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Friday, April 29, 2011

Poll finds strong support for wind energy in Wisconsin

From an article in the Chicago Tribune:

MADISON, Wis.— A poll of Wisconsin residents finds strong support for increasing the use of wind energy, even if doing so would raise electricity bills several dollars per month.

The Wisconsin Public Radio poll was released Friday. It shows that 77 percent of respondents want to see the state invest more in wind energy. Reasons included decreasing the nation's reliance on foreign oil and helping the environment.

A majority, 69 percent, wouldn't mind eight to 10 wind-energy machines being placed closed to where they live, and 79 percent favor placing the machines offshore in Lake Michigan.

Click here for poll results.

State Legislature should not cut mass transit

From a commentary on BizTimes.com by Tom Rave, Executive director, The Gateway To Milwaukee:

Dear Wisconsin Joint Finance Committee Members:

An aerotropolis is a newer urban development that typically attracts industries that are located around the airport and along transportation corridors, such as:
Time-sensitive manufacturing, e-commerce fulfillment, telecommunications and logistics.
Hotels, retail outlets, entertainment complexes and exhibition centers.
Offices for business people who travel frequently: by air or engage in global commerce.

An aerotropolis provides efficient accessibilities for people, and has an integrated infrastructure plan.

In Milwaukee's case, an aerotropolis will prov1ide an efficient multimodal- air, boats, trains and motor vehicles - transportation hub centered around General Mitchell International Airport and The Port of Milwaukee that will efficiently serve southeastern Wisconsin plus extended territories in northern Illinois, central and eastern Wisconsin.

Earlier this week, a number of people involved with Milwaukee Gateway Aerotropolis Corporation, which is led by The Gateway To Milwaukee, attended the Airport Cities World Conference in Memphis, Tenn. Over 630 people from 40 countries across six continents attended this conference. It was easy to see that this is all about economic competition among metropolises and ultimately about having good jobs for an area to be economically successful.

Virtually every presentation of aerotropolis efforts around the world and in the U.S. included the important necessity of having a mass transit system to efficiently move people for a variety of reasons and especially for work. Without such a system, an aerotropolis would be much less effective and more challenged to attract businesses to locate there. It is the way people will live in the future as urban areas continue to grow.

West Wisconsin Sustainability Fair in Menomonie July 16

Sustainable Dunn announces the West Wisconsin Sustainability Fair, Sat. July 16, 8 AM - 2 PM at the Dunn County Fairgrounds, 620 17th St., in Menomonie. Coinciding with the Farmers Market, the Fair will host exhibitors from business, government, and non-profit groups, and will offer speakers, workshops, music, energy efficient vehicles, a photo contest, and a tour of the Cedar Falls Dam. Come and shop at the Farmers Market, talk with friends and neighbors, and learn more about sustainability in Western Wisconsin. For more information see the Sustainable Dunn website (sustainabledunn.org) or contact Margy Hagaman.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Wind turbine set for Port of Cleveland

From a story by John Funk on Cleveland.com:

CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Greater Cleveland took a giant step into what it hopes will be its manufacturing future this morning as longshoremen at the Port of Cleveland began unloading a European-made wind turbine.

Working hand-in-hand with the Great Lakes Energy Development Task Force, Lincoln Electric ordered the 2.5 megawatt (2½ million watts) from Kenersys, of Munster, Germany, last October. It arrived here through the St. Lawrence Seaway.

The energy task force has worked for six years to attract a turbine maker to Northeast Ohio to manufacture the giant machines for Ohio wind projects as well as others across the Great Lakes.

Kenersys is considering building a manufacturing facility in Northeast Ohio. The task force hopes to put even larger turbines in Lake Erie.

Lincoln manufactures precise, robotic welding equipment needed to weld turbine tower sections together.

The company plans to have the Kenersys turbine installed at its Euclid headquarters by late May. It will be the largest turbine in Ohio.

Students, faculty urging state to stop burning coal on campus heating plants

From a story by Martha Boehm on WEAU-TV, Eau Claire:

LA CROSSE, WI (WEAU)--Some students at UW-La Crosse want the state-run heating plant, that’s been on campus for decades, to stop burning coal. The No Coal Coalition wants the state to consider other fuel options.

“It may take a while, but what we really want is a definitive statement from them for a day and a year that they will be able to transfer our campuses off of coal," said UW-La Crosse senior Jennifer Dausey.

Dausey has been working with the No Coal Coalition and Environmental Council for about a year. About a dozen students and faculty members want the Wisconsin Department of Administration, which owns the heating plant at UW-L, to stop burning coal to heat campus buildings.

"We always say that we should have been off coal yesterday," Dausey said. "There’s no reason we need to keep burning this dirty energy. It’s not only destroying families in the mining process, but it’s also destroying our health and our lungs. It causes so much asthma it’s ridiculous.”

Dausey says the coalition not only wants the plant to stop using coal, but to cut back on its natural gas emission, which is the second way it produces energy.

“It’d be easiest to switch to burning biomass, which is like wood pellets and it’s going to become a bigger economy here in Wisconsin with our natural resources," Dausey said.

PSC says proposed biomass plant too costly for consumers

From an article by Brian E. Clark on WisBusiness.com:

Citing what they described as high costs, members of the three-person Public Service Commission said We Energies and the Domtar Corp. paper company will have to bear more costs for a proposed biomass plant in Rothschild that would produce both electricity and steam.

The $250 million plant will use waste wood and sawdust to produce 50 megawatts of electricity, as well as steam for Domtar’s papermaking operations.

Phil Montgomery, the new PSC chairman, said at Thursday's PSC meeting that the state currently has adequate power supply reserves, but that We Energies needs to build the plant to meet state mandates that 10 percent of its power be produced from renewable resources by 2015.

Montgomery, a former legislator who chaired the Assembly Committee on Energy and Utilities, said he continues to support the renewable standard.

“But I don’t think anyone in the Legislature thought we would be experiencing this economic downturn we’re in now,” he added, noting that he hopes We Energies and Domtar can reduce costs to electricity ratepayers.

Commissioner Eric Callisto said he has trouble with the overall economics of the plan and how it has been structured between We Energies and Domtar.

Callisto said he is concerned with everything from the financing and operating costs to the rates that consumers will have to pay for the power generated by the plant. . . .

Commissioner Lauren Azar said she believes biomass may become Wisconsin’s best energy resource, but she said the Rothschild plant construction cost is approaching $5,800 per kilowatt hour, which she called “unacceptably high” and almost on par with the price tag for building a nuclear power facility.

Wind turbine construction costs are about half that figure, she said. But recent actions by the Legislature and governor over wind farm-siting rules have caused at least two companies to abandon projects because of regulatory uncertainty, she said.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Poll finds strong support for wind energy in Wisconsin

From an article in the Chicago Tribune:

MADISON, Wis.— A poll of Wisconsin residents finds strong support for increasing the use of wind energy, even if doing so would raise electricity bills several dollars per month.

The Wisconsin Public Radio poll was released Friday. It shows that 77 percent of respondents want to see the state invest more in wind energy. Reasons included decreasing the nation's reliance on foreign oil and helping the environment.

A majority, 69 percent, wouldn't mind eight to 10 wind-energy machines being placed closed to where they live, and 79 percent favor placing the machines offshore in Lake Michigan.

Click here for poll results.

Local B&B recognized for green practices

From an article article by Casandra Colson in the Jackson County Chronicle:

Living “green” always has been a way of life for Brambleberry Bed and Breakfast owners Chris and Sherry Hardie.

“That type of lifestyle was automatic,” Sherry said. “It wasn’t anything we strived for — it was the way we were raised.”

The Hardies, who each grew up on a dairy farm, now make sure Brambleberry Bed and Breakfast guests get a taste of what it’s like to live sustainable lifestyles during their stays at the couple’s rural Taylor getaway destination.

Brambleberry was named one of Wisconsin’s Eco-Elegant B&Bs by the Wisconsin Department of Tourism last year, and it’s also one of the state’s certified Travel Green destinations since 2008.

Travel Green Wisconsin businesses need to score at least 30 points in the certification process to receive the designation. Branbleberry scored 71.

“That’s a really good score and shows their support for sustainability,” said Shelly Allness, Travel Green Wisconsin program manager.

The Hardies were chosen to have the fifth-top eco-elegant inn, largely because of their commitment to growing and using homegrown produce for guest meals. They make homemade blackberry wine, use fresh herbs, serve homegrown pork and eggs and also make and serve homemade maple syrup.

Wind farm growth also a windfall for truckers -- in Iowa

From an article by Dan Piller in the Des Moines (Iowa) Register:

Beginning next month, motorists on Iowa highways will notice more of those huge trucks - which can be as long as 180 feet and weigh almost 400,000 pounds - hauling turbine parts as Iowa's wind industry goes through another growth spurt.

MidAmerican Energy of Des Moines will begin construction of a 593-megawatt wind farm, which will include 193 turbines in Adair County alone.

"Wind turbine units can have up to nine loads apiece," said Phoumine Baccum, who administers oversize truck permits for the Iowa Department of Transportation. "The blades come in three pieces, each a separate load, the towers are usually three separate loads, and there are separate loads for the hub and the nacelle and for other equipment."

Brad Kohlwes' family trucking company in Des Moines hauls for wind farms. "This is a real boost for the trucking industry and for Iowa's economy," he said. "I just wish we didn't have to pay more than $4 for diesel like we do."

Trucks loaded with turbine parts get about 4 miles per gallon, he said.

Walker road plan driving him crazy

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

Gov. Scott Walker's proposed budget has more than enough pain to go around. Schools get hit with more than $800 million in cuts over the next two years. Recycling programs are not funded. Health care for seniors and the poor are slashed. Local road aids are cut. Some transit systems may not survive the proposed reductions. State revenue sharing is going down, putting more pressure at the local level to cover the costs of cuts to state aids - and without raising property taxes.

It's called austerity.

Unless you happen to be a road builder.

Then this budget is called a bonanza.

While other programs are cut, highway expansion projects totaling more than $400 million get the green light. Highway expansion raids the general fund of more than $140 million, crushing any arguments that "highway users pay for the costs of roads." In fact, the general fund and property taxes will pay about half of roadway costs in the future. So-called user fees are soon to be eclipsed by decidedly nonuser fees.

When you look at the increase in highway spending, it is also important to pay attention to where the money goes. Local road aids are cut, meaning that even though there is more money going for major highway expansion, there is less money for local units of government to fix those bone-jarring potholes that crop up every spring. Maintenance dollars for highways are down as well.

Walker has said that the highway expansion is needed for our economic recovery. The governor is putting a lot of faith - and capital - in having superhighways be the cornerstone of the state's economic recovery. After all, he could have put the money in building better communities with better schools as a basis of economic development.

All of this seems bizarre when you consider that we are driving less than ever. We are in the fifth year of a steady decline in miles driven by each Wisconsin resident. The numbers of miles driven will likely decline even more as the cost of gas continues to climb above $4 a gallon. In fact, it is because we are driving less that the governor is proposing to raid the general fund for highways.

As people drive fewer miles with more fuel-efficient vehicles, they use less gas and the amount collected in gas taxes decreases. So in order to expand highways, non-transportation fund dollars need to be raised. This is why Walker is pushing transit aids out of the transportation fund and is raiding everything from general fund dollars to the environmental fund to pay for bigger roads.

But if people are driving less, why expand highways?

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Southeastern Minn. could become hotbed for 'frac sand'


From a story on WEAU-TV, Eau Claire:

RED WING, Minn. (AP) -- Under the forested bluffs of southeastern Minnesota lies an increasingly sought-after resource. It's called "frac sand." And it's prized by the energy industry, which uses it to extract gas and oil from underground rock in a process called hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.

Minnesota Public Radio reports an increasing number of companies are eying Minnesota for the sand, prized for its perfectly round, hard and chemically inert grains. One energy company recently purchased land near Red Wing for sand mining, sparking opposition from residents and environmentalists.

From an article in the Star Tribune, Minneapolis-St. Paul:

The fracking process pumps a mixture of frac sand, water and chemicals into underground rock formations to break up the stone and release oil and natural gas. It allows affordable access to fossil fuel supplies that once were too expensive to tap.

But it's been a contentious issue in some states that have fracking operations. Critics argue that chemicals used in fracking may be contaminating water supplies.

Learning curve steep for Cassville plant now burning wood biomass

Frm an article by Ron Seely in the Wisconsin State Journal:
A small wood burner helps fire the boiler
to heat the Barron, Wiscosnin schools.
From smoking piles of wood chips in the countryside to dust on kitchen counters in Cassville, the difficulties posed by the conversion of the E.J. Stoneman Electrical Station in Grant County to burn wood instead of coal have challenged both village residents and plant engineers.

But the adventures and misadventures of the conversion stand as an informative and cautionary tale of what may lie ahead as Wisconsin and the rest of the country struggle to find alternative renewable fuels to help wean us from dirtier, nonrenewable combustibles such as coal.

Even so, Rich Nelson, plant manager, is more convinced than ever that the plant, one of just a few in the country that burn only wood, represents a future that will see much less dependence on nonrenewable fuels. After all, he said, it makes perfect sense to be turning demolished buildings in Milwaukee into power for more than 28,000 homes in the Cassville area.

“If we weren’t here,” Nelson said, “then all that construction material would be going into a landfill.”

The 60-year-old power plant, which rises next to the Mississippi River, was converted last year by Michigan’s DTE Energies, which has owned the plant since 2008. Its two boilers are now heated by wood rather than coal, a process known in the trade as “repowering.”

The transition has had its rough spots. Nearby residents have complained about problems such as ash on their window sills and kitchen counters, and wood chip piles stored in quarries that spontaneously combust and fill scenic valleys with blue haze.

“It’s frustrating sometimes,” Nelson said. “I think the expectation was that we’d push a button and then everybody’s feet would be up on their desks and we’d be making power.”

GE Healthcare seeks OK for wind turbines

From an article by Laurel Walker in the Milwaukee journal Sentinel:

Waukesha - GE Healthcare is seeking city permission to install 10 wind turbines up to 155 feet tall on its 662-acre Waukesha campus on county Highway T north of I-94.

The project, if approved, would be built next year or later, said Annette Busateri, public relations manager. It is part of the company's 2015 goal of reducing electrical usage by 15% and improving building energy efficiency by at least 10%, she said.

The Waukesha Plan Commission is scheduled to consider a conditional use permit for the project at its 6 p.m. meeting Wednesday. The city has no wind turbines, planner Michael Hoeft said.

City planner Jennifer Andrews said the company has lined up letters indicating state and federal agencies likely have no objections.

"They seem to have all their ducks in a row," she said.

Although the proposed turbines are about a mile from the runways of Waukesha County's airport, Crites Field, their height would be below the limit set by the county's zoning ordinance that protects airspace around the airport from encroaching structures.

The plan calls for turbines on towers ranging from 135 to 155 feet tall. Three would be behind the former headquarters building, now an assembly building for medical imaging equipment that's the farthest north of three buildings. The other seven would be between the two other buildings farther south.

Waukesha County Parks and Land Use Director Dale Shaver said there are no commercial wind turbines in the county. Not only would this project be the first, but they would be near a high-traffic, very visible interchange.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Drive Smart Wisconsin teaches fuel-efficient practices

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

Rising gasoline prices will pack a punch to pocketbooks this year, leaving consumers less inclined to buy big-ticket items, economists say.

But a Milwaukee group wants to help consumers keep from overspending on fuel.

Consider:

• A report by the Energy Information Administration said that, on average, a typical American household driving about 20,000 miles a year will see gas prices surge about $825 this year, based on the recent run-up in fuel prices to near record levels.

• A similar consumer hit is forecast for Canadian consumers in a recent economic forecast from CIBC World Markets, which found that the run-up in prices means that a greater share of household income is being spent on filling gas tanks than at any time except 2008. That will have consequences for sales of everything from big-ticket items like cars to every day items such as groceries, CIBC economists say.

"The rise in food and gasoline prices since the start of the year has effectively offset most of the benefit to (U.S.) consumers from the recent tax stimulus," said CIBC economist Peter Buchanan in a recent report.

That's where Drive Smart America, a business with a passion for getting great gas mileage, comes in.

Drive Smart America has trained drivers at Veolia Water Services, the Milwaukee Department of Public Works and other local fleets on smart-driving techniques that result in less wasted fuel. The business is led by Bradlee Fons of Pewaukee but includes experienced hybrid drivers who have been able to top the gas mileage charts.

Fons routinely gets more than 80 mpg in his Honda Insight hybrid - and has hit 100 in summer driving. On a recent drive in a minivan to see his son in La Crosse, Fons managed 33 mpg in a vehicle rated to get 24 on the highway.

The initiative is part passion, part business. The 6-year old Milwaukee Hybrid Group is changing its name to Drive Smart Wisconsin and hopes to stage more events like a tire pressure checkup held last year in Waukesha County. Fully inflated tires can be an important factor in improved gas mileage.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Poll finds strong support for wind energy in Wisconsin

From an article in the Chicago Tribune:

MADISON, Wis.— A poll of Wisconsin residents finds strong support for increasing the use of wind energy, even if doing so would raise electricity bills several dollars per month.

The Wisconsin Public Radio poll was released Friday. It shows that 77 percent of respondents want to see the state invest more in wind energy. Reasons included decreasing the nation's reliance on foreign oil and helping the environment.

A majority, 69 percent, wouldn't mind eight to 10 wind-energy machines being placed closed to where they live, and 79 percent favor placing the machines offshore in Lake Michigan.

Click here for poll results.

National energy policy needed to reduce reliance on fossil fuels

From an editorial in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

This Earth Day falls a year and a day after one of the worst environmental disasters to hit the United States. The explosion of BP's Deepwater Horizon oil rig took the lives of 11 rig workers and released 206 million gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico.

What have we done with the lessons learned in that year? Not so much.

Still missing: a comprehensive energy policy that would significantly reduce the consumption of fossil fuels and place more reliance on alternative or renewable fuels.

There has been some improvement. Cleanup efforts continue, but most of the mess has been removed or has disappeared through evaporation or microbes. The disaster was extensive, but the damage turned out not to be quite as devastating as some expected (although not all of the victims have received full compensation and some effects will certainly linger).

Beaches are open again. Commercial and recreational fishing is back in action. Deep water drilling is probably safer than it was before the explosion; the federal government's inspection program is tougher and more independent.

But critics say this all could happen again - that, in fact, another disaster is inevitable. That's the risk of drilling in ocean waters. The feds recently approved the 10th deepwater drilling permit since the disaster.

Some of that is necessary in the short term. But in the long term, relying on fossil fuels is unsustainable.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

How Wind Helped a Lodgeowner in Maine

How coal stacks up against wind


Madison Peak Oil Group listserve subscribers are debating coal vs. wind. To join the debate, drop an email to madisonpeakoil-subscribe@yahoogroups.com.

Necedah National Wildlife Refuge tops visitor center with solar

A news release from Dairyland Power:

Dairyland Power Cooperative and Oakdale Electric Cooperative collaborate on installation
NECEDAH, WI— Dairyland Power Cooperative and one of its 25 member cooperatives, Oakdale Electric Cooperative, have collaborated with the Necedah National Wildlife Refuge to help bring renewable energy to area homes and businesses via a solar project on the Refuge’s Visitor Center.

The new Necedah National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center is a state-of-the-art energy efficient facility featuring a 46 kilowatt photovoltaic array (solar system). The solar system was funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The Refuge also features an interactive
display on solar-powered energy at the visitor center as part of its environmental education programming.

“It has been great to work cooperatively with the Refuge on a sustainable, renewable technology that benefits the environment,” said Bruce Ardelt, General Manager, Oakdale Electric Cooperative. “We support a variety of renewable energy projects by interconnecting to distributed generation resources such as this solar unit, and are very pleased to see this project at completion.”

Dairyland has a power purchase agreement with the Necedah Refuge to buy all the renewable energy produced through the solar installation for distribution to cooperative members through Dairyland’s Evergreen program. Therefore, the renewable energy generated at the refuge ultimately helps power the homes and businesses in the region. The Necedah Refuge is a member of Oakdale Electric Cooperative, which provided electrical transmission interconnection to the solar project.

Evergreen is Dairyland’s renewable energy “green power” program. Supporting Evergreen is an ideal option for cooperative members who want to do more to preserve the environment and promote the growth of renewable energy generation. Dairyland’s diverse portfolio of renewables includes hydro, wind, biomass, landfill gas, cow manure digesters and solar.

A grand opening event for the Necedah National Wildlife Refuge’s Visitor Center is being held on Saturday, April 30. For more information, see www.fws.gov/midwest/necedah.

With headquarters in La Crosse, Wis., Dairyland provides wholesale electricity to Oakdale Electric Cooperative and 24 other member distribution cooperatives and 16 municipal utilities in four states
(Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa and Illinois). Dairyland’s generation resources include coal, natural gas, hydro, wind, landfill gas, solar and animal waste. For more information, please visit http://www.dairynet.com/.

Photo courtesy of the Necedah Wildlife Refuge.

Earth Day Rally, Apirl 21, Eau Claire

It's looking like it will be a sunny 50F tonight for the RALLY FOR THE EARTH at Phoenix Park. Our main speakers are Rep. Spencer Black, and Northland Adventures' Dave Carlson.

Rally for the Earth
6-7:30pm
Phoenix Park, Downtown Eau Claire

Other speakers include, Gregg Moore, John "Duke" Welter, Jeff Smith, Kristen Dexter, and yours truly!

Can't wait to see you there! Come early for music!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Wind energy development and jobs grow in the Midwest, but not Wisconsin

From an article by Dan Piller in the the Des Moises (Iowa) Register:

State grants West Branch wind facility $3 million

The Iowa Power Fund on Thursday awarded Acciona Wind Energy a $3 million grant to help finance a $19.9 million demonstration project near Mechanicsville that will show off Acciona's new three-megawatt wind energy system.

"One tower will be steel and the other concrete. We've had requests for both," said Joe Baker, president of Acciona's plant at West Branch.

The four-year-old West Branch operation makes the nacelles, or the box behind the blade that houses the gears and generation capacity.

Acciona has focused on building 1.5-megawatt wind systems, but the larger units are becoming more standard in the industry, Baker said.

MidAmerican Energy's wind farms in west-central Iowa have three-megawatt turbines.

"Within seven to 10 years most of the wind turbines will be three megawatts," he said. A megawatt of electricity can power 200 to 500 standard-sized homes.

Iowa has 3,675 megawatts of wind generation capacity, ranking second behind Texas in total capacity and first as a percentage of its total electricity generation capacity

Acciona is a century-old Spanish company with roots in construction and water treatment. The West Branch facility, opened in 2007, is its only U.S. wind equipment factory, but Acciona operates five wind farms in Illinois, South Dakota, Oklahoma, Nevada and California.

From an article by Laurenne Ramsdell on Fosters.com:

Goss in Durham (MA) delivers first turbine to Chicago-area

DURHAM — Goss International unveiled its newly developed wind turbine components to area officials and state representatives on Thursday morning.

Goss, primarily a printing press company, has worked throughout the past year with Aeronautica Windpower, a Massachusetts-based licensing company, to cross train employees in order to produce the massive turbines.

According to Greg Norris, marketing communications manager for Goss, the first wind turbine that Goss has manufactured will be ready for shipment to Illinois next week. Norris said the eco-friendly equipment will be delivered to Testa Produce, a Chicago-based wholesale produce distributor.

Norris stressed the turbines are midscale electromechanical pieces of equipment that will be used for warehouses, farms, schools and universities, factories, small housing developments and an array of commercial sites.

Those who attended the update session had the opportunity to tour the area of Goss where the 750 kilowatt and 225 kilowatt machines are being manufactured. Wearing safety goggles, the representatives stood in awe at the size and power of the turbines being created.

As of Thursday, the 750 kilowatt turbine going to Illinois was in pieces for shipping purposes. Once the pieces are assembled, the machine is comparable in size to a small school bus.

Wind energy development and jobs grow in the Midwest, but not Wisconsin

From an article by Dan Piller in the the Des Moises (Iowa) Register:

State grants West Branch wind facility $3 million

The Iowa Power Fund on Thursday awarded Acciona Wind Energy a $3 million grant to help finance a $19.9 million demonstration project near Mechanicsville that will show off Acciona's new three-megawatt wind energy system.

"One tower will be steel and the other concrete. We've had requests for both," said Joe Baker, president of Acciona's plant at West Branch.

The four-year-old West Branch operation makes the nacelles, or the box behind the blade that houses the gears and generation capacity.

Acciona has focused on building 1.5-megawatt wind systems, but the larger units are becoming more standard in the industry, Baker said.

MidAmerican Energy's wind farms in west-central Iowa have three-megawatt turbines.

"Within seven to 10 years most of the wind turbines will be three megawatts," he said. A megawatt of electricity can power 200 to 500 standard-sized homes.

Iowa has 3,675 megawatts of wind generation capacity, ranking second behind Texas in total capacity and first as a percentage of its total electricity generation capacity

Acciona is a century-old Spanish company with roots in construction and water treatment. The West Branch facility, opened in 2007, is its only U.S. wind equipment factory, but Acciona operates five wind farms in Illinois, South Dakota, Oklahoma, Nevada and California.

From an article by Laurenne Ramsdell on Fosters.com:

Goss in Durham (MA) delivers first turbine to Chicago-area

DURHAM — Goss International unveiled its newly developed wind turbine components to area officials and state representatives on Thursday morning.

Goss, primarily a printing press company, has worked throughout the past year with Aeronautica Windpower, a Massachusetts-based licensing company, to cross train employees in order to produce the massive turbines.

According to Greg Norris, marketing communications manager for Goss, the first wind turbine that Goss has manufactured will be ready for shipment to Illinois next week. Norris said the eco-friendly equipment will be delivered to Testa Produce, a Chicago-based wholesale produce distributor.

Norris stressed the turbines are midscale electromechanical pieces of equipment that will be used for warehouses, farms, schools and universities, factories, small housing developments and an array of commercial sites.

Those who attended the update session had the opportunity to tour the area of Goss where the 750 kilowatt and 225 kilowatt machines are being manufactured. Wearing safety goggles, the representatives stood in awe at the size and power of the turbines being created.

As of Thursday, the 750 kilowatt turbine going to Illinois was in pieces for shipping purposes. Once the pieces are assembled, the machine is comparable in size to a small school bus.

Honeywell and UW-M reduce campus utility costs and carbon dioxide emissions

From a news release issued by Honeywell:

MINNEAPOLIS, April 19, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Honeywell (NYSE:HON - News) today announced it has completed the company's first energy-efficient building upgrades at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM), which will save the school an estimated $620,000 in annual energy costs. The work is part of a multi-phase, $21.7-million energy conservation and infrastructure renewal program that will improve comfort and efficiency in university facilities while cutting utility costs and greenhouse gas emissions.

All the improvements UWM has asked Honeywell to make are expected to reduce energy and operating expenses by $30.8 million over the next two decades. They will also trim electricity use by more than 10 million kilowatt-hours annually — enough energy to power nearly 940 homes. And they will decrease annual carbon dioxide emissions by an anticipated 31 million pounds as well. According to figures from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, this is equivalent to removing more than 2,700 cars from the road.

Honeywell is completing the work under three 20-year performance contracts with the university. These contracts allow school officials to pay for the upgrades using the savings they generate, which Honeywell guarantees. As a result, the program won't increase school budgets or require additional taxpayer dollars.

"Through our Energy Matters program, we demonstrate how progressive partnerships lead to environmental improvements and cost savings that benefit everyone," said UWM Interim Chancellor Michael R. Lovell. "By working with external partners like Honeywell, we're making it possible for faculty, staff and students to better understand sustainability and make meaningful reductions in the amount of energy, water and other resources UWM requires to operate each day."

Green Drinks Eau Claire, April 21

Subject: Green Drinks on Thursday, April 21, 7:30pm - Stella Blues
Hello Green Drinkers,

Instead of our regularly scheduled meeting tonight we'll be meeting tomorrow (Thursday) after the Rally for the Earth event at Phoenix Park.

Join us at Stella Blues in Eau Claire for drinks and conversation after the rally.

See the link for more info: http://www.facebook.com/#!/event.php?eid=207398302618780

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Earth Day Economics: A Green and Prosperous Future

From an article in the Shepherd Express by Doug Booth, a retired Marquette University economics professor, a founder of the Driftless Area Land Conservancy, and author of The Coming Good Boom: Creating Prosperity for All and Saving the Environment Through Compact Living:

The astounding success of the first Earth Day on April 22, 1970, under the tutelage of a true Wisconsin hero, Sen. Gaylord Nelson, marked the coming of age of the environmental movement in this country. Environmental victories in the 1970s included the passage of such landmark legislation as the Clean Air, Clean Water and Endangered Species acts. Earth Day ushered in a new environmental era, and today the quality of our lives is much improved for it.

Unfortunately, our work remains unfinished.

Our single greatest environmental threat today is global warming brought to us by the burning of fossil fuels to power our cars, heat our homes, grow our food and fabricate and operate all our wonderful consumer gadgets. Scientists tell us that greenhouse gases from fossil fuels act like a "tea cozy" around the Earth, bringing forth dangerous environmental harms reported in the news on a daily basis—a shrinking polar ice cap, rising sea levels, more powerful storms, droughts and wildfires.

Reducing Fossil Fuel Consumption

Bringing global warming to a halt can be accomplished with a simple act—freeing ourselves from the environmental tyranny of fossil fuels. Some will say this is easier said than done, but doing so will bring on what I call a "good boom" that will lift all our boats. The "good boom" will be an economic expansion created through compact urban living, clean energy, more grassland and less corn, green cuisine, letting forests grow old and more. It will also help us address global warming. . . .

Wind and Solar Are the Future's Power Sources
Necessary to moving beyond fossil fuels is a switch to truly clean sources of renewable energy. Notwithstanding Gov. Scott Walker's attempt to bring wind energy to a screeching halt with onerous regulations, both wind and sun are the primary energy sources of the future. For example, California lawmakers recently approved a rule requiring utilities to derive one-third of their power from renewable energy sources within 10 years. As we do more of anything in our economy, its cost inevitably falls. This is happening already for both wind and solar energy. The Great Plains is on track to becoming the Saudi Arabia of wind energy, and throughout the Midwest industrial belt, old factories are quickly being refitted to produce wind generators and solar panels. Despite the naysayers, the wind and solar energy revolution is under way, bringing forth an abundance of new jobs—windsmiths, solar panel installers, weatherization specialists, solar engineers, wind and solar equipment fabricators and, here in Milwaukee, urban farmers.

To be sure, the fossil fuel industry will resist going quietly and will defend to the death its right to pollute the atmosphere without cost. Eventually, the industry will lose this battle and will pay the public piper through some form of a tax on greenhouse gas emissions.

Energy policy murky year after oil spill

From an editorial in the La Crosse Tribune:

A year ago Wednesday, the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded in the Gulf of Mexico, killing 11 men and spewing 172 million gallons of oil in the ocean.

While we remember images of spewing oil and blackened beaches, nature has shown her remarkable resiliency, despite man’s best attempts at despoiling her.

A report by more than three dozen scientists grade the Gulf’s health as a 68 on a 100-point scale, which is slightly below the grade of 71 they gave the Gulf prior to the spill. While beaches are open as tourism returns to normal, there are still long-term environmental concerns such as hundreds of young dolphins dying and dead spots on the sea floor.

Jane Lubchenco, head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, told The Associated Press that the Gulf is “much better than people feared, but the jury is out about what the end result will be. It’s premature that things are good.”

It also will be a while before there are tougher environmental and safety rules regulating the offshore drilling industry. The New York Times published a story Monday that said the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management has much work to do before more rigid rules can be put into place.

There’s certainly plenty of pressure from the oil and gas industry to resume deep-water drilling. A moratorium on new deep-water drilling was lifted in October, and the Interior Department has approved 10 permits and 15 others are pending, the Times said. The House of Representatives has three bills pending that would speed up permit approval and open new areas for drilling off the Atlantic and Pacific coasts as well as easing environmental rules off the Alaska shores.

Our country has an insatiable need for oil but fails to have a comprehensive federal energy policy to wean our dependence on fossil fuel.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Green La Crosse announced Earth Day activities

See the complete schedule.

Iowa grants West Branch wind facility $3 million

Unlike Wisconsin, Iowa welcomes companies in the wind energy industry, according to this article by Dan Piller in the the Des Moises (Iowa) Register:

State grants West Branch wind facility $3 million

The Iowa Power Fund on Thursday awarded Acciona Wind Energy a $3 million grant to help finance a $19.9 million demonstration project near Mechanicsville that will show off Acciona's new three-megawatt wind energy system.

"One tower will be steel and the other concrete. We've had requests for both," said Joe Baker, president of Acciona's plant at West Branch.

The four-year-old West Branch operation makes the nacelles, or the box behind the blade that houses the gears and generation capacity.

Acciona has focused on building 1.5-megawatt wind systems, but the larger units are becoming more standard in the industry, Baker said.

MidAmerican Energy's wind farms in west-central Iowa have three-megawatt turbines.

"Within seven to 10 years most of the wind turbines will be three megawatts," he said. A megawatt of electricity can power 200 to 500 standard-sized homes.

Iowa has 3,675 megawatts of wind generation capacity, ranking second behind Texas in total capacity and first as a percentage of its total electricity generation capacity

Acciona is a century-old Spanish company with roots in construction and water treatment. The West Branch facility, opened in 2007, is its only U.S. wind equipment factory, but Acciona operates five wind farms in Illinois, South Dakota, Oklahoma, Nevada and California.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Rising Diesel Prices Fuel Higher Electric Rates

For immediate release
April 15, 2011

More information
RENEW Wisconsin
Michael Vickerman
608.255.4044
mvickerman@renewwisconsin.org

We Energies Customers Will Pay the Higher Cost of Hauling Coal

We Energies’ electricity customers can look forward to coughing up an additional $25 million in 2011 due to the Public Service Commission’s approval yesterday [April14] of a rate increase to cover the escalating cost of transporting coal to Wisconsin power plants.

Milwaukee-based We Energies, Wisconsin’s largest electric utility, imports coal from such distant locations as Wyoming and Pennsylvania to generate electricity. Transportation now accounts for two-thirds of the delivered cost of coal to Wisconsin.

Diesel fuel costs have jumped to approximately $4.00 a gallon this year, propelled by political unrest in the Middle East, declining petroleum output from Mexico, a weakening dollar, and other factors. We Energies’ request predated the ongoing civil war in Libya.

“While we cannot control any of those price drivers, we can more effectively cushion their effects by diversifying our energy generation mix with locally produced wind, solar, small hydro, and biogas electricity,” said Michael Vickerman, executive director of RENEW Wisconsin, a statewide organization advocating for public policies and private initiatives that advance renewable energy.

“The coal mines aren’t getting any closer to Wisconsin. Therefore we have to be serious about reducing our dependence on fossil fuels that are tied to the global oil supply picture. Now is not the time to skimp on investments in conservation and renewable energy that will help stabilize the utility bills of businesses and residents,” Vickerman said.

“Do we have the will to pursue energy policies that take us off of the fossil fuel price escalator? Doing nothing will bake these rate increases into our future without any corresponding boost to Wisconsin’s job market and sustainable energy economy.”
--END--

Wisconsin Focus on Energy Debuts New Homes Program

From a news release issued by Focus on Energy:

New program addresses energy-efficiency and quality-control needs specific to Wisconsin homes

(April 13, 2011) – Focus on Energy, Wisconsin utilities’ statewide program for energy efficiency and renewable energy, recently debuted the Focus on Energy New Homes Program. The program pairs Wisconsin builders with leading energy experts in order to construct new homes that are safer, more durable, and are 10 to 100 percent more efficient than typical homes built to the state’s Uniform Dwelling Code. Builders throughout Wisconsin can enroll in the program, and prospective homebuyers can work with participating builders to choose one of four levels of efficiency.

ENERGY STAR® Roots – An Evolution for Wisconsin Homes
Focus’ New Homes Program is a natural progression from the national ENERGY STAR Homes Program that Focus sponsored locally in the past. When the ENERGY STAR Homes Program overhauled its criteria in 2010, Focus collaborated with state builders to determine if the changes were appropriate for Wisconsin.

“When the new ENERGY STAR requirements were released, we realized that while they provided some great general building standards, not all criteria addressed the unique needs of Wisconsin homeowners,” said Sara Van de Grift, residential programs director for Focus on Energy.

“A home in Wisconsin isn’t going to need the same features as a home in California. This is why we created the Focus New Homes Program, to provide a customized, cost-effective option for Wisconsin residents looking to build safe, smart, energy-efficient homes.”

With builder support, Focus decided to forego ENERGY STAR requirements that weren’t applicable to Wisconsin homeowners, and instead develop standards that could yield superior energy savings at a more affordable price. For example, the following are just a few of the Focus on Energy New Homes Program requirements that homeowners will benefit from:

Air tightness. Air leaking into and out-of a home is major source of energy loss and can make a home feel drafty and uncomfortable. Homes certified by Focus’ New Homes Program must meet a stringent air tightness standard, dramatically reducing uncontrolled air leakage.

Whole house ventilation. Because the home is air tight, it is important to manage its indoor air quality. This is why whole house ventilation is required in a home certified by the Focus New Homes Program. The program has adopted the American Society of Heating Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) standard 62.2, allowing a homeowner the ability to manage their home’s indoor air quality.

Space heating and water heating design standard. Because homes certified by Focus’ New Home Program have such strict requirements when it comes to air tightness and ventilation standards, as a safety precaution, the program does not allow atmospherically ventilated space heating or water heating appliances. Reason, in a home that is more air tight the ventilation fans can cause an atmospherically ventilated combustion appliance such as a natural gas water heater or furnace to back draft, drawing carbon monoxide and other combustion by-products into a home.

Rising Diesel Prices Fuel Higher Electric Rates

For immediate release
April 15, 2011

More information
RENEW Wisconsin
Michael Vickerman
608.255.4044
mvickerman@renewwisconsin.org

We Energies Customers Will Pay the Higher Cost of Hauling Coal

We Energies’ electricity customers can look forward to coughing up an additional $25 million in 2011 due to the Public Service Commission’s approval yesterday [April14] of a rate increase to cover the escalating cost of transporting coal to Wisconsin power plants.

Milwaukee-based We Energies, Wisconsin’s largest electric utility, imports coal from such distant locations as Wyoming and Pennsylvania to generate electricity. Transportation now accounts for two-thirds of the delivered cost of coal to Wisconsin.

Diesel fuel costs have jumped to approximately $4.00 a gallon this year, propelled by political unrest in the Middle East, declining petroleum output from Mexico, a weakening dollar, and other factors. We Energies’ request predated the ongoing civil war in Libya.

“While we cannot control any of those price drivers, we can more effectively cushion their effects by diversifying our energy generation mix with locally produced wind, solar, small hydro, and biogas electricity,” said Michael Vickerman, executive director of RENEW Wisconsin, a statewide organization advocating for public policies and private initiatives that advance renewable energy.

“The coal mines aren’t getting any closer to Wisconsin. Therefore we have to be serious about reducing our dependence on fossil fuels that are tied to the global oil supply picture. Now is not the time to skimp on investments in conservation and renewable energy that will help stabilize the utility bills of businesses and residents,” Vickerman said.

“Do we have the will to pursue energy policies that take us off of the fossil fuel price escalator? Doing nothing will bake these rate increases into our future without any corresponding boost to Wisconsin’s job market and sustainable energy economy.”

--END--

Viroqua Earth Day Celebration, April 22

Viroqua NewenHouse Earth Day OpenHouse

On Earth Day, Friday April 22, Madison Environmental Group, Inc. will be celebrating in Viroqua, WI at the Newenhouse kit home under construction. There will be tours of the home every hour, cake, old time music, and good times. This is a family friendly FREE event, from 2-6pm. NewenHouse kit homes will provide super insulated, small, sustainable homes for people who want to live lightly on the earth. The homes are designed to be Passive House and LEED Platinum certified. NewenHouses will not need a furnace, even in Wisconsin winters. You can follow Sonya's BLOG about the building process on the website of Natural Home Magazine or view an article about the project here.

We will be serving the Driftless region’s infamous Maple Lattes with Kickapoo Coffee, Maple Valley Syrup and Organic Valley cream! Combine this event with an afternoon in Viroqua to visit the Main Street local shops, the Viroqua food coop, and eat at the Driftless CafĂ©. Directions to the Newenhouse OpenHouse 422 Hickory Street (2 hours NW of Madison). RSVP's appreciated.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The nuclear option: Safety concerns are only one big reason wind and solar better

From a commentary by Mark Z. Jacobson in the New York Daily News:

The powerful earthquake and tsunami that caused reactors at Japan's Fukushima nuclear power plant to shut down - releasing radiation and endangering workers and evacuees - have many Americans asking whether nuclear energy is worth the investment and risk.

I say not. In fact, it should not have taken a disaster of this kind to move us decisively away from nuclear and toward safe, clean, renewable energy. . . .

If the world's energy needs were converted to electricity for all purposes - and nuclear supplied such energy - 15,800 large nuclear reactors, one installed every day for the next 43 years, would be needed. The installation of even 5% of these would nearly double the current number of reactors, giving many more countries the potential to develop weapons. If only one weapon were used in a city, it could kill 1 to 16 million people.

***

Why do we need nuclear energy when we have safer, cleaner options that can provide greater power for a much longer period and at lower cost to society? These better options are called WWS, for "wind, water and sunlight." The chance of catastrophe caused by nature or terrorists acting on wind or solar, in particular, is zero.

During their lifetimes, WWS technologies emit no pollution - whereas nuclear does, since continuous energy is needed to mine, transport and refine uranium and reactors require much longer to permit and install than do WWS technologies. Overall, nuclear emits 9 to 25 times more air pollution and carbon dioxide than does wind per unit energy generated.

***

Some argue that nuclear is more reliable than WWS systems. This is not true. A nuclear reactor affects a larger fraction of the grid when it fails than does a wind turbine. The average maintenance downtime of modern wind turbines on land is 2%. That of France's 59 reactors is 21.5%, with about half due to scheduled maintenance.

Iowa leads all states in use of wind energy

While Wisconsin officials drive wind energy development out of the Badger state, next-door Iowa leads, according to anarticle by Dan Piller in the Des Moines Register:

About 15 percent of Iowa's electricity generation capacity now comes from wind, maintaining the state's national leadership in figures released Thursday by the American Wind Energy Association.

With a major expansion by MidAmerican Energy, Iowa stands to rise to 20 percent this year.

"That's a percentage close to what we see in Europe, and it's exciting," said Jessica Isaacs, senior analyst with the wind association.

Iowa still ranks second nationally in wind capacity with 3,675 megawatts, behind Texas' 10,085 megawatts but still ahead of California's 3,177.

Because of Texas' larger electricity grid, Iowa's 15 percent of total capacity coming from wind exceeds Texas' 7.8 percent percentage of wind to total electricity.

Iowa's total will grow this year with the addition of 593 megawatts by MidAmerican in Calhoun, Cass, Adams, Adair and Marshall counties.

The expansions will bring Des Moines-based MidAmerican to 2,316 megawatts of capacity, the largest utility-owned and operated wind generation portfolio among investor-owned utilities.

Farm community rallies to support wind energy project

The farm community around Rosiere, Wisconsin, Kewaunee County, came together more than ten years ago to support a wind energy development, and they're still thankful for the wind turbines.

Iowa leads all states in use of wind energy

While Wisconsin officials drive wind energy development out of the Badger state, next-door Iowa leads, according to anarticle by Dan Piller in the Des Moines Register:

About 15 percent of Iowa's electricity generation capacity now comes from wind, maintaining the state's national leadership in figures released Thursday by the American Wind Energy Association.

With a major expansion by MidAmerican Energy, Iowa stands to rise to 20 percent this year.

"That's a percentage close to what we see in Europe, and it's exciting," said Jessica Isaacs, senior analyst with the wind association.

Iowa still ranks second nationally in wind capacity with 3,675 megawatts, behind Texas' 10,085 megawatts but still ahead of California's 3,177.

Because of Texas' larger electricity grid, Iowa's 15 percent of total capacity coming from wind exceeds Texas' 7.8 percent percentage of wind to total electricity.

Iowa's total will grow this year with the addition of 593 megawatts by MidAmerican in Calhoun, Cass, Adams, Adair and Marshall counties.

The expansions will bring Des Moines-based MidAmerican to 2,316 megawatts of capacity, the largest utility-owned and operated wind generation portfolio among investor-owned utilities.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Growing Power initiative to create 150 new jobs

From an article in Biz Times Daily:

With legislation signed by Mayor Tom Barrett following a unanimous vote by the Milwaukee Common Council, Growing Power Inc., has been awarded $425,000 to build 150 hoop house gardens on vacant land within the city.
The farms will be tended by beginning urban farmers, creating 150 new jobs that will be filled by unemployed people in Milwaukee.

Growing Power’s proposal, called “Growing Capacity for the Green Economy,” was made in February to Milwaukee’s African-American Male Unemployment Task Force, whose mission is to work with community organizations and businesses to reduce joblessness among black males in Milwaukee. Recent estimates have put Milwaukee’s African-American male unemployment rate at more than 25 percent, one of the highest rates in the nation.

The grant, which comes from federal Housing and Urban Development funding, will be administered by Milwaukee’s Community Development Block Grant office.

“This is a strong beginning,” said Will Allen, founder of Growing Power and nationally recognized urban agriculture leader. “To do this program right, we will need three times this amount. Our workers will need training and we will need support staff, in addition to the hoop houses themselves.”

Despite the financial challenge, Allen is upbeat about the program’s future.

“We can find this money. The low overall cost for the benefits the program will bring – both in terms of creating jobs and providing fresh, nutritious food for urban families – will hopefully be a powerful formula for success” Allen said.

Wind energy project grounded by lack of policy, market

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

More than two years after officials announced plans to build a wind-turbine blade manufacturing plant, the future of the Wisconsin Rapids-based company's project remains unclear.

Energy Composites Corp.'s plan to bring more than 600 jobs to the south Wood County area is on hold indefinitely while the city continues to negotiate a deal to buy back the land it sold to the company for the project, city and company officials said.

"We have nothing in final form," Mayor Mary Jo Carson said Friday. "We'll probably push it through sometime next week."

Company founder and President Jamie Mancl said a sharp decline in the wind-industry market and a lack of federal energy policy were the main reasons he was unable to secure investors for the 535,000-square-foot plant.

"We still are pursuing options, of course, but given the economic and political environment, especially here in the state of Wisconsin but (also) across the U.S., it has been very challenging at best," Mancl said Friday.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Power Down meeting, April 10

Our next meeting is now April 10 at 4:00 pm
The Pink House Studio 601 E Wright St in Riverwest

Here is a list of identified projects that we need leaders for. Feel free to explore the scope of these projects or collaborate with someone to cover these responsibilities. We are looking for people to work on these projects, and propose new ones for Power Down Week (PDW).

Outreach to Businesses: (PDW needs both Riverwest and Bayview Leaders) PDW is looking for people to organize an outreach to local businesses, to create a challenge/game and/or ask for donations for prizes.

Media: PDW is looking for someone to put together a press packet and be the contact for all media.

Off the Hook Challenge: Last year PDW had people pledge to give up their phones for the week. Organizers coordinated a central location where one phone was used in case of emergencies. We had volunteers to stay at that location and answer the phone if needed and then relay the message to the person who gave up their phone for the week. PDW are looking for someone to coordinate a similar initiative.

Website: PDW is looking for someone to coordinate the placement of information on websites, and manage the Power Down Facebook pages.

Powering Down Pledge: Last year organizers coordinated a game where people accounted for all of the `Power Down' Activities and the most active people won prizes. This year there has been a proposal to simplify the game with 3+ levels of involvement. There would be a list of activities that a person could pledge to do, and if you pledge 3 things you are a `novice', 15 things you are `involved', and all of the things you are an `expert'. The person to coordinate this would be creative and figure out a fun game where people would get acknowledgement for their participation. (other elements proposed include a wrist band with a color for the level that you pledge, discounts or recognition by businesses for that level of pledge, and a nominal cost for getting a wrist band to pay for operating costs of Power Down Week) All of the elements of the game are up for debate.

Social Networking Wall: Last year many people enjoyed being offline, but still having a physical `facebook' wall to reference during the week. Organizers created physical FB profiles at the kickoff event and they were posted at the Pink House all week for people to reference and leave notes. It was well received. PDW is looking for someone to coordinate a similar experience.

Kick Off Event: This is one of the most important elements of Power Down week. PDW is looking for someone to coordinate this event. Date, time, location, volunteers, activities. This might be a good project for more than one person or a group of people.

Scouts for Events: PDW is in need of people who have their eyes and ears open for events that are already happening during Power Down week that we can promote. PDW is also looking for fun events that we could partner with to help them use less energy.

Scouts for Workshops: PDW is looking for people who have skills they would like to share, or are willing to scout for local talent to bring the best workshops possible to PDW.

Email for more information.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Shortsighted energy plans just won't cut it; renewables needed

From an editorial in the Sheboygan Press:

President Barack Obama has twice in the last year called for the nation to reduce its dependence of foreign oil by embarking on a multi-faceted plan on energy.

Obama's first call for energy independence was followed less than a month later by the Deep Water Horizon oil rig disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.

We hope that the president's latest energy initiative is followed not by a disaster, but by a commitment from Congress to develop a national energy policy. A commitment from the American people to be receptive of alternative energy sources would be nice, too. . . .

Until recently, we thought Wisconsin was poised to become a leader in helping the nation reach that goal.

Wind power was one area where Wisconsin was setting the pace.

The state had sensible rules on where wind turbines could be located in relation to residential properties and the state was on its way toward making progress on using this renewable energy resource. But those rules are on hold and are likely to be changed to the point where it will be impractical for companies interested in locating wind farms to do business in Wisconsin.

This is not only shortsighted in development of renewable energy sources, it is also a job-killer because the companies that now make wind turbines in Wisconsin are already talking about relocating to states where wind power is welcomed.

The easy thing to do is to keep relying on oil and coal to power our cars and heat our homes. The wise thing is to develop a long-range plan that relies on renewable energy.

Shortsighted energy plans just won't cut it; renewables needed

From an editorial in the Sheboygan Press:

President Barack Obama has twice in the last year called for the nation to reduce its dependence of foreign oil by embarking on a multi-faceted plan on energy.

Obama's first call for energy independence was followed less than a month later by the Deep Water Horizon oil rig disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.

We hope that the president's latest energy initiative is followed not by a disaster, but by a commitment from Congress to develop a national energy policy. A commitment from the American people to be receptive of alternative energy sources would be nice, too. . . .

Until recently, we thought Wisconsin was poised to become a leader in helping the nation reach that goal.

Wind power was one area where Wisconsin was setting the pace.

The state had sensible rules on where wind turbines could be located in relation to residential properties and the state was on its way toward making progress on using this renewable energy resource. But those rules are on hold and are likely to be changed to the point where it will be impractical for companies interested in locating wind farms to do business in Wisconsin.

This is not only shortsighted in development of renewable energy sources, it is also a job-killer because the companies that now make wind turbines in Wisconsin are already talking about relocating to states where wind power is welcomed.

The easy thing to do is to keep relying on oil and coal to power our cars and heat our homes. The wise thing is to develop a long-range plan that relies on renewable energy.

Walker should reconsider his stance on setbacks for wind farms

From an editorial in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

Wind farms in Wisconsin can lessen the state's reliance on coal-fired power plants at the same time that they add jobs to the economy. But instead of moving forward on this economic development tool, Gov. Scott Walker's administration is taking a step back. That's a mistake and something Walker should rethink.

What the governor and the Legislature have done is change the rules under which wind farms are sited, seeking to put greater distance between homes and wind farms. As a result, at least two firms have announced they are canceling or suspending plans to build wind farms in Wisconsin - and that means a loss of potential jobs.

Here's what happened: Two years ago, the Legislature called on the state Public Service Commission to establish a uniform standard for wind projects across the state. The idea was that a statewide standard was better than the patchwork of local rules and moratoriums that were in place. It was a good idea, and the PSC came up with a rule.

One of its elements was a 1,250-foot setback from a neighbor's property line; it also would have provided decibel and shadow flicker requirements for wind farm turbines.

The setback wasn't enough for Walker and wind farm opponents; in January, the governor introduced a bill with a 1,800-foot setback, although he said this week that his administration remains open to wind energy. Last week, a legislative committee sent the PSC's new rule back to the PSC for more work. The concern is that wind farms will hurt property values of neighboring residents.

That's resulted in enough uncertainty over the future of wind farms in Wisconsin that Invenergy of Chicago canceled plans to develop a wind farm near Green Bay and Midwest Wind Energy suspended development of two wind farms.

A statewide standard still needs to be set by the PSC. And the legitimate concerns of neighbors of wind farms need to be taken into account without giving too much credence to fears that are unfounded and overstated. But the standard should not be so restrictive that wind farms become impractical in Wisconsin. That takes Wisconsin out of the clean energy economy - a bad bet.

Scientists propose drilling for geothermal energy in Marathon County

From an article by Chad Dally in the Wausau Daily Herald:

Wisconsin scientists hope to drill a well in Marathon County to determine the potential of using the earth's own heat to power homes and produce renewable energy.

The Wisconsin Geological and Natural History Survey in October asked for permission to drill a geothermal well in one of three spots in the county: Mission Lake County Park, the Ringle Forest Unit and Leather Camp Forest Unit.

Those spots were chosen because the geology shows extensive granite deposits, which tends to hold more heat than other forms of rock such as sandstone or dolomite, said David Hart, the Geological and Natural History Survey's project manager.

The county's Forestry and Recreation Committee this week approved the request and opted for the Leather Camp site south of Kronenwetter because drilling there would have the least effect on recreation opportunities. The Environmental Resources Committee also will consider the request April 19.

If approved, the research well would be 6 inches in diameter and between 800 and 1,000 feet deep in Leather Camp forest, Hart said. There is limited information about Wisconsin's geothermal resources, and the Marathon County well is one of six planned to assess potential.

Researchers would measure how the temperature increases with depth.

"I view our study as basic measurements necessary to decide whether or not we should pursue enhanced geothermal energy in Wisconsin," Hart said. "The study will also benefit the heat pump or groundsource geothermal systems that many homeowners are installing."

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Viola farmer to speak at Washington, D.C., organic conference

From a news release issued by the Organic Farming Research Foundation:

Organic farmers from across the U.S. will join the Organic Farming Research Foundation’s(OFRF) new executive director Maureen Wilmot for the Organic Trade Association’s(OTA’s) Policy Conference and Hill Visit Days in Washington, DC April 6-7, 2011.

Five entrepreneurial organic farmers will journey from Georgia, Maine, New York, Oklahoma, and Wisconsin to discuss the beneficial impacts of their farm businesses on rural economies and on environmental and public health with their congressional members who sit on key agriculture and appropriations committees and subcommittees. OFRF is a supporting organization of the OTA event and Ms. Wilmot will be a speaker at the conference.

“This event is a wonderful opportunity for members of Congress to learn from the farmers themselves about the role of organic farmers who really are the “roots” of the burgeoning 26 billion dollar organic industry,” said Ms. Wilmot.

Ms. Wilmot, OFRF staff, and the organic farmers will join with other OTA member companies to visit key members of Congress to discuss the economic and social viability of organic farming. The organization seeks to make organic farming viable, profitable, and attractive for the American farmers of today and those of the future.

“Organic farmers are the heart of the organic movement – without their commitment to vibrant communities and healthy ecosystems, the organic industry as we know it today could not exist,” said Ms. Wilmot. “In addition,” she noted, “Organic farmers contribute to a diverse U.S. agriculture. Investing in their future will benefit both consumers and rural communities nationwide.”

OFRF’s grant making program has worked closely with organic farmers for almost 20 years, awarding more than $2.5 million for over 300 organic research projects nationwide since 1992.

The five organic farmers OFRF is bringing to the OTA event are:

1. Mark Shepard is the CEO of Forest Agriculture Enterprises and the owner and manager of New Forest Farms in Viola, WI. New Forest Farms is a 104 acre perennial agricultural farm and forest considered by many to be one of the most ambitious sustainable agricultural projects in the U.S. Mark and his family grow organic fruits, vegetables, and tree nuts.

2. Will Harris and his family own and operate White Oak Pastures, an organic, grass-fed beef cattle farm in Bluffton, GA, which received the Governor’s Award for Environmental Stewardship in 2009 and 2011. Will is the President of Georgia Organics’ Board of Directors and is the Beef Director of the American Grassfed Association.

3. Michael Kilpatrick is the owner of Kilpatrick Family Farm which grows vegetables and raises chickens using organic practices on over 100 acres near Granville, NY. The farm sells to four farmers markets per week, employs 6 people full-time, and grows produce year-round in high tunnels.

4. Kathy Moore owns Anichini-Moore Ranch and Farm in Woodward, OK. The ranch "The Ranch" focuses on education and soil building, and produces rare breed sheep, wool, grass-pastured lamb, large Black Pig products, Belted Galloway beef, Bison, produce, flowers, nuts and fruit. Kathy is the co-founder of the Oklahoma Composting Council and received the Oklahoma State University Green Award for Sustainability in March 2011.

5. Sarah Smith and her husband own Grassland Farm in Skowhegan, Maine, a certified organic farm and dairy. She and her family milk 45 diverse dairy cows and produce organic, grass-fed beef and chickens as well as a wide range of vegetables. Sarah will be joining the conference on behalf of Organic Valley, the Wisconsin-based organic dairy marketing cooperative, which works closely with OFRF to promote organic agriculture.

Open letter from former supporter rips anti-wind group

A Fox Valley person provided a copy of the following letter to RENEW Wisconsin:

People of Glenmore Township:
PLEASE VOTE RESPONSIBLY!

Dear Fellow Townspeople,

Two months ago, I was a supporter of the BCCRWE [Brown County Citizens for Responsible Wind Energy]. I was actively opposing the wind turbines coming into any of the townships in our area, including Glenmore.

But then something happened.

As the March 7th meeting drew closer, I heard disturbing things from members of the BCCRWE. Things that scared me. Even before the meeting took place, there were threats being made towards our town board members if the vote did not go in the favor of the BCCRWE. There were “agendas” being planned, and conspiracies being formed, not only against the project, but against individual people.

On March 7th, I sat quietly through the meeting listening to barbaric accusations, foul language, curses and threats hurled at our town board. Members of the BCCRWE shouted inappropriate and belittling comments and became unruly and disruptive to the point that law enforcement needed to be called. Later, I read accounts of that same meeting, written by the BCCRWE, that were horribly distorted and inaccurate. Actually, they were straight out lies!

On March 16th, I sat through another meeting and watched the same unruly group, once again, disrespect our town leaders. As the members of the BCCRWE were chanting “Shame on you” to the town board, I was the one that was ashamed to have ever been a part of that group.

On April 5th, you have an opportunity to elect new town board members. Many of the candidates are the same people who threatened and disrespected our current board members for following the law. One candidate admitted, her only goal was to terminate wind turbines in the town and then she wants out. Is that the chairperson you want running the entire township? Even for one term?

The recent events of oil spills in the gulf and nuclear plant failures in Japan should make all of us take a second look at wind energy. I realized after the two meetings in March, that the only reason I didn’t want turbines, was because I couldn’t have on of my own. So, I’m a NIMBY.

It’s important, that we have “responsible” leaders in our township. The mob I witnessed at the last two meetings, did not fit that definition. It would be a disaster to have those people who demonstrated irrational, biased and disorderly behavior, become our new leaders. I was embarrassed to have ever been a part of that group.

Since I have seen how threatening and dangerous this group can be, I prefer to sign only as,

A Concerned Townsperson

Shortsighted energy plans just won't cut it; renewables needed

From an editorial in the Sheboygan Press:

President Barack Obama has twice in the last year called for the nation to reduce its dependence of foreign oil by embarking on a multi-faceted plan on energy.

Obama's first call for energy independence was followed less than a month later by the Deep Water Horizon oil rig disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.

We hope that the president's latest energy initiative is followed not by a disaster, but by a commitment from Congress to develop a national energy policy. A commitment from the American people to be receptive of alternative energy sources would be nice, too. . . .

Until recently, we thought Wisconsin was poised to become a leader in helping the nation reach that goal.

Wind power was one area where Wisconsin was setting the pace.

The state had sensible rules on where wind turbines could be located in relation to residential properties and the state was on its way toward making progress on using this renewable energy resource. But those rules are on hold and are likely to be changed to the point where it will be impractical for companies interested in locating wind farms to do business in Wisconsin.

This is not only shortsighted in development of renewable energy sources, it is also a job-killer because the companies that now make wind turbines in Wisconsin are already talking about relocating to states where wind power is welcomed.

The easy thing to do is to keep relying on oil and coal to power our cars and heat our homes. The wise thing is to develop a long-range plan that relies on renewable energy.

Shortsighted energy plans just won't cut it; renewables needed

From an editorial in the Sheboygan Press:

President Barack Obama has twice in the last year called for the nation to reduce its dependence of foreign oil by embarking on a multi-faceted plan on energy.

Obama's first call for energy independence was followed less than a month later by the Deep Water Horizon oil rig disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.

We hope that the president's latest energy initiative is followed not by a disaster, but by a commitment from Congress to develop a national energy policy. A commitment from the American people to be receptive of alternative energy sources would be nice, too. . . .

Until recently, we thought Wisconsin was poised to become a leader in helping the nation reach that goal.

Wind power was one area where Wisconsin was setting the pace.

The state had sensible rules on where wind turbines could be located in relation to residential properties and the state was on its way toward making progress on using this renewable energy resource. But those rules are on hold and are likely to be changed to the point where it will be impractical for companies interested in locating wind farms to do business in Wisconsin.

This is not only shortsighted in development of renewable energy sources, it is also a job-killer because the companies that now make wind turbines in Wisconsin are already talking about relocating to states where wind power is welcomed.

The easy thing to do is to keep relying on oil and coal to power our cars and heat our homes. The wise thing is to develop a long-range plan that relies on renewable energy.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Milwaukee County transit faces steep cut in Walker's budget

From an article by Steve Schultze in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

Gov. Scott Walker's proposed 10% cut in transit funding could mean dramatic service cuts or bus fare increases in Milwaukee and elsewhere, Milwaukee County supervisors were told Wednesday.

The cut to the Milwaukee County Transit System would be nearly $7 million, under Walker's state two-year budget plan. It would take an 8% cut in routes or a 30% increase in fares to make up for the reduction, said Kenneth Yunker, executive director of the Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission.

"It's a very significant reduction in transit services or increase in fares," Yunker told the County Board's Transportation and Public Works Committee.

Milwaukee County's single adult bus fare is currently $2.25.

Lloyd Grant, managing director of the county transit system, said if the $7 million reduction was absorbed through service cuts, it would mean the loss of 100,000 hours of bus service.

Other bus and transit systems in southeast Wisconsin would face potential service cuts ranging from 6% to 10% or fare increases of up to 60%, according to a study by the planning commission.

Supervisors told Grant to prepare a plan for how the Milwaukee County Transit System would handle the cut, saying that information would be useful in lobbying legislators to slow or reverse the governor's cuts.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Open letter from former supporter rips anti-wind group

A Fox Valley person provided a copy of the following letter to RENEW Wisconsin:

People of Glenmore Township:
PLEASE VOTE RESPONSIBLY!

Dear Fellow Townspeople,

Two months ago, I was a supporter of the BCCRWE [Brown County Citizens for Responsible Wind Energy]. I was actively opposing the wind turbines coming into any of the townships in our area, including Glenmore.

But then something happened.

As the March 7th meeting drew closer, I heard disturbing things from members of the BCCRWE. Things that scared me. Even before the meeting took place, there were threats being made towards our town board members if the vote did not go in the favor of the BCCRWE. There were “agendas” being planned, and conspiracies being formed, not only against the project, but against individual people.

On March 7th, I sat quietly through the meeting listening to barbaric accusations, foul language, curses and threats hurled at our town board. Members of the BCCRWE shouted inappropriate and belittling comments and became unruly and disruptive to the point that law enforcement needed to be called. Later, I read accounts of that same meeting, written by the BCCRWE, that were horribly distorted and inaccurate. Actually, they were straight out lies!

On March 16th, I sat through another meeting and watched the same unruly group, once again, disrespect our town leaders. As the members of the BCCRWE were chanting “Shame on you” to the town board, I was the one that was ashamed to have ever been a part of that group.

On April 5th, you have an opportunity to elect new town board members. Many of the candidates are the same people who threatened and disrespected our current board members for following the law. One candidate admitted, her only goal was to terminate wind turbines in the town and then she wants out. Is that the chairperson you want running the entire township? Even for one term?

The recent events of oil spills in the gulf and nuclear plant failures in Japan should make all of us take a second look at wind energy. I realized after the two meetings in March, that the only reason I didn’t want turbines, was because I couldn’t have on of my own. So, I’m a NIMBY.

It’s important, that we have “responsible” leaders in our township. The mob I witnessed at the last two meetings, did not fit that definition. It would be a disaster to have those people who demonstrated irrational, biased and disorderly behavior, become our new leaders. I was embarrassed to have ever been a part of that group.

Since I have seen how threatening and dangerous this group can be, I prefer to sign only as,

A Concerned Townsperson

Viola farmer to speak at Washington, D.C., organic conference

From a news release issued by the Organic Farming Research Foundation:

Organic farmers from across the U.S. will join the Organic Farming Research Foundation’s(OFRF) new executive director Maureen Wilmot for the Organic Trade Association’s(OTA’s) Policy Conference and Hill Visit Days in Washington, DC April 6-7, 2011.

Five entrepreneurial organic farmers will journey from Georgia, Maine, New York, Oklahoma, and Wisconsin to discuss the beneficial impacts of their farm businesses on rural economies and on environmental and public health with their congressional members who sit on key agriculture and appropriations committees and subcommittees. OFRF is a supporting organization of the OTA event and Ms. Wilmot will be a speaker at the conference.

“This event is a wonderful opportunity for members of Congress to learn from the farmers themselves about the role of organic farmers who really are the “roots” of the burgeoning 26 billion dollar organic industry,” said Ms. Wilmot.

Ms. Wilmot, OFRF staff, and the organic farmers will join with other OTA member companies to visit key members of Congress to discuss the economic and social viability of organic farming. The organization seeks to make organic farming viable, profitable, and attractive for the American farmers of today and those of the future.

“Organic farmers are the heart of the organic movement – without their commitment to vibrant communities and healthy ecosystems, the organic industry as we know it today could not exist,” said Ms. Wilmot. “In addition,” she noted, “Organic farmers contribute to a diverse U.S. agriculture. Investing in their future will benefit both consumers and rural communities nationwide.”

OFRF’s grant making program has worked closely with organic farmers for almost 20 years, awarding more than $2.5 million for over 300 organic research projects nationwide since 1992.

The five organic farmers OFRF is bringing to the OTA event are:

1. Mark Shepard is the CEO of Forest Agriculture Enterprises and the owner and manager of New Forest Farms in Viola, WI. New Forest Farms is a 104 acre perennial agricultural farm and forest considered by many to be one of the most ambitious sustainable agricultural projects in the U.S. Mark and his family grow organic fruits, vegetables, and tree nuts.

2. Will Harris and his family own and operate White Oak Pastures, an organic, grass-fed beef cattle farm in Bluffton, GA, which received the Governor’s Award for Environmental Stewardship in 2009 and 2011. Will is the President of Georgia Organics’ Board of Directors and is the Beef Director of the American Grassfed Association.

3. Michael Kilpatrick is the owner of Kilpatrick Family Farm which grows vegetables and raises chickens using organic practices on over 100 acres near Granville, NY. The farm sells to four farmers markets per week, employs 6 people full-time, and grows produce year-round in high tunnels.

4. Kathy Moore owns Anichini-Moore Ranch and Farm in Woodward, OK. The ranch "The Ranch" focuses on education and soil building, and produces rare breed sheep, wool, grass-pastured lamb, large Black Pig products, Belted Galloway beef, Bison, produce, flowers, nuts and fruit. Kathy is the co-founder of the Oklahoma Composting Council and received the Oklahoma State University Green Award for Sustainability in March 2011.

5. Sarah Smith and her husband own Grassland Farm in Skowhegan, Maine, a certified organic farm and dairy. She and her family milk 45 diverse dairy cows and produce organic, grass-fed beef and chickens as well as a wide range of vegetables. Sarah will be joining the conference on behalf of Organic Valley, the Wisconsin-based organic dairy marketing cooperative, which works closely with OFRF to promote organic agriculture.

Open letter from former supporter rips anti-wind group

A Fox Valley person provided a copy of the following letter to RENEW Wisconsin:

People of Glenmore Township:
PLEASE VOTE RESPONSIBLY!

Dear Fellow Townspeople,

Two months ago, I was a supporter of the BCCRWE [Brown County Citizens for Responsible Wind Energy]. I was actively opposing the wind turbines coming into any of the townships in our area, including Glenmore.

But then something happened.

As the March 7th meeting drew closer, I heard disturbing things from members of the BCCRWE. Things that scared me. Even before the meeting took place, there were threats being made towards our town board members if the vote did not go in the favor of the BCCRWE. There were “agendas” being planned, and conspiracies being formed, not only against the project, but against individual people.

On March 7th, I sat quietly through the meeting listening to barbaric accusations, foul language, curses and threats hurled at our town board. Members of the BCCRWE shouted inappropriate and belittling comments and became unruly and disruptive to the point that law enforcement needed to be called. Later, I read accounts of that same meeting, written by the BCCRWE, that were horribly distorted and inaccurate. Actually, they were straight out lies!

On March 16th, I sat through another meeting and watched the same unruly group, once again, disrespect our town leaders. As the members of the BCCRWE were chanting “Shame on you” to the town board, I was the one that was ashamed to have ever been a part of that group.

On April 5th, you have an opportunity to elect new town board members. Many of the candidates are the same people who threatened and disrespected our current board members for following the law. One candidate admitted, her only goal was to terminate wind turbines in the town and then she wants out. Is that the chairperson you want running the entire township? Even for one term?

The recent events of oil spills in the gulf and nuclear plant failures in Japan should make all of us take a second look at wind energy. I realized after the two meetings in March, that the only reason I didn’t want turbines, was because I couldn’t have on of my own. So, I’m a NIMBY.

It’s important, that we have “responsible” leaders in our township. The mob I witnessed at the last two meetings, did not fit that definition. It would be a disaster to have those people who demonstrated irrational, biased and disorderly behavior, become our new leaders. I was embarrassed to have ever been a part of that group.

Since I have seen how threatening and dangerous this group can be, I prefer to sign only as,

A Concerned Townsperson