Search This Blog

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

PSC Issues Flawed Decision on Renewable Energy

Immediate release
April 16, 2012

More information
Michael Vickerman
Director, Programs and Policy
608.255.4044
mvickerman@renewwisconsin.org

Statement of RENEW Wisconsin 
PSC Issues Flawed Decision on Renewable Energy
Incentives Will Favor Biogas and Biomass, Penalize Solar, Small Wind

In deciding last Friday on a new approach to funding renewable energy systems through the Focus on Energy program, the Public Service Commission (PSC) reserved the bulk of the incentives for energy systems using (1) biogas from agriculture and industrial operations; (2) biomass combustion; and (3) geothermal heat pumps. In so doing, it consigned solar and small wind to a minor role for the next couple of years.

The PSC’s decision came more nine months after Focus on Energy’s program administrator announced in June 2011 that it would temporarily discontinue awarding incentives to renewable energy systems beginning that July. Systems approved for incentives prior to that time were allowed to go forward.

Beginning in 2012, the PSC will impose a $10 million cap on program outlays dedicated to renewable energy in a given year. The percentage of that amount that flows to energy producers in the form of incentives has not been determined. Shortly after the Friday open meeting, the agency issued a statement which can be accessed at http://psc.wi.gov/pdffiles/News%20Releases/2012/04%20April/04132012RenewablesPlan.pdf.

The following represents RENEW Wisconsin’s reaction to the new Focus on Energy policy on funding renewable energy systems. For the record, RENEW Wisconsin’s advocacy was a driving force behind the creation of Focus on Energy renewable energy program in 2002.
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
“We wish we could be more supportive of the long-overdue action the Commission took last Friday, but unfortunately it is flawed in at least one key respect, and the result will be a very unbalanced resource portfolio going forward,” said Michael Vickerman, RENEW’s director of programs and policy.

“The biggest problem with the new policy is that it reserves three-quarters of available funds for biogas, biomass and geothermal heat pump systems while limiting funding for solar and small wind projects to only one-third of the program budget for biogas and biomass energy. Under the new policy, the amount awarded to biogas, biomass, and geothermal determines the overall funding level for renewables.”

“Let’s do the math. If it’s a good year for biogas, biomass, and geothermal, and enough applications come in to obligate in full the $7,500,000 reserved for this category, then solar and small wind could receive the remaining funds up to $2,500,000. But if biogas, biomass, and geothermal have an off year and only $3,000,000 worth of applications is approved, the share that remains for solar and small wind shrinks to $1,000,000.”

“We are strong supporters of biogas and biomass energy systems, but this allocation goes too far in that direction. Even under the best-case scenario, solar and small wind will see a significant reduction of incentive support.”

“Whether intended or not, the PSC’s funding formula effectively picks winners and losers going forward. Although state law directs the PSC to place a higher priority on non-combustible renewables than on combustibles, this policy does the reverse.”

“As long as funding for solar and small wind systems remains contingent on outlays for biomass, biogas, and geothermal, uncertainty and instability will prevail in that market segment. Administering this aspect of the Focus on Energy program will present a number of challenges. ”

“We believe this problem flows from the PSC’s continuing difficulties in fairly evaluating the cost-effectiveness of non-combustible renewables. Basically, the PSC treats those resources as though they were an expensive form of energy efficiency. But small, non-combustible renewables and energy efficiency are different animals, yielding very different outcomes and benefit streams. Small-scale renewables are clean and homegrown energy sources. The PSC’s test for determining cost-effectiveness in large part ignores those attributes,” Vickerman said.

END

PSC Issues Flawed Decision on Renewable Energy

Immediate release
April 16, 2012

More information
Michael Vickerman
Director, Programs and Policy
608.255.4044
mvickerman@renewwisconsin.org

Statement of RENEW Wisconsin 
PSC Issues Flawed Decision on Renewable Energy
Incentives Will Favor Biogas and Biomass, Penalize Solar, Small Wind

In deciding last Friday on a new approach to funding renewable energy systems through the Focus on Energy program, the Public Service Commission (PSC) reserved the bulk of the incentives for energy systems using (1) biogas from agriculture and industrial operations; (2) biomass combustion; and (3) geothermal heat pumps. In so doing, it consigned solar and small wind to a minor role for the next couple of years.

The PSC’s decision came more nine months after Focus on Energy’s program administrator announced in June 2011 that it would temporarily discontinue awarding incentives to renewable energy systems beginning that July. Systems approved for incentives prior to that time were allowed to go forward.

Beginning in 2012, the PSC will impose a $10 million cap on program outlays dedicated to renewable energy in a given year. The percentage of that amount that flows to energy producers in the form of incentives has not been determined. Shortly after the Friday open meeting, the agency issued a statement which can be accessed at http://psc.wi.gov/pdffiles/News%20Releases/2012/04%20April/04132012RenewablesPlan.pdf.

The following represents RENEW Wisconsin’s reaction to the new Focus on Energy policy on funding renewable energy systems. For the record, RENEW Wisconsin’s advocacy was a driving force behind the creation of Focus on Energy renewable energy program in 2002.
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
“We wish we could be more supportive of the long-overdue action the Commission took last Friday, but unfortunately it is flawed in at least one key respect, and the result will be a very unbalanced resource portfolio going forward,” said Michael Vickerman, RENEW’s director of programs and policy.

“The biggest problem with the new policy is that it reserves three-quarters of available funds for biogas, biomass and geothermal heat pump systems while limiting funding for solar and small wind projects to only one-third of the program budget for biogas and biomass energy. Under the new policy, the amount awarded to biogas, biomass, and geothermal determines the overall funding level for renewables.”

“Let’s do the math. If it’s a good year for biogas, biomass, and geothermal, and enough applications come in to obligate in full the $7,500,000 reserved for this category, then solar and small wind could receive the remaining funds up to $2,500,000. But if biogas, biomass, and geothermal have an off year and only $3,000,000 worth of applications is approved, the share that remains for solar and small wind shrinks to $1,000,000.”

“We are strong supporters of biogas and biomass energy systems, but this allocation goes too far in that direction. Even under the best-case scenario, solar and small wind will see a significant reduction of incentive support.”

“Whether intended or not, the PSC’s funding formula effectively picks winners and losers going forward. Although state law directs the PSC to place a higher priority on non-combustible renewables than on combustibles, this policy does the reverse.”

“As long as funding for solar and small wind systems remains contingent on outlays for biomass, biogas, and geothermal, uncertainty and instability will prevail in that market segment. Administering this aspect of the Focus on Energy program will present a number of challenges. ”

“We believe this problem flows from the PSC’s continuing difficulties in fairly evaluating the cost-effectiveness of non-combustible renewables. Basically, the PSC treats those resources as though they were an expensive form of energy efficiency. But small, non-combustible renewables and energy efficiency are different animals, yielding very different outcomes and benefit streams. Small-scale renewables are clean and homegrown energy sources. The PSC’s test for determining cost-effectiveness in large part ignores those attributes,” Vickerman said.

END

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Catching Wind updates Wisconsin wind news

Catching Wind, a newsletter from RENEW Wisconsin, includes the following updates on wind in Wisconsin:

Siting rule survives challenge, takes effect
Capping a bitter four-year struggle, the Legislature cleared the path for wind energy development to resume in Wisconsin under clear and consistent rules.

By adjourning without passage of bills restricting wind development, the Legislature allowed a statewide permitting rule developed by the Public Service Commission (PSC) to take effect.

Community wind sweeps into western Wisconsin
Two privately owned utility-scale wind turbines are set to rise this spring near Organic Valley Cooperative’s distribution center in Cashton, home of Wisconsin’s first Community Wind project. Called Cashton Greens, the wind project is a joint venture of LaFarge-based Organic Valley and La Crosse-based Gundersen Lutheran Health System.

St. Croix County Wind Project seeks PSC approval
In a first for the Badger State, western Wisconsin, specifically, St. Croix County will provide the backdrop for a high-profile permitting battle over a utility-scale wind energy project. The 41-turbine project would be located in the towns of Forest and Cylon, about 30 miles northeast of Hudson.

Catching Wind updates Wisconsin wind news

Catching Wind, a newsletter from RENEW Wisconsin, includes the following updates on wind in Wisconsin:

Siting rule survives challenge, takes effect
Capping a bitter four-year struggle, the Legislature cleared the path for wind energy development to resume in Wisconsin under clear and consistent rules.

By adjourning without passage of bills restricting wind development, the Legislature allowed a statewide permitting rule developed by the Public Service Commission (PSC) to take effect.

Community wind sweeps into western Wisconsin
Two privately owned utility-scale wind turbines are set to rise this spring near Organic Valley Cooperative’s distribution center in Cashton, home of Wisconsin’s first Community Wind project. Called Cashton Greens, the wind project is a joint venture of LaFarge-based Organic Valley and La Crosse-based Gundersen Lutheran Health System.

St. Croix County Wind Project seeks PSC approval
In a first for the Badger State, western Wisconsin, specifically, St. Croix County will provide the backdrop for a high-profile permitting battle over a utility-scale wind energy project. The 41-turbine project would be located in the towns of Forest and Cylon, about 30 miles northeast of Hudson.

Catching Wind updates news on Wisconsin wind

Catching Wind, a newsletter from RENEW Wisconsin, includes the following updates on wind in Wisconsin:

Siting rule survives challenge, takes effect
Capping a bitter four-year struggle, the Legislature cleared the path for wind energy development to resume in Wisconsin under clear and consistent rules.

By adjourning without passage of bills restricting wind development, the Legislature allowed a statewide permitting rule developed by the Public Service Commission (PSC) to take effect.

Community wind sweeps into western Wisconsin
Two privately owned utility-scale wind turbines are set to rise this spring near Organic Valley Cooperative’s distribution center in Cashton, home of Wisconsin’s first Community Wind project. Called Cashton Greens, the wind project is a joint venture of LaFarge-based Organic Valley and La Crosse-based Gundersen Lutheran Health System.

St. Croix County Wind Project seeks PSC approval
In a first for the Badger State, western Wisconsin, specifically, St. Croix County will provide the backdrop for a high-profile permitting battle over a utility-scale wind energy project. The 41-turbine project would be located in the towns of Forest and Cylon, about 30 miles northeast of Hudson.

Catching Wind updates Wisconsin wind news

Catching Wind, a newsletter from RENEW Wisconsin, includes the following updates on wind in Wisconsin:

Siting rule survives challenge, takes effect
Capping a bitter four-year struggle, the Legislature cleared the path for wind energy development to resume in Wisconsin under clear and consistent rules.

By adjourning without passage of bills restricting wind development, the Legislature allowed a statewide permitting rule developed by the Public Service Commission (PSC) to take effect.

Community wind sweeps into western Wisconsin
Two privately owned utility-scale wind turbines are set to rise this spring near Organic Valley Cooperative’s distribution center in Cashton, home of Wisconsin’s first Community Wind project. Called Cashton Greens, the wind project is a joint venture of LaFarge-based Organic Valley and La Crosse-based Gundersen Lutheran Health System.

St. Croix County Wind Project seeks PSC approval
In a first for the Badger State, western Wisconsin, specifically, St. Croix County will provide the backdrop for a high-profile permitting battle over a utility-scale wind energy project. The 41-turbine project would be located in the towns of Forest and Cylon, about 30 miles northeast of Hudson.

Catching Wind updates wind news from western Wisconsin

Catching Wind, a newsletter from RENEW Wisconsin, includes the following updates on wind in Wisconsin:

Siting rule survives challenge, takes effect
Capping a bitter four-year struggle, the Legislature cleared the path for wind energy development to resume in Wisconsin under clear and consistent rules.

By adjourning without passage of bills restricting wind development, the Legislature allowed a statewide permitting rule developed by the Public Service Commission (PSC) to take effect.

Community wind sweeps into western Wisconsin
Two privately owned utility-scale wind turbines are set to rise this spring near Organic Valley Cooperative’s distribution center in Cashton, home of Wisconsin’s first Community Wind project. Called Cashton Greens, the wind project is a joint venture of LaFarge-based Organic Valley and La Crosse-based Gundersen Lutheran Health System.

St. Croix County Wind Project seeks PSC approval
In a first for the Badger State, western Wisconsin, specifically, St. Croix County will provide the backdrop for a high-profile permitting battle over a utility-scale wind energy project. The 41-turbine project would be located in the towns of Forest and Cylon, about 30 miles northeast of Hudson.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Frustration Floods PSC over Suspension of Renewable Energy Funds

Immediate release
April 2, 2012

More information
Don Wichert
dwichert@renewwisconsin.org
608.255.4044, ext. 1

Frustration Floods PSC over Suspension of Renewable Energy Funds

More than 200 individuals and businesses submitted comments decrying the long delay in restarting the renewable energy programs of Focus on Energy, a nationally recognized program that reduces the cost of solar, wind, and biomass installations for Wisconsin utility customers.

Focus on Energy suspended its support for customer-sited renewable energy systems for businesses last July, when rising demand for renewables outstripped available funds, according to Shaw Environmental, the program administrator. When it announced the funding suspension last June, Shaw told installers that incentives would resume before the end of 2011. In January 2012, funding for residential renewable energy systems ended.

“It is now the spring of 2012, and neither Shaw nor the Public Service Commission (PSC), which oversees Focus, have said a peep about when they will again offer incentives, as required by law,” said Don Wichert, executive director of RENEW Wisconsin, a nonprofit advocacy organization that represents businesses, organizations, and individuals who want more clean renewable energy produced in Wisconsin.

“The protracted delay in resuming incentives speaks to Shaw’s lack of experience in managing a renewable energy program. While Shaw struggles to ‘learn on the job’, dozens of contractors and small businesses are experiencing financial hardship as installation activity grinds to a halt,” added Michael Vickerman, director of policy and programs for RENEW.

“A separate contractor should administer the renewable energy program. Under the current arrangement, renewables and energy efficiency are lumped together under one administrator and are forced to compete against each other for the same pot of funding,” said Vickerman.

“The number of comments shows the huge amount of frustration over lost business and jobs for installers, as well as citizens who support and want to install renewable energy systems,” Wichert said.

James Kerbel, owner of Photovoltaic Systems LLC in Amherst, wrote: “I have seven employees on layoff and some are still collecting unemployment. I also have 20-plus bids out to customers who want to move ahead with a solar electric system, but will not move until they see the new Focus on Energy incentives.”

“My employees can't wait forever for work,” Kerbel said. “I need an answer very soon or I will lose all these trained employees. They need to work, not have their lives in turmoil like this. I need an answer as soon as possible, please.”

State Senator Dale Schultz (R-Richland Center) posted a comment. “To benefit and not damage efforts to grow local jobs and the Wisconsin economy, the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin should direct Shaw Environmental, the state-contracted administrator of the Focus on Energy program, to immediately restore a comprehensive and robust incentive program for renewable energy system installations,” Schultz wrote.

“I would very much LIKE to put up a Solar PV system. And will if you can get the FOE incentives program going again!!” commented Martha Christensen of Madison.

All public comments can be accessed by clicking on Documents at http://psc.wi.gov/apps40/dockets/content/detail.aspx?dockt_id=5-GF-191 .
END

RENEW Wisconsin is an independent, nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization that organizes and represents businesses, and individuals who want more clean renewable energy produced in Wisconsin. More information on RENEW’s Web site at www.renewwisconsin.org.

Frustration Floods PSC over Suspension of Renewable Energy Funds

Immediate release
April 2, 2012

More information
Don Wichert
dwichert@renewwisconsin.org
608.255.4044, ext. 1

Frustration Floods PSC over Suspension of Renewable Energy Funds

More than 200 individuals and businesses submitted comments decrying the long delay in restarting the renewable energy programs of Focus on Energy, a nationally recognized program that reduces the cost of solar, wind, and biomass installations for Wisconsin utility customers.

Focus on Energy suspended its support for customer-sited renewable energy systems for businesses last July, when rising demand for renewables outstripped available funds, according to Shaw Environmental, the program administrator. When it announced the funding suspension last June, Shaw told installers that incentives would resume before the end of 2011. In January 2012, funding for residential renewable energy systems ended.

“It is now the spring of 2012, and neither Shaw nor the Public Service Commission (PSC), which oversees Focus, have said a peep about when they will again offer incentives, as required by law,” said Don Wichert, executive director of RENEW Wisconsin, a nonprofit advocacy organization that represents businesses, organizations, and individuals who want more clean renewable energy produced in Wisconsin.

“The protracted delay in resuming incentives speaks to Shaw’s lack of experience in managing a renewable energy program. While Shaw struggles to ‘learn on the job’, dozens of contractors and small businesses are experiencing financial hardship as installation activity grinds to a halt,” added Michael Vickerman, director of policy and programs for RENEW.

“A separate contractor should administer the renewable energy program. Under the current arrangement, renewables and energy efficiency are lumped together under one administrator and are forced to compete against each other for the same pot of funding,” said Vickerman.

“The number of comments shows the huge amount of frustration over lost business and jobs for installers, as well as citizens who support and want to install renewable energy systems,” Wichert said.

James Kerbel, owner of Photovoltaic Systems LLC in Amherst, wrote: “I have seven employees on layoff and some are still collecting unemployment. I also have 20-plus bids out to customers who want to move ahead with a solar electric system, but will not move until they see the new Focus on Energy incentives.”

“My employees can't wait forever for work,” Kerbel said. “I need an answer very soon or I will lose all these trained employees. They need to work, not have their lives in turmoil like this. I need an answer as soon as possible, please.”

State Senator Dale Schultz (R-Richland Center) posted a comment. “To benefit and not damage efforts to grow local jobs and the Wisconsin economy, the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin should direct Shaw Environmental, the state-contracted administrator of the Focus on Energy program, to immediately restore a comprehensive and robust incentive program for renewable energy system installations,” Schultz wrote.

“I would very much LIKE to put up a Solar PV system. And will if you can get the FOE incentives program going again!!” commented Martha Christensen of Madison.

All public comments can be accessed by clicking on Documents at http://psc.wi.gov/apps40/dockets/content/detail.aspx?dockt_id=5-GF-191 .
END

RENEW Wisconsin is an independent, nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization that organizes and represents businesses, and individuals who want more clean renewable energy produced in Wisconsin. More information on RENEW’s Web site at www.renewwisconsin.org.

Frustration Floods PSC over Suspension of Renewable Energy Funds

Immediate release
April 2, 2012

More information
Don Wichert
dwichert@renewwisconsin.org
608.255.4044, ext. 1

Frustration Floods PSC over Suspension of Renewable Energy Funds

More than 200 individuals and businesses submitted comments decrying the long delay in restarting the renewable energy programs of Focus on Energy, a nationally recognized program that reduces the cost of solar, wind, and biomass installations for Wisconsin utility customers.

Focus on Energy suspended its support for customer-sited renewable energy systems for businesses last July, when rising demand for renewables outstripped available funds, according to Shaw Environmental, the program administrator. When it announced the funding suspension last June, Shaw told installers that incentives would resume before the end of 2011. In January 2012, funding for residential renewable energy systems ended.

“It is now the spring of 2012, and neither Shaw nor the Public Service Commission (PSC), which oversees Focus, have said a peep about when they will again offer incentives, as required by law,” said Don Wichert, executive director of RENEW Wisconsin, a nonprofit advocacy organization that represents businesses, organizations, and individuals who want more clean renewable energy produced in Wisconsin.

“The protracted delay in resuming incentives speaks to Shaw’s lack of experience in managing a renewable energy program. While Shaw struggles to ‘learn on the job’, dozens of contractors and small businesses are experiencing financial hardship as installation activity grinds to a halt,” added Michael Vickerman, director of policy and programs for RENEW.

“A separate contractor should administer the renewable energy program. Under the current arrangement, renewables and energy efficiency are lumped together under one administrator and are forced to compete against each other for the same pot of funding,” said Vickerman.

“The number of comments shows the huge amount of frustration over lost business and jobs for installers, as well as citizens who support and want to install renewable energy systems,” Wichert said.

James Kerbel, owner of Photovoltaic Systems LLC in Amherst, wrote: “I have seven employees on layoff and some are still collecting unemployment. I also have 20-plus bids out to customers who want to move ahead with a solar electric system, but will not move until they see the new Focus on Energy incentives.”

“My employees can't wait forever for work,” Kerbel said. “I need an answer very soon or I will lose all these trained employees. They need to work, not have their lives in turmoil like this. I need an answer as soon as possible, please.”

State Senator Dale Schultz (R-Richland Center) posted a comment. “To benefit and not damage efforts to grow local jobs and the Wisconsin economy, the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin should direct Shaw Environmental, the state-contracted administrator of the Focus on Energy program, to immediately restore a comprehensive and robust incentive program for renewable energy system installations,” Schultz wrote.

“I would very much LIKE to put up a Solar PV system. And will if you can get the FOE incentives program going again!!” commented Martha Christensen of Madison.

All public comments can be accessed by clicking on Documents at http://psc.wi.gov/apps40/dockets/content/detail.aspx?dockt_id=5-GF-191 .
END

RENEW Wisconsin is an independent, nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization that organizes and represents businesses, and individuals who want more clean renewable energy produced in Wisconsin. More information on RENEW’s Web site at www.renewwisconsin.org.

Frustration Floods PSC over Suspension of Renewable Energy Funds

Immediate release
April 2, 2012

More information
Don Wichert
dwichert@renewwisconsin.org
608.255.4044, ext. 1

Frustration Floods PSC over Suspension of Renewable Energy Funds

More than 200 individuals and businesses submitted comments decrying the long delay in restarting the renewable energy programs of Focus on Energy, a nationally recognized program that reduces the cost of solar, wind, and biomass installations for Wisconsin utility customers.

Focus on Energy suspended its support for customer-sited renewable energy systems for businesses last July, when rising demand for renewables outstripped available funds, according to Shaw Environmental, the program administrator. When it announced the funding suspension last June, Shaw told installers that incentives would resume before the end of 2011. In January 2012, funding for residential renewable energy systems ended.

“It is now the spring of 2012, and neither Shaw nor the Public Service Commission (PSC), which oversees Focus, have said a peep about when they will again offer incentives, as required by law,” said Don Wichert, executive director of RENEW Wisconsin, a nonprofit advocacy organization that represents businesses, organizations, and individuals who want more clean renewable energy produced in Wisconsin.

“The protracted delay in resuming incentives speaks to Shaw’s lack of experience in managing a renewable energy program. While Shaw struggles to ‘learn on the job’, dozens of contractors and small businesses are experiencing financial hardship as installation activity grinds to a halt,” added Michael Vickerman, director of policy and programs for RENEW.

“A separate contractor should administer the renewable energy program. Under the current arrangement, renewables and energy efficiency are lumped together under one administrator and are forced to compete against each other for the same pot of funding,” said Vickerman.

“The number of comments shows the huge amount of frustration over lost business and jobs for installers, as well as citizens who support and want to install renewable energy systems,” Wichert said.

James Kerbel, owner of Photovoltaic Systems LLC in Amherst, wrote: “I have seven employees on layoff and some are still collecting unemployment. I also have 20-plus bids out to customers who want to move ahead with a solar electric system, but will not move until they see the new Focus on Energy incentives.”

“My employees can't wait forever for work,” Kerbel said. “I need an answer very soon or I will lose all these trained employees. They need to work, not have their lives in turmoil like this. I need an answer as soon as possible, please.”

State Senator Dale Schultz (R-Richland Center) posted a comment. “To benefit and not damage efforts to grow local jobs and the Wisconsin economy, the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin should direct Shaw Environmental, the state-contracted administrator of the Focus on Energy program, to immediately restore a comprehensive and robust incentive program for renewable energy system installations,” Schultz wrote.

“I would very much LIKE to put up a Solar PV system. And will if you can get the FOE incentives program going again!!” commented Martha Christensen of Madison.

All public comments can be accessed by clicking on Documents at http://psc.wi.gov/apps40/dockets/content/detail.aspx?dockt_id=5-GF-191 .
END

RENEW Wisconsin is an independent, nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization that organizes and represents businesses, and individuals who want more clean renewable energy produced in Wisconsin. More information on RENEW’s Web site at www.renewwisconsin.org.