Search This Blog

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Legislators are exporting wind energy jobs and torpedoing all renewables

From a commentary by Jeff Anthony, American Wind Energy Association, on BizTimes.com:

The Wisconsin Assembly recently passed a bill that would enable hydroelectric power from Manitoba, Canada, to be shipped to Wisconsin to meet the state’s 2006 renewable energy law requiring 10 percent of the state’s electricity to come from renewable energy by the year 2015.

If enacted into law, the effect of the Manitoba Hydro Bill will be to ship jobs to Canada and reduce Wisconsin’s ability to meet its clean energy requirement by building more homegrown Wisconsin energy projects.

One of the bill’s sponsors, State Sen. Frank Lasee (R-De Pere), was quoted saying, “This new law will keep electric bills from going up by making it more affordable for utilities to meet green energy mandates.”

Unfortunately, he was mistaken in assuming that other forms of “green energy” will raise electricity rates in the state. If he had gotten his facts straight, he would have found that wind energy costs are at near-record lows, and many utilities in the U.S. are reaping the benefits of lower electricity rates as wind energy expands on their systems. But the facts about wind energy costs, like many other facts, apparently weren’t relevant in the rush to pass this ill-conceived bill.

What Sen. Lasee failed to mention is that his bill will also have a significant impact on Wisconsin by sending good-paying jobs that would otherwise have been created in Wisconsin – to Canada instead.

Sen. Lasee and the other state legislators who voted for the bill would have the state import electricity from Canadian energy projects that use Canadian workers. Today, Wisconsin supports 2,000-3,000 workers in the wind energy industry alone, and the Manitoba Hydro Bill now threatens many of those jobs in Wisconsin.

This is just the latest example of legislative activities that are exporting good-paying, clean energy jobs out of Wisconsin. Why?

At the beginning of the year, another onerous bill was proposed to impose extreme requirements on where Wisconsin wind projects can be located. A few weeks, later a joint committee of the legislature voted to suspend Wind Siting Rules that had been developed through a collaborative, open, and fair process. This rule was suspended by the joint legislative committee on the very day that these far better new rules would have taken effect.

Combined, these actions have jeopardized approximately 700 megawatts of wind projects that were proposed in the state, resulting in the potential loss of $1.8 billion investments and 2 million construction job-hours. And guess what – those 2 million job-hours will not show up in Wisconsin, and will likely move to neighboring states.

So what will be the next step in the “Wisconsin Jobs Export Agenda”?

Well, another piece of anti-clean energy job legislation has emerged, Assembly Bill 146, which would significantly reduce the growth of renewable energy in the state. The Wisconsin clean energy law was originally created to incentivize new renewable energy development and increase fuel diversity. AB 146 would effectively remove that incentive.

Merrill dairy farmer studies feasibility of wind energy site

From an article by in the Karina Gonzalez:

MERRILL -- A local dairy farmer might soon take advantage of a windy hill on his property to generate renewable energy.

Hans Breitenmoser Jr. has a meteorological tower on his southwest Merrill property that measures wind capacity. In late July 2010, Madison's Seventh Generation Energy Systems installed the tower to begin a one-year study that would look into the feasibility of using the windy hill to power the farm.

"I've lived here all of my life and it's always been windy," Breitenmoser Jr. said. "And I've always had an interest in green energy."

Breitenmoser said he expects the study will help him determine what kind of wind energy equipment is the most suitable to offset traditional energy costs at his farm.

Ry Thompson, systems division manager for Seventh Generation, said the Northwoods is generally not a great area for wind turbines because of the vast number of trees that block and slow breezes. However, because Breitenmoser's property is elevated, it appears to be a good site for generating power.

Seventh Generation will have a report ready by late summer that will include a cost analysis and wind estimates, Thompson said.

EcoFair360 highlights eco-friendly practices and technologies

From an article by Darryl Enriquez on GazetteXtra.com:

ELKHORN — Electric vehicles, wind turbines, local food preparation and eco-friendly cleaning products will be displayed at the second annual EcoFair360.

EcoFair360 will have more than 200 exhibits, presentations and demonstrations that touch a variety of environmental interests and green and eco-friendly technologies.

The fair will be Friday, July 8, through Sunday, July 10, at the Walworth County Fairgrounds.

Founders of the fair, Fritz Kreiss and Catherine McQueen, pursue sustainable lifestyles and communities. The couple are planning The Green Leaf Inn, a low-energy hotel that will house EcoVision Sustainable Learning Center south of Delavan.

Here are five things to know about the fair:

1. Local food. The virtues of buying and cooking locally produced food will be explored Sunday, July 10, by Chef Rick Starr of Kirsch’s Restaurant in Williams Bay. . . .

2. Kids Zone. The Kids Zone will provide workshops for kids of all ages. . . .

3. E-85 benefits. . . .

4. Presentations [on renewable energy installations and energy efficiency]. . . .

5. State issues. State Sen. Neal Kedzie, R-Elkhorn, chairman of the Wisconsin Natural Resources and Environment Committee, will speak at 4 p.m. Friday, July 8, about legislative issues related to the environment and its impact on the community.

Small businesses hit hard by cuts and changes in Focus on Energy

From an article by Judy Newman in the Wisconsin State Journal:

Focus on Energy, a statewide program that promotes energy efficiency, is in the midst of big changes: new management by an out-of-state corporation, suspension of a popular rebate program, and sharp funding cuts in the pending state budget.

Nearly 20 people already have lost their jobs, mostly in Madison, as a result of the management change.

Meanwhile, dozens of small Wisconsin businesses that specialize in setting up solar panels and wind turbines fear for their futures because of the slashed allocation and rebate removal.

“It’s a lot of economic activity and jobs in Wisconsin. It’s a lot of energy efficiency, as well,” said Keith Reopelle, policy director for Clean Wisconsin.

Focus on Energy was created in 2001 to provide education, resources and cash incentives to Wisconsin residents and businesses to increase the use of energy-efficient products and systems, from furnaces to solar panels to vending machines.

In the past 10 years, more than 91,000 businesses and more than 1.7 million residents used the program and saved $2.20 for every dollar spent, according to Focus data. . . .

Since taking over Focus on Energy on May 9, one of Shaw’s first decisions, with PSC support, was to suspend payments to businesses that install renewable-energy systems, as of June 30.

Contractors like Seventh Generation Energy Systems were stunned.“It’s pretty devastating,” said James Yockey, chief executive officer. “It probably took out six to 10 projects that we were looking to close ... for work in the fall and the coming spring.”

Several of the projects were wind turbines for farmers. “I think the incentives are decisive in people saying yes,” Yockey said . . . .

Program supporters have appealed to Gov. Scott Walker to veto the Focus budget cut, including a letter signed by 124 Wisconsin businesses. As of Friday, there was no word on his response. Walker is scheduled to sign the budget today.

“Cutting Focus on Energy will result in higher electricity bills and fewer jobs,” Randy Johnson, president of U.S. Lamp, a Green Bay energy-efficient lighting design company, said in the letter.

Seventh Generation’s Yockey said he hopes to avoid laying off any of his 16 employees by aiming his business at other states, and that could mean moving the company. “We prefer to be located in Madison but the bottom line is: we’ll see where the business takes us,” he said.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Small businesses hit hard by energy program cuts and changes

From an article by Judy Newman in the Wisconsin State Journal:

Focus on Energy, a statewide program that promotes energy efficiency, is in the midst of big changes: new management by an out-of-state corporation, suspension of a popular rebate program, and sharp funding cuts in the pending state budget.

Nearly 20 people already have lost their jobs, mostly in Madison, as a result of the management change.

Meanwhile, dozens of small Wisconsin businesses that specialize in setting up solar panels and wind turbines fear for their futures because of the slashed allocation and rebate removal.

“It’s a lot of economic activity and jobs in Wisconsin. It’s a lot of energy efficiency, as well,” said Keith Reopelle, policy director for Clean Wisconsin.

Focus on Energy was created in 2001 to provide education, resources and cash incentives to Wisconsin residents and businesses to increase the use of energy-efficient products and systems, from furnaces to solar panels to vending machines.

In the past 10 years, more than 91,000 businesses and more than 1.7 million residents used the program and saved $2.20 for every dollar spent, according to Focus data. . . .

Since taking over Focus on Energy on May 9, one of Shaw’s first decisions, with PSC support, was to suspend payments to businesses that install renewable-energy systems, as of June 30.

Contractors like Seventh Generation Energy Systems were stunned.“It’s pretty devastating,” said James Yockey, chief executive officer. “It probably took out six to 10 projects that we were looking to close ... for work in the fall and the coming spring.”

Several of the projects were wind turbines for farmers. “I think the incentives are decisive in people saying yes,” Yockey said . . . .

Program supporters have appealed to Gov. Scott Walker to veto the Focus budget cut, including a letter signed by 124 Wisconsin businesses. As of Friday, there was no word on his response. Walker is scheduled to sign the budget today.

“Cutting Focus on Energy will result in higher electricity bills and fewer jobs,” Randy Johnson, president of U.S. Lamp, a Green Bay energy-efficient lighting design company, said in the letter.

Seventh Generation’s Yockey said he hopes to avoid laying off any of his 16 employees by aiming his business at other states, and that could mean moving the company. “We prefer to be located in Madison but the bottom line is: we’ll see where the business takes us,” he said.

Small businesses hit hard by energy program cuts and changes

From an article by Judy Newman in the Wisconsin State Journal:

Focus on Energy, a statewide program that promotes energy efficiency, is in the midst of big changes: new management by an out-of-state corporation, suspension of a popular rebate program, and sharp funding cuts in the pending state budget.

Nearly 20 people already have lost their jobs, mostly in Madison, as a result of the management change.

Meanwhile, dozens of small Wisconsin businesses that specialize in setting up solar panels and wind turbines fear for their futures because of the slashed allocation and rebate removal.

“It’s a lot of economic activity and jobs in Wisconsin. It’s a lot of energy efficiency, as well,” said Keith Reopelle, policy director for Clean Wisconsin.

Focus on Energy was created in 2001 to provide education, resources and cash incentives to Wisconsin residents and businesses to increase the use of energy-efficient products and systems, from furnaces to solar panels to vending machines.

In the past 10 years, more than 91,000 businesses and more than 1.7 million residents used the program and saved $2.20 for every dollar spent, according to Focus data. . . .

Since taking over Focus on Energy on May 9, one of Shaw’s first decisions, with PSC support, was to suspend payments to businesses that install renewable-energy systems, as of June 30.

Contractors like Seventh Generation Energy Systems were stunned.“It’s pretty devastating,” said James Yockey, chief executive officer. “It probably took out six to 10 projects that we were looking to close ... for work in the fall and the coming spring.”

Several of the projects were wind turbines for farmers. “I think the incentives are decisive in people saying yes,” Yockey said . . . .

Program supporters have appealed to Gov. Scott Walker to veto the Focus budget cut, including a letter signed by 124 Wisconsin businesses. As of Friday, there was no word on his response. Walker is scheduled to sign the budget today.

“Cutting Focus on Energy will result in higher electricity bills and fewer jobs,” Randy Johnson, president of U.S. Lamp, a Green Bay energy-efficient lighting design company, said in the letter.

Seventh Generation’s Yockey said he hopes to avoid laying off any of his 16 employees by aiming his business at other states, and that could mean moving the company. “We prefer to be located in Madison but the bottom line is: we’ll see where the business takes us,” he said.

Rothchild biomass opponents file lawsuit against DNR

From an article in the Marshfield News Herald:

Rothschild residents seeking a second review of the wood-burning power plant in Rothschild filed a lawsuit Tuesday against the state Department of Natural Resources.

Opponents of the project hope to force the DNR to re-evaluate emissions expected to come from the facility.

Save Our Air Resources filed the suit in Marathon County Circuit Court one day after Domtar decided to go forward with the project and comply with state regulator's requirements.

Public meeting on power line Wednesday

From an article in the Juneau County Star:

The company that wants to build an electrical transmission line from Middleton to north of La Crosse will host an open house meeting in Mauston for the public next week.

Plans by American Transmission Company for the Badger Coulee line, introduced in 2010, are moving into phase 2.

The company says Badger Coulee is needed to bring less expensive power from states to the west into the Upper Midwest and to improve the reliability of Wisconsin's electric transmission grid over the long term. "We're looking out 10, 20, 30, 40 years," said Sarah Justus, local relations manager for the company.

If the line is built, it would add about 75 cents a month to a $100 utility bill, Justus said.

The company has examined a broad swath from south-central to western Wisconsin and identified dozens of corridors to consider for the project, which will carry 345 kilovolts of electricity over 150 miles and will cost about $425 million.

Most of the possible routes for the line suggested by the company would cross the southwest corner of Juneau County along existing highways, including Interstate 90/94, U.S. Highway 12 and state highways 80, 82 and 58. . . .

The public open house is scheduled for 1 to 7 p.m. Wednesday, June 29, at Grayside Elementary School, 510 Grayside Ave., Mauston.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Bike-sharing program bends the ear of local execs

From an article by Corrine Hess in the Business Journal of Milwaukee:

Finding a parking spot downtown will no longer be an issue for people willing to pedal.

At least, not if a group of local business leaders backing the bicycle rental initiative have any say in it.

The Discovery World museum hosted B-Cycle Thursday, the group responsible for setting up bike rental stations at 11 cities across the country, including Madison. Joel Brennan, president and CEO of Discovery World, invited the B-Cycle team to present their proposal to the museum’s board of directors.

“This is an innovative idea and we are the center of innovation so we thought it was a good fit,” Brennan said.

Lee Jones, director of sales for B-Cycle, said he hoped the event would spark interest in sponsorships for the program in Milwaukee.

The program is not cheap. Each bicycle, which includes the stand, and the software, ranges from $3,500 to $5,500.

B-Cycle installed about 200 bikes in Madison last month and expects to have the project completed by the end of July with 350 bicycles at 35 stations around the city.

Trek , a Waterloo bike manufacturer, donated the bikes in Madison. However, B-Cycle representative acknowledged it’s unlikely that will happen again in Milwaukee.

B-Cycle was started in Boulder, Colo., in 2008 as a partnership between Trek, Humana Inc. of Louisville, Ky., and Boulder advertising agency Crispin Porter & Bogusky.

The program is modeled after similar endeavors in European cities such as Paris and allows riders to swipe a membership card to unlock a 45-pound bicycle that comes with a lock, lights and basket.

Timing is good for B-Cycle to visit the city. The 11-day Tour of America’s Dairyland series is currently underway and hundreds of bicyclists are riding through southeast Wisconsin. On June 21, more than 600 cyclists rode through Schlitz Park and the Brewers Hill neighborhood.

State’s Hostility Toward Renewables Escalates; “Leaders” Lag Citizenry on Wind Support

Two articles from Catching Wind, a newsletter published by RENEW Wisconsin with funding from a grant from the U.S. Department of Energy:

State’s Hostility Toward Renewables Escalates
At the urging of Wisconsin utilities, several lawmakers have introduced a bill to allow a renewable energy credit (REC) to be banked indefinitely. If adopted, this measure (AB146) would constitute the most devastating legislative assault yet on the state’s renewable energy marketplace, which is already reeling from the suspension of the statewide wind siting rule this March and the loosening of renewable energy definitions to allow Wisconsin utilities to count electricity generated from large Canadian hydro projects toward their renewable energy requirements.

“Leaders” Lag Citizenry on Wind Support
Public support for wind energy development has held strong against the attacks launched by Governor Walker and the Legislature’s new Republican majority, according to a poll conducted between April 11 and April 18 by the St. Norbert College Survey Center for Wisconsin Public Radio.

Asked whether Wisconsin should "increase, decrease or continue with the same amount" of energy supply from various sources, 77% favored increasing wind power, the highest of any option (60% favored increasing hydropower, 54% biomass, 39% natural gas, 27% nuclear, and 19% coal).

Legislators are exporting wind energy jobs and torpedoing all renewables

From a commentary by Jeff Anthony, American Wind Energy Association, on BizTimes.com:

The Wisconsin Assembly recently passed a bill that would enable hydroelectric power from Manitoba, Canada, to be shipped to Wisconsin to meet the state’s 2006 renewable energy law requiring 10 percent of the state’s electricity to come from renewable energy by the year 2015.

If enacted into law, the effect of the Manitoba Hydro Bill will be to ship jobs to Canada and reduce Wisconsin’s ability to meet its clean energy requirement by building more homegrown Wisconsin energy projects.

One of the bill’s sponsors, State Sen. Frank Lasee (R-De Pere), was quoted saying, “This new law will keep electric bills from going up by making it more affordable for utilities to meet green energy mandates.”

Unfortunately, he was mistaken in assuming that other forms of “green energy” will raise electricity rates in the state. If he had gotten his facts straight, he would have found that wind energy costs are at near-record lows, and many utilities in the U.S. are reaping the benefits of lower electricity rates as wind energy expands on their systems. But the facts about wind energy costs, like many other facts, apparently weren’t relevant in the rush to pass this ill-conceived bill.

What Sen. Lasee failed to mention is that his bill will also have a significant impact on Wisconsin by sending good-paying jobs that would otherwise have been created in Wisconsin – to Canada instead.

Sen. Lasee and the other state legislators who voted for the bill would have the state import electricity from Canadian energy projects that use Canadian workers. Today, Wisconsin supports 2,000-3,000 workers in the wind energy industry alone, and the Manitoba Hydro Bill now threatens many of those jobs in Wisconsin.

This is just the latest example of legislative activities that are exporting good-paying, clean energy jobs out of Wisconsin. Why?

At the beginning of the year, another onerous bill was proposed to impose extreme requirements on where Wisconsin wind projects can be located. A few weeks, later a joint committee of the legislature voted to suspend Wind Siting Rules that had been developed through a collaborative, open, and fair process. This rule was suspended by the joint legislative committee on the very day that these far better new rules would have taken effect.

Combined, these actions have jeopardized approximately 700 megawatts of wind projects that were proposed in the state, resulting in the potential loss of $1.8 billion investments and 2 million construction job-hours. And guess what – those 2 million job-hours will not show up in Wisconsin, and will likely move to neighboring states.

So what will be the next step in the “Wisconsin Jobs Export Agenda”?

Well, another piece of anti-clean energy job legislation has emerged, Assembly Bill 146, which would significantly reduce the growth of renewable energy in the state. The Wisconsin clean energy law was originally created to incentivize new renewable energy development and increase fuel diversity. AB 146 would effectively remove that incentive.

Buffalo County development project on hold; "The uncertainty is killing us."

From an article by Clay Barbour in the Wisconsin State Journal:

In the past six months, three wind farm developers with a combined investment of more than $600 million have stopped operations in Wisconsin — victims of regulatory uncertainty and what some now perceive as a hostile business environment for “green” energy.

The wind farms — planned for Calumet, Brown and Green Lake counties — would have created more than 1,100 jobs and helped Wisconsin reach its goal of generating 10 percent of its energy through renewable sources by 2015.

But new wind regulations, more than two years in the making, were shelved as the Public Service Commission works on a more restrictive set. Combined with a series of initiatives pushed through by Gov. Scott Walker and the Republican-led Legislature, industry officials and environmental advocates say Wisconsin seems more concerned with making green than being green.

“In a typical year, you win some and you lose some. It’s about a 50-50 breakdown,” said Jennifer Giegerich, legislative director for the Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters. “But this year, it has been one loss after another. We are going backwards, fast. And it’s scary. . . .”

Currently the Public Service Commission is holding meetings with advocates and opponents, trying to iron out a compromise. Neither side wants to start from scratch, but PSC officials said they are at a standstill.

“The uncertainty is killing us,” said Dan Rustowicz, of Minnesota’s Redwind Consulting, a company trying to develop a wind farm in Buffalo County. “It’s a shame because Wisconsin has good wind. But we have other options. If you don’t have the political support here, why try and push that rope?”

Friday, June 24, 2011

120 businesses urge funding support for job creation through energy efficiency and renewable energy



From an article by Charles Davis in the Green Bay Press Gazette:

Thousands of future jobs are at stake if Gov. Scott Walker doesn't veto a provision in the state budget that limits funding for the Focus on Energy program, local business leaders said Wednesday.

"I see it being a real detriment to our business and our customers going forward if we don't have these funding increases," said Jeff Klonowski, regional manager of Kaukauna-based Energy Federation Inc., which supplies lighting fixtures, foam and weather-stripping materials to area contractors.

But supporters of the provision object to the amount of the funding increase, not the program.

"The Focus on Energy program certainly had a lot of benefits, but the huge increase in assessments that were put in place at the end of last year, we think, were too much, too soon," said Scott Manley, director of environmental and energy policy for Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce, the state's largest business lobby.

Walker received a letter Wednesday signed by more than 120 businesses asking that he veto that provision in the state budget bill. His office responded with a one-line statement: "We'll evaluate that provision and make any veto-related announcements once the decisions have been finalized."

The program
The statewide Focus on Energy program is funded by tax assessments on utility bills and provides grants to help homeowners and businesses pay for energy-efficient upgrades. It also helps pay for consultants to advise property owners on which type of upgrades would be practical and cost-effective. Each year, utility companies contribute 1.2 percent of revenue — about $100 million total — to the program.

The state Public Service Commission proposed in December raising the utility bill assessments from $94 million in 2010 to $256 million by 2014.

The proposal calls for utilities to increase their contributions to $120 million this year. That amount is fixed even if Walker does not veto the provision. However, assessments would drop to around $100 million in 2012, instead of the initial proposed increase of $160 million for that year.

Image by Clean Wisconsin

120 businesses urge funding support for job creation through energy efficiency and renewable energy



From an article by Charles Davis in the Green Bay Press Gazette:

Thousands of future jobs are at stake if Gov. Scott Walker doesn't veto a provision in the state budget that limits funding for the Focus on Energy program, local business leaders said Wednesday.

"I see it being a real detriment to our business and our customers going forward if we don't have these funding increases," said Jeff Klonowski, regional manager of Kaukauna-based Energy Federation Inc., which supplies lighting fixtures, foam and weather-stripping materials to area contractors.

But supporters of the provision object to the amount of the funding increase, not the program.

"The Focus on Energy program certainly had a lot of benefits, but the huge increase in assessments that were put in place at the end of last year, we think, were too much, too soon," said Scott Manley, director of environmental and energy policy for Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce, the state's largest business lobby.

Walker received a letter Wednesday signed by more than 120 businesses asking that he veto that provision in the state budget bill. His office responded with a one-line statement: "We'll evaluate that provision and make any veto-related announcements once the decisions have been finalized."

The program
The statewide Focus on Energy program is funded by tax assessments on utility bills and provides grants to help homeowners and businesses pay for energy-efficient upgrades. It also helps pay for consultants to advise property owners on which type of upgrades would be practical and cost-effective. Each year, utility companies contribute 1.2 percent of revenue — about $100 million total — to the program.

The state Public Service Commission proposed in December raising the utility bill assessments from $94 million in 2010 to $256 million by 2014.

The proposal calls for utilities to increase their contributions to $120 million this year. That amount is fixed even if Walker does not veto the provision. However, assessments would drop to around $100 million in 2012, instead of the initial proposed increase of $160 million for that year.

Image by Clean Wisconsin

"Frac" sand for controversial natural gas drilling brings 3 companies to Marshfield

From an article by Molly Newman in the Marshfield News Herald:

Three companies have their sights set on excavating a high quality sand that lies about 20 feet below Marshfield's surface.

The hard, round sand, called frac, is found only in older deposits in certain areas, including central Wisconsin. It's used in hydraulic fracturing, or breaking apart rock using sand and water to pump out oil and natural gas.

Several companies have popped up in the area recently because of increased interest from the oil industry, Completion Industrial Minerals President Tom Giordani said.

"There are shortages in the market for the sand -- that's why everyone's looking in Wisconsin," he said.

Completion, formerly TexSand, had some funding delay its business plan during the recession, but now is back on track to begin excavation this summer, Giordani said.

The company is in the process of grading its 57-acre site on 29th Street in Marshfield's Yellowstone Industrial Park and setting up the excavating equipment, including crushers, screens, dryers and belt conveyors. There will be some small control buildings and two 100-foot storage silos on the site, with an office building constructed later, Giordani said.

Some sand excavation is expected to begin in August and the system will be fully operational by September or October, he said. There is enough sand in the Marshfield area pits Completion is using to last at least 25 years, he said.

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. And it's the subject of a documentary titled Gasland.

Legislators are exporting wind energy jobs and torpedoing all other renewables

From a commentary by Jeff Anthony, American Wind Energy Association, on BizTimes.com:

The Wisconsin Assembly recently passed a bill that would enable hydroelectric power from Manitoba, Canada, to be shipped to Wisconsin to meet the state’s 2006 renewable energy law requiring 10 percent of the state’s electricity to come from renewable energy by the year 2015.

If enacted into law, the effect of the Manitoba Hydro Bill will be to ship jobs to Canada and reduce Wisconsin’s ability to meet its clean energy requirement by building more homegrown Wisconsin energy projects.

One of the bill’s sponsors, State Sen. Frank Lasee (R-De Pere), was quoted saying, “This new law will keep electric bills from going up by making it more affordable for utilities to meet green energy mandates.”

Unfortunately, he was mistaken in assuming that other forms of “green energy” will raise electricity rates in the state. If he had gotten his facts straight, he would have found that wind energy costs are at near-record lows, and many utilities in the U.S. are reaping the benefits of lower electricity rates as wind energy expands on their systems. But the facts about wind energy costs, like many other facts, apparently weren’t relevant in the rush to pass this ill-conceived bill.

What Sen. Lasee failed to mention is that his bill will also have a significant impact on Wisconsin by sending good-paying jobs that would otherwise have been created in Wisconsin – to Canada instead.

Sen. Lasee and the other state legislators who voted for the bill would have the state import electricity from Canadian energy projects that use Canadian workers. Today, Wisconsin supports 2,000-3,000 workers in the wind energy industry alone, and the Manitoba Hydro Bill now threatens many of those jobs in Wisconsin.

This is just the latest example of legislative activities that are exporting good-paying, clean energy jobs out of Wisconsin. Why?

At the beginning of the year, another onerous bill was proposed to impose extreme requirements on where Wisconsin wind projects can be located. A few weeks, later a joint committee of the legislature voted to suspend Wind Siting Rules that had been developed through a collaborative, open, and fair process. This rule was suspended by the joint legislative committee on the very day that these far better new rules would have taken effect.

Combined, these actions have jeopardized approximately 700 megawatts of wind projects that were proposed in the state, resulting in the potential loss of $1.8 billion investments and 2 million construction job-hours. And guess what – those 2 million job-hours will not show up in Wisconsin, and will likely move to neighboring states.

So what will be the next step in the “Wisconsin Jobs Export Agenda”?

Well, another piece of anti-clean energy job legislation has emerged, Assembly Bill 146, which would significantly reduce the growth of renewable energy in the state. The Wisconsin clean energy law was originally created to incentivize new renewable energy development and increase fuel diversity. AB 146 would effectively remove that incentive.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

State’s Hostility Toward Renewables Escalates; “Leaders” Lag Citizens on Wind Support

Two articles from Catching Wind, a newsletter published by RENEW Wisconsin with funding from a grant from the U.S. Department of Energy:

State’s Hostility Toward Renewables Escalates
At the urging of Wisconsin utilities, several lawmakers have introduced a bill to allow a renewable energy credit (REC) to be banked indefinitely. If adopted, this measure (AB146) would constitute the most devastating legislative assault yet on the state’s renewable energy marketplace, which is already reeling from the suspension of the statewide wind siting rule this March and the loosening of renewable energy definitions to allow Wisconsin utilities to count electricity generated from large Canadian hydro projects toward their renewable energy requirements.

“Leaders” Lag Citizenry on Wind Support
Public support for wind energy development has held strong against the attacks launched by Governor Walker and the Legislature’s new Republican majority, according to a poll conducted between April 11 and April 18 by the St. Norbert College Survey Center for Wisconsin Public Radio.

Asked whether Wisconsin should "increase, decrease or continue with the same amount" of energy supply from various sources, 77% favored increasing wind power, the highest of any option (60% favored increasing hydropower, 54% biomass, 39% natural gas, 27% nuclear, and 19% coal).

State’s Hostility Toward Renewables Escalates; “Leaders” Lag Citizenry on Wind Support

Two articles from Catching Wind, a newsletter published by RENEW Wisconsin with funding from a grant from the U.S. Department of Energy:

State’s Hostility Toward Renewables Escalates
At the urging of Wisconsin utilities, several lawmakers have introduced a bill to allow a renewable energy credit (REC) to be banked indefinitely. If adopted, this measure (AB146) would constitute the most devastating legislative assault yet on the state’s renewable energy marketplace, which is already reeling from the suspension of the statewide wind siting rule this March and the loosening of renewable energy definitions to allow Wisconsin utilities to count electricity generated from large Canadian hydro projects toward their renewable energy requirements.

“Leaders” Lag Citizenry on Wind Support
Public support for wind energy development has held strong against the attacks launched by Governor Walker and the Legislature’s new Republican majority, according to a poll conducted between April 11 and April 18 by the St. Norbert College Survey Center for Wisconsin Public Radio.

Asked whether Wisconsin should "increase, decrease or continue with the same amount" of energy supply from various sources, 77% favored increasing wind power, the highest of any option (60% favored increasing hydropower, 54% biomass, 39% natural gas, 27% nuclear, and 19% coal).

State’s Hostility Toward Renewables Escalates; “Leaders” Lag Citizenry on Wind Support

Two articles from Catching Wind, a newsletter published by RENEW Wisconsin with funding from a grant from the U.S. Department of Energy:

State’s Hostility Toward Renewables Escalates
At the urging of Wisconsin utilities, several lawmakers have introduced a bill to allow a renewable energy credit (REC) to be banked indefinitely. If adopted, this measure (AB146) would constitute the most devastating legislative assault yet on the state’s renewable energy marketplace, which is already reeling from the suspension of the statewide wind siting rule this March and the loosening of renewable energy definitions to allow Wisconsin utilities to count electricity generated from large Canadian hydro projects toward their renewable energy requirements.

“Leaders” Lag Citizenry on Wind Support
Public support for wind energy development has held strong against the attacks launched by Governor Walker and the Legislature’s new Republican majority, according to a poll conducted between April 11 and April 18 by the St. Norbert College Survey Center for Wisconsin Public Radio.

Asked whether Wisconsin should "increase, decrease or continue with the same amount" of energy supply from various sources, 77% favored increasing wind power, the highest of any option (60% favored increasing hydropower, 54% biomass, 39% natural gas, 27% nuclear, and 19% coal).

Domtar announces that Rothschild biomass project is under way

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

ROTHSCHILD -- The long public debate over a proposed biomass power plant in Rothschild came to an end Monday when Domtar announced plans to move forward with the $255 million project.

The 50-megawatt power plant, a joint effort of Milwaukee utility We Energies and Domtar paper, is expected to burn 500,000 tons of the tops and limbs of trees left behind by traditional logging operations each year.

"(The final decision) puts ... everything behind us," Rothschild Village Board President George Peterson said. "We can move forward, We Energies and Domtar can move forward."

We Energies spokesman Brian Manthey said crews will begin working this week at the site adjacent to the existing Domtar mill on Business Highway 51 in Rothschild.

Manthey said We Energies still hopes to have the plant completed by the end of 2013, the eligibility deadline for federal tax credits. The facility also is part of We Energies' plan to comply with state regulations requiring at least 8 percent of utilities' sales to come from renewable energy by 2015.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

State’s Hostility Toward Renewables Escalates; “Leaders” Lag Citizenry on Wind Support

Two articles from Catching Wind, a newsletter published by RENEW Wisconsin with funding from a grant from the U.S. Department of Energy:

State’s Hostility Toward Renewables Escalates
At the urging of Wisconsin utilities, several lawmakers have introduced a bill to allow a renewable energy credit (REC) to be banked indefinitely. If adopted, this measure (AB146) would constitute the most devastating legislative assault yet on the state’s renewable energy marketplace, which is already reeling from the suspension of the statewide wind siting rule this March and the loosening of renewable energy definitions to allow Wisconsin utilities to count electricity generated from large Canadian hydro projects toward their renewable energy requirements.

“Leaders” Lag Citizenry on Wind Support
Public support for wind energy development has held strong against the attacks launched by Governor Walker and the Legislature’s new Republican majority, according to a poll conducted between April 11 and April 18 by the St. Norbert College Survey Center for Wisconsin Public Radio.

Asked whether Wisconsin should "increase, decrease or continue with the same amount" of energy supply from various sources, 77% favored increasing wind power, the highest of any option (60% favored increasing hydropower, 54% biomass, 39% natural gas, 27% nuclear, and 19% coal).

Southeastern Wisconsin leaders ask state to restore mass transit funding

From an article in BizTimes Daily:

A coalition of southeastern Wisconsin civic, educational and business leaders is asking the state Legislature to restore state funding for mass transit in the region.

The coalition sent a letter to state senators and Assembly members Monday, calling on legislators to refrain from making the cuts outlined in Gov. Scott Walker’s budget repair bill. The letter said mass transit is vital to the economic future of southeastern Wisconsin economy.

The letter was co-signed by Kenosha Mayor Keith Bosman; Cudahy Mayor Anthony Day; St. Francis Mayor Al Richards; South Milwaukee Mayor Tom Zepecki; Racine Mayor John Dickert; Oak Creek Mayor Richard Bolander; Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele; Greater Milwaukee Committee President Julia Taylor; Racine Area Chamber of Commerce President Michael Kobylka; South Suburban Chamber of Commerce President Barbara Wesener; KenoshaArea Business Alliance President Todd Battle; University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Chancellor Michael Lovell; University of Wisconsin-Parkside Chancellor Deborah Ford; Milwaukee Downtown Executive Director Beth Nicols; Devin Sutherland of Downtown Racine Corp. BID #1; Mike Fabishak of Associated General Contractors Greater Milwaukee; and Tom Rave of The Gateway to Milwaukee.

The letter stated:
“In the current economy, creating, maintaining, and connecting people to private sector jobs is a top priority. The state budget proposal to drastically reduce state funding for already severely strained transit systems in SE Wisconsin would threaten economic growth by making it harder or impossible for workers to get to jobs and discourage employers from locating or expanding in Wisconsin. . . .

Friday, June 10, 2011

The Energy Fair begins June 17!

Watch and learn about this year's keynote speakers: Will Allen, founder and CEO of Growing Power; Chris Paine, writer and director of Who Killed the Electric Car?; and a panel from the Central Wisconsin Resiliency Project. Enjoy lively entertainment provided by Baba Ganooj, VO5, Banned Wagon and other stellar talent. Don’t forget about the great food and local beer!

See who comes to the Fair, why they come, and what you can expect by attending. Enjoy viewing this video and share it with your friends!

Green jobs growing fast, Wisconsin falling behind

From a blog entry by Sam Weis, media specialist for Clean Wisconsin:

Green jobs represent some of the nation’s fastest growing industries with no reason to believe they will slow down anytime soon, according to a recent report released by Ibisworld.

The report, “Top ten fastest growing industries,” lists the fastest growing sectors in the United States by percentage of revenue and includes wind power (#3), environmental consulting (#7) and solar power (#10). These industries are growing fast and will likely continue to grow for years: the solar industry can expect to grow another 7.9 percent by 2016, and wind can expect to grow 11.2 percent, according to the report.

Green jobs represent a bright spot in today’s troubled economic times. With forecasts of solid growth on the horizon, it would only make sense to invest in clean energy and harness its job-creating potential.

Unfortunately, we seem to be moving in the opposite direction as a state. Early this year, the legislature made it more difficult to construct safe wind farms in Wisconsin, killing proposed wind projects and hundreds of jobs they were set to create.

In May, the Joint Finance Committee voted to cut funding for Focus on Energy, our statewide energy efficiency and renewable energy program. Unless undone by the legislature as a whole, or vetoed by Gov. Walker, this move promises to result in higher energy bills and lost jobs.

Genoa nuclear waste set to move to dry casks

From an article by Chris Hubbuch in the Winona Daily News:

Dairyland Power will begin removing spent fuel from its Genoa, Wis., nuclear plant and encasing it in steel and concrete casks later this spring, nearly a quarter century after the plant ceased operations.

Though the federal government has no immediate plans to take possession of the radioactive waste, the move to store it temporarily on site should cut by two-thirds the power cooperative's cost to staff the plant and speed up the decommissioning process, expected to take another seven years and bring decommissioning costs to an estimated $79 million.

It's a scenario that Dairyland's founders couldn't have envisioned in 1941, when they banded together to create a network to provide reliable electric power to rural Wisconsin.

But those founders were thinking about the future, said Dairyland president William Berg, who encouraged some 700 delegates of Dairyland's members to continue building value during his address at the cooperative's 70th annual meeting Wednesday.

That means building a system with the capacity to meet future needs while preserving the environment and embracing renewable energy sources when the future of coal - the basis for most of today's power - is in question.

Dairyland now generates about 11 percent of its electricity with renewables such as wind, hydro and biomass-fueled generators. Berg said the company is on track to meet its goal of 25 percent by 2025.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Epic Systems, Verona, reaches for the sun

1,300 solar panels rise above a parking lost at Epic Systems in Verona, WI.

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

Verona - By the end of the year, the largest solar project yet built in Wisconsin will take shape in the rolling countryside that Epic Systems calls home.

And by the middle of next year, the new solar "farm" will double in size again.

Clearly, Epic, a fast-growing provider of sought-after health care software that's hiring 1,000 people just this year, doesn't embrace small projects.

It's more cost-effective to build a big renewable energy project than to come back later and expand it, said Bruce Richards, director of facilities and engineering.

And it fits in with a green vision espoused by company founder and chief executive Judith Faulkner.

"We were in a meeting, and I was discussing the payback on a particular project, thinking she might have some concerns," said Bruce Richards, director of facilities and engineering at Epic. "But she didn't hesitate. She said, 'But once it's paid off, the energy is free, right?'"

Epic clearly has the financial wherewithal to undertake a green-energy investment that other firms might seek state dollars to help fund. Officials declined to disclose the cost of the project.

The company is a developer of health care IT software that helps hospitals move toward electronic medical records. Epic sales grew 27% in 2010. Revenue reached $825 million in 2010, compared with $76 million in 2001.

Focused on sustainability
Epic is an economic engine that's a Wisconsin outlier: A booming business that's about as far from the state's manufacturing heritage as you can get.

The company is moving to wean itself off fossil fuels in a big way.

Already, most buildings on the sprawling campus are heated and cooled with a ground-source heat pump system, which means the campus needs no natural gas for heating and no electricity for cooling in the summer.

About 1,300 solar panels were erected in recent months on a latticelike structure above an employee parking lot.

Faulkner picked the color of the lattice to match the deep blue light posts that dot downtown Verona, Richards said.

The remaining parking spaces are underground, to retain the pastoral feel of the campus. The result, Richards tells a visitor walking between buildings across the complex, "You're walking on a green roof right now."

Richards says the driver of the green campus and move for energy self-reliance comes from a vision of doing right by the planet.

"Sustainability, that's really what it's all about," he said. "We're looking for 100-year sustainability here. Everything we do in design and put in, that's what we're looking to do."

Bedford Heights, OH, gains wind industry jobs needed to rebuild the Midwestern economy

Wisconsin might pick up more manufacturing if the governor and legislature welcomed, instead of devastated, the wind industry:

Monday, June 6, 2011

Now online: Wisconsin Renewable Quarterly

The Wisconsin Renewable Quarterly, the newsletter of RENEW Wisconsin, features these article:

Siting Rule Suspension Rocks Wind Industry
In a move that sent shock waves through the wind industry in Wisconsin, a joint legislative panel voted on March 1 to suspend the wind siting rule promulgated by the Public Service Commission in December 2010.

Community Biogas Project Fires Up
Home to 400 dairy farms, Dane County recently dedicated a community-scale manure-to-methane generating system designed to reduce nutrient runoff into the Yahara Lakes.

Insty Prints: Mpower ChaMpion
But if I can help other businesses make some of the harder choices by being more vocal, then I’m willing to help.

Manitoba Hydro: A Washout?
On behalf of our members and the many businesses and individuals who support the continued expansion of Wisconsin’s renewable energy marketplace, RENEW Wisconsin is here to express opposition to AB 114 (and its companion SB 81), and urges the Legislature not to pass this bill.

Verona Firm Begins Work on “Epic” PV
With the commissioning of its 1,300-module solar electric canopy spanning its parking deck, Epic Systems joins an elite group of Wisconsin companies embracing on-site energy capture to reduce their dependence on fossil fuels. At 360 kilowatts (kW), Epic’s new photovoltaic system is the largest solar array in Dane County and the third largest in Wisconsin.

Calendar of Renewable and Energy Efficiency Events
June 17-19, 2001 The Energy Fair. Custer, WI. The nation’s premier sustainable energy education event. Three days of workshops, demonstrations, and exhibits highlighting renewable energy and sustainable living. For details see www.midwestrenew.org.

July 8-10, 2011 EcoFair360. Elkhorn, WI. Join hundreds of exhibitors and presenters and thousands of attendees who will Make Green Happen for three days of education, exploration and inspiration. For details see www.ecofair360.org.

July 16, 2011 Western Wisconsin Sustainability Fair. Menomonie, WI, Dunn County Fair Grounds. Exhibitors from business, government, and non-profi t groups, speakers, workshops, music, energy effi cient vehicles, a photo contest, and a tour of the Cedar Falls Dam. See http://sustainabledunn.org for more information.

July 30, 2011 8th Annual Kickapoo Country Fair. LaFarge, WI. The Midwest’s Largest Organic Food and Sustainability Festival. Food, music, bike and farm tours, cooking demonstrations, theater, kids’ activities, dancing. More information at www.kickappoocountryfair.org.

October 1, 2011 Solar Tour of Homes and Businesses. All across Wisconsin. Owners open their doors to let people see how renewable energy is practical, reliable, and affordable in today’s economy. The homes and businesses often include other energy efficiency and renewable technologies. For details see http://nationalsolartour.org.

October 26, 2011 Wisconsin’s Solar Decade Conference. Milwaukee, WI. Now in its seventh year, the Wisconsin
Solar Decade Conference is your opportunity to see fi rsthand the latest developments in the world of solar energy. For details see www.solardecade.com.

Now online: Wisconsin Renewable Quarterly

The Wisconsin Renewable Quarterly, the newsletter of RENEW Wisconsin, features these article:

Siting Rule Suspension Rocks Wind Industry
In a move that sent shock waves through the wind industry in Wisconsin, a joint legislative panel voted on March 1 to suspend the wind siting rule promulgated by the Public Service Commission in December 2010.

Community Biogas Project Fires Up
Home to 400 dairy farms, Dane County recently dedicated a community-scale manure-to-methane generating system designed to reduce nutrient runoff into the Yahara Lakes.

Insty Prints: Mpower ChaMpion
But if I can help other businesses make some of the harder choices by being more vocal, then I’m willing to help.

Manitoba Hydro: A Washout?
On behalf of our members and the many businesses and individuals who support the continued expansion of Wisconsin’s renewable energy marketplace, RENEW Wisconsin is here to express opposition to AB 114 (and its companion SB 81), and urges the Legislature not to pass this bill.

Verona Firm Begins Work on “Epic” PV
With the commissioning of its 1,300-module solar electric canopy spanning its parking deck, Epic Systems joins an elite group of Wisconsin companies embracing on-site energy capture to reduce their dependence on fossil fuels. At 360 kilowatts (kW), Epic’s new photovoltaic system is the largest solar array in Dane County and the third largest in Wisconsin.

Calendar of Renewable and Energy Efficiency Events
June 17-19, 2001 The Energy Fair. Custer, WI. The nation’s premier sustainable energy education event. Three days of workshops, demonstrations, and exhibits highlighting renewable energy and sustainable living. For details see www.midwestrenew.org.

July 8-10, 2011 EcoFair360. Elkhorn, WI. Join hundreds of exhibitors and presenters and thousands of attendees who will Make Green Happen for three days of education, exploration and inspiration. For details see www.ecofair360.org.

July 16, 2011 Western Wisconsin Sustainability Fair. Menomonie, WI, Dunn County Fair Grounds. Exhibitors from business, government, and non-profi t groups, speakers, workshops, music, energy effi cient vehicles, a photo contest, and a tour of the Cedar Falls Dam. See http://sustainabledunn.org for more information.

July 30, 2011 8th Annual Kickapoo Country Fair. LaFarge, WI. The Midwest’s Largest Organic Food and Sustainability Festival. Food, music, bike and farm tours, cooking demonstrations, theater, kids’ activities, dancing. More information at www.kickappoocountryfair.org.

October 1, 2011 Solar Tour of Homes and Businesses. All across Wisconsin. Owners open their doors to let people see how renewable energy is practical, reliable, and affordable in today’s economy. The homes and businesses often include other energy efficiency and renewable technologies. For details see http://nationalsolartour.org.

October 26, 2011 Wisconsin’s Solar Decade Conference. Milwaukee, WI. Now in its seventh year, the Wisconsin
Solar Decade Conference is your opportunity to see fi rsthand the latest developments in the world of solar energy. For details see www.solardecade.com.

Now online: Wisconsin Renewable Quarterly

The Wisconsin Renewable Quarterly, the newsletter of RENEW Wisconsin, features these article:

Siting Rule Suspension Rocks Wind Industry
In a move that sent shock waves through the wind industry in Wisconsin, a joint legislative panel voted on March 1 to suspend the wind siting rule promulgated by the Public Service Commission in December 2010.

Community Biogas Project Fires Up
Home to 400 dairy farms, Dane County recently dedicated a community-scale manure-to-methane generating system designed to reduce nutrient runoff into the Yahara Lakes.

Insty Prints: Mpower ChaMpion
But if I can help other businesses make some of the harder choices by being more vocal, then I’m willing to help.

Manitoba Hydro: A Washout?
On behalf of our members and the many businesses and individuals who support the continued expansion of Wisconsin’s renewable energy marketplace, RENEW Wisconsin is here to express opposition to AB 114 (and its companion SB 81), and urges the Legislature not to pass this bill.

Verona Firm Begins Work on “Epic” PV
With the commissioning of its 1,300-module solar electric canopy spanning its parking deck, Epic Systems joins an elite group of Wisconsin companies embracing on-site energy capture to reduce their dependence on fossil fuels. At 360 kilowatts (kW), Epic’s new photovoltaic system is the largest solar array in Dane County and the third largest in Wisconsin.

Calendar of Renewable and Energy Efficiency Events
June 17-19, 2001 The Energy Fair. Custer, WI. The nation’s premier sustainable energy education event. Three days of workshops, demonstrations, and exhibits highlighting renewable energy and sustainable living. For details see www.midwestrenew.org.

July 8-10, 2011 EcoFair360. Elkhorn, WI. Join hundreds of exhibitors and presenters and thousands of attendees who will Make Green Happen for three days of education, exploration and inspiration. For details see www.ecofair360.org.

July 16, 2011 Western Wisconsin Sustainability Fair. Menomonie, WI, Dunn County Fair Grounds. Exhibitors from business, government, and non-profi t groups, speakers, workshops, music, energy effi cient vehicles, a photo contest, and a tour of the Cedar Falls Dam. See http://sustainabledunn.org for more information.

July 30, 2011 8th Annual Kickapoo Country Fair. LaFarge, WI. The Midwest’s Largest Organic Food and Sustainability Festival. Food, music, bike and farm tours, cooking demonstrations, theater, kids’ activities, dancing. More information at www.kickappoocountryfair.org.

October 1, 2011 Solar Tour of Homes and Businesses. All across Wisconsin. Owners open their doors to let people see how renewable energy is practical, reliable, and affordable in today’s economy. The homes and businesses often include other energy efficiency and renewable technologies. For details see http://nationalsolartour.org.

October 26, 2011 Wisconsin’s Solar Decade Conference. Milwaukee, WI. Now in its seventh year, the Wisconsin
Solar Decade Conference is your opportunity to see fi rsthand the latest developments in the world of solar energy. For details see www.solardecade.com.

Wisconsin Renewable Quarterly, Spring 2011

The Wisconsin Renewable Quarterly, the newsletter of RENEW Wisconsin, features these article:

Siting Rule Suspension Rocks Wind Industry
In a move that sent shock waves through the wind industry in Wisconsin, a joint legislative panel voted on March 1 to suspend the wind siting rule promulgated by the Public Service Commission in December 2010.

Community Biogas Project Fires Up
Home to 400 dairy farms, Dane County recently dedicated a community-scale manure-to-methane generating system designed to reduce nutrient runoff into the Yahara Lakes.

Insty Prints: Mpower ChaMpion
But if I can help other businesses make some of the harder choices by being more vocal, then I’m willing to help.

Manitoba Hydro: A Washout?
On behalf of our members and the many businesses and individuals who support the continued expansion of Wisconsin’s renewable energy marketplace, RENEW Wisconsin is here to express opposition to AB 114 (and its companion SB 81), and urges the Legislature not to pass this bill.

Verona Firm Begins Work on “Epic” PV
With the commissioning of its 1,300-module solar electric canopy spanning its parking deck, Epic Systems joins an elite group of Wisconsin companies embracing on-site energy capture to reduce their dependence on fossil fuels. At 360 kilowatts (kW), Epic’s new photovoltaic system is the largest solar array in Dane County and the third largest in Wisconsin.

Calendar of Renewable and Energy Efficiency Events
June 17-19, 2001 The Energy Fair. Custer, WI. The nation’s premier sustainable energy education event. Three days of workshops, demonstrations, and exhibits highlighting renewable energy and sustainable living. For details see www.midwestrenew.org.

July 8-10, 2011 EcoFair360. Elkhorn, WI. Join hundreds of exhibitors and presenters and thousands of attendees who will Make Green Happen for three days of education, exploration and inspiration. For details see www.ecofair360.org.

July 16, 2011 Western Wisconsin Sustainability Fair. Menomonie, WI, Dunn County Fair Grounds. Exhibitors from business, government, and non-profi t groups, speakers, workshops, music, energy effi cient vehicles, a photo contest, and a tour of the Cedar Falls Dam. See http://sustainabledunn.org for more information.

July 30, 2011 8th Annual Kickapoo Country Fair. LaFarge, WI. The Midwest’s Largest Organic Food and Sustainability Festival. Food, music, bike and farm tours, cooking demonstrations, theater, kids’ activities, dancing. More information at www.kickappoocountryfair.org.

October 1, 2011 Solar Tour of Homes and Businesses. All across Wisconsin. Owners open their doors to let people see how renewable energy is practical, reliable, and affordable in today’s economy. The homes and businesses often include other energy efficiency and renewable technologies. For details see http://nationalsolartour.org.

October 26, 2011 Wisconsin’s Solar Decade Conference. Milwaukee, WI. Now in its seventh year, the Wisconsin
Solar Decade Conference is your opportunity to see fi rsthand the latest developments in the world of solar energy. For details see www.solardecade.com.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Green garbage: State recognizes county’s landfill energy initiative

From an article by Betsy Bloom in the La Crosse Tribune:

It is “the most gorgeous landfill in the state of Wisconsin,” La Crosse County Solid Waste Director Hank Koch says. He could be considered a bit biased.

But state Department of Natural Resources Secretary Cathy Stepp didn’t disagree after seeing the site Wednesday.

“I never imagined I could be so impressed with a landfill operation,” Stepp later said.

With wind ruffling the tall grass on the surrounding hillsides, Stepp on Wednesday recognized the 300-acre complex as the first publicly owned landfill admitted to the state’s Green Tier program.

The ceremony also included a groundbreaking on the estimated $4 million gas-to-energy partnership that will pipe landfill methane about 1.6 miles to provide virtually all the heat and electrical needs at Gundersen Lutheran’s Onalaska clinic.

Contractor McHugh Excavating and Plumbing of Onalaska is expected to begin work next week, and the gas could begin flowing as early as October, officials said Wednesday.

“The happiest day is going to be when they turn that flare off,” Koch said, referring to the flame now burning off the landfill gas.

While the gas-to-energy arrangement isn’t unique, the partnership with a health care system is, said Jeff Rich, Gundersen’s executive director of efficiency improvements.

“This is just a win-win-win for everybody,” the entire community included, Rich said.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Written on the wind: Glacier Hills open house offers up-close look at project


From an article by Lyn Jerde in the Portage Daily Register:

TOWN OF SCOTT - Along with names, dates and shout-outs to favorite sports teams, the writing on the turbine blade included a warning: "Watch out."

Mark Barden wrote it, in permanent black marker.

The warning, he said, is aimed at any birds that might fly near the blade once it's turning, 400 feet in the air.

Wednesday's open house at the Glacier Hills Wind Park was Barden's first up-close look at the components of the 90 electricity-generating wind turbines that have begun to rise in the skyline in northeast Columbia County.

But it won't be his last look. Barden said three of the towers will be on his land in the town of Scott, just outside of Cambria.

He said he doesn't share the health and safety concerns about the wind towers that many of their opponents cited in seeking to block the construction of Glacier Hills - things such as constant low-level noise and shadow flicker.

"I'm more worried," he said, "about the red lights at night," he said. "When I look in the sky and try to find constellations, all I'll see is the red beacons (on the towers).

"But," Barden added, "we'll deal with that."

Barden was one of several hundred people who attended the open house, which included indoor easel and tabletop displays, and a tour - on foot or by school bus - of one of the four towers that, as of Wednesday, had two of its four segments erected.

Mike Strader, site manager for the We Energies project, said that, barring wind or other inclement weather, plans call for adding the top two segments to at least one of the towers today, with the hub, cell and three blades of the turbine to follow soon.

More photos on RENEW's Facebook page.

New ATC transmission line project surges ahead

From an article by Judy Newman in the Wisconsin State Journal:

About 40,000 homes and businesses from Middleton to north of La Crosse are getting letters this week from American Transmission Co. telling them a powerful electrical transmission line could be built within 3,000 feet — or about half a mile — and inviting them to public meetings later this month.

Plans for the so-called Badger Coulee line, introduced in 2010, are moving into phase 2. ATC has taken the broad swath from south-central to western Wisconsin and identified dozens of corridors to consider for the project, which will carry 345 kilovolts of electricity over 150 miles and will cost about $425 million.

• In Dane County, the line could run north from the town of Middleton or it could skirt the west edge of Waunakee and go through DeForest’s north side, then head up Highway 12, Interstate 39 or Highway 51.

• It could run along the edge of communities such as Prairie du Sac, Lodi, Poynette, Portage, West Baraboo, Elroy or Viroqua. It also could travel through Reedsburg, Wisconsin Dells or Mauston.

• Richland County will be spared.

The area being studied has been expanded north into Trempealeau and Jackson counties. That’s because the Badger Coulee line might meet up with CapX2020, a 700-mile series of mostly 345-kilovolt lines stretching from the Dakotas. CapX2020 proposes to cross into Wisconsin at Alma, in Buffalo County.