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Thursday, October 27, 2011

Milwaukee County and Kenosha get funds for express bus routes

From an article by Larry Sandler in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

Milwaukee County will get $19.1 million in federal funds to pay for three new express bus routes, the state Department of Transportation and County Executive Chris Abele announced Thursday.

Those new routes will partly replace existing local service, as part of Abele's plan to stave off deep cuts that had been recommended in other routes. Regional planners, state staffers and local advisory committees had backed the plan before it received final approval from state Transportation Secretary Mark Gottlieb.

Two routes will be funded by $12.7 million of the $15 million previously allocated to the now-defunct KRM Commuter Link rail plan. The remaining $2.3 million will go to Kenosha Transit for new buses.

One route will run from Bayshore Town Center to Mitchell International Airport, by way of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and downtown; the other will run from UWM to the Waukesha County line, mainly on Capitol Drive.

Jackson Co. farm gets USDA funds for biodigester project

The USDA announced $1.8 million in a grant and loan for an electricity-generating manure digester at Heller Farms near Alma Center in Jackson County:

MERRILL, Wis., October 26, 2011 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that USDA is funding anaerobic digester projects in eight states to encourage renewable energy production, reduce energy costs and reduce greenhouse gas emissions and farm-based pollution. The announcement was made on the Secretary's behalf by Under Secretary for Rural Development Dallas Tonsager during a trip to Wisconsin.

"Through the efforts of the Obama Administration, the Rural Energy for America Program has helped rural small businesses, farmers and ranchers across the nation," Vilsack said. "Since its creation this program has assisted almost 9,600 small businesses, farmers and ranchers and created or saved an estimated 15,000 jobs. It also provides producers with new opportunities to diversify revenue and make American agriculture and rural small business more competitive."

Funding for the biodigesters is provided through the USDA Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) and has created or saved an estimated 13.4 billion kWh of electricity and reduced almost 14.5 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions.

One of the biodigesters announced today will be constructed on Heller Farms near Alma Center in Jackson County, Wis. It is expected to produce 3.3 million kW hours of renewable energy each year, enough to power 400 average Wisconsin homes per year. Digesters will also be constructed in Pennsylvania, Idaho, Iowa, Florida, Oregon, Ohio, and Vermont.

Today's announcement is in concert with an agreement signed by Secretary Vilsack in December, 2009. During climate change talks in Copenhagen, Denmark, the Secretary signed a historic agreement to help U.S. dairy producers cut greenhouse gas emissions. The agreement between USDA and the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy calls for the parties to work to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from dairy farms by 25 percent by 2020.

Jackson Co. farm gets USDA funds for biodigester project

The USDA announced $1.8 million in a grant and loan for an electricity-generating manure digester at Heller Farms near Alma Center in Jackson County:

MERRILL, Wis., October 26, 2011 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that USDA is funding anaerobic digester projects in eight states to encourage renewable energy production, reduce energy costs and reduce greenhouse gas emissions and farm-based pollution. The announcement was made on the Secretary's behalf by Under Secretary for Rural Development Dallas Tonsager during a trip to Wisconsin.

"Through the efforts of the Obama Administration, the Rural Energy for America Program has helped rural small businesses, farmers and ranchers across the nation," Vilsack said. "Since its creation this program has assisted almost 9,600 small businesses, farmers and ranchers and created or saved an estimated 15,000 jobs. It also provides producers with new opportunities to diversify revenue and make American agriculture and rural small business more competitive."

Funding for the biodigesters is provided through the USDA Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) and has created or saved an estimated 13.4 billion kWh of electricity and reduced almost 14.5 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions.

One of the biodigesters announced today will be constructed on Heller Farms near Alma Center in Jackson County, Wis. It is expected to produce 3.3 million kW hours of renewable energy each year, enough to power 400 average Wisconsin homes per year. Digesters will also be constructed in Pennsylvania, Idaho, Iowa, Florida, Oregon, Ohio, and Vermont.

Today's announcement is in concert with an agreement signed by Secretary Vilsack in December, 2009. During climate change talks in Copenhagen, Denmark, the Secretary signed a historic agreement to help U.S. dairy producers cut greenhouse gas emissions. The agreement between USDA and the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy calls for the parties to work to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from dairy farms by 25 percent by 2020.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

State urged to beef up clean energy policies to create jobs

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

Two reports show Wisconsin has a significant renewable power industry, but with a stronger state commitment, it could be saving more energy and creating more jobs.

Wisconsin has more than 300 businesses involved in wind or solar energy, providing more than 12,000 jobs, according to a study by the Environmental Law and Policy Center in Chicago.

It found 171 Wisconsin companies that either produce, sell or install wind power equipment or plan wind development.

Another 135 companies are part of the solar energy industry. For example, Cardinal Glass makes solar panels in Mazomanie; Helios recently opened a solar panel factory in Milwaukee.

"These are real jobs; these are real businesses. Many are existing businesses that are branching out into new product lines," said Howard Learner, the center's executive director.

Ten years ago, Wisconsin was considered a leader on renewal energy policy, so companies located here, Learner said. "That policy support has now been eroding, and neighboring states —Minnesota, Illinois and Michigan — now have much stronger renewable standards than Wisconsin does and are exceeding Wisconsin in terms of jobs," he added.

Meanwhile, at a news conference Tuesday, representatives of clean energy businesses made a pitch for more money for Wisconsin's Focus on Energy program, saying it will save energy, cut consumers' costs and create jobs.

In the 10 years since it was created, Focus programs have saved utility customers 6.8 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity, or 6.8 months of the total residential power use in the state, says the report by the Midwest Energy Efficiency Alliance in Chicago. It says the programs also have saved 278 therms of natural gas, or 1.8 years of statewide residential consumption.

State urged to beef up clean energy policies to create jobs

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

Two reports show Wisconsin has a significant renewable power industry, but with a stronger state commitment, it could be saving more energy and creating more jobs.

Wisconsin has more than 300 businesses involved in wind or solar energy, providing more than 12,000 jobs, according to a study by the Environmental Law and Policy Center in Chicago.

It found 171 Wisconsin companies that either produce, sell or install wind power equipment or plan wind development.

Another 135 companies are part of the solar energy industry. For example, Cardinal Glass makes solar panels in Mazomanie; Helios recently opened a solar panel factory in Milwaukee.

"These are real jobs; these are real businesses. Many are existing businesses that are branching out into new product lines," said Howard Learner, the center's executive director.
Ten years ago, Wisconsin was considered a leader on renewal energy policy, so companies located here, Learner said. "That policy support has now been eroding, and neighboring states —Minnesota, Illinois and Michigan — now have much stronger renewable standards than Wisconsin does and are exceeding Wisconsin in terms of jobs," he added.

Meanwhile, at a news conference Tuesday, representatives of clean energy businesses made a pitch for more money for Wisconsin's Focus on Energy program, saying it will save energy, cut consumers' costs and create jobs.

In the 10 years since it was created, Focus programs have saved utility customers 6.8 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity, or 6.8 months of the total residential power use in the state, says the report by the Midwest Energy Efficiency Alliance in Chicago. It says the programs also have saved 278 therms of natural gas, or 1.8 years of statewide residential consumption.

State urged to beef up clean energy policies to create jobs

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

Two reports show Wisconsin has a significant renewable power industry, but with a stronger state commitment, it could be saving more energy and creating more jobs.

Wisconsin has more than 300 businesses involved in wind or solar energy, providing more than 12,000 jobs, according to a study by the Environmental Law and Policy Center in Chicago.

It found 171 Wisconsin companies that either produce, sell or install wind power equipment or plan wind development.

Another 135 companies are part of the solar energy industry. For example, Cardinal Glass makes solar panels in Mazomanie; Helios recently opened a solar panel factory in Milwaukee.

"These are real jobs; these are real businesses. Many are existing businesses that are branching out into new product lines," said Howard Learner, the center's executive director.

Ten years ago, Wisconsin was considered a leader on renewal energy policy, so companies located here, Learner said. "That policy support has now been eroding, and neighboring states —Minnesota, Illinois and Michigan — now have much stronger renewable standards than Wisconsin does and are exceeding Wisconsin in terms of jobs," he added.

Meanwhile, at a news conference Tuesday, representatives of clean energy businesses made a pitch for more money for Wisconsin's Focus on Energy program, saying it will save energy, cut consumers' costs and create jobs.

In the 10 years since it was created, Focus programs have saved utility customers 6.8 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity, or 6.8 months of the total residential power use in the state, says the report by the Midwest Energy Efficiency Alliance in Chicago. It says the programs also have saved 278 therms of natural gas, or 1.8 years of statewide residential consumption.

State urged to beef up clean energy policies to create jobs

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

Two reports show Wisconsin has a significant renewable power industry, but with a stronger state commitment, it could be saving more energy and creating more jobs.

Wisconsin has more than 300 businesses involved in wind or solar energy, providing more than 12,000 jobs, according to a study by the Environmental Law and Policy Center in Chicago.

It found 171 Wisconsin companies that either produce, sell or install wind power equipment or plan wind development.

Another 135 companies are part of the solar energy industry. For example, Cardinal Glass makes solar panels in Mazomanie; Helios recently opened a solar panel factory in Milwaukee.

"These are real jobs; these are real businesses. Many are existing businesses that are branching out into new product lines," said Howard Learner, the center's executive director.

Ten years ago, Wisconsin was considered a leader on renewal energy policy, so companies located here, Learner said. "That policy support has now been eroding, and neighboring states —Minnesota, Illinois and Michigan — now have much stronger renewable standards than Wisconsin does and are exceeding Wisconsin in terms of jobs," he added.

Meanwhile, at a news conference Tuesday, representatives of clean energy businesses made a pitch for more money for Wisconsin's Focus on Energy program, saying it will save energy, cut consumers' costs and create jobs.

In the 10 years since it was created, Focus programs have saved utility customers 6.8 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity, or 6.8 months of the total residential power use in the state, says the report by the Midwest Energy Efficiency Alliance in Chicago. It says the programs also have saved 278 therms of natural gas, or 1.8 years of statewide residential consumption.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Wind power amendment shot down

From an article by Mike Ivey in The Capital Times:

An effort to push forward with new rules for siting wind towers in Wisconsin has failed.

On a largely party-line 60-30 vote, the Republican-controlled Assembly on Thursday voted down an amendment that would have cleared the way for an expansion of wind generated electricity here.

The rules for siting of wind turbines were approved by the state Public Service Commission under former Gov. Jim Doyle. But implementation of those rules has been suspended under a directive from Gov. Scott Walker.

Walker and others, including Rep. Frank Lasee, R-Ledgeview,have said the rules should be reviewed again, with more consideration given to those living near wind farms. Some residents have complained of noise and visual impacts from wind turbines, which can be up to 300 feet tall.

Rep. Gary Hebl, D-Sun Prairie, had co-sponsored the wind amendment that was attached to a bill that allowed for larger trucks on Wisconsin highways, including trucks that carry equipment for electric transmission lines.

In a statement, Hebl said it was ironic that the wind amendment was shot down just as new figures showed Wisconsin lost more jobs in September.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Wisconsin slips five notches in energy efficiency ranking

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

Wisconsin's move to roll back funding increases for programs that help homeowners and businesses save on energy bills was criticized in a report Thursday by a national energy efficiency advocacy group.

The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy released a scorecard rating states' efforts in the area of energy efficiency.

Wisconsin was in the top 10 several years ago but ranks 16th in this year's scorecard. Massachusetts was the top state overall, and Michigan and Illinois were cited as among the most improved states.

"Clearly, 2011 has not been kind to our economy, but energy efficiency remains a growth sector that attracts investment and creates jobs," said Michael Sciortino, ACEEE senior policy analyst and the report's lead author.

"With even higher energy savings possible, we expect leading states to continue pushing the envelope next year and inspire those at the bottom of the rankings to embrace energy efficiency as a core strategy to gain a competitive advantage by generating cost-savings, promoting technological innovation, and stimulating growth," he said.

Wisconsin has lost some ground while other states have made significant pushes to set up initiatives that provide incentives to consumers and businesses to conduct energy-saving retrofits. Improvements by Michigan and Illinois pushed those states to rankings just behind Wisconsin.

The report saluted efforts in Arkansas, Rhode Island and Arizona, which "worked with utilities and adopted significant energy efficiency regulations," the report says.

"Despite significant progress, some states have slowed or stepped backward in the race to save energy. New Jersey and Wisconsin have both diminished investments in utility-sector energy efficiency and Arizona is considering a law that will reduce transportation efficiency in the state."

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Green Drinks, Eau Claire, Oct .

A reminder that this months Green Drinks is going to be held next Wednesday, October 26th at Mogies Pub. See you then for conversation regarding frac sand mining in Western Wisconsin.

No excuse to stall rules on wind farms

From an editorial in the Racine Journal Times:

The wind turbines have stopped turning in Wisconsin, figuratively speaking. For months, the rewrite of rules governing the siting of wind energy farms has been stalled. New investments and new jobs also have been stalled because of that, and there is no good reason for it.

When Gov. Scott Walker took office in January he worked to short-circuit the rule-making process which was then almost complete after two years. The Public Service Commission had reached a compromise with interest groups which would have placed the wind turbine towers about 450 feet away from the nearest property line but no less than 1,250 feet from the nearest residence. Walker wanted the property line setback increased to 1,800 feet.

Ultimately, a legislative committee didn’t act on a bill containing Walker’s proposed standard and instead ordered the PSC to start over. That’s where the process remains. A member of the agency told the Wisconsin State Journal that talks have made no progress and are stuck over the same old issues: noise, setback distance and effect on the value of neighboring properties.

If there is no progress by March the PSC’s original regulations will take effect anyway, but wind farm opponents have no incentive to negotiate. All they have to do is wait. Either wind energy proponents capitulate and give them what they want, or the Legislature writes a new law which gives them what they want or Walker, with his new power to review regulations first, will give them what they want.

There is a high price for this stalling. Since the rules were becalmed, five major wind energy projects have been suspended or canceled. Those would have infused about $1.6 billion in economic development and created about 1,000 temporary full-time jobs. By contrast, the proposed northern Wisconsin iron mine which the Legislature is looking to accommodate is supposed to bring a $1.5 billion investment and 700 jobs.

Monday, October 17, 2011

RENEW puts solar hot water on the Wisconsin map

Immediate release
October 13, 2011

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

From the North Woods to the Illinois border, from Lake Michigan to the Mississippi River, growing numbers of Wisconsin factories, businesses, schools, hospitals, fire stations, apartment buildings and breweries have installed systems that heat their water with the power of the sun.

A newly launched online map on RENEW Wisconsin’s web site displays the locations of more than 60 nonresidential solar hot water systems installed in the state. Each flagged system is accompanied by a box containing information on the owner, installation contractor, system size and date of installation. Many of these systems are linked to their installers’ web sites, accompanied by photos.

The solar hot water map joins the family of on-line renewable energy maps developed by RENEW Wisconsin in the past year. Some maps are resource-specific; others break out renewable energy systems by county.

“These maps verify the enormously positive effect that Wisconsin’s clean energy initiatives like Focus on Energy have had in creating such a vibrant economic sector,” said RENEW executive director Michael Vickerman.

Created in 1999 and strengthened in 2006, Focus on Energy is a ratepayer-funded initiative that helps Wisconsin residents and businesses employ energy efficiency measures and install renewable energy systems.

“In the past five years, Focus on Energy incentives have been instrumental in putting solar hot water on the map in Wisconsin,” Vickerman said. “No other Midwestern state has come close to experiencing Wisconsin’s success in advancing this particular application of solar energy.”

The table below shows the five largest solar hot water installations operating in Wisconsin, two are located at University of Wisconsin campuses.

Owner: UW-Oshkosh
Installer: H&H Solar, Green Sky Energetics
County: Winnebago
Capacity: 6,800 square feet (total)
Year installed: 2010, 2011

Kalahari Resorts
Terrytown Plumbing/H&H Solar
Sauk
4,160
2007

Menomonie Indian Tribe
Energy Concepts
Menomonie
2,600
2010

UW-Stevens Point
Hooper Corp./ Pertzborn Plumbing
Portage
2,240 (total)
2011

Avis Rent-a-Car (multiple locations)
Mitchell’s Heating & Cooling
Outagamie
2,160 (total)
2007

Milwaukee-based Hot Water Products, one of the largest stocking distributors for solar thermal and domestic hot water systems in the Midwest, supplied and designed four of these systems and many others in Wisconsin over the last five years. In addition to training contractors in this field, Hot Water Products also assists them with system design and equipment sizing support.

This year, installation activity has been brisk, but most installation contractors are bracing for a sharp slowdown in 2012, due to a Focus on Energy decision on July 1st to suspend renewable energy grants and incentives to nonresidential customers. The announcement of the funding suspension came after the Legislature voted in June to lop $20 million from Focus on Energy’s 2012 budget.

“The longer Focus on Energy’s funding suspension goes on, the deeper the damage will be. Installers are holding their breath as they wait for Focus on Energy to restore renewable energy funding assistance.”

Installers and system owners wishing to add their installations to the map should contact Alex Brasch at brasch@renewwisconsin.org.

Renewable Energy in Wisconsin: Anatomy of a Long, Strange Trip and Where We’re Headed Next

From a presentation by Michael Vickerman to Sierra Club – Great Waters Group in Milwaukee, WI on October 17, 2011:

The most agonizing decisions that await us will involve determining which elements of our built environment can be supported with renewable energy and which elements cannot. With a lower EROEI (energy return on energy invested), we will not be able to run a world that formerly ran on cheap, abundant fossil fuels. We have little choice but to downsize our buildings, downscale our communities, and reorganize the economy.

[The large file may take a minute or two to download.]

Friday, October 14, 2011

Find Wisconsin solar hot water installations on new online interactive map

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

From the North Woods to the Illinois border, from Lake Michigan to the Mississippi River, growing numbers of Wisconsin factories, businesses, schools, hospitals, fire stations, apartment buildings and breweries have installed systems that heat their water with the power of the sun.

A newly launched online map on RENEW Wisconsin’s web site displays the locations of more than 60 nonresidential solar hot water systems installed in the state. Each flagged system is accompanied by a box containing information on the owner, installation contractor, system size and date of installation. Many of these systems are linked to their installers’ web sites, accompanied by photos.

The solar hot water map joins the family of on-line renewable energy maps developed by RENEW Wisconsin in the past year. Some maps are resource-specific; others break out renewable energy systems by county.

“These maps verify the enormously positive effect that Wisconsin’s clean energy initiatives like Focus on Energy have had in creating such a vibrant economic sector,” said RENEW executive director Michael Vickerman.

Created in 1999 and strengthened in 2006, Focus on Energy is a ratepayer-funded initiative that helps Wisconsin residents and businesses employ energy efficiency measures and install renewable energy systems.

“In the past five years, Focus on Energy incentives have been instrumental in putting solar hot water on the map in Wisconsin,” Vickerman said. “No other Midwestern state has come close to experiencing Wisconsin’s success in advancing this particular application of solar energy.”

The table below shows the five largest solar hot water installations operating in Wisconsin, two are located at University of Wisconsin campuses.

Owner: UW-Oshkosh
Installer: H&H Solar, Green Sky Energetics
County: Winnebago
Capacity: 6,800 square feet (total)
Year installed: 2010, 2011

Kalahari Resorts
Terrytown Plumbing/H&H Solar
Sauk
4,160
2007

Menomonie Indian Tribe
Energy Concepts
Menomonie
2,600
2010

UW-Stevens Point
Hooper Corp./ Pertzborn Plumbing
Portage
2,240 (total)
2011

Avis Rent-a-Car (multiple locations)
Mitchell’s Heating & Cooling
Outagamie
2,160 (total)
2007

Milwaukee-based Hot Water Products, one of the largest stocking distributors for solar thermal and domestic hot water systems in the Midwest, supplied and designed four of these systems and many others in Wisconsin over the last five years. In addition to training contractors in this field, Hot Water Products also assists them with system design and equipment sizing support.

This year, installation activity has been brisk, but most installation contractors are bracing for a sharp slowdown in 2012, due to a Focus on Energy decision on July 1st to suspend renewable energy grants and incentives to nonresidential customers. The announcement of the funding suspension came after the Legislature voted in June to lop $20 million from Focus on Energy’s 2012 budget.

“The longer Focus on Energy’s funding suspension goes on, the deeper the damage will be. Installers are holding their breath as they wait for Focus on Energy to restore renewable energy funding assistance.”

Installers and system owners wishing to add their installations to the map should contact Alex Brasch at brasch@renewwisconsin.org.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

CapX2020 power line project gets federal fast-track

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

The White House announced plans Wednesday to speed up federal approval of a controversial high voltage power line planned for the area.

The CapX2020 line, which will connect power stations in Hampton, Minn., Rochester and La Crosse, was one of seven projects tagged by the Obama administration as key for creating jobs while modernizing the nation’s electric system.

“To compete in the global economy, we need a modern electricity grid,” Energy Secretary Steven Chu said in a statement. “An upgraded electricity grid will give consumers choices while promoting energy savings, increasing energy efficiency and fostering the growth of renewable energy resources.”

The accelerated process will not affect state approval processes already under way, said Sahar Wali, spokeswoman for the Council on Environmental Quality. It will instead speed up federal processing by encouraging cooperation between agencies.

Tim Carlsgaard, spokesman for the consortium of utility companies including Xcel Energy and Dairyland Power Cooperative, said he hopes that means the federal process will be done by the time Minnesota and Wisconsin complete their reviews, likely in mid 2012.

CapX will need federal approval from as many as four federal agencies, including the Rural Utility Service. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Army Corps of Engineers will also have a say in how and where the line crosses the Mississippi River near Alma, Wis.

Joe Morse is a spokesman for the Citizens Energy Task Force, which opposes the project. He thinks the federal government is overstepping its bounds and pressuring states to hasten approval despite local opposition. Several towns have passed resolutions opposing the line, and a La Crosse County committee this week asked for more study.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Walker refuses to break wind siting deadlock

From an article by Clay Barbour in the LaCrosse Tribune:

Hundreds of jobs and millions of dollars in potential economic development are stuck in limbo as officials continue to argue over new wind siting rules.

The new rules, more than a year in the making, were suspended earlier this year just before they were to go into effect. A legislative committee sent them back to the Public Service Commission, which was tasked with finding a compromise between both sides.

Now, some seven months later, PSC officials say they are no closer to a deal than when they started. Meanwhile, wind farm developers such as Midwest Wind Energy and Redwind Consulting are sitting on their hands, and their money.

“Right now, we just don’t have a path forward in Wisconsin,”said Tim Polz, vice president of Midwest Wind Energy, a company that suspended work earlier this year on a large wind farm in Calumet County. “The uncertainty is just too much now.”

Polz said Chicago-based Midwest already spent three years and about $1 million on the Calumet County project. In full, the company expected to spend upward of $200 million on the project, employ 150 to 200 construction workers for up to 18 months and five to eight people full time after that. . . .

Walker said he is aware of the stress caused by the delay but feels it is important any rules be fair to both sides, respecting property rights and the future of the wind industry.

Meanwhile, state Sen. Frank Lasee, R-De Pere, plans to introduce a bill Monday to call for a moratorium on wind turbines until the PSC receives a report from the Department of Health Services on possible health effects of wind farms.

“It is more important to fully vet, understand and communicate to the public the potential changes than the specific timing of when they are adopted and enacted.” Walker said. “It is important to note that whatever proposed changes are made, there are effects on a number of different areas of the economy.”

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Milwaukee streetcar debate heats up

From an article by Sean Ryan in the Business Journal:

City of Milwaukee streetcar supporters, including Mayor Tom Barrett, on Wednesday rallied against the proposal to give Milwaukee County buses up to $54.9 million in federal grants dedicated to the streetcar.

Milwaukee Alds. Joe Dudzik and Bob Donovan and County Board Supervisor Mark Borkowski on Wednesday called for an April referendum on the project and requested U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore sponsor federal legislation to give county buses the federal money that was earmarked for the streetcar. Donovan listed his concerns about the project, including the potentially high cost of moving utilities for the streetcar tracks, operating costs and potential ridership.

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett said Donovan, Dudzik and Borkowski have a history of being hostile toward transit and said many of their arguments have been made before. He said the three did not participate in a push made earlier this year to urge the state to restore money for the county transit system that was cut in the state budget.

“Where were these three individuals?” Barrett said. “They were nowhere, because they’ve never had an interest in improving transit in this community.”

The federal grant for the 2.1-mile downtown streetcar is the city’s share of $91.5 million in transit money Congress approved in 1991 for projects in Milwaukee County. A Congressional budget bill approved in 2009 earmarked $54.9 million for the city and $36.6 million for the county. As approved by Congress, the money can only be spent on capital projects, not on system operations.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Judge tosses suit challenging We Energies biomass project

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

A Marathon County judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed this summer by opponents of the We Energies biomass power plant near Wausau.

The local group Save Our Air Resources and the Massachusetts-based Biomass Accountability Project had sued the state Department of Natural Resources challenging its approval of the project, which would burn wood waste and wood residues left over from logging operations.

The plant was proposed by We Energies along with the paper company Domtar, which will host the project at its Rothschild paper mill.

The $255 million project is needed to help We Energies comply with the state’s renewable energy target.

In a ruling Thursday, Marathon County Judge Michael Moran ruled in favor of the DNR that the lawsuit was filed late and by a lawyer

“It was filed late and it was filed by an out-of-state attorney,” Moran said, according to an audio recording posted online by the Wausau radio station WSAU.

Farmers Union renewable energy tour, summer 2011

Monday, October 3, 2011

Report says county transit cuts would make jobs inaccessible

From an article on BizTimesDaily:

If proposed cuts are made to the Milwaukee County Transit System, a minimum of 13,553 jobs in locations currently served by MCTS would become inaccessible for people without cars, according to a new report by the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee Center for Economic Development.

“Included in the proposed budget for 2012 are a series of route eliminations and other service reductions that, if implemented, would reduce both fixed route services and hours of operation by roughly 12 percent. It has become a familiar story for MCTS, which has been forced to reduce service, raise fares, or both every year since 2001 to close chronic budget gaps. These cuts have made it increasingly difficult for transit-dependent workers and job seekers to access employment opportunities in the Milwaukee metro area, contributing to Milwaukee’s poverty rate of 27 percent, fourth highest in the nation among cities with 250,000 or more residents,” the report stated.

The county’s transit crisis is made worse by Gov. Scott Walker’s budget, which imposes a 10-percent across-the-board cut in the state’s operating assistance for public transit systems, the report stated.

“Due to a provision in the budget that limits increases in the property tax levy for counties and municipalities, there is little the County can do to offset the loss of state funding with additional local revenue sources,” the report stated.

Chippewa Valley Sustainable Energy and Development Series Begins Oct. 13

The City of Eau Claire and Eau Claire Area Chamber of Commerce are pleased to present a series on sustainable energy and development. See attachment for more details. Please consider attending one or all of the remaining sessions.

Bright Future: Solar Electric, October 13th
Event link: http://eauclairewicoc.weblinkconnect.com/CWT/External/WCPages/WCEvents/EventDetail.aspx?EventID=7053


Building Green: A LEED Primer from the Field, November 3rd
Event link: http://eauclairewicoc.weblinkconnect.com/CWT/External/WCPages/WCEvents/EventDetail.aspx?EventID=7055


GeoExchange: From Concept to Completion, December 7th
Event Link: http://eauclairewicoc.weblinkconnect.com/CWT/External/WCPages/WCEvents/EventDetail.aspx?EventID=7054

________________________________________

The Energy Center University, powered by the Energy Center of Wisconsin

High performance windows and wall assemblies
Oct 25, 2011 • Eau Claire, WI
There are dozens of ways to design and spec both new and retrofit high performance wall assemblies. There are an equal number of ways to integrate high performance windows into those same assemblies. Which ones work the best; which are the most cost-effective or easily detailed? Which material selections fit together for optimal moisture management?

Come learn the building science principles that drive high performance wall design and specification. Bring your own plans, details, photos, and drawings to work on all the nitty-gritty details with your peers and your instructor. There is always more than one way to do high performance walls and windows; the principles remain the same while the details can vary quite a bit. There is no one right way and we will explore best practices in contexts that you and the instructor provide, using 2-D drawings and 3-D mock-ups.
Link to more: http://www.ecw.org/university/ecuevent.php?ecuid=430

HVAC retrofits for energy conservation
Nov 9, 2011 • Eau Claire, WI
Reduce energy use and save money using variable frequency drives, direct digital controls and CO2-based demand controlled ventilation systems. Ryan Hoger will present the most current information regarding each of these technologies plus case studies showing dollar savings from HVAC retrofits at this full-day workshop. He'll review sales tools that can help you predict energy savings for your clients, present a summary of applicable codes and standards, and discuss future code changes.
Link: http://www.ecw.org/university/ecuevent.php?ecuid=420

Advanced lighting retrofits
Dec 8, 2011 • Eau Claire, WI
Learn how to cost-effectively retrofit commercial lighting to efficiency levels that qualify for EPACT tax deductions. We'll address lighting retrofits for a variety of commercial applications, including offices and high bay settings.

You don't need complicated, costly dimming systems to effectively reduce lighting energy use in office environments. Find out how high-Kelvin and high-performance T8s, extra-efficient fixed-output ballasts, one- and two-lamp 2x4 kits and fixtures, one lamp per cross section suspended indirect/direct fixtures and LED task lights can cost-effectively provide very low power densities as well as very high lighting quality.
There are a multitude of technologies that can replace energy-wasting standard metal halide, high pressure sodium and mercury vapor lighting in high bay settings. We'll discuss the best applications for improved T8 and T5HO lamps and ballasts, induction, electronically ballasted pulse-start metal halide, T8VHO, solid state metal halide and LEDs.
Link: http://www.ecw.org/university/ecuevent.php?ecuid=419

More information:
Ned Noel / Associate Planner / City of Eau Claire / 203 S. Farwell St., Eau Claire, WI 54701
tel: 715.839.8488 / fax: 715.839.4939 / e-mail: Ned.Noel@eauclaire.wi.gov