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Thursday, March 31, 2011

Wind turbine blade plant on hold

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

Wisconsin Rapids is ready to buy back land it sold to a local company that two years ago announced plans to build a wind-turbine blade manufacturing plant on the property.

Energy Composites Corp. faces a Friday deadline to either reach an agreement with Wisconsin Rapids or sell the nearly 94 acres of land back to the city at the original purchasing price, Mayor Mary Jo Carson said.

Carson said the sale doesn't necessarily mean the project is dead, but it won't happen right now.

"Obviously, ECC doesn't want to hold us up in reference to that land, which we thank them for," she said. "We appreciate their interest in their hometown."

Carson said City Attorney Sue Schill has been working with the company's attorney to reach a buy-back agreement.

On March 31, 2009, the company announced plans to build a 350,000-square-foot plant in the Rapids East Commerce Center that would create at least 400 local jobs. Since then, those plans expanded to 535,000 square feet and more than 600 positions.

To facilitate the project, the city later sold the Wisconsin Rapids-based company 93.7 acres of land in the Rapids East Commerce Center for $500 an acre -- a 90 percent discount from the typical asking price -- plus a $1,000 option fee, for a total price of $47,850.

Under the pending agreement, the city would buy back the land at the same price for which it sold it, Carson said.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Another wind developer suspends work in Wisconsin

Immediate release:
March 30, 2011

Contact:
Bill French
Midwest Wind Energy
(847) 414-0134
French@midwestwind.com

Midwest Wind suspends project development in Wisconsin

In view of continued regulatory uncertainty in the State of Wisconsin, a leading wind farm developer has announced that it has suspended development activity until a more predictable climate is restored. Chicago-based Midwest Wind Energy, LLC (MWE) has been developing utility scale wind farms in Wisconsin since 2003 and has two of its developed projects operating; one a 54-megawatt project in Dodge County and the other a 67-megawatt project in Fond du Lac County. MWE is also developing a 98-megawatt project in Calumet County and another project which had not yet been announced publicly.

According to MWE President, Stefan Noe, it no longer makes sense to invest significant development capital in a state that appears to be closed to the wind energy business. "Most states are clearly open for renewable energy development and the economic development dollars and jobs that come with it. So long as there are states rolling out the welcome mat it doesn't make sense to devote significant dollars to a state that is creating unreasonable roadblocks for wind development."

Noe cites the recent suspension of PSC 128 by the Wisconsin Joint Committee for Review of Administrative Rules as the most convincing evidence that Wisconsin is not interested in working in good faith with the U.S. wind energy industry. The rule was the culmination of almost two years of work by the Public Service Commission and resulted in some of the most stringent and detailed wind siting rules in the country. Although restrictive, these rules created a workable compromise between the wind industry and a range of stakeholders.

"Our four projects alone represent more than $600 million of capital investment in Wisconsin and more than 400 construction jobs and 40 permanent high-tech jobs. The industry as a whole has the potential to be a multi-bill ion dollar industry for the state. These projects also generate millions in local landowner payments and local government revenues, cash flow that is sorely needed in Wisconsin's rural communities." Noe said.

Midwest Wind Energy, LLC is a leading developer of utility-scale wind farms in the Midwest and Great Plains with seven projects totaling 649 megawatts currently in operation. MWE has an additional 5000 megawatts of projects in its development pipeline.

END

Anti-windies try to kill another wind energy project

From a news release posted on National Wind Watch:

A controversial western Wisconsin wind energy project has come under fire and may be stopped by a federal lawsuit which was filed by a citizens group on February 9, 2011, and by decisive action by a new town board that was elected through a successful recall election of the former town board members who had approved the proposed wind energy project last summer.

After taking office following a recall election on February 15, 2011, the newly elected town board members for the Town of Forest, in St. Croix County, Wisconsin, voted to rescind a controversial wind energy development agreement and other approvals that had been granted to a wind developer, in a decisive vote on March 17, 2011. As a result, the project, which was proposed by a private wind energy developer named Emerging Energies, LLC, is now under fire and may be stopped.

The federal lawsuit was filed on February 9, 2011, in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin, by a Western Wisconsin citizens group named Forest Voice, LLC, and several individual citizens, against the Town of Forest, its former town board members, and Emerging Energies, LLC.

Second Wind Developer Forsakes Wisconsin for Greener Pastures

For immediate release:
March 30, 2011
More information
Michael Vickerman
Executive Director
608.255.4044
mvickerman@renewwisconsin.org

Second Wind Developer Forsakes Wisconsin for Greener Pastures

Citing Wisconsin’s inhospitable regulatory climate, Midwest Wind Energy, LLC (MWE), a Chicago-based developer of wind generation installations, became the second developer in two weeks to suspend all wind energy development activity in Wisconsin. Another Chicago-based wind developer, Invenergy, LLC, announced last week that it had canceled a 100-turbine wind project in southern Brown County.

Both announcements come on the heels of a March 1 vote by a legislative panel to suspend a Public Service Commission (PSC) rule establishing standards for local government review of windpower projects. That body, the Joint Committee for the Review of Administrative Rules, voted yesterday to introduce legislation to repeal the wind siting rule (PSC 128) and direct the Commission to promulgate a new rule.

In 2006 MWE proposed erecting a 98 megawatt (MW) prospect in southern Calumet County, north of We Energies’ Blue Sky Green Field installation. Called Stony Brook, MWE’s proposed development was stymied in 2007 and 2008 by a combination of moratoria and arbitrary ordinance changes imposed at the county and township level. In an interesting twist, the Wisconsin Court of Appeals in 2009 invalidated Calumet County’s wind ordinance, after determining that local governments lack the authority to restrict wind energy systems beyond what is allowed in state statutes.

“One wonders if our political leadership appreciates the economic damage being done to Wisconsin when it decided to pull the welcome mat out from under the wind industry,” said Michael Vickerman, executive director of RENEW Wisconsin. ‘The industry’s exodus to greener pastures will cause manufacturing and construction jobs to migrate to states that are friendlier to wind energy. It will be a challenge for Wisconsin businesses that participate in the wind energy supply chain to avoid being caught up in the collateral damage caused by the prevailing climate of inhospitality,” Vickerman said.

MWE’s 98 MW Stony Brook facility represents about a $230 million investment in a locally available source of renewable energy that would generate more than 130 construction jobs, support 10 permanent high-tech jobs, yield an annual flow of nearly $400,000 to host local governments and more than $500,000 to host landowners, as well as create manufacturing and consulting opportunities for a host of Wisconsin businesses.

An early entrant to the Wisconsin wind development scene, MWE secured permits for two mid-sized windpower facilities now operating: Cedar Ridge, a 41-turbine, 68 MW project in Fond du Lac County; and Butler Ridge, as 36-turbine 54 MW facility in Dodge County. Cedar Ridge is owned by Alliant Energy and Butler Ridge is now owned by NextEra Energy Resources.
-- 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.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Jobs and $1.2 million annually lost due to state's hostile regulatory climate sinks Brown County wind project

More information
Michael Vickerman
Executive Director
608.255.4044
mvickerman@renewwisconsin.org

Less than a month after a 10-member legislative committee prevented a statewide wind permitting rule from taking effect, Invenergy, LLC, a Chicago-based wind developer that owns and operates the 86-turbine Forward Energy Center installation south of Fond du Lac, has ended efforts to install 100 turbines in southern Brown County.

In a March 21 letter to the Public Service Commission (PSC), Invenergy singled out the recent suspension of the agency’s wind siting rule as a significant factor in its decision to cancel the Ledge Wind Energy Center. “The absence of regulatory stability has made it imprudent for Invenergy to proceed with investments in a project which unknown regulations might make infeasible to construct,” the letter states. Invenergy’s application to build the 150-megawatt Ledge Wind project was filed in October 2009.

“The regulatory environment for permitting wind energy systems in Wisconsin is deteriorating rapidly,” said Michael Vickerman, executive director of RENEW Wisconsin. “The rollback started with Governor Walker’s proposal to impose onerous and unworkable setback requirements on wind turbines, and continues with the Legislature’s assault on the PSC’s wind siting rule.”

“By all appearances, it seems that Governor Walker and the Legislature intend to close the door on wind development in Wisconsin once We Energies completes its Glacier Hills project later this year,” Vickerman said.

The PSC rule, which was scheduled to take effect March 1st, would have fulfilled the Legislature’s intent to create uniform siting regulations to replace what had become a restrictive and hodgepodge of local requirements. On that very day, the Joint Committee for Review of Administrative Rules suspended the rule on a 5-2 vote that tracked along party line votes (Republicans in favor; Democrats against).

Had the 150 MW Ledge Wind Energy Center gone forward, it would have generated $600,000 annually in municipal revenues to Brown County and four host townships, and more than $600,000 annually to host landowners and their neighbors. On average, installing one turbine requires 1,325 hours of craft labor, and a 100-turbine wind project will support a payroll of over $10 million, according to figures provided by Boldt Construction.

“Invenergy’s cancellation of its Ledge Wind project should not come as a surprise,” Vickerman said. “It should be expected with a political leadership that treats windpower as a pariah energy source. Until the day the Governor and the Legislature put aside their ideological blinders and recognize the benefits that come with developing a clean, locally available and inexhaustible energy source, Wisconsin will remain a very unappetizing place to pursue utility- scale wind projects.”

“Wisconsin can ill-afford to export windpower-related jobs and local payments to other states,” Vickerman said.

-- END --

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

In Memory of former Rep. Steve Hilgenberger

RENEW is saddened by the death of former Representative Steve Hilgenberger, a solid and vocal supporter of renewable energy and other causes that exemplified his care for the people of his district and the State of Wisconsin. Representative. Hilgenberger was a major and tireless supporter of the 2009 Clean Energy Jobs Act.

Pictured above, Rep. Steve Hilgenberger, speaking at the dedication of the Montchevre-Betin digester, October 6, 2010 in Belmont, Wisconsin. On the left is Sen. Dale Schultz.
Rep. Hilgenberger exemplified the finest of pragmatic bipartisanship,
as well as gentle decency.

Jobs and $1.2 million annually lost due to state's hostile regulatory climate sinks wind project

More information
Michael Vickerman
Executive Director
608.255.4044
mvickerman@renewwisconsin.org

Less than a month after a 10-member legislative committee prevented a statewide wind permitting rule from taking effect, Invenergy, LLC, a Chicago-based wind developer that owns and operates the 86-turbine Forward Energy Center installation south of Fond du Lac, has ended efforts to install 100 turbines in southern Brown County.

In a March 21 letter to the Public Service Commission (PSC), Invenergy singled out the recent suspension of the agency’s wind siting rule as a significant factor in its decision to cancel the Ledge Wind Energy Center. “The absence of regulatory stability has made it imprudent for Invenergy to proceed with investments in a project which unknown regulations might make infeasible to construct,” the letter states. Invenergy’s application to build the 150-megawatt Ledge Wind project was filed in October 2009.

“The regulatory environment for permitting wind energy systems in Wisconsin is deteriorating rapidly,” said Michael Vickerman, executive director of RENEW Wisconsin. “The rollback started with Governor Walker’s proposal to impose onerous and unworkable setback requirements on wind turbines, and continues with the Legislature’s assault on the PSC’s wind siting rule.”

“By all appearances, it seems that Governor Walker and the Legislature intend to close the door on wind development in Wisconsin once We Energies completes its Glacier Hills project later this year,” Vickerman said.

The PSC rule, which was scheduled to take effect March 1st, would have fulfilled the Legislature’s intent to create uniform siting regulations to replace what had become a restrictive and hodgepodge of local requirements. On that very day, the Joint Committee for Review of Administrative Rules suspended the rule on a 5-2 vote that tracked along party line votes (Republicans in favor; Democrats against).

Had the 150 MW Ledge Wind Energy Center gone forward, it would have generated $600,000 annually in municipal revenues to Brown County and four host townships, and more than $600,000 annually to host landowners and their neighbors. On average, installing one turbine requires 1,325 hours of craft labor, and a 100-turbine wind project will support a payroll of over $10 million, according to figures provided by Boldt Construction.

“Invenergy’s cancellation of its Ledge Wind project should not come as a surprise,” Vickerman said. “It should be expected with a political leadership that treats windpower as a pariah energy source. Until the day the Governor and the Legislature put aside their ideological blinders and recognize the benefits that come with developing a clean, locally available and inexhaustible energy source, Wisconsin will remain a very unappetizing place to pursue utility- scale wind projects.”

“Wisconsin can ill-afford to export windpower-related jobs and local payments to other states,” Vickerman said.

-- END --


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

Jobs and $1.2 million annually lost due to state's hostile regulatory climate sinks wind project

More information
Michael Vickerman
Executive Director
608.255.4044
mvickerman@renewwisconsin.org

Less than a month after a 10-member legislative committee prevented a statewide wind permitting rule from taking effect, Invenergy, LLC, a Chicago-based wind developer that owns and operates the 86-turbine Forward Energy Center installation south of Fond du Lac, has ended efforts to install 100 turbines in southern Brown County.

In a March 21 letter to the Public Service Commission (PSC), Invenergy singled out the recent suspension of the agency’s wind siting rule as a significant factor in its decision to cancel the Ledge Wind Energy Center. “The absence of regulatory stability has made it imprudent for Invenergy to proceed with investments in a project which unknown regulations might make infeasible to construct,” the letter states. Invenergy’s application to build the 150-megawatt Ledge Wind project was filed in October 2009.

“The regulatory environment for permitting wind energy systems in Wisconsin is deteriorating rapidly,” said Michael Vickerman, executive director of RENEW Wisconsin. “The rollback started with Governor Walker’s proposal to impose onerous and unworkable setback requirements on wind turbines, and continues with the Legislature’s assault on the PSC’s wind siting rule.”

“By all appearances, it seems that Governor Walker and the Legislature intend to close the door on wind development in Wisconsin once We Energies completes its Glacier Hills project later this year,” Vickerman said.

The PSC rule, which was scheduled to take effect March 1st, would have fulfilled the Legislature’s intent to create uniform siting regulations to replace what had become a restrictive and hodgepodge of local requirements. On that very day, the Joint Committee for Review of Administrative Rules suspended the rule on a 5-2 vote that tracked along party line votes (Republicans in favor; Democrats against).

Had the 150 MW Ledge Wind Energy Center gone forward, it would have generated $600,000 annually in municipal revenues to Brown County and four host townships, and more than $600,000 annually to host landowners and their neighbors. On average, installing one turbine requires 1,325 hours of craft labor, and a 100-turbine wind project will support a payroll of over $10 million, according to figures provided by Boldt Construction.

“Invenergy’s cancellation of its Ledge Wind project should not come as a surprise,” Vickerman said. “It should be expected with a political leadership that treats windpower as a pariah energy source. Until the day the Governor and the Legislature put aside their ideological blinders and recognize the benefits that come with developing a clean, locally available and inexhaustible energy source, Wisconsin will remain a very unappetizing place to pursue utility- scale wind projects.”

“Wisconsin can ill-afford to export windpower-related jobs and local payments to other states,” Vickerman said.

-- END --

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

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Hostile Regulatory Climate Sinks Brown County Wind Project

More information
Michael Vickerman
Executive Director
608.255.4044
mvickerman@renewwisconsin.org

Hostile Regulatory Climate Sinks Brown County Wind Project

Less than a month after a 10-member legislative committee prevented a statewide wind permitting rule from taking effect, Invenergy, LLC, a Chicago-based wind developer that owns and operates the 86-turbine Forward Energy Center installation south of Fond du Lac, has ended efforts to install 100 turbines in southern Brown County.

In a March 21 letter to the Public Service Commission (PSC), Invenergy singled out the recent suspension of the agency’s wind siting rule as a significant factor in its decision to cancel the Ledge Wind Energy Center. “The absence of regulatory stability has made it imprudent for Invenergy to proceed with investments in a project which unknown regulations might make infeasible to construct,” the letter states. Invenergy’s application to build the 150-megawatt Ledge Wind project was filed in October 2009.

“The regulatory environment for permitting wind energy systems in Wisconsin is deteriorating rapidly,” said Michael Vickerman, executive director of RENEW Wisconsin. “The rollback started with Governor Walker’s proposal to impose onerous and unworkable setback requirements on wind turbines, and continues with the Legislature’s assault on the PSC’s wind siting rule.”

“By all appearances, it seems that Governor Walker and the Legislature intend to close the door on wind development in Wisconsin once We Energies completes its Glacier Hills project later this year,” Vickerman said.

The PSC rule, which was scheduled to take effect March 1st, would have fulfilled the Legislature’s intent to create uniform siting regulations to replace what had become a restrictive and hodgepodge of local requirements. On that very day, the Joint Committee for Review of Administrative Rules suspended the rule on a 5-2 vote that tracked along party line votes (Republicans in favor; Democrats against).

Had the 150 MW Ledge Wind Energy Center gone forward, it would have generated $600,000 annually in municipal revenues to Brown County and four host townships, and more than $600,000 annually to host landowners and their neighbors. On average, installing one turbine requires 1,325 hours of craft labor, and a 100-turbine wind project will support a payroll of over $10 million, according to figures provided by Boldt Construction.

“Invenergy’s cancellation of its Ledge Wind project should not come as a surprise,” Vickerman said. “It should be expected with a political leadership that treats windpower as a pariah energy source. Until the day the Governor and the Legislature put aside their ideological blinders and recognize the benefits that come with developing a clean, locally available and inexhaustible energy source, Wisconsin will remain a very unappetizing place to pursue utility- scale wind projects.”

“Wisconsin can ill-afford to export windpower-related jobs and local payments to other states,” Vickerman said.
-- END --
RENEW Wisconsin is an independent, nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization that acts as a catalyst to advance a sustainable energy future through public policy and private sector initiatives. More information on RENEW’s Web site at http://www.renewwisconsin.org.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Focus offers competitive grants to businesses for large renewable energy projects

From a news release issued by Focus on Energy:

Completed proposals due April 30, 2011

MADISON, Wis. (March 11, 2011) – Today, Focus on Energy, Wisconsin utilities’ statewide program for energy efficiency and renewable energy, announced that businesses can compete for incentives for large renewable energy systems. The Large Renewable Energy System Competitive Incentives allow Wisconsin businesses and organizations to apply for funds to help implement large renewable energy systems.

Businesses can receive an incentive of up to 30 percent of the project costs to complete a renewable energy project that is well-researched, documented, and justified. Eligible, large-scale renewable energy systems may include: solar electric, solar hot-water, wind electric, biomass energy, and anaerobic digestion (biogas).

“Renewable energy technology offers businesses deeper energy cost savings after energy efficiency measures are implemented.” said Ken Williams, Focus on Energy’s business programs director. “Focus’ large renewable energy competitive incentives help businesses defray some of the upfront investment cost of a renewable energy system, resulting in a quicker payback."

Any type of business, school, government entity, agribusiness, and apartments/condo facilities can apply for a Focus competitive incentive. The application and details are available online at focusonenergy.com/competitive_incentives. Applications are due by April 30, 2011.

Focus offers competitive grants to businesses for large renewable energy projects

From a news release issued by Focus on Energy:

Completed proposals due April 30, 2011

MADISON, Wis. (March 11, 2011) – Today, Focus on Energy, Wisconsin utilities’ statewide program for energy efficiency and renewable energy, announced that businesses can compete for incentives for large renewable energy systems. The Large Renewable Energy System Competitive Incentives allow Wisconsin businesses and organizations to apply for funds to help implement large renewable energy systems.

Businesses can receive an incentive of up to 30 percent of the project costs to complete a renewable energy project that is well-researched, documented, and justified. Eligible, large-scale renewable energy systems may include: solar electric, solar hot-water, wind electric, biomass energy, and anaerobic digestion (biogas).

“Renewable energy technology offers businesses deeper energy cost savings after energy efficiency measures are implemented.” said Ken Williams, Focus on Energy’s business programs director. “Focus’ large renewable energy competitive incentives help businesses defray some of the upfront investment cost of a renewable energy system, resulting in a quicker payback."

Any type of business, school, government entity, agribusiness, and apartments/condo facilities can apply for a Focus competitive incentive. The application and details are available online at focusonenergy.com/competitive_incentives. Applications are due by April 30, 2011.

Focus offers competitive grants to businesses for large renewable energy projects

From a news release issued by Focus on Energy:

Completed proposals due April 30, 2011

MADISON, Wis. (March 11, 2011) – Today, Focus on Energy, Wisconsin utilities’ statewide program for energy efficiency and renewable energy, announced that businesses can compete for incentives for large renewable energy systems. The Large Renewable Energy System Competitive Incentives allow Wisconsin businesses and organizations to apply for funds to help implement large renewable energy systems.

Businesses can receive an incentive of up to 30 percent of the project costs to complete a renewable energy project that is well-researched, documented, and justified. Eligible, large-scale renewable energy systems may include: solar electric, solar hot-water, wind electric, biomass energy, and anaerobic digestion (biogas).

“Renewable energy technology offers businesses deeper energy cost savings after energy efficiency measures are implemented.” said Ken Williams, Focus on Energy’s business programs director. “Focus’ large renewable energy competitive incentives help businesses defray some of the upfront investment cost of a renewable energy system, resulting in a quicker payback."

Any type of business, school, government entity, agribusiness, and apartments/condo facilities can apply for a Focus competitive incentive. The application and details are available online at focusonenergy.com/competitive_incentives. Applications are due by April 30, 2011.

Manitowoc Company gets order for 70 wind turbine towers

From a post by Tom Content on JSOnline:

Broadwind Energy Inc. will supply 70 wind towers for a wind farm Goldwind USA Inc. will build in Illinois later this year.

Broadwind Energy, based in Naperville, Ill., operates a wind tower manufacturing plant in Manitowoc formerly known as Tower Tech.

Goldwind is planning to build a 70-tower project for its Shady Oaks project in Lee County, Ill., set for installation in the second half of the year.

The company saw record production levels for wind turbine towers in the fourth quarter, Broadwind said today. Broadwind is currently building towers for the Glacier Hills Wind Park, which is being built northeast of Madison in Columbia County by We Energies.

The Glacier Hills project will be Wisconsin’s largest wind farm. Goldwind USA is a subsidiary of Chinese-based Xinjiang Goldwind Science & Technology Co., Ltd., which is a leading global manufacturer of wind turbines.

“Our partnership on this project is an ideal example of how U.S. and Chinese companies can work together to make the wind industry stronger while creating economic opportunity locally,” Peter Duprey, Broadwind president and chief executive, said in a statement.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Focus offers competitive grants to businesses for large renewable energy projects

From a news release issued by Focus on Energy:

Completed proposals due April 30, 2011

MADISON, Wis. (March 11, 2011) – Today, Focus on Energy, Wisconsin utilities’ statewide program for energy efficiency and renewable energy, announced that businesses can compete for incentives for large renewable energy systems. The Large Renewable Energy System Competitive Incentives allow Wisconsin businesses and organizations to apply for funds to help implement large renewable energy systems.

Businesses can receive an incentive of up to 30 percent of the project costs to complete a renewable energy project that is well-researched, documented, and justified. Eligible, large-scale renewable energy systems may include: solar electric, solar hot-water, wind electric, biomass energy, and anaerobic digestion (biogas).

“Renewable energy technology offers businesses deeper energy cost savings after energy efficiency measures are implemented.” said Ken Williams, Focus on Energy’s business programs director. “Focus’ large renewable energy competitive incentives help businesses defray some of the upfront investment cost of a renewable energy system, resulting in a quicker payback."

Any type of business, school, government entity, agribusiness, and apartments/condo facilities can apply for a Focus competitive incentive. The application and details are available online at focusonenergy.com/competitive_incentives. Applications are due by April 30, 2011.

Mad Fast Trains

Mad Fast Trains

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Angry anti-wind crowd intimidates town board to change vote

From an article by Tony Walter in the Green Bay Press-Gazette:

GLENMORE — The Glenmore Town Board voted Monday to wait 60 days before voting on a permit request to have seven wind turbines built in the town.

In an emotion-filled meeting that at one point had Town Chairman Don Kittell call in police officers when residents began chanting and shouting, the board reversed an earlier vote to approve the permits.

Mark Dick of Cenergy, a subsidiary of Pennsylvania-based CG Power Solutions that is seeking to erect the turbines, said the board's delay on a decision was based on emotion and opinion, not law.

"You're asking the Town Board to violate law," Dick told the more than 100 residents who crowded into the Glenmore Community Center. "You might as well as ask them to outlaw smoking."

The board voted quickly at the meeting's outset to approve the permits, with Kittell and Supervisor Kriss Schmidt supporting it and Supervisor Ron Nowak opposing it. Kittell argued that the board was simply following the law that required it to honor a conditional use permit that went into effect before the town changed its wind turbine ordinance last year.

But residents reacted angrily, chanting, "No permits," then "change your vote," prompting Kittell to call for police support.

"The people are trying to get out of hand," Kittell said on his cell phone. One Wisconsin State Patrol officer and two Brown County Sheriff's Department officers showed up 15 minutes later.

And from a story on Green Bay Fox 11 News: :

TOWN OF GLENMORE - An emotional outburst from some Brown County residents causes a town board to go against an original vote on a wind project.

The town of Glenmore board met Monday night and voted on the building permit proposed by CG Power Solutions to build seven turbines.

The board initially voted 2 to 1 in favor of the permits.
About 75 residents were at the meeting and then voiced their opinion.

After the outcry, the board chairman called for police assistance and briefly closed the meeting.

He later reopened it, and held an open forum.

Glenmore residents and officials from the wind turbine company spoke.

The board then voted to delay the vote on the permits for 60 days until it can be further reviewed by the state.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Busting bus systems

From an editorial in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

Even if you never use a bus and would never think of getting on a commuter train, the current bleak prospects for mass transit systems in Wisconsin should matter to you.

Transit moves people to jobs, it eases congestion on city streets and freeways and it gives people another transportation option. That's important, especially now as drivers are faced with rising gasoline prices and roadwork that is shutting down lanes on freeways and major highways.

The Legislature and Gov. Scott Walker need to rethink their approach to transit and make sure that Wisconsin's systems remain healthy, especially for those who need it for work, school and shopping. Businesses such as Bucyrus International and Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Co. rely on transit. New businesses and young professionals look to modern transit as the sign of a healthy and vibrant community.

What's in the works moves Wisconsin in the opposite direction and could damage transit systems across the state beyond repair.

Consider:

• Walker's budget would slice transit aids in the first year of the biennium and provide no alternative dedicated local funding source to help meet already financially troubled systems.

• The budget shifts transit aids from the segregated and protected transportation fund to the general fund, where transit systems would have to compete with myriad services for scarce dollars. Walker argues that the gasoline tax that largely supplies the transportation fund is a user fee paid for by drivers and should be used only on those roads that drivers use.

But mass transit helps ease pressure on those roads and gives drivers other choices, as Steve Hiniker of 1000 Friends of Wisconsin, points out. Buses are a vital form of transportation.

• Because Walker's budget-repair bill would eliminate most collective bargaining with public employees, federal aid, which is dependent on workers being able to bargain, would be jeopardized for mid-size transit systems such as Appleton's.

• A separate bill in the Legislature would kill regional transit authorities that were created in recent years to help regions strengthen and support local transit systems. Rep. Robin Vos (R-Rochester), a co-sponsor of the bill, told us the RTAs were put together badly and he'd like to repeal them and start over with an honest policy debate. We'd prefer leaving them in place and making adjustments where needed so that regions can start now to build what they need.

• Walker's budget bill freezes local tax levy increases, meaning that even if a community wanted to spend more on transit, it couldn't.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Energy programs get Walker ax

From an article by Mike Ivey in The Capital Times:

If you like burning fossil fuels - hey, aren't those Koch brothers in the pipeline business? - then you'll love Gov. Walker's proposed budget.

The 1,345-pager takes a whack at scores of environmental efforts, from nixing the state Office of Energy Independence to actually encouraging state vehicles to use more gasoline.

Seriously, you can't make this stuff up. And with pump prices marching toward $4 a gallon, you wonder if any thought went into the long-term fiscal impacts.

But here's the skinny.

Walker wants to eliminate the Office of Energy Independence, which works to reduce the state's annual energy bill. Launched by Gov. Doyle in 2007, it has 10 staffers and an office at 201 W. Washington Ave.

Since Wisconsin has no coal, natural gas or oil reserves, its citizens send over $20 billion out of state every year to Wyoming, the Gulf of Mexico and the Middle East evil-doers who hate America.

The OEI was designed to work with the biofuels industry, renewable energy markets and alternative energy researchers here at home.

Instead, Walker wants the Department of Administration to develop a "cost-effective, balanced, reliable, and environmentally-responsible energy strategy to promote economic growth." As in growth for the oil and gas guys?

The state has also been operating under a directive that by 2015 it reduce gasoline use by at least 50 percent from 2006 levels. Walker wants to eliminate the requirement and drop the reduction goal to 20 percent.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Grant County development officials upset with panel's wind siting action

From an article by Craig Reber in the Telegraph Herald, Dubuque:

Proponents of two proposed Grant County, Wis., wind farms wonder what's next after Republican lawmakers suspended statewide wind farm siting rules Tuesday -- the day they were set to take effect.

The Joint Committee for Review of Administration Rules voted 5-2, along party lines, to suspend the rules for 30 days.

The state Public Service Commission's standards, which would have applied to projects less than 100 megawatts in generating capacity, would create uniform guidelines for where wind farms could be built. The committee's vote means local regulations would remain in place.

The commission's new rules would have allowed development of the proposed White Oak wind project by Wind Capital Group on parts of Smelser, Hazel Green and Paris townships, a project on hold for more than two years. Another wind project was planned for northern Grant County.

Ron Brisbois, director of Grant County Economic Development Corp., said Tuesday's vote would "effectively deter wind farms throughout the state of Wisconsin."

Republicans who took control of the Legislature in November said they were worried the Advertisement

rules would allow developers to build turbines too close to neighbors' properties, driving down land values and increasing the risk of injury.

"I communicated with members of the committee, as well to our local representatives, (State) Senator (Dale) Schultz and (State Rep.) Travis Tranel," Brisbois said. "My message to them was, if they do basically what (the committee) did, it will effectively kill my project. There is some hope moving forward is possible, but it's highly unlikely."

The committee must draft a bill supporting the suspension. It has drafted a measure that would require the commission to develop new rules within six months.

The vote disappointed John Beinborn, president of Grant County Economic Development Corp.
From an article by Tom Content in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

Utility customers could be on hook for extra cost

We Energies customers may be on the hook for more money to pay for the Oak Creek power plant, based on latest estimates that indicate the project came in 8.7% over budget - adding $191 million to the price tag for the largest construction project in state history.

The project initially was approved with a budget of $2.19 billion. Project delays blamed on litigation and permitting delays, as well as weather-related construction problems, have contributed to rising costs. The total price tag is now pegged at $2.38 billion.

A report by R.W. Beck & Co., a consultant hired by We Energies to review the progress of the construction, indicated that the cost for the second phase of the plant would come in about 9% over budget. An earlier report said the cost of building the first unit and facilities - including coal-handling machinery and a giant pipe beneath Lake Michigan that draws water to cool the plant - was projected to go 7% over budget.

In a filing with securities regulators on Friday, Wisconsin Energy Corp. announced the $191 million in overruns. The amount to be collected from We Energies customers is expected to be provided to the PSC in coming months as part of a proceeding to set rates in 2012 and 2013, utility spokesman Brian Manthey said.

The utility maintains the plant is a bargain based on rising steel and construction expenses that boosted the costs for similar projects around the country in recent years. The utility was able to lock in prices before steel and other commodity prices soared in the middle of the decade.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Suspension of wind siting rule endangers state’s economic future

For immediate release:
March 1, 2011

More information
Michael Vickerman
Executive Director
608.255.4044
mvickerman@renewwisconsin.org

(Madison) - The wind industry in Wisconsin suffered a serious setback when a joint legislative panel voted to suspend the wind siting rule promulgated by the Public Service Commission (PSC) in December, according to RENEW Wisconsin, a statewide renewable energy advocacy group.

The five-to-two vote tracked along party lines, with all five votes to suspend coming from Republican members of the Joint Committee for Review of Administrative Rules (JCRAR).

Many companies involved in windpower supported the PSC’s rule as a workable compromise that would have created a stable and predictable permitting environment for all wind energy systems regulated by local governments. The rule, which was scheduled to take effect today, would have fulfilled the Legislature’s intent to create uniform siting regulations to replace what had become a restrictive hodgepodge of local requirements.

“The committee gave the state of Wisconsin a black eye that, in the view of the wind industry, will linger well into the future,” Vickerman said.

“The suspension rolls the wind permitting environment back to the dark days when wind project developers routinely faced arbitrary and ever-shifting local regulations – the kind of chaos that will hasten their departure from Wisconsin to more business-friendly states.”

“As of today, Wisconsin utilities have placed more megawatts of wind capacity in neighboring states than in Wisconsin. As indicated in the following table, importing wind generation from other states deprives Wisconsin of a valuable source of employment, income for rural residents, and property tax relief,” said Vickerman.

The figures compiled by RENEW show that the 219 utility-owned wind turbines that will be operational by January 1, 2012, will yield nearly $2.7 million per year in potential property tax relief for towns and counties hosting wind projects. All told, these projects will be responsible for nearly 300,000 construction-related job-hours.

“We have a hard time foreseeing in-state utility-scale wind development going forward without statewide siting standards.”
“It’s a shame to see the end of bipartisanship that led to the passage of the rule requirement in 2009. What we are seeing here is a breakdown of governance that will rob the state of one of its brightest economic hopes for the future,” Vickerman said.


Click on table to enlarge.

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.

Suspension of wind siting rule endangers state’s economic future

For immediate release:
March 1, 2011

More information
Michael Vickerman
Executive Director
608.255.4044
mvickerman@renewwisconsin.org

(Madison) - The wind industry in Wisconsin suffered a serious setback when a joint legislative panel voted to suspend the wind siting rule promulgated by the Public Service Commission (PSC) in December, according to RENEW Wisconsin, a statewide renewable energy advocacy group.

The five-to-two vote tracked along party lines, with all five votes to suspend coming from Republican members of the Joint Committee for Review of Administrative Rules (JCRAR).

Many companies involved in windpower supported the PSC’s rule as a workable compromise that would have created a stable and predictable permitting environment for all wind energy systems regulated by local governments. The rule, which was scheduled to take effect today, would have fulfilled the Legislature’s intent to create uniform siting regulations to replace what had become a restrictive hodgepodge of local requirements.

“The committee gave the state of Wisconsin a black eye that, in the view of the wind industry, will linger well into the future,” Vickerman said.

“The suspension rolls the wind permitting environment back to the dark days when wind project developers routinely faced arbitrary and ever-shifting local regulations – the kind of chaos that will hasten their departure from Wisconsin to more business-friendly states.”

“As of today, Wisconsin utilities have placed more megawatts of wind capacity in neighboring states than in Wisconsin. As indicated in the following table, importing wind generation from other states deprives Wisconsin of a valuable source of employment, income for rural residents, and property tax relief,” said Vickerman.

The figures compiled by RENEW show that the 219 utility-owned wind turbines that will be operational by January 1, 2012, will yield nearly $2.7 million per year in potential property tax relief for towns and counties hosting wind projects. All told, these projects will be responsible for nearly 300,000 construction-related job-hours.

“We have a hard time foreseeing in-state utility-scale wind development going forward without statewide siting standards.”
“It’s a shame to see the end of bipartisanship that led to the passage of the rule requirement in 2009. What we are seeing here is a breakdown of governance that will rob the state of one of its brightest economic hopes for the future,” Vickerman said.


Click on table to enlarge.

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.

Suspension of wind siting rule endangers state’s economic future

For immediate release:
March 1, 2011

More information
Michael Vickerman
Executive Director
608.255.4044
mvickerman@renewwisconsin.org

(Madison) - The wind industry in Wisconsin suffered a serious setback when a joint legislative panel voted to suspend the wind siting rule promulgated by the Public Service Commission (PSC) in December, according to RENEW Wisconsin, a statewide renewable energy advocacy group.

The five-to-two vote tracked along party lines, with all five votes to suspend coming from Republican members of the Joint Committee for Review of Administrative Rules (JCRAR).

Many companies involved in windpower supported the PSC’s rule as a workable compromise that would have created a stable and predictable permitting environment for all wind energy systems regulated by local governments. The rule, which was scheduled to take effect today, would have fulfilled the Legislature’s intent to create uniform siting regulations to replace what had become a restrictive hodgepodge of local requirements.

“The committee gave the state of Wisconsin a black eye that, in the view of the wind industry, will linger well into the future,” Vickerman said.

“The suspension rolls the wind permitting environment back to the dark days when wind project developers routinely faced arbitrary and ever-shifting local regulations – the kind of chaos that will hasten their departure from Wisconsin to more business-friendly states.”

“As of today, Wisconsin utilities have placed more megawatts of wind capacity in neighboring states than in Wisconsin. As indicated in the following table, importing wind generation from other states deprives Wisconsin of a valuable source of employment, income for rural residents, and property tax relief,” said Vickerman.

The figures compiled by RENEW show that the 219 utility-owned wind turbines that will be operational by January 1, 2012, will yield nearly $2.7 million per year in potential property tax relief for towns and counties hosting wind projects. All told, these projects will be responsible for nearly 300,000 construction-related job-hours.

“We have a hard time foreseeing in-state utility-scale wind development going forward without statewide siting standards.”
“It’s a shame to see the end of bipartisanship that led to the passage of the rule requirement in 2009. What we are seeing here is a breakdown of governance that will rob the state of one of its brightest economic hopes for the future,” Vickerman said.


Click on table to enlarge.

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.

Suspension of wind siting rule endangers state’s economic future

For immediate release:
March 1, 2011

More information
Michael Vickerman
Executive Director
608.255.4044
mvickerman@renewwisconsin.org

(Madison) - The wind industry in Wisconsin suffered a serious setback when a joint legislative panel voted to suspend the wind siting rule promulgated by the Public Service Commission (PSC) in December, according to RENEW Wisconsin, a statewide renewable energy advocacy group.

The five-to-two vote tracked along party lines, with all five votes to suspend coming from Republican members of the Joint Committee for Review of Administrative Rules (JCRAR).

Many companies involved in windpower supported the PSC’s rule as a workable compromise that would have created a stable and predictable permitting environment for all wind energy systems regulated by local governments. The rule, which was scheduled to take effect today, would have fulfilled the Legislature’s intent to create uniform siting regulations to replace what had become a restrictive hodgepodge of local requirements.

“The committee gave the state of Wisconsin a black eye that, in the view of the wind industry, will linger well into the future,” Vickerman said.

“The suspension rolls the wind permitting environment back to the dark days when wind project developers routinely faced arbitrary and ever-shifting local regulations – the kind of chaos that will hasten their departure from Wisconsin to more business-friendly states.”

“As of today, Wisconsin utilities have placed more megawatts of wind capacity in neighboring states than in Wisconsin. As indicated in the following table, importing wind generation from other states deprives Wisconsin of a valuable source of employment, income for rural residents, and property tax relief,” said Vickerman.

The figures compiled by RENEW show that the 219 utility-owned wind turbines that will be operational by January 1, 2012, will yield nearly $2.7 million per year in potential property tax relief for towns and counties hosting wind projects. All told, these projects will be responsible for nearly 300,000 construction-related job-hours.

“We have a hard time foreseeing in-state utility-scale wind development going forward without statewide siting standards.”
“It’s a shame to see the end of bipartisanship that led to the passage of the rule requirement in 2009. What we are seeing here is a breakdown of governance that will rob the state of one of its brightest economic hopes for the future,” Vickerman said.


Click on table to enlarge.

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.