Search This Blog

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Ask candidates for Legislature about clean energy


Clean Wisconsin's Keith Reopelle emphasizes clean energy and energy efficiency policies in the upcoming elections in this article from The Cap Times:

Now is the time to make sure you know where your candidates stand on the day’s most important issues. Two important issues that will have a major impact on our state’s future are clean energy and energy efficiency.
Voters typically consider energy a national issue, but state-level politics often have as much or more impact on our energy future. In Wisconsin, state laws determine the how much of our electricity comes from renewable sources like wind and solar power. Additionally, programs like Focus on Energy, the statewide energy efficiency program, help homeowners and businesses save millions of dollars on energy bills.
Despite these laws and programs, we still send over $12 billion out of state each year to purchase dirty fossil fuels. Increasing our commitment to clean energy and energy efficiency could help Wisconsin become more energy independent, clean our air and water, and create thousands of jobs.
Unfortunately, legislators voted to significantly cut funding to Focus on Energy in the last legislative session, despite the program’s proven success; it saves homeowners and businesses $2.50 for every $1 invested in the program. Now is the time to move clean energy and energy efficiency policies forward, not backward.
A recent poll by the bipartisan research team of Public Opinion Strategies and Fairbank, Maslin, Metz and Associates found that Wisconsinites overwhelmingly support clean energy and energy efficiency. In fact, the poll found that 85 percent of Wisconsin voters support increasing the use of wind energy to meet our state’s future energy needs, and 89 percent support increasing the use of solar energy. Additionally, 84 percent said they would support policies requiring 30 percent of Wisconsin’s electricity to come from renewable sources. This is well above the current standard of 10 percent by 2015, which utilities have largely met.
By passing clean energy policies and increasing funding for money-saving programs like Focus on Energy in the next legislative session, legislators can help create Wisconsin jobs. Companies like Milwaukee’s Helios SolarWorks, a solar panel manufacturer, Manitowoc’s Orion Energy Systems, a leader in lighting efficiency, Prairie du Sac’s Tower Technologies, a renewable energy installer, and hundreds more can create more jobs if leaders work together to advance clean energy and energy efficiency policies.
In addition, such policies could attract new companies to Wisconsin and make our state a leader in the rapidly expanding clean energy economy. In April, Ibisworld.com listed solar panel manufacturing (No. 2) and green and sustainable building construction (No. 9) among the nation’s top 10 fastest-growing industries. The poll found that more than two-thirds of voters believe clean energy and energy efficiency will create jobs and investing in these industries now can help ensure Wisconsin remains economically strong for decades.
At a time when our state and nation remain deeply divided on many issues, clean energy and energy efficiency unite people of all political stripes. With less than two weeks to the election, now is the time to ask your candidates where they stand on these important issues.

Keith Reopelle is the senior policy director at Clean Wisconsin. For more information, visit www.cleanwisconsin.org. Find the original article here.

Ask candidates for Legislature about clean energy


Clean Wisconsin's Keith Reopelle emphasizes clean energy and energy efficiency policies in the upcoming elections in this article from The Cap Times:
Now is the time to make sure you know where your candidates stand on the day’s most important issues. Two important issues that will have a major impact on our state’s future are clean energy and energy efficiency.
Voters typically consider energy a national issue, but state-level politics often have as much or more impact on our energy future. In Wisconsin, state laws determine the how much of our electricity comes from renewable sources like wind and solar power. Additionally, programs like Focus on Energy, the statewide energy efficiency program, help homeowners and businesses save millions of dollars on energy bills.
Despite these laws and programs, we still send over $12 billion out of state each year to purchase dirty fossil fuels. Increasing our commitment to clean energy and energy efficiency could help Wisconsin become more energy independent, clean our air and water, and create thousands of jobs.
Unfortunately, legislators voted to significantly cut funding to Focus on Energy in the last legislative session, despite the program’s proven success; it saves homeowners and businesses $2.50 for every $1 invested in the program. Now is the time to move clean energy and energy efficiency policies forward, not backward.
A recent poll by the bipartisan research team of Public Opinion Strategies and Fairbank, Maslin, Metz and Associates found that Wisconsinites overwhelmingly support clean energy and energy efficiency. In fact, the poll found that 85 percent of Wisconsin voters support increasing the use of wind energy to meet our state’s future energy needs, and 89 percent support increasing the use of solar energy. Additionally, 84 percent said they would support policies requiring 30 percent of Wisconsin’s electricity to come from renewable sources. This is well above the current standard of 10 percent by 2015, which utilities have largely met.
By passing clean energy policies and increasing funding for money-saving programs like Focus on Energy in the next legislative session, legislators can help create Wisconsin jobs. Companies like Milwaukee’s Helios SolarWorks, a solar panel manufacturer, Manitowoc’s Orion Energy Systems, a leader in lighting efficiency, Prairie du Sac’s Tower Technologies, a renewable energy installer, and hundreds more can create more jobs if leaders work together to advance clean energy and energy efficiency policies.
In addition, such policies could attract new companies to Wisconsin and make our state a leader in the rapidly expanding clean energy economy. In April, Ibisworld.com listed solar panel manufacturing (No. 2) and green and sustainable building construction (No. 9) among the nation’s top 10 fastest-growing industries. The poll found that more than two-thirds of voters believe clean energy and energy efficiency will create jobs and investing in these industries now can help ensure Wisconsin remains economically strong for decades.
At a time when our state and nation remain deeply divided on many issues, clean energy and energy efficiency unite people of all political stripes. With less than two weeks to the election, now is the time to ask your candidates where they stand on these important issues.
Keith Reopelle is the senior policy director at Clean Wisconsin. For more information, visit www.cleanwisconsin.org. Find the original article here.

Ask candidates for legislature about clean energy


Clean Wisconsin's Keith Reopelle emphasizes clean energy and energy efficiency policies in the upcoming elections in this article from The Cap Times:
Now is the time to make sure you know where your candidates stand on the day’s most important issues. Two important issues that will have a major impact on our state’s future are clean energy and energy efficiency.
Voters typically consider energy a national issue, but state-level politics often have as much or more impact on our energy future. In Wisconsin, state laws determine the how much of our electricity comes from renewable sources like wind and solar power. Additionally, programs like Focus on Energy, the statewide energy efficiency program, help homeowners and businesses save millions of dollars on energy bills.
Despite these laws and programs, we still send over $12 billion out of state each year to purchase dirty fossil fuels. Increasing our commitment to clean energy and energy efficiency could help Wisconsin become more energy independent, clean our air and water, and create thousands of jobs.
Unfortunately, legislators voted to significantly cut funding to Focus on Energy in the last legislative session, despite the program’s proven success; it saves homeowners and businesses $2.50 for every $1 invested in the program. Now is the time to move clean energy and energy efficiency policies forward, not backward.
A recent poll by the bipartisan research team of Public Opinion Strategies and Fairbank, Maslin, Metz and Associates found that Wisconsinites overwhelmingly support clean energy and energy efficiency. In fact, the poll found that 85 percent of Wisconsin voters support increasing the use of wind energy to meet our state’s future energy needs, and 89 percent support increasing the use of solar energy. Additionally, 84 percent said they would support policies requiring 30 percent of Wisconsin’s electricity to come from renewable sources. This is well above the current standard of 10 percent by 2015, which utilities have largely met.
By passing clean energy policies and increasing funding for money-saving programs like Focus on Energy in the next legislative session, legislators can help create Wisconsin jobs. Companies like Milwaukee’s Helios SolarWorks, a solar panel manufacturer, Manitowoc’s Orion Energy Systems, a leader in lighting efficiency, Prairie du Sac’s Tower Technologies, a renewable energy installer, and hundreds more can create more jobs if leaders work together to advance clean energy and energy efficiency policies.
In addition, such policies could attract new companies to Wisconsin and make our state a leader in the rapidly expanding clean energy economy. In April, Ibisworld.com listed solar panel manufacturing (No. 2) and green and sustainable building construction (No. 9) among the nation’s top 10 fastest-growing industries. The poll found that more than two-thirds of voters believe clean energy and energy efficiency will create jobs and investing in these industries now can help ensure Wisconsin remains economically strong for decades.
At a time when our state and nation remain deeply divided on many issues, clean energy and energy efficiency unite people of all political stripes. With less than two weeks to the election, now is the time to ask your candidates where they stand on these important issues.
Keith Reopelle is the senior policy director at Clean Wisconsin. For more information, visit www.cleanwisconsin.org. Find the original article here.

Ask candidates for Legislature about clean energy


Clean Wisconsin's Keith Reopelle emphasizes clean energy and energy efficiency policies in the upcoming elections in this article from The Cap Times:
Now is the time to make sure you know where your candidates stand on the day’s most important issues. Two important issues that will have a major impact on our state’s future are clean energy and energy efficiency.
Voters typically consider energy a national issue, but state-level politics often have as much or more impact on our energy future. In Wisconsin, state laws determine the how much of our electricity comes from renewable sources like wind and solar power. Additionally, programs like Focus on Energy, the statewide energy efficiency program, help homeowners and businesses save millions of dollars on energy bills.
Despite these laws and programs, we still send over $12 billion out of state each year to purchase dirty fossil fuels. Increasing our commitment to clean energy and energy efficiency could help Wisconsin become more energy independent, clean our air and water, and create thousands of jobs.
Unfortunately, legislators voted to significantly cut funding to Focus on Energy in the last legislative session, despite the program’s proven success; it saves homeowners and businesses $2.50 for every $1 invested in the program. Now is the time to move clean energy and energy efficiency policies forward, not backward.
A recent poll by the bipartisan research team of Public Opinion Strategies and Fairbank, Maslin, Metz and Associates found that Wisconsinites overwhelmingly support clean energy and energy efficiency. In fact, the poll found that 85 percent of Wisconsin voters support increasing the use of wind energy to meet our state’s future energy needs, and 89 percent support increasing the use of solar energy. Additionally, 84 percent said they would support policies requiring 30 percent of Wisconsin’s electricity to come from renewable sources. This is well above the current standard of 10 percent by 2015, which utilities have largely met.
By passing clean energy policies and increasing funding for money-saving programs like Focus on Energy in the next legislative session, legislators can help create Wisconsin jobs. Companies like Milwaukee’s Helios SolarWorks, a solar panel manufacturer, Manitowoc’s Orion Energy Systems, a leader in lighting efficiency, Prairie du Sac’s Tower Technologies, a renewable energy installer, and hundreds more can create more jobs if leaders work together to advance clean energy and energy efficiency policies.
In addition, such policies could attract new companies to Wisconsin and make our state a leader in the rapidly expanding clean energy economy. In April, Ibisworld.com listed solar panel manufacturing (No. 2) and green and sustainable building construction (No. 9) among the nation’s top 10 fastest-growing industries. The poll found that more than two-thirds of voters believe clean energy and energy efficiency will create jobs and investing in these industries now can help ensure Wisconsin remains economically strong for decades.
At a time when our state and nation remain deeply divided on many issues, clean energy and energy efficiency unite people of all political stripes. With less than two weeks to the election, now is the time to ask your candidates where they stand on these important issues.
Keith Reopelle is the senior policy director at Clean Wisconsin. For more information, visit www.cleanwisconsin.org. Find the original article here.

Ask candidates for Legislature about clean energy

Clean Wisconsin's Keith Reopelle emphasizes clean energy and energy efficiency policies in the upcoming elections in this article from The Cap Times:
Now is the time to make sure you know where your candidates stand on the day’s most important issues. Two important issues that will have a major impact on our state’s future are clean energy and energy efficiency.
Voters typically consider energy a national issue, but state-level politics often have as much or more impact on our energy future. In Wisconsin, state laws determine the how much of our electricity comes from renewable sources like wind and solar power. Additionally, programs like Focus on Energy, the statewide energy efficiency program, help homeowners and businesses save millions of dollars on energy bills.
Despite these laws and programs, we still send over $12 billion out of state each year to purchase dirty fossil fuels. Increasing our commitment to clean energy and energy efficiency could help Wisconsin become more energy independent, clean our air and water, and create thousands of jobs.
Unfortunately, legislators voted to significantly cut funding to Focus on Energy in the last legislative session, despite the program’s proven success; it saves homeowners and businesses $2.50 for every $1 invested in the program. Now is the time to move clean energy and energy efficiency policies forward, not backward.
A recent poll by the bipartisan research team of Public Opinion Strategies and Fairbank, Maslin, Metz and Associates found that Wisconsinites overwhelmingly support clean energy and energy efficiency. In fact, the poll found that 85 percent of Wisconsin voters support increasing the use of wind energy to meet our state’s future energy needs, and 89 percent support increasing the use of solar energy. Additionally, 84 percent said they would support policies requiring 30 percent of Wisconsin’s electricity to come from renewable sources. This is well above the current standard of 10 percent by 2015, which utilities have largely met.
By passing clean energy policies and increasing funding for money-saving programs like Focus on Energy in the next legislative session, legislators can help create Wisconsin jobs. Companies like Milwaukee’s Helios SolarWorks, a solar panel manufacturer, Manitowoc’s Orion Energy Systems, a leader in lighting efficiency, Prairie du Sac’s Tower Technologies, a renewable energy installer, and hundreds more can create more jobs if leaders work together to advance clean energy and energy efficiency policies.
In addition, such policies could attract new companies to Wisconsin and make our state a leader in the rapidly expanding clean energy economy. In April, Ibisworld.com listed solar panel manufacturing (No. 2) and green and sustainable building construction (No. 9) among the nation’s top 10 fastest-growing industries. The poll found that more than two-thirds of voters believe clean energy and energy efficiency will create jobs and investing in these industries now can help ensure Wisconsin remains economically strong for decades.
At a time when our state and nation remain deeply divided on many issues, clean energy and energy efficiency unite people of all political stripes. With less than two weeks to the election, now is the time to ask your candidates where they stand on these important issues.
Keith Reopelle is the senior policy director at Clean Wisconsin. For more information, visit www.cleanwisconsin.org. Find the original article here.

Ask candidates for Legislature about clean energy

Clean Wisconsin's Keith Reopelle emphasizes clean energy and energy efficiency policies in the upcoming elections in this article from The Cap Times:
Now is the time to make sure you know where your candidates stand on the day’s most important issues. Two important issues that will have a major impact on our state’s future are clean energy and energy efficiency.
Voters typically consider energy a national issue, but state-level politics often have as much or more impact on our energy future. In Wisconsin, state laws determine the how much of our electricity comes from renewable sources like wind and solar power. Additionally, programs like Focus on Energy, the statewide energy efficiency program, help homeowners and businesses save millions of dollars on energy bills.
Despite these laws and programs, we still send over $12 billion out of state each year to purchase dirty fossil fuels. Increasing our commitment to clean energy and energy efficiency could help Wisconsin become more energy independent, clean our air and water, and create thousands of jobs.
Unfortunately, legislators voted to significantly cut funding to Focus on Energy in the last legislative session, despite the program’s proven success; it saves homeowners and businesses $2.50 for every $1 invested in the program. Now is the time to move clean energy and energy efficiency policies forward, not backward.
A recent poll by the bipartisan research team of Public Opinion Strategies and Fairbank, Maslin, Metz and Associates found that Wisconsinites overwhelmingly support clean energy and energy efficiency. In fact, the poll found that 85 percent of Wisconsin voters support increasing the use of wind energy to meet our state’s future energy needs, and 89 percent support increasing the use of solar energy. Additionally, 84 percent said they would support policies requiring 30 percent of Wisconsin’s electricity to come from renewable sources. This is well above the current standard of 10 percent by 2015, which utilities have largely met.
By passing clean energy policies and increasing funding for money-saving programs like Focus on Energy in the next legislative session, legislators can help create Wisconsin jobs. Companies like Milwaukee’s Helios SolarWorks, a solar panel manufacturer, Manitowoc’s Orion Energy Systems, a leader in lighting efficiency, Prairie du Sac’s Tower Technologies, a renewable energy installer, and hundreds more can create more jobs if leaders work together to advance clean energy and energy efficiency policies.
In addition, such policies could attract new companies to Wisconsin and make our state a leader in the rapidly expanding clean energy economy. In April, Ibisworld.com listed solar panel manufacturing (No. 2) and green and sustainable building construction (No. 9) among the nation’s top 10 fastest-growing industries. The poll found that more than two-thirds of voters believe clean energy and energy efficiency will create jobs and investing in these industries now can help ensure Wisconsin remains economically strong for decades.
At a time when our state and nation remain deeply divided on many issues, clean energy and energy efficiency unite people of all political stripes. With less than two weeks to the election, now is the time to ask your candidates where they stand on these important issues.
Keith Reopelle is the senior policy director at Clean Wisconsin. For more information, visit www.cleanwisconsin.org. Find the original article here.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Sheboygan aldermen to hear solar panel proposal

From an article in the Sheboygan Press by Dan Benson. Third-party ownership gets a look in Wisconsin:

Sheboygan aldermen will get their first look Tuesday night at a proposal to install solar panels on city buildings at no cost to the city and would hopefully lower the city’s electric costs.

Members of the city’s Sustainable Sheboygan Task Force, which examines ways the city can operate in a more environmentally friendly way, and representatives from Arch Electric in Plymouth will make the presentation to the council’s Committee of the Whole at 5 p.m. in the third floor council chambers at City Hall.

The key to the proposal is using a financing plan in which the city would lease the panels from Arch Electric. The energy savings would be greater than the lease costs, said Jennifer Lehrke, a local architect and task force member.

“It would not cost the city anything because the panels are owned by a third party,” she said. “The investors who do this get to take advantage of tax credits and accelerated depreciation and as a lease there is a small interest being paid to the investors.”

The task force is recommending that the council finance a study to see which buildings would be the prime candidates for solar panels. Lehrke estimated the study would cost less than $5,000. Lehrke estimated the study would take two or three months to complete.

If adopted, the plan would would be the first in the state, she said.

“We would be a forerunner in the state. It’s a way to distinguish Sheboygan, probably the first of its kind in the state,” she said.

Arch Electric owner Ed Zinthefer confirmed that.

“It’s never been done in Wisconsin,” he said.

His company has installed solar panels on a number of local projects, including the Maywood Environmental Center and at Ebenezer and First Congregational United Churches of Christ.

Former Common Council member Jeanne Kliejunas, also a member of the task force, said Arch Electric is one of the most experienced solar installation companies in the state that until now has worked mostly with private clients.

“They would like to expand into the municipal market,” she said.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Solar powering your community with Clean Energy Choice

Clean Energy Choice (sometimes called third-party ownership) allows a customer to get electricity from a third-party which installs and maintains a renewable energy system on the customer's premises.

With Clean Energy Choice, customers don't have to put any money upfront, the major barrier to installing renewables. The customer either buys the output directly from the third-party owner or pays to host the energy-producing equipment and uses the electricity without any further cost under a long-term contract.


From a presentation by Michael Vickerman, RENEW director of policy and program, at Solar Powering Your Community, October 11, 2012: 
  • No up-front capital required from host customers 
  • Allows nonprofit entities to partner w/ for-profit companies that can use the 30% federal tax credit 
  • Based on a successful model for delivering energy efficiency (performance-based contracts) 
  • Could lower energy costs for customers over the contract life 
  • Hugely successful in states that allow it (e.g., California and Colorado) 
  • It’s your premises, after all 

Solar powering your community with Clean Energy Choice

Clean Energy Choice (sometimes called third-party ownership) allows a customer to get electricity from a third-party which installs and maintains a renewable energy system on the customer's premises.

With Clean Energy Choice, customers don't have to put any money upfront, the major barrier to installing renewables. The customer either buys the output directly from the third-party owner or pays to host the energy-producing equipment and uses the electricity without any further cost under a long-term contract.


From a presentation by Michael Vickerman, RENEW director of policy and program, at Solar Powering Your Community, October 11, 2012: 
  • No up-front capital required from host customers 
  • Allows nonprofit entities to partner w/ for-profit companies that can use the 30% federal tax credit 
  • Based on a successful model for delivering energy efficiency (performance-based contracts) 
  • Could lower energy costs for customers over the contract life 
  • Hugely successful in states that allow it (e.g., California and Colorado) 
  • It’s your premises, after all 

Solar powering your community with Clean Energy Choice

Clean Energy Choice (sometimes called third-party ownership) allows a customer to get electricity from a third-party which installs and maintains a renewable energy system on the customer's premises.

With Clean Energy Choice, customers don't have to put any money upfront, the major barrier to installing renewables. The customer either buys the output directly from the third-party owner or pays to host the energy-producing equipment and uses the electricity without any further cost under a long-term contract.


From a presentation by Michael Vickerman, RENEW director of policy and program, at Solar Powering Your Community, October 11, 2012: 
  • No up-front capital required from host customers 
  • Allows nonprofit entities to partner w/ for-profit companies that can use the 30% federal tax credit 
  • Based on a successful model for delivering energy efficiency (performance-based contracts) 
  • Could lower energy costs for customers over the contract life 
  • Hugely successful in states that allow it (e.g., California and Colorado) 
  • It’s your premises, after all 
On October 19, the Midwest Renewable Energy Association (MREA) installed 10 solar water heating panels made by Caleffi Hydronic Solutions, a Milwaukee manufacturer.

St. Croix County farmer touts benefits of wind power

From an article by Heidi Clausen in The Country Today:

EMERALD — In the center of Marvin Voeltz’s farmyard stands an old, rundown windmill.

Used decades ago by Voeltz’s grandparents for pumping water, the windmill reminds Voeltz of the role wind once played — and can still play — in powering farms and homes.

“Right there is proof they used wind,” he said. “What’s wrong with using wind now to produce electricity?”

Voeltz, a dairy farmer near Emerald, is one of more than a dozen landowners who have signed on to host one or more wind turbines for the Highland Wind Farm proposed by Emerging Energies of Wisconsin.

St. Croix County farmer touts benefits of wind power

From an article by Heidi Clausen in The Country Today:

EMERALD — In the center of Marvin Voeltz’s farmyard stands an old, rundown windmill.

Used decades ago by Voeltz’s grandparents for pumping water, the windmill reminds Voeltz of the role wind once played — and can still play — in powering farms and homes.

“Right there is proof they used wind,” he said. “What’s wrong with using wind now to produce electricity?”

Voeltz, a dairy farmer near Emerald, is one of more than a dozen landowners who have signed on to host one or more wind turbines for the Highland Wind Farm proposed by Emerging Energies of Wisconsin.

Wind and solar make up 100% of new U.S. electricity capacity in September


From an article on ThinkProgress:

September was tied for the hottest of any September on record globally. It was also a very hot month for renewable energy in the U.S. According to figures from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, wind and solar accounted for all new electricity capacity added to America’s grid in September.

The projects consisted of five wind farms totaling 300 megawatts and 18 solar installations totaling 133 megawatts.

Wind and solar make up 100% of new U.S. electricity capacity in September

From an article on ThinkProgress:

September was tied for the hottest of any September on record globally. It was also a very hot month for renewable energy in the U.S. According to figures from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, wind and solar accounted for all new electricity capacity added to America’s grid in September.

The projects consisted of five wind farms totaling 300 megawatts and 18 solar installations totaling 133 megawatts.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Dan York: Wisconsin slips down in energy efficiency ranking


letter to the editor from Dan York, with a correction to the original article "Wisconsin slips down in energy-efficiency ranking.". It's worth reading the original, and the correction is listed below:

Dear Editor: The Biz Beat article “Wisconsin slips down in energy-efficiency ranking,” published Oct. 6, reveals how Wisconsin has lost its one-time leadership position for policies and programs to achieve greater energy efficiency according to annual rankings performed by my organization, the American Council for an Energy-Efficiency Economy (ACEEE). We are pleased to see this issue raised in Wisconsin.
The article contains one statement, however, that is incorrect. A spokeswoman for the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin, Kristin Ruesch, states that our group (ACEEE) did not look at “achievements” but “spending alone.” Our State Scorecard, in fact, assesses and includes scores both for program spending and savings (achievements). We agree with the PSC that cost-effectiveness and savings impacts are important attributes of programs like Focus on Energy. It is precisely because of the demonstrated cost-effectiveness of Focus on Energy ($2.30 in economic benefits for every program dollar spent) that we believe higher levels of investments in this clean, low-cost energy resource are justified. The PSC reached the same conclusion in its 2010 review of the program, which led to its recommendation to greatly increase funding and associated energy savings goals for Focus on Energy.
Our neighboring states rank higher than Wisconsin because they continue to push for higher energy savings through increased investments in energy efficiency. Wisconsin, by contrast, is standing still and by doing so, is getting left behind. Energy efficiency saves customers money, protects the environment and creates jobs here in Wisconsin. We encourage Wisconsin’s policymakers to take actions to put Wisconsin back in a leadership position for creating a green energy economy for the 21st century.
Dan York, Ph.D., Utilities Program director, American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy

Dan York: Wisconsin slips down in energy-efficiency ranking


letter to the editor from Dan York, with a correction to the original article "Wisconsin slips down in energy-efficiency ranking.". It's worth reading the original, and the correction is listed below:

Dear Editor: The Biz Beat article “Wisconsin slips down in energy-efficiency ranking,” published Oct. 6, reveals how Wisconsin has lost its one-time leadership position for policies and programs to achieve greater energy efficiency according to annual rankings performed by my organization, the American Council for an Energy-Efficiency Economy (ACEEE). We are pleased to see this issue raised in Wisconsin.
The article contains one statement, however, that is incorrect. A spokeswoman for the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin, Kristin Ruesch, states that our group (ACEEE) did not look at “achievements” but “spending alone.” Our State Scorecard, in fact, assesses and includes scores both for program spending and savings (achievements). We agree with the PSC that cost-effectiveness and savings impacts are important attributes of programs like Focus on Energy. It is precisely because of the demonstrated cost-effectiveness of Focus on Energy ($2.30 in economic benefits for every program dollar spent) that we believe higher levels of investments in this clean, low-cost energy resource are justified. The PSC reached the same conclusion in its 2010 review of the program, which led to its recommendation to greatly increase funding and associated energy savings goals for Focus on Energy.
Our neighboring states rank higher than Wisconsin because they continue to push for higher energy savings through increased investments in energy efficiency. Wisconsin, by contrast, is standing still and by doing so, is getting left behind. Energy efficiency saves customers money, protects the environment and creates jobs here in Wisconsin. We encourage Wisconsin’s policymakers to take actions to put Wisconsin back in a leadership position for creating a green energy economy for the 21st century.
Dan York, Ph.D., Utilities Program director, American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy

Dan York: Wisconsin slips down in energy-efficiency ranking


letter to the editor from Dan York, with a correction to the original article "Wisconsin slips down in energy-efficiency ranking.". It's worth reading the original, and the correction is listed below:

Dear Editor: The Biz Beat article “Wisconsin slips down in energy-efficiency ranking,” published Oct. 6, reveals how Wisconsin has lost its one-time leadership position for policies and programs to achieve greater energy efficiency according to annual rankings performed by my organization, the American Council for an Energy-Efficiency Economy (ACEEE). We are pleased to see this issue raised in Wisconsin.
The article contains one statement, however, that is incorrect. A spokeswoman for the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin, Kristin Ruesch, states that our group (ACEEE) did not look at “achievements” but “spending alone.” Our State Scorecard, in fact, assesses and includes scores both for program spending and savings (achievements). We agree with the PSC that cost-effectiveness and savings impacts are important attributes of programs like Focus on Energy. It is precisely because of the demonstrated cost-effectiveness of Focus on Energy ($2.30 in economic benefits for every program dollar spent) that we believe higher levels of investments in this clean, low-cost energy resource are justified. The PSC reached the same conclusion in its 2010 review of the program, which led to its recommendation to greatly increase funding and associated energy savings goals for Focus on Energy.
Our neighboring states rank higher than Wisconsin because they continue to push for higher energy savings through increased investments in energy efficiency. Wisconsin, by contrast, is standing still and by doing so, is getting left behind. Energy efficiency saves customers money, protects the environment and creates jobs here in Wisconsin. We encourage Wisconsin’s policymakers to take actions to put Wisconsin back in a leadership position for creating a green energy economy for the 21st century.
Dan York, Ph.D., Utilities Program director, American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy

Dan York: Wisconsin slips in energy-efficiency ranking

letter to the editor from Dan York, with a correction to the original article "Wisconsin slips down in energy-efficiency ranking.". It's worth reading the original, and the correction is listed below:

Dear Editor: The Biz Beat article “Wisconsin slips down in energy-efficiency ranking,” published Oct. 6, reveals how Wisconsin has lost its one-time leadership position for policies and programs to achieve greater energy efficiency according to annual rankings performed by my organization, the American Council for an Energy-Efficiency Economy (ACEEE). We are pleased to see this issue raised in Wisconsin.

The article contains one statement, however, that is incorrect. A spokeswoman for the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin, Kristin Ruesch, states that our group (ACEEE) did not look at “achievements” but “spending alone.” Our State Scorecard, in fact, assesses and includes scores both for program spending and savings (achievements). We agree with the PSC that cost-effectiveness and savings impacts are important attributes of programs like Focus on Energy. It is precisely because of the demonstrated cost-effectiveness of Focus on Energy ($2.30 in economic benefits for every program dollar spent) that we believe higher levels of investments in this clean, low-cost energy resource are justified. The PSC reached the same conclusion in its 2010 review of the program, which led to its recommendation to greatly increase funding and associated energy savings goals for Focus on Energy.

Our neighboring states rank higher than Wisconsin because they continue to push for higher energy savings through increased investments in energy efficiency. Wisconsin, by contrast, is standing still and by doing so, is getting left behind. Energy efficiency saves customers money, protects the environment and creates jobs here in Wisconsin. We encourage Wisconsin’s policymakers to take actions to put Wisconsin back in a leadership position for creating a green energy economy for the 21st century.

Dan York, Ph.D., Utilities Program director, American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy

Dan York: Wisconsin being left behind on energy efficiency


A letter to the editor from Dan York, with a correction to the original article "Wisconsin slips down in energy-efficiency ranking.". It's worth reading the original, and the correction is listed below:

Dear Editor: The Biz Beat article “Wisconsin slips down in energy-efficiency ranking,” published Oct. 6, reveals how Wisconsin has lost its one-time leadership position for policies and programs to achieve greater energy efficiency according to annual rankings performed by my organization, the American Council for an Energy-Efficiency Economy (ACEEE). We are pleased to see this issue raised in Wisconsin.
The article contains one statement, however, that is incorrect. A spokeswoman for the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin, Kristin Ruesch, states that our group (ACEEE) did not look at “achievements” but “spending alone.” Our State Scorecard, in fact, assesses and includes scores both for program spending and savings (achievements). We agree with the PSC that cost-effectiveness and savings impacts are important attributes of programs like Focus on Energy. It is precisely because of the demonstrated cost-effectiveness of Focus on Energy ($2.30 in economic benefits for every program dollar spent) that we believe higher levels of investments in this clean, low-cost energy resource are justified. The PSC reached the same conclusion in its 2010 review of the program, which led to its recommendation to greatly increase funding and associated energy savings goals for Focus on Energy.
Our neighboring states rank higher than Wisconsin because they continue to push for higher energy savings through increased investments in energy efficiency. Wisconsin, by contrast, is standing still and by doing so, is getting left behind. Energy efficiency saves customers money, protects the environment and creates jobs here in Wisconsin. We encourage Wisconsin’s policymakers to take actions to put Wisconsin back in a leadership position for creating a green energy economy for the 21st century.
Dan York, Ph.D., Utilities Program director, American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy

Retired SC minister petitions for solar power


From an article in the Charlotte Observer by Sammy Fretwell. The situation for solar in South Carolina is much the same as it is in Wisconsin. Here, we have an example of a citizen fighting back for the right to clean energy:

COLUMBIA, S.C. Wiley Cooper says he was frustrated when an electric utility prevented his church from acquiring a money-saving solar power system last year.
Now, he’s leading a crusade to make sure that doesn’t happen again.

The retired Methodist minister recently launched a petition drive that he hopes will make installing solar panels cheaper and easier for South Carolina churches, homeowners and others. He intends to seek a change in state law when the Legislature returns in January.
“Powerful utilities want you to buy their electricity, not create your own,” Cooper’s petition says. “Let’s change that.”

Cooper already has picked up support. One Columbia legislator said the law needs changing and a fellow minister said it’s “immoral’’ to keep churches and charities from using solar power. Dozens of people have signed the petition since it started several weeks ago.

At issue is a state law that grants power companies exclusive rights to sell energy in their territories. Power companies say any firm wanting to sell solar energy, no matter how small, must be licensed as a utility – an expensive and involved process.

And that’s one reason solar companies that provide free or low-cost solar panels stay clear of South Carolina. These businesses often are paid back by selling power from the panels to the homeowners at a rate they can better afford.

Critics say South Carolina law is a significant barrier to those who want solar energy but can’t afford the upfront expense of buying panels. It can easily cost more than $20,000 to buy solar panels for a private home – more for churches and large buildings. These concerns are among broader questions about the state’s lack of commitment to solar power.

Without high up-front costs, solar panels can save people money on their monthly power bills by reducing the amount of energy needed from the electric company. Typically, folks who use solar panels also receive energy from power companies at night or during rainy periods.

The 69-year-old Cooper, a former S.C. United Way director, said it’s hard to understand why churches in other states can benefit from low-cost solar but the law restricts the practice in South Carolina.

“We need to remove as many barriers as we can,” Cooper said. “You can’t do in South Carolina what is now being done with solar energy in other states.” At least 22 states, mostly in the West and Northeast, allow solar companies to provide free solar panels to homeowners and sell the power directly to them, according to a federally supported database of renewable energy policies. Typically, the monthly amount paid to a solar company for the energy is enough for a property owner to reduce the overall power bill.
None of those states is in the South, where regulation often limits their entry. But some Western states, including Arizona, specifically exempt charities, schools and churches from restrictions that would prevent them from getting free solar panels.

Bruce Wood, chairman of the S.C. Solar Council, said exempting charities and churches might be the most realistic way to resolve the issue in South Carolina.

Joshua Pearce, an energy researcher from Queens University in Canada, said allowing solar companies into states can be critical to the expansion of sun power.

Pearce has analyzed the economics of solar and nuclear policies in North America.
“This is very important,” he said. “The typical homeowner doesn’t have the capital in his bank account to put in a photovoltaic (solar panel) system.”

Cooper’s crusade began a few weeks ago in response to a dispute that erupted last year between SCE&G and a small New England solar company.

DCS Energy Inc. had planned to provide S.C. churches and nonprofits with free solar panels. In return for not charging monthly energy payments, DCS would keep tax incentives and renewable energy credits typically provided to the owners of solar panels. It also would receive federal stimulus money.

But in September 2011, SCE&G filed a complaint with the state Public Service Commission, citing state law and contending that DCS Energy should be regulated as a utility.

The solar company then voided about 80 contracts it had in South Carolina and left the state, saying that it didn’t have the resources to fight SCE&G, The State newspaper reported in March. Among those counting on the free panels was Washington Street United Methodist Church, where Cooper worships Sunday mornings.

Cooper said solar power could have helped his church and others cut their power bills, but he also said it would have been better for the environment. Coal plants release mercury, arsenic and carbon dioxide, while nuclear plants produce piles of deadly atomic waste.

Whether Cooper’s petition drive will make a difference may depend on cooperation from the state’s utilities. South Carolina’s power companies and electric cooperatives have a strong team of lobbyists at the State House, and they often are effective at getting their way.

So far, they haven’t expressed much interest in Cooper’s effort.

Utilities complained last year about a solar tax credits bill that they feared would open the door for “third-party sales” of electricity by owner/operators of solar installations, state records show.

SCE&G, which serves the Midlands, declined to discuss possible legislation that would allow third-party sales by solar companies in its territory. But SCE&G did say state law requires any business wanting to sell power in South Carolina to become licensed as a utility, just like power companies.

The company also hinted that allowing solar companies into the state could create confusion among utilities. It would be up to the S.C. Public Service Commission to decide how a solar company operates in the state, SCE&G said. The PSC has never issued a ruling on whether solar power companies are legal in South Carolina.

“Only registered utilities are allowed to sell electricity to retail customers in South Carolina,” the company said in an email to The State. “If multiple utilities were to serve one retail customer, a determination will be needed on which utility, if any, is obligated to provide the reliable (backup) service when the renewable generator under-performs.”

Santee Cooper, which has drawn criticism over plans to raise power bills for some churches, declined comment. The state-owned utility serves eastern South Carolina.
Duke Energy Inc., a multi-state company with territory in northern and western South Carolina, said solar companies that sell power to customers should be treated the same as the big power companies. Duke said solar energy provides power to the company’s electrical grid from multiple sources.

Today, the company is used to getting much of its power from a centralized generation plant, much as utilities have for decades.

“Solar energy challenges this business model,” Duke said in an email.

Despite hesitation from power companies, the Rev. Cooper has support from the S.C. Coastal Conservation League and other environmental groups, which say the state should do more to embrace nonpolluting solar energy.

The Conservation Voters of South Carolina, which represents environmental groups at the State House, agreed earlier this month to make solar-friendly legislation a priority in 2013.

Rep. Joe Neal, D-Richland, said he hopes something changes.

Existing state law “has made it very difficult for solar companies to introduce this technology to the grass roots,” Neal said. “As this is happening all over the country, it is not happening in South Carolina.”

Pastor Jimmy Jones, director of Christ Central Ministries in Columbia, said changes in state law would help his charity. Like Cooper’s Washington Street United Methodist, Christ Central lost out on solar panels after the DCS-SCE&G dispute. The ministry continues to pay high power bills, which keeps it from spending that money on the poor, said Jones who blames SCE&G.

“SCE&G said, ‘We want the money,’” Jones said. “It is immoral – immoral to try to stop people from helping themselves.”

If you care about this issue in Wisconsin, please consider signing on to the Clean Energy Choice initiative here.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Company and Local Officials Team Up to Advance “Epic” Wind Project


Immediate release
October 15, 2012

More information
Michael Vickerman
608.255.4044, ext. 2

State’s largest customer-owned renewable energy system breaks ground in Dane County

(Madison) – Within a day after receiving the go-ahead from the Springfield town board, heavy construction equipment broke ground on Epic Systems’ Galactic Wind Farm, a six-turbine facility along U.S. Highway 12 in western Dane County.  The 10- megawatt project should begin producing power by year’s end.
Epic Systems’ project, the third customer-owned windpower installation to go forward this year, will be larger than the two-turbine Cashton Greens project in Monroe County and the two-turbine Waxdale project in Racine CountyOrganic Valley and Gundersen Lutheran completed their Cashton project earlier this year, while S. C. Johnson is building its Waxdale project, which should be operational in December of this year.
“Epic’s project came together because of four factors: a company committed to long-term sustainability, a spirit of cooperation among town and county officials, strong local support, and a favorable tax climate,” said Michael Vickerman, program and policy director for RENEW Wisconsin, a nonprofit advocacy organization promoting renewable energy use in Wisconsin.
Epic also owns and operates Wisconsin’s largest solar electricity facility on its Verona campus, which it completed this summer.
The Springfield town board approved Epic’s project on a 5 to zero vote.  No one at the board meeting expressed any objections to the project.
“I can easily foresee other sustainability-minded Wisconsin companies pursuing wind turbines to produce electricity for their own operations, as long as Congress acts quickly to extend the federal Production Tax Credit, which levels the playing field between wind energy and fossil-fuel generation,” said Vickerman.
           
END

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

Company and Local Officials Team Up to Advance “Epic” Wind Project


Immediate release
October 15, 2012

More information
Michael Vickerman
608.255.4044, ext. 2

State’s largest customer-owned renewable energy system breaks ground in Dane County

(Madison) – Within a day after receiving the go-ahead from the Springfield town board, heavy construction equipment broke ground on Epic Systems’ Galactic Wind Farm, a six-turbine facility along U.S. Highway 12 in western Dane County.  The 10- megawatt project should begin producing power by year’s end.
Epic Systems’ project, the third customer-owned windpower installation to go forward this year, will be larger than the two-turbine Cashton Greens project in Monroe County and the two-turbine Waxdale project in Racine CountyOrganic Valley and Gundersen Lutheran completed their Cashton project earlier this year, while S. C. Johnson is building its Waxdale project, which should be operational in December of this year.
“Epic’s project came together because of four factors: a company committed to long-term sustainability, a spirit of cooperation among town and county officials, strong local support, and a favorable tax climate,” said Michael Vickerman, program and policy director for RENEW Wisconsin, a nonprofit advocacy organization promoting renewable energy use in Wisconsin.
Epic also owns and operates Wisconsin’s largest solar electricity facility on its Verona campus, which it completed this summer.
The Springfield town board approved Epic’s project on a 5 to zero vote.  No one at the board meeting expressed any objections to the project.
“I can easily foresee other sustainability-minded Wisconsin companies pursuing wind turbines to produce electricity for their own operations, as long as Congress acts quickly to extend the federal Production Tax Credit, which levels the playing field between wind energy and fossil-fuel generation,” said Vickerman.
           
END

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

Company and Local Officials Team Up to Advance “Epic” Wind Project


Immediate release
October 15, 2012

More information
Michael Vickerman
608.255.4044, ext. 2

State’s largest customer-owned renewable energy system breaks ground in Dane County

(Madison) – Within a day after receiving the go-ahead from the Springfield town board, heavy construction equipment broke ground on Epic Systems’ Galactic Wind Farm, a six-turbine facility along U.S. Highway 12 in western Dane County.  The 10- megawatt project should begin producing power by year’s end.
Epic Systems’ project, the third customer-owned windpower installation to go forward this year, will be larger than the two-turbine Cashton Greens project in Monroe County and the two-turbine Waxdale project in Racine CountyOrganic Valley and Gundersen Lutheran completed their Cashton project earlier this year, while S. C. Johnson is building its Waxdale project, which should be operational in December of this year.
“Epic’s project came together because of four factors: a company committed to long-term sustainability, a spirit of cooperation among town and county officials, strong local support, and a favorable tax climate,” said Michael Vickerman, program and policy director for RENEW Wisconsin, a nonprofit advocacy organization promoting renewable energy use in Wisconsin.
Epic also owns and operates Wisconsin’s largest solar electricity facility on its Verona campus, which it completed this summer.
The Springfield town board approved Epic’s project on a 5 to zero vote.  No one at the board meeting expressed any objections to the project.
“I can easily foresee other sustainability-minded Wisconsin companies pursuing wind turbines to produce electricity for their own operations, as long as Congress acts quickly to extend the federal Production Tax Credit, which levels the playing field between wind energy and fossil-fuel generation,” said Vickerman.
           
END

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