Biogas: An Emerging Energy Source in the Midwest

From an announcement issued by the Energy Center of Wisconsin:

Free live webinar
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
1:00pm – 2:00pm CDT

Presented by Peter Taglia, Staff Scientist, Clean Wisconsin

The Midwest contains the world's largest concentration of productive agriculture and food processing, and produces enormous amounts of animal and food waste. The Midwest is also rich in woody biomass and other forestry resources that can be sustainably harvested.

However, only a tiny portion of these wastes is converted to biogas, a renewable substitute for natural gas that reduces fossil fuel use and greenhouse gas pollution. For agricultural waste alone, the Midwest's 55 anaerobic digesters pale in comparison to Germany's, which exceed 4,000 despite its significantly smaller agricultural output.

This webinar explores the potential for this renewable energy resource to grow by examining biogas sources, conversion technologies, and outputs together with energy policies needed to support them. With appropriate policy and deployment, biogas can become a substantial source of energy in the Midwest.

MATC cuts ribbon on state's largest solar electricity installation



See more video here.

From a news release about the ribbon cutting issued by MATC:


MILWAUKEE (Sept. 15, 2010) – Milwaukee Area Technical College hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony at its 32-acre, 540 kW Photovoltaic Educational Laboratory on Wednesday, Sept. 15. The PV Lab is located at 810 E. Capitol Dr., Milwaukee.

MATC and Johnson Controls, the global leader in delivering products, services and solutions that increase energy efficiency in buildings, collaborated on the project, the largest operating photovoltaic facility in Wisconsin and is believed to be the first entirely portable photovoltaic facility in the United States. The project was unanimously approved by the Wisconsin Technical College System State Board on Sept. 30, 2009, and ground was broken on May 5, 2010.

“The Photovoltaic Educational Laboratory showcases several outstanding attributes of MATC: innovation and creativity at work; partnering with local businesses to provide new educational opportunities; advancing the world of technology to heights we have not seen before; and becoming a leader for other educational institutions and businesses to follow,” said MATC President Dr. Michael L. Burke. “This physical location has changed dramatically in just over four months. It started as a non-descript, unwanted, unmarketable tract of land that had stumped experts for decades on what exactly to do with it. Now, it represents what can really be called a new American dream.”

. . . The site features:
• 2,590 PV panels;
• two training centers for technicians, designers, site assessors, electricians, sales personnel and other professionals in renewable energy fields;
• over-parking and over-road array placement;
• data collection capabilities; and
• the first public television transmitter in the country that will approximate energy grid neutrality.

Solar electric system in Wisconsin Rapids

North Wind Renewable Energy installed this flush-mounted solar electric system on a home near Wisconsin Rapids.

Pollution suit targets Alliant coal plants

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

The Sierra Club on Thursday [September 9, 2010] filed suit in federal court claiming that two major coal-fired power plants operated by Wisconsin Power & Light Co. were upgraded over the years without installing modern pollution controls required by the Clean Air Act.

The suit charges the Madison utility made modifications to its Nelson Dewey power plant in Cassville in southwestern Wisconsin and its Columbia power plant near Portage without adding pollution controls. WP&L is a subsidiary of Alliant Energy Corp., Madison.

The suit is the latest in a series of Sierra Club suits targeting pollution from coal-fired power plants across Wisconsin.

Another suit by the environmental group and Clean Wisconsin has targeted air pollution from the We Energies Valley power plant in Milwaukee’s Menomonee Valley. Sierra Club has also filed suit over pollution by coal plants operated by Dairyland Power Cooperative of La Crosse and Wisconsin Public Service Corp. of Green Bay.

“The pattern here is that our aging fleet of coal plants can’t even meet current standards, so it sets us up for making a choice about whether we should be throwing good money after bad” to retrofit coal plants to meet emerging, stricter standards, said Jennifer Feyerherm of the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign.

WP&L has proposed adding pollution controls at the Columbia power plant, in an investment projected to cost $627 million. The state Public Service Commission has yet to rule on that proposal, and the Sierra Club is challenging that the controls proposed don't go far enough to reduce air emissions from Columbia.

“We’re disappointed that the Sierra Club has opted for this approach,” utility spokesman Scott Reigstad said of Sierra Club's suit. “We disagree with the claims the Sierra Club is making in its complaint. We intend to vigorously defend against the action.”

The court actions come as the state Public Service Commission is studying whether to shut down aging coal-fired power plants in Wisconsin because of the state's power glut, and as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is commencing regulation of coal plants to curb emissions of carbon dioxide as well as a series of other pollutants.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

MGE Rate Filing Rewards Fossil Fuel Use, Penalizes Renewable Energy

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 16, 2010

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

MGE Rate Filing Rewards Fossil Fuel Use, Penalizes Renewable Energy

RENEW Wisconsin, a statewide renewable energy advocacy organization, today called on Madison Gas and Electric (MGE) to scrap its pending request to substantially increase the cost of participation in its voluntary renewable energy subscription program.

RENEW contends that MGE does not need a higher renewable rate because the cost of energy supplying its award-winning Green Power Tomorrow program have not changed over the last 18 months and will not for the foreseeable future. The utility is seeking permission from the Public Service Commission (PSC) to increase the renewable energy rate from 1.25 cents to 2 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh), a 60% increase.

If approved, the voluntary premium that MGE customers will pay for sponsoring more wind and solar electricity production will be significantly higher than what other Wisconsin utilities charge. In contrast, Milwaukee-Based We Energies charges a 1.38 cents/kWh premium to participate in its Energy for Tomorrow program. That rate, which received a slight upward adjustment in 2009, will remain in effect through 2011.

“Nothing about this price hike makes any sense,” said Michael Vickerman, Executive Director of RENEW Wisconsin. “Program costs haven’t changed. Wind and solar energy is no more costly this year than it was in 2009, and next year it will be more of the same. Therefore, Green Power Tomorrow’s premium should remain where it is today.”

As part of the upcoming hearings on this proposal, RENEW Wisconsin will introduce a new approach to setting the purchase price of renewable energy, one that would insulate customers from the whiplash of fluctuating fossil energy prices. RENEW Wisconsin’s proposal is supported by the City of Madison, a large purchaser of renewable energy and a party in the PSC proceeding.

Vickerman pointed out that a price increase of this magnitude is certain to drive down customer participation levels, which MGE itself has acknowledged in its filings. In fact, MGE anticipates little to no increase in program revenues even if the 60% increase is approved.

In testimony filed at the PSC, Vickerman stated that Green Power Tomorrow expanded rapidly in 2008 and 2009 after reducing its premium from more than 2.6 cents to 1 cent/kWh. In that period, the customer participation rate climbed to nearly 10%, the third-highest ranking among all U.S. utilities, according to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. In 2009, the pool of voluntary renewable energy serving program subscribers was nearly as large as the supply of renewable energy required under Wisconsin’s Renewable Energy Standard, Vickerman said.

“Through their purchases, Green Power Tomorrow subscribers eliminated in 2009 the production of about 95,000 tons of carbon dioxide from fossil energy sources at no cost to nonparticipating ratepayers,” Vickerman said.

“Up until now, Green Power Tomorrow has been a relatively inexpensive way for customers to lower greenhouse gas emissions that come from burning coal,” Vickerman said. “But by doubling the cost of renewable energy in less than two years, MGE will effectively encourage customers to drop out of the program, and take possession of the unsold renewable energy credits for its own use. This is bound to alienate customers who wish to support renewable energy generation and reduce their own greenhouse gas emissions.”

The proposal to raise the renewable energy subscription rate, submitted as part of MGE’s application to raise overall retail rates by nearly 10%, will be the subject of hearings later in September. If approved, a typical customer subscribing at the 100% level in Green Power Tomorrow would pay $3.75 more a month beginning January 1, 2011.

--END--

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

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

THINK GREEN PICNIC

THINK GREEN PICNIC
...FOR PEOPLE WORKING TO SAVE THE PLANET

Join other GREEN people, for your monthly dose of what's going on in the "green scene" - the picnic will feature many representatives from environmental groups.

Brats, hot dogs, veggie option, potato salad, chips, condiments, cookies, water and pop are provided. You are welcome to bring your own beer, wine or other drinks.

TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 28, 2010
Pine Pavilion, Carson Park
4:30-7:00 PM No rain date

Be kind to the earth:
Please bring your own reusable plate, cup, napkin and utensils

***Payment and RSVP MUST BE MADE IN ADVANCE***
$3 Individual $5 Couple $7 Family
Send to Think Green, 3013 Putnam Glen Place, Eau Claire, WI

Sponsored by Green Drinks Eau Claire.

Milwaukee adds solar to fire stations and trains workforce

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact:
Amy Heart
MREA Milwaukee Director
414-431-0758
amy@the-mrea.org

CITY ADDS SOLAR TO FIRE STATIONS AND TRAINS WORKFORCE

Milwaukee, WI - Milwaukee’s solar program is bringing solar hot water to two local fire stations, while training the local solar workforce. The City of Milwaukee’s Solar America City program, Milwaukee Shines, organized this one-of-a-kind opportunity through a partnership with Midwest Renewable Energy Association, Caleffi North America and Milwaukee Solar.

Milwaukee’s Fire Station #13, located at 2901 N 30th Street, and Fire Station #23, located at 2130 W Oklahoma Ave, will both receive solar hot water systems this October, as part of training workshops lead by the Midwest Renewable Energy Association (MREA).

The MREA, a non-profit organization, is a national leader in providing high quality training programs for renewable energy professionals. These install workshops will provide specialized training for individuals who would like to learn how to install solar hot water systems.

Matt Howard, Director of Milwaukee Office of Environmental Sustainability, said this installation is a perfect fit. “Solar hot water on fire stations is an excellent and efficient application of this technology,” said Howard. “The City of Milwaukee is excited to showcase a good use of the technology and off-set some of our energy use as well.”

Amy Heart, MREA’s Milwaukee Director, said this is a unique opportunity to not only save money for the City of Milwaukee, but also provide hands-on training for future solar installers. “By training local installers, we are working to expand the local solar market, reduce costs for consumers, and ensure quality installations that can demonstrate how solar works for Wisconsin,” said Heart.


Caleffi North America, headquartered in Milwaukee’s Menomonee Valley, donated the solar hot water systems for the installation workshops. Dean Wolff of Milwaukee Solar, will serve as the installer and instructor on the project.

Milwaukee was selected as a Solar America City in 2008 by the U.S. Department of Energy. Milwaukee Shines, the city’s solar program, works to increase solar electric and solar hot water installations through education, awareness and financial assistance. For details on the City of Milwaukee’s solar program visit www.MilwaukeeShines.com or call 414-286-5593

Pre-registration for the workshops is required, and pre-requisites must be met. To get more information on the MREA fire station install workshops visit www.the-mrea.org or call 414-431-0758.

Installation Schedule

Fire Station #13 Solar Hot Water Installation
Monday, October 4 - Thursday, October 7
City of Milwaukee Fire House #13
2901 N 30th Street
Milwaukee, WI 53210

Fire Station #23 Solar Hot Water Installation
Monday, October 25 - Thursday, October 28
City of Milwaukee Fire House #23
2130 W Oklahoma Ave
Milwaukee, WI 53215

# # #

Monday, September 13, 2010

Point architect tapped as MREA president





FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

Contact:
Gina Sinisi, Communications Coordinator
Midwest Renewable Energy Association
715-592-6595 ext: 113
gina@the-mrea.org

MREA ELECTS NEW BOARD PRESIDENT

CUSTER, WI – Thomas Brown was recently elected as the Board President of the Midwest Renewable Energy Association (MREA). Tom is an architect and LEED-Accredited Professional specializing in environmentally-responsive green design. He teaches environmental design courses at UW-Stevens Point and frequently presents at regional and national conferences. Tom has been a MREA member from its beginning, and is also a founding member of both the Energy and Environmental Building Alliance (EEBA), a national organization devoted to high-performance buildings, and the Wisconsin Green Building Alliance (WGBA). He is also a member of the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) and the Sustainable Buildings Industry Council (SBIC).

As an Architect, Tom’s projects have received numerous awards and been recognized nationally. His Mead Wildlife Area Education & Visitor Center was the first publicly-owned project in Wisconsin to achieve LEED Platinum Certification. Another project, the Sullivan Residence, was selected by the National Association of Home Builders Research Center as the most Innovative/Advanced Custom Home in a cold climate region in the country.

Tom lives in Stevens Point with his spouse, Jo Seiser. Jo is Executive director of the North Central Conservancy Trust (NCCT), a 7-county regional land trust for central Wisconsin. They have two children, Anders & Ivy.

Brown said that “as a founder and friend of the Energy Fair for over 20 years, I am pleased that I can help further the goals of the MREA as we continue to grow and expand our training opportunities and offer our considerable renewable energy expertise to our partners and others throughout the Great Lakes region of the Midwest.”

The MREA welcomes Tom at his new role as President.

New equipment reduces hospital’s energy use

From an article by Steve Rundio in The Tomah Journal:

Hospitals are complex energy users.

They operate 24 hours, seven days a week.

They have stringent requirements for temperature control and air exchange.

They use sophisticated equipment that can malfunction if a room is too hot, too cold or too humid.

Officials at Tomah Memorial Hospital have found an answer to their complex energy needs: a dedicated heat recovery chiller. The hospital received a $35,000 grant Thursday to help finance the $900,000 project that makes the hospital more energy efficient.

“The hospital is reducing its carbon footprint,” said Eric Prise, the hospital’s marketing director.

It’s also saving money. The new chiller has reduced the hospital’s natural gas bill by 47 percent since it was installed last March.

The chiller unit captures heat that is normally wasted in the building’s cooling process. Heat from the chiller is distributed into the hot-water system, which is used to heat sections of the building. Even during the winter months, air conditioning is used to maintain precise temperature control.

“In the interior of this building, it’s always August,” said Nick Roush of Masters Building Solutions based in La Crosse. “There are always things that add heat.”

The recovery chiller addresses the problem.

“We can handle heating and cooling with one piece of equipment,” Roush said. “It has no waste products associated with it. It’s most efficient when you have simultaneous heating and cooling.”

Friday, September 10, 2010

Wind generation reduces climate-changing emissions

From a report titled "The Facts about Wind Energy’s Emissions Savings" prepared by the American Wind Energy Association:

. . . four of the seven major independent grid operators in the
U.S. have studied the emissions impact of adding wind energy to their power grids, and all four have found that adding wind energy drastically reduces emissions of carbon dioxide and other harmful pollutants. While the emissions savings depend somewhat on the existing share of coal-fired versus gas-fired generation in the region, as one would expect, it is impossible to dispute the findings of these four independent grid operators that adding wind energy to their grids has significantly reduced emissions. . . .

DOE data show that wind and other renewables’ share of Texas’s electric mix increased from 1.3% in 2005 to 4.4% in 2008, an increase in share of 3.1 percentage points. During that period, electric sector carbon dioxide emissions declined by 3.3%, even though electricity use actually increased by 2% during that time. Because of wind energy, the state of Texas was able to turn what would have been a carbon emissions increase into a decrease of 8,690,000 metric tons per year, equal to the emissions savings of taking around 1.5 million cars off the road.

Wind generation reduces climate-changing emissions

From a report titled "The Facts about Wind Energy’s Emissions Savings" prepared by the American Wind Energy Association:

. . . four of the seven major independent grid operators in the U.S. have studied the emissions impact of adding wind energy to their power grids, and all four have found that adding wind energy drastically reduces emissions of carbon dioxide and other harmful pollutants. While the emissions savings depend somewhat on the existing share of coal-fired versus gas-fired generation in the region, as one would expect, it is impossible to dispute the findings of these four independent grid operators that adding wind energy to their grids has significantly reduced emissions. . . .

DOE data show that wind and other renewables’ share of Texas’s electric mix increased from 1.3% in 2005 to 4.4% in 2008, an increase in share of 3.1 percentage points. During that period, electric sector carbon dioxide emissions declined by 3.3%, even though electricity use actually increased by 2% during that time. Because of wind energy, the state of Texas was able to turn what would have been a carbon emissions increase into a decrease of 8,690,000 metric tons per year, equal to the emissions savings of taking around 1.5 million cars off the road.

Wind generation reduces climate-changing emissions

From a report titled "The Facts about Wind Energy’s Emissions Savings" prepared by the American Wind Energy Association:

. . . four of the seven major independent grid operators in the
U.S. have studied the emissions impact of adding wind energy to their power grids, and all four have found that adding wind energy drastically reduces emissions of carbon dioxide and other harmful pollutants. While the emissions savings depend somewhat on the existing share of coal-fired versus gas-fired generation in the region, as one would expect, it is impossible to dispute the findings of these four independent grid operators that adding wind energy to their grids has significantly reduced emissions. . . .

DOE data show that wind and other renewables’ share of Texas’s electric mix increased from 1.3% in 2005 to 4.4% in 2008, an increase in share of 3.1 percentage points. During that period, electric sector carbon dioxide emissions declined by 3.3%, even though electricity use actually increased by 2% during that time. Because of wind energy, the state of Texas was able to turn what would have been a carbon emissions increase into a decrease of 8,690,000 metric tons per year, equal to the emissions savings of taking around 1.5 million cars off the road.

La Crosse dedicates new transit center

From an article by in The Business Journal:

The city of La Crosse this week dedicated its new Grand River Station, a seven-story facility in the downtown district designed as a “one-stop transportation hub.”

The new transit center can hold six buses and includes 12,000 square feet of retail space and 92 apartments. The center is said to be the only type of its kind in Wisconsin that combines housing, retail and transit developments under one roof, officials said.

“It’s a terrific example of what community transit leadership can accomplish by involving local, state, federal agencies and private developers,” said Gary Goyke, legislative representative for the Wisconsin Urban and Rural Transit Association.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Merging sustainable agriculture and clean energy

From article in the Green Energy newsletter of Scenic Valley:

Together with Scenic Valley Farms, our sister company, we have merged sustainable agricultural and renewable energy into a single package. The project employs high tunnel farming, in-ground solar thermal heating, and the best performing small wind turbines on the market.

The entire operation allows you to earn a high return on investment while promoting both locally grown food and clean energy.

High tunnels are naturally ventilated gothic shaped structures similar in appearance to greenhouses but significantly less expensive. They are constructed with metal purlins to provide horizontal support which are attached to metal hoops. The whole structure is then covered with plastic.

High tunnels have a wide variety of advantages compared to field grown produce. They can extend the growing season, allow growers to receive a premium price for offseason produce, boost the quality of produce, conserve natural resources and help meet the increasing demand for locally grown fruits and vegetables.

Our company begins the process by locating property with above average wind resources. We then tap into all available financial incentives, and launch a high tunnel agriculture operation.

A high performing small wind turbine provides all the necessary electricity for the high tunnels. Plus, the excess electricity generated is sold back to the utility at retail rates.

And the in-ground solar thermal technology developed by our company, eliminates the need for fossil fuel based heating.

Biomass hearing date set

From an article by Kathleen Foody in the Wausau Daily Herald:

ROTHSCHILD -- State regulators, opponents and proponents of a proposed biomass plant in Rothschild agreed Wednesday to hold a Nov. 30 public hearing on the project.

Attorneys for We Energies, the Milwaukee utility behind the plan, and other interested groups gathered in Madison to set the timeline.
The $255 million project announced in September 2009 would burn woody biomass, creating electricity for We Energies to sell and steam to power the Domtar Mill's paper-making process.

We Energies needs the facility to be operational by the end of 2013 to qualify for federal tax credits and meet renewable energy requirements for utilities. The company has pushed for approval by state regulators at the Wisconsin Public Service Commission and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources by the end of the year to meet that goal.

The location and specific time of the hearing has not been set, PSC spokeswoman Teresa Weidemann-Smith said.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Newsletter: Siting council, Cashton wind, Seventh Gen, and more

RENEW Wisconisn's summer newsletter includes these articles:

Council Backs Compromise on Siting Standards
After four months of intensive review and debate, the 15-member Wind Siting Council presented to the Public Service Commission (PSC) its final recommendations on the statewide permitting rule under development. The Council’s report comes at a critical juncture; the PSC will issue a fi nal rule on this proceeding before the end of August.

Community Wind on Move in Cashton
What may become Wisconsin’s first example of a Community Wind project cleared a significant hurdle in June when the Village of Cashton in Monroe County issued a permit to allow the construction of two Vestas V90 turbines, totaling 3.6 megawatts (MW), inside its business park.

Seventh Generation Pioneers Wind
Unusual from its start as a not-for- profit in the business of renewable energy, Seventh Generation Energy Systems (commonly called Seventh Gen) continues to pioneer organizationally and technically with the addition of Jim Yockey, executive director, and Ry Thompson, project manager. Alicia Leinberger, one of the founders of Seventh Gen, oversees marketing and business development for the eight-year-old organization.

Making Sense of the Gulf Disaster
About 100 people gathered in downtown Madison in early July to take part in “Hands Across the hands,” an internationally organized protest against continued oil drilling in and along the world’s coastal waters. Against the backdrop of the weed-choked waters of Lake Monona, they joined hands for 15 minutes to express their fervent desire to see a cleaner, less destructive energy future emerge from the liquid melanoma spreading across the Gulf of Mexico.

No doubt the protestors would like to do more, much more, than simply engage in a ritualized protest in front of a few camera crews. But we live in a society that is organized around the expectation of a limitless supply of nonrenewable hydrocarbons feeding concentrated energy into our economic bloodstream. Most of us have not bothered to comprehend the yawning gulf that lies between our best intentions and our abject dependence on the wealth-producing properties of petroleum.

Turbines Power Cascade Wastewater
With the start-up of two 100-kilowatt (kW) wind turbines, the Village of Cascade became the first Wisconsin community to power its municipal wastewater treatment plant with 100 percent locally produced wind energy.

The impetus behind Cascade’s embrace of wind power was the avoided utility expenditures associated with operating a wastewater treatment plant. In the first year of operation, Cascade
stands to save $30,000.

Calendar
Sept. 29 -- Solar Decade Conference, Milwaukee, WI. A comprehensive solar energy educational opportunity for your home, business, and career. Sponsored by Focus on Energy, We Energies, and others. For details see www.solardecade.com.

Sept. 30 - Oct. 1 -- 2010Solar Thermal ‘10, Milwaukee, WI. A national solar heating and cooling conference and expo for solar thermal professionals. For details see www.the-mrea.org.

October 2, 2010 -- Solar Tour of Homes and Businesses. All across Wisconsin. Owners open their doors to let people see how renewable energy is practical, reliable, and affordable in today’s economy. The homes and businesses often include other energy effi ciency and renewable technologies. For details see www.the-mrea.org.

October 13, 2010 -- Wisconsin Wind Energy Supply Chain Workshop, Milwaukee, WI. Learn how to join the wind energy supply chain from fi rst tier and aftermarket manufacturers. For details see www.thenewnorth.com.

Mar. 9 - 12, 2011 -- Green Energy Summit: The Green Frontier, Milwaukee, WI. An acclaimed professional/academic conference featuring keynote speakers, workshops, demonstrations, and exhibits. Sponsored by the Wisconsin Technical College System Foundation and others. For details see www.greenenergysummit.us.

Newsletter: Siting council, Seventh Gen, Cascade wind, and more

RENEW Wisconisn's summer newsletter includes these articles:

Council Backs Compromise on Siting Standards
After four months of intensive review and debate, the 15-member Wind Siting Council presented to the Public Service Commission (PSC) its final recommendations on the statewide permitting rule under development. The Council’s report comes at a critical juncture; the PSC will issue a fi nal rule on this proceeding before the end of August.

Community Wind on Move in Cashton
What may become Wisconsin’s first example of a Community Wind project cleared a significant hurdle in June when the Village of Cashton in Monroe County issued a permit to allow the construction of two Vestas V90 turbines, totaling 3.6 megawatts (MW), inside its business park.

Seventh Generation Pioneers Wind
Unusual from its start as a not-for- profit in the business of renewable energy, Seventh Generation Energy Systems (commonly called Seventh Gen) continues to pioneer organizationally and technically with the addition of Jim Yockey, executive director, and Ry Thompson, project manager. Alicia Leinberger, one of the founders of Seventh Gen, oversees marketing and business development for the eight-year-old organization.

Making Sense of the Gulf Disaster
About 100 people gathered in downtown Madison in early July to take part in “Hands Across the hands,” an internationally organized protest against continued oil drilling in and along the world’s coastal waters. Against the backdrop of the weed-choked waters of Lake Monona, they joined hands for 15 minutes to express their fervent desire to see a cleaner, less destructive energy future emerge from the liquid melanoma spreading across the Gulf of Mexico.

No doubt the protestors would like to do more, much more, than simply engage in a ritualized protest in front of a few camera crews. But we live in a society that is organized around the expectation of a limitless supply of nonrenewable hydrocarbons feeding concentrated energy into our economic bloodstream. Most of us have not bothered to comprehend the yawning gulf that lies between our best intentions and our abject dependence on the wealth-producing properties of petroleum.

Turbines Power Cascade Wastewater
With the start-up of two 100-kilowatt (kW) wind turbines, the Village of Cascade became the first Wisconsin community to power its municipal wastewater treatment plant with 100 percent locally produced wind energy.

The impetus behind Cascade’s embrace of wind power was the avoided utility expenditures associated with operating a wastewater treatment plant. In the first year of operation, Cascade
stands to save $30,000.

Calendar
Sept. 29 -- Solar Decade Conference, Milwaukee, WI. A comprehensive solar energy educational opportunity for your home, business, and career. Sponsored by Focus on Energy, We Energies, and others. For details see www.solardecade.com.

Sept. 30 - Oct. 1 -- 2010Solar Thermal ‘10, Milwaukee, WI. A national solar heating and cooling conference and expo for solar thermal professionals. For details see www.the-mrea.org.

October 2, 2010 -- Solar Tour of Homes and Businesses. All across Wisconsin. Owners open their doors to let people see how renewable energy is practical, reliable, and affordable in today’s economy. The homes and businesses often include other energy effi ciency and renewable technologies. For details see www.the-mrea.org.

October 13, 2010 -- Wisconsin Wind Energy Supply Chain Workshop, Milwaukee, WI. Learn how to join the wind energy supply chain from fi rst tier and aftermarket manufacturers. For details see www.thenewnorth.com.

Mar. 9 - 12, 2011 -- Green Energy Summit: The Green Frontier, Milwaukee, WI. An acclaimed professional/academic conference featuring keynote speakers, workshops, demonstrations, and exhibits. Sponsored by the Wisconsin Technical College System Foundation and others. For details see www.greenenergysummit.us.

Newsletter: Siting council, Cashton wind, Seventh Gen, and more

RENEW Wisconisn's summer newsletter includes these articles:

Council Backs Compromise on Siting Standards
After four months of intensive review and debate, the 15-member Wind Siting Council presented to the Public Service Commission (PSC) its final recommendations on the statewide permitting rule under development. The Council’s report comes at a critical juncture; the PSC will issue a fi nal rule on this proceeding before the end of August.

Community Wind on Move in Cashton
What may become Wisconsin’s first example of a Community Wind project cleared a significant hurdle in June when the Village of Cashton in Monroe County issued a permit to allow the construction of two Vestas V90 turbines, totaling 3.6 megawatts (MW), inside its business park.

Seventh Generation Pioneers Wind
Unusual from its start as a not-for- profit in the business of renewable energy, Seventh Generation Energy Systems (commonly called Seventh Gen) continues to pioneer organizationally and technically with the addition of Jim Yockey, executive director, and Ry Thompson, project manager. Alicia Leinberger, one of the founders of Seventh Gen, oversees marketing and business development for the eight-year-old organization.

Making Sense of the Gulf Disaster
About 100 people gathered in downtown Madison in early July to take part in “Hands Across the hands,” an internationally organized protest against continued oil drilling in and along the world’s coastal waters. Against the backdrop of the weed-choked waters of Lake Monona, they joined hands for 15 minutes to express their fervent desire to see a cleaner, less destructive energy future emerge from the liquid melanoma spreading across the Gulf of Mexico.

No doubt the protestors would like to do more, much more, than simply engage in a ritualized protest in front of a few camera crews. But we live in a society that is organized around the expectation of a limitless supply of nonrenewable hydrocarbons feeding concentrated energy into our economic bloodstream. Most of us have not bothered to comprehend the yawning gulf that lies between our best intentions and our abject dependence on the wealth-producing properties of petroleum.

Turbines Power Cascade Wastewater
With the start-up of two 100-kilowatt (kW) wind turbines, the Village of Cascade became the first Wisconsin community to power its municipal wastewater treatment plant with 100 percent locally produced wind energy.

The impetus behind Cascade’s embrace of wind power was the avoided utility expenditures associated with operating a wastewater treatment plant. In the first year of operation, Cascade
stands to save $30,000.

Calendar
Sept. 29 -- Solar Decade Conference, Milwaukee, WI. A comprehensive solar energy educational opportunity for your home, business, and career. Sponsored by Focus on Energy, We Energies, and others. For details see www.solardecade.com.

Sept. 30 - Oct. 1 -- 2010Solar Thermal ‘10, Milwaukee, WI. A national solar heating and cooling conference and expo for solar thermal professionals. For details see www.the-mrea.org.

October 2, 2010 -- Solar Tour of Homes and Businesses. All across Wisconsin. Owners open their doors to let people see how renewable energy is practical, reliable, and affordable in today’s economy. The homes and businesses often include other energy effi ciency and renewable technologies. For details see www.the-mrea.org.

October 13, 2010 -- Wisconsin Wind Energy Supply Chain Workshop, Milwaukee, WI. Learn how to join the wind energy supply chain from fi rst tier and aftermarket manufacturers. For details see www.thenewnorth.com.

Mar. 9 - 12, 2011 -- Green Energy Summit: The Green Frontier, Milwaukee, WI. An acclaimed professional/academic conference featuring keynote speakers, workshops, demonstrations, and exhibits. Sponsored by the Wisconsin Technical College System Foundation and others. For details see www.greenenergysummit.us.

American Transmission Co. announces open houses for Badger Coulee Transmission Line Project

From a news release issued by American Transmission Company:

Eight informational open houses to be held throughout the project study area

PEWAUKEE, Wis. – American Transmission Co. is beginning a multi-year public outreach process for the proposed Badger Coulee Transmission Line Project with the first in a series of informational open houses for residents and other stakeholders in the 150-mile project study area in late September and early October.

Studies indicate that a 345-kilovolt transmission line from the La Crosse area to the greater Madison area would provide multiple benefits to the state of Wisconsin including improved electric system reliability, economic savings for utilities and energy consumers, and better access to renewable energy.

ATC is hosting eight open houses throughout the project study area to provide stakeholders with more information about the project and answer questions.

The public is invited to attend any of the following open houses:
Monday, Sept. 27, Stoney Creek Inn, Onalaska
Tuesday, Sept. 28, Westby Coon Prairie Lutheran Church, Westby
Wednesday, Sept. 29, Kalahari Resort Convention Center, Wisconsin Dells
Thursday, Sept. 30, Sauk Prairie Community Center, Sauk City
Monday, Oct. 4, Hillsboro Fireman’s Community Center, Hillsboro
Tuesday, Oct. 5, Cranberry Country Lodge, Tomah
Wednesday, Oct. 6, Madison Marriott West Convention Center, Middleton
Thursday, Oct. 7, Grace Bible Church, Portage

Open houses at all locations run from 1 to 7 p.m.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Watertown officials want high speed rail stop, make plans for station

From an article by Adam Tobias in the Watertown Daily Times:

Watertown Mayor Ron Krueger didn't get to weigh in on the federal government's plan to bolster high-speed passenger rail service throughout the county, nor was he asked to give any input on the state's decision to accept the $810 million in stimulus funds for the project. But since the project is moving full speed ahead, Krueger says it's vital for Watertown to have the train stop in the city.

“The common council and myself are not going to get into the debate about whether the federal government should be spending $8 billion on developing and starting a better passenger rail program and we are also not going to get into a debate about whether the state of Wisconsin should accept the money or not,” Krueger said during a recent interview in his office. “But - and I know the majority of the common council feels as I do - if the trains are going to run between Milwaukee and Madison, and eventually Chicago and the Twin Cities, we want them to stop in Watertown because if we don't jump on this the first time around and it gets going, it will be years and years and years before we get another opportunity.”

Thursday, September 2, 2010

West Salem health center to get solar hot water

From an article by Jo Anne Killeen in the Coulee News:

Plans are in place to install a solar hot water system at Lakeview Health Center in West Salem.

According to Jim Speropulos, facilities director for La Crosse County, installation will begin the last week of September and be completed by mid-November.

The county is also installing solar water heating panels in the new law enforcement facility in La Crosse. It’s the first solar water project for La Crosse County, Speropulos said.

“Lakeview energy usage is higher than we see at other nursing homes,” he said in explanation of why Lakeview was chosen for the solar water system.

Most of the $164,975 cost is funded through a $100,000 federal American Recovery and Reinvestment grant program the county received through the Wisconsin Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant program. The county also is receiving a $25,000 rebate from the Wisconsin Focus on Energy program.

Speropulos said the Lakeview system is designed to offset gas usage by about 1,665 therms per year, or about $1,360 in the first year, and the savings go up from there due to an escalator clause for an increase in future gas prices. He also said the county’s cost is expected to be recouped in about eight years.

OUR VIEW: Biomass study answers many of our questions

From an editoiral in the Wausau Daily Herald:

The Wisconsin Public Service Commission this week released its findings from a more than five-month review of the environmental impact of the proposed biomass plant in Rothschild.

The results? Well, the PSC found fault with some of the claims made by Domtar and We Energies, the companies whose joint project the plant would be. It's not clear whether the plant can claim to be "carbon neutral," according to regulators. And it's possible, the report suggested, that the companies are lowballing their estimates of the plant's impact on forests.

Those findings must be taken seriously. But so must the PSC finding that the proposed biomass project will not have a "significant impact on the human environment." Emissions will come in below the standards set by the federal Environmental Protection Agency.

To many, that always has been the most important question: Will the air we breathe be clean? There certainly are significant concerns that do not directly have to do with the plant's emissions. But the biggest, most emotional questions always have revolved around the quality of the air our communities' children breathe.

On emissions, the PSC findings are not the last word on the subject. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources will have final authority on air emissions, and we should wait for its say before forming a final judgment.

As we've seen in the sometimes-heated debate about this project, the creation of a new plant like this is a charged subject. People are right to ask questions and to seek independent analyses of any project of this size.

What we've seen, though, is that there really is a fairly intensive process in place for review of this matter. We've seen numerous public hearings in several forums -- almost all of which have been well-attended by those who represent the full spectrum of opinions on this project. The democratically elected government of Rothschild has had the opportunity to make its decision about zoning for the project.

With the release of this PSC report, we've seen an independent analysis of the facts put forward by Domtar and We Energies. The result of that analysis was not completely uncritical or uncomplicated -- but it certainly didn't find that the companies had lied, or fudged their numbers, or otherwise behaved in a way that raises more serious questions.

The next piece, perhaps the most important piece, will be the DNR analysis.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Political gridlock not likely to forestall energy regulation

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

Bayside — The partisan divide on Capitol Hill means cap-and-trade legislation is all but dead, so businesses need not worry about their carbon footprint, right? Wrong, speakers at a summit on energy efficiency said Tuesday.

The Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and global corporations such as Wal-Mart are leading the nation down a path of "quiet regulation" of greenhouse gases, despite the political rhetoric and battles that have created gridlock in Congress, Mark Thimke, environmental lawyer at Foley & Lardner, said during the Green Manufacturing Summit at the Schlitz Audubon Nature Center.

But corporate initiatives have gone beyond Wal-Mart, he said.

Suppliers to 62 corporations must provide information as part of a greenhouse gas supply chain initiative launched this year. That effort includes Racine County-based manufacturers S.C. Johnson & Son Inc. and Diversey Inc., formerly JohnsonDiversey.

Thimke said that means a host of companies that may have thought they didn't have to worry about greenhouse gases should start paying attention.

"Even if you aren't one of the big companies and you are selling to these people, you need to know where you're at," Thimke said.

Energy efficiency is a carbon strategy because emissions are linked to energy production.

Efficiency opportunities abound for many manufacturers, said Jon Dommissee of Bradley Corp., a manufacturer of commercial plumbing fixtures, which co-sponsored the event.

"There's a lot of energy wasted - and there's a lot of money wasted," he said.