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Thursday, November 29, 2012

Expert: ‘Two Cents’ Could Bring Thousands of Jobs to Wisconsin


An article from Public News Service, by Deborah Courson Smith and Chris Thomas. See the original here.

MADISON, Wis. - "Two cents" may not sound like much, but it's at the heart of the debate over the Wind Production Tax Credit (PTC), which will expire in a few weeks if Congress doesn't renew it. Wind-power producers receive about two cents back for every kilowatt-hour of power they generate, and renewing it could help rebuild Wisconsin's manufacturing sector, according to Tom Eggert, co-director of the Wisconsin Sustainable Business Council.

Tom Eggert, co-director of the
Wisconsin Sustainable Business Council.
"We've lost 170,000 manufacturing jobs since 2000. We need to get some of those back. Some of those jobs need to be in the wind supply chain."

Eggert's organization recently released a report on the potential for technology jobs in the state, and found the connection to clean energy industries was strong, with a work force ready to go.

Michael Breen is a former Army officer who now heads the Truman National Security Project. He's making the case that many of those jobs are a perfect fit for veterans because of skills learned in the military, along with willingness to accept a challenge.

"And the clean energy sector is like that: it's a dynamic, emerging place; new solutions are being put forward that are going to make all of our lives better and make us stronger as a country. Veterans are naturally attracted to that sort of thing."

Tom Eggert says there are at least 300 companies in Wisconsin connected to the wind-energy industry, and thousands of jobs.

"So, these are all companies that supply parts or services to the wind industry. Without the Production Tax Credit, none of those companies are probably going to fail, but they're not going to grow as quickly as they otherwise would be growing."

The credit has seen bipartisan support in the past, with controversy this year centering on the cost.

Find this article in it's original post here.

Expert: ‘Two Cents’ Could Bring Thousands of Jobs to Wisconsin


An article from Public News Service, by Deborah Courson Smith and Chris Thomas. See the original here.

MADISON, Wis. - "Two cents" may not sound like much, but it's at the heart of the debate over the Wind Production Tax Credit (PTC), which will expire in a few weeks if Congress doesn't renew it. Wind-power producers receive about two cents back for every kilowatt-hour of power they generate, and renewing it could help rebuild Wisconsin's manufacturing sector, according to Tom Eggert, co-director of the Wisconsin Sustainable Business Council.

Tom Eggert, co-director of the
Wisconsin Sustainable Business Council.
"We've lost 170,000 manufacturing jobs since 2000. We need to get some of those back. Some of those jobs need to be in the wind supply chain."

Eggert's organization recently released a report on the potential for technology jobs in the state, and found the connection to clean energy industries was strong, with a work force ready to go.

Michael Breen is a former Army officer who now heads the Truman National Security Project. He's making the case that many of those jobs are a perfect fit for veterans because of skills learned in the military, along with willingness to accept a challenge.

"And the clean energy sector is like that: it's a dynamic, emerging place; new solutions are being put forward that are going to make all of our lives better and make us stronger as a country. Veterans are naturally attracted to that sort of thing."

Tom Eggert says there are at least 300 companies in Wisconsin connected to the wind-energy industry, and thousands of jobs.

"So, these are all companies that supply parts or services to the wind industry. Without the Production Tax Credit, none of those companies are probably going to fail, but they're not going to grow as quickly as they otherwise would be growing."

The credit has seen bipartisan support in the past, with controversy this year centering on the cost.

Find this article in it's original post here.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Come one, Come all!

RENEW Wisconsin is excited to present the 2013 renewable energy policy summit, "Powering Positive Action!". Every business, organization, and individual interested in promoting clean renewable energy in Wisconsin should attend.

At this year's Summit we will lay the policy foundation for Powering Positive Action in 2013 through investments in new renewable infrastructure serving Wisconsin businesses and citizens.
Bill Ritter, Summit Keynote Speaker

We are thrilled to host former Colorado Governor, Bill Ritter, as the keynote speaker for the summit. During his time as governor, his administration made Colorado one of the leading states in the US in renewable energy.
Registration and sponsorship opportunities are now open. Don't wait until it's too late!



Come one, Come all!



RENEW Wisconsin is excited to present the 2013 renewable energy policy summit, "Powering Positive Action!". Every business, organization, and individual interested in promoting clean renewable energy in Wisconsin should attend.

At this year's Summit, we will lay the policy foundation for Powering Positive Action in 2013 through investments in new renewable infrastructure serving Wisconsin businesses and citizens.

We are thrilled to host former Colorado Governor, Bill Ritter, as the keynote speaker for the summit. During his time as governor, his administration made Colorado one of the leading states in the US in renewable energy.

Registration and sponsorship opportunities are now open. Don't wait until it's too late!





Bill Ritter, Summit Keynote Speaker


Come one, Come all!

RENEW Wisconsin is excited to present the 2013 renewable energy policy summit, "Powering Positive Action!". Every business, organization, and individual interested in promoting clean renewable energy in Wisconsin should attend.

At this year's Summit we will lay the policy foundation for Powering Positive Action in 2013 through investments in new renewable infrastructure serving Wisconsin businesses and citizens.
Bill Ritter, Summit Keynote Speaker

We are thrilled to host former Colorado Governor, Bill Ritter, as the keynote speaker for the summit. During his time as governor, his administration made Colorado one of the leading states in the US in renewable energy.
Registration and sponsorship opportunities are now open. Don't wait until it's too late!



Come one, come all!

RENEW Wisconsin is excited to present the 2013 renewable energy policy summit, "Powering Positive Action!". Every business, organization, and individual interested in promoting clean renewable energy in Wisconsin should attend.

At this year's Summit we will lay the policy foundation for Powering Positive Action in 2013 through investments in new renewable infrastructure serving Wisconsin businesses and citizens.
Bill Ritter, Summit Keynote Speaker

We are thrilled to host former Colorado Governor, Bill Ritter, as the keynote speaker for the summit. During his time as governor, his administration made Colorado one of the leading states in the US in renewable energy.
Registration and sponsorship opportunities are now open. Don't wait until it's too late!



Tuesday, November 20, 2012

New state-of-the-art digester benefits WPPI energy membership

An excerpt from WPPI Energy's fall newsletter, discussing the new Richland Center digester. The full pdf of the newsletter can be found here.

This fall, a local business partnership between Foremost Farms USA and Schreiber Foods—two major dairy processors in Richland Center—developed the Richland Center Renewable Energy, LLC (RCRE) digester. RCRE will generate up to 1.7 megawatts of renewable energy. Construction on RCRE began in late 2011 and the project is expected to be completed and online by the end of 2012. WPPI Energy will purchase the power, using it to serve the 51 locally owned, not-for-profit member utilities of WPPI Energy.

The digester will treat industrial wastewater from Foremost Farms and Schreiber Foods with an anaerobic and aerobic process to produce energy. Anaerobic digestion produces biogas—a mixture of methane, carbon dioxide, and other trace gases—which is generated from the treatment process and converted to electricity.

RCRE will address the current industrial and future energy needs of the Richland Center community by providing a long-term economical waste management solution. RCRE will efficiently handle the wastewater streams from Foremost Farms and Schreiber Foods, significantly reducing land-applications of liquid waste streams on agricultural fields, thus reducing potential runoff and discharge of nutrients into local waterways. Additionally, the digester will produce a clean source of local renewable energy.

WPPI Energy’s membership is making smart energy decisions to meet the energy demands of the future for local communities and customers.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Kaukauna Utility rebuilds century-old hydroelectric plant

Journel Sentinel's Thomas Content highlights a hydroelectric rebuild project in Kaukauna. This is exactly the kind of renewable energy project the utilities should do more of. See the original article here.

Boldt Construction workers clean the bedrock of a canal where a new powerhouse will be built on the Fox River in Kaukauna. In order to construct the new powerhouse, the canal was drained and rebuilt and an additional 20 feet of bedrock was removed to make space for the new turbines.

An unusual construction project in Kaukauna will keep electricity flowing thanks to the currents of the Fox River.

The project is the rebuilding of the Badger Hydro generating station, which has been producing electricity for more than 100 years.

The $38 million project is retiring an old, small hydro plant, the circa-1908 Old Badger, and rebuilding the project known as New Badger - which dates to 1927.

When the project is completed late next year, Kaukauna Utilities will be generating more power from one new generator than it was from the two older ones combined, said Jeff Feldt, executive director of Kaukauna Utilities.

The municipal utility supplies 20% of its customers' electricity needs from hydroelectric power, a form of renewable energy that has been part of Wisconsin for generations but doesn't get as much attention as newer technologies like wind and solar.

Investing in hydroelectric power makes sense for customers long term, though it will mean an increase in rates for the small utility's customers next year, Feldt said.

"We know that this plant should last 100 years because we had proof sitting right next door," he said. "When you look at what this does for our customers going forward, it is a significant advantage to have hydro."

Because the power is derived from the river's flow, it means the plant has no fuel costs. That will help insulate customers from future fuel price increases.

Rebuilding the project has been an unusual piece of work. The long, 12-foot-deep canal off the Fox River where the project sits had to be drained - one foot per day - beginning in May.

Before construction could begin, the utility had to hire a fisheries consultant to conduct a "fish rescue."

More than 5,000 fish - 23 species in all - were rescued and moved to the Fox River, Feldt said.

After the draining came the demolition of one of the two old hydro plants and then much-needed work to shore up the stone walls of the man-made canal that was originally built 130 years ago, Feldt said.

"Once we drained the power canal, you saw the workmanship that was done 130 years ago was just amazing," he said.

Contractors with Boldt Construction saved many of those stones, which will be reused to give the canal walls above the water line a historic and familiar look.

"From the public's perspective it will look very much like it did originally, but from a structural perspective it will be much more sound and watertight, so to speak," said Paul Coenen, vice president at Boldt Construction who is overseeing the project.

Boldt is active in building energy projects, from the Charter St. natural-gas-fired power plant in downtown Madison to the biomass generation plant under construction for We Energies at the Domtar paper mill in Rothschild.

Boldt has had experience with repairing hydro plants, but, "This is the first time that I know that we've done an entire rebuild," said Coenen.

What makes it unique, other than working in the bottom of a canal?

"It's a construction project that spans six to seven city blocks," said Coenen. "It's just a long distance from one end to the other. It creates somewhat of a communication and organization and logistical challenge, by how spread out the job is."

When it's completed, the new project will generate 7 megawatts of power - an increase of 25% from the two old plants - enough to serve about 4,000 homes.

That's small in the scheme of the major power plants built in Wisconsin in recent years.

"But it's big for Kaukauna Utilities," said Feldt, whose power company serves 14,000 customers.

A typical Kaukauna Utilities customer would see prices rise by about 6.3%, or $5.44 a month.

"It is a rate increase, but it is an investment in the future and will help stabilize our rates going forward," said Feldt.

The state Public Service Commission is reviewing the Kaukauna Utilities' rate increase request.

Find the original article here.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Will Wisconsin election results tip scales against renewables?

RENEW Wisconsin's Michael Vickerman weight in on the recent changes in Wisconsin politics, and what they mean for the future of renewable energies. From this article in Midwest Energy News by Dan Haugen.

Will changing political winds in Wisconsin mean another new direction for wind energy policy in the state?

Wisconsin Republicans reclaimed control of the state’s senate last week, five months after recall elections tipped the balance to Democrats. Republicans will now hold power by a wider margin in 2013 than they held in 2011.

A wind farm near Fond du Lac, Wisconsin. Renewable energy advocates are expecting another challenge to the state’s wind siting rules. (Photo by Digidave via Creative Commons)
Wind energy advocates are worried that might mean another attempt to repeal the state’s wind farm siting rules, which limit restrictions that local governments can place on proposed wind developments.

And one Republican state senator has already announced plans to seek a repeal of the state’s renewable electricity standard, though a renewable advocacy group doubts the bill will gain enough support to pass.

Hopes for bipartisanship
Overall, RENEW Wisconsin program and policy director Michael Vickerman expects less hostility and more acceptance of the fact that renewable energy plays a growing role in the state’s economy.

“We are hearing that there are Republican senators that want to introduce positive legislation on renewable energy next year, and they want to do so in a bipartisan fashion,” Vickerman said.

RENEW Wisconsin is a member of RE-AMP, which also publishes Midwest Energy News.

While Republicans haven’t announced their energy agenda, RENEW Wisconsin is concerned about a proposal by Republican state Sen. Frank Lasee that would un-do the state’s wind farm siting policy.

“He’s spearheading a one-person jihad against wind energy,” Vickerman said.

Wisconsin adopted statewide wind siting rules in 2011 that put boundaries on the local zoning and permitting regulations, which had delayed or derailed wind projects in some counties.

In March, Lasee introduced a bill that would have rolled back those rules, putting wind developers back at the mercy of a messy patchwork of local rules, some of which were, in Vickerman’s words, “a never-ending obstacle course” meant to discourage any projects.

Lasee’s effort last spring came up one vote short when Republicans had a 17-16 margin in the state senate. Next year, Lasse’s party is expected to hold an 18-15 majority.

“We survived, really, by the skin of our teeth,” Vickerman said. “All other things being equal, we have to find another Republican senator who will stand [for the wind siting rules.]”

RPS challenge?
The American Legislative Exchange Council, a conservative policy group that promotes identical, model legislation across the country, says it plans to make repealing state renewable mandates a high priority in 2013.

State Sen. Glenn Grothman, a Republican from Sheboygan, has already announced plans for a bill that would freeze Wisconsin’s renewable standard at its 2012 levels.

“The 10 percent renewable portfolio standard imposed on Wisconsin utilities in 2006 was a mistake,” Grothman said in a press release. (The senator’s office didn’t return a phone call last week.)

Vickerman said he is “not particularly worried” about Grothman’s bill. That’s because renewable energy has too many allies — from landfill operators to equipment manufacturers — who understand its importance to growing Wisconsin’s economy.

“He is looking at legislation that would not only scale back commitments to wind energy, but also solar, biogas, landfill gas, hydro — all the resources are covered,” Vickerman said.

The legislation would also have very little practical effect, Vickerman said, because most of the state’s utilities have met their requirements for 2015 already.

Gary Radloff, director of Midwest energy policy analysis for the Wisconsin Bioenergy Initiative at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, said it’s tough to generalize about legislators’ positions on energy.

“My experience has been that there’s a pretty broad continuum of views on energy, and that there’s people within the Republican caucus who see the benefits of renewables, especially bioenergy,” Radloff said.

Renewable energy has broad support from the public and businesses in Wisconsin, Radloff said. He thinks there’s more recognition today that a broad, all-out attack on renewables would not be popular.

His advice for lawmakers: “I would urge elected officials from both parties to go slow on dramatic energy policy change around renewables,” he said. “I think it’s really important that they go slow, keep an open mind, and recognize that the world is changing.”

See the original article and comments here.

Will Wisconsin election results tip scales against renewables?

RENEW Wisconsin's Michael Vickerman weight in on the recent changes in Wisconsin politics, and what they mean for the future of renewable energies. From this article in Midwest Energy News by Dan Haugen.

Will changing political winds in Wisconsin mean another new direction for wind energy policy in the state?

Wisconsin Republicans reclaimed control of the state’s senate last week, five months after recall elections tipped the balance to Democrats. Republicans will now hold power by a wider margin in 2013 than they held in 2011.

A wind farm near Fond du Lac, Wisconsin. Renewable energy advocates are expecting another challenge to the state’s wind siting rules. (Photo by Digidave via Creative Commons)
Wind energy advocates are worried that might mean another attempt to repeal the state’s wind farm siting rules, which limit restrictions that local governments can place on proposed wind developments.

And one Republican state senator has already announced plans to seek a repeal of the state’s renewable electricity standard, though a renewable advocacy group doubts the bill will gain enough support to pass.

Hopes for bipartisanship
Overall, RENEW Wisconsin program and policy director Michael Vickerman expects less hostility and more acceptance of the fact that renewable energy plays a growing role in the state’s economy.

“We are hearing that there are Republican senators that want to introduce positive legislation on renewable energy next year, and they want to do so in a bipartisan fashion,” Vickerman said.

RENEW Wisconsin is a member of RE-AMP, which also publishes Midwest Energy News.

While Republicans haven’t announced their energy agenda, RENEW Wisconsin is concerned about a proposal by Republican state Sen. Frank Lasee that would un-do the state’s wind farm siting policy.

“He’s spearheading a one-person jihad against wind energy,” Vickerman said.

Wisconsin adopted statewide wind siting rules in 2011 that put boundaries on the local zoning and permitting regulations, which had delayed or derailed wind projects in some counties.

In March, Lasee introduced a bill that would have rolled back those rules, putting wind developers back at the mercy of a messy patchwork of local rules, some of which were, in Vickerman’s words, “a never-ending obstacle course” meant to discourage any projects.

Lasee’s effort last spring came up one vote short when Republicans had a 17-16 margin in the state senate. Next year, Lasse’s party is expected to hold an 18-15 majority.

“We survived, really, by the skin of our teeth,” Vickerman said. “All other things being equal, we have to find another Republican senator who will stand [for the wind siting rules.]”

RPS challenge?
The American Legislative Exchange Council, a conservative policy group that promotes identical, model legislation across the country, says it plans to make repealing state renewable mandates a high priority in 2013.

State Sen. Glenn Grothman, a Republican from Sheboygan, has already announced plans for a bill that would freeze Wisconsin’s renewable standard at its 2012 levels.

“The 10 percent renewable portfolio standard imposed on Wisconsin utilities in 2006 was a mistake,” Grothman said in a press release. (The senator’s office didn’t return a phone call last week.)

Vickerman said he is “not particularly worried” about Grothman’s bill. That’s because renewable energy has too many allies — from landfill operators to equipment manufacturers — who understand its importance to growing Wisconsin’s economy.

“He is looking at legislation that would not only scale back commitments to wind energy, but also solar, biogas, landfill gas, hydro — all the resources are covered,” Vickerman said.

The legislation would also have very little practical effect, Vickerman said, because most of the state’s utilities have met their requirements for 2015 already.

Gary Radloff, director of Midwest energy policy analysis for the Wisconsin Bioenergy Initiative at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, said it’s tough to generalize about legislators’ positions on energy.

“My experience has been that there’s a pretty broad continuum of views on energy, and that there’s people within the Republican caucus who see the benefits of renewables, especially bioenergy,” Radloff said.

Renewable energy has broad support from the public and businesses in Wisconsin, Radloff said. He thinks there’s more recognition today that a broad, all-out attack on renewables would not be popular.

His advice for lawmakers: “I would urge elected officials from both parties to go slow on dramatic energy policy change around renewables,” he said. “I think it’s really important that they go slow, keep an open mind, and recognize that the world is changing.”

See the original article and comments here.

Will Wisconsin election results tip scales against renewables?

RENEW Wisconsin's Michael Vickerman weight in on the recent changes in Wisconsin politics, and what they mean for the future of renewable energies. From this article in Midwest Energy News by Dan Haugen.

Will changing political winds in Wisconsin mean another new direction for wind energy policy in the state?

Wisconsin Republicans reclaimed control of the state’s senate last week, five months after recall elections tipped the balance to Democrats. Republicans will now hold power by a wider margin in 2013 than they held in 2011.

A wind farm near Fond du Lac, Wisconsin. Renewable energy advocates are expecting another challenge to the state’s wind siting rules. (Photo by Digidave via Creative Commons)
Wind energy advocates are worried that might mean another attempt to repeal the state’s wind farm siting rules, which limit restrictions that local governments can place on proposed wind developments.

And one Republican state senator has already announced plans to seek a repeal of the state’s renewable electricity standard, though a renewable advocacy group doubts the bill will gain enough support to pass.

Hopes for bipartisanship
Overall, RENEW Wisconsin program and policy director Michael Vickerman expects less hostility and more acceptance of the fact that renewable energy plays a growing role in the state’s economy.

“We are hearing that there are Republican senators that want to introduce positive legislation on renewable energy next year, and they want to do so in a bipartisan fashion,” Vickerman said.

RENEW Wisconsin is a member of RE-AMP, which also publishes Midwest Energy News.

While Republicans haven’t announced their energy agenda, RENEW Wisconsin is concerned about a proposal by Republican state Sen. Frank Lasee that would un-do the state’s wind farm siting policy.

“He’s spearheading a one-person jihad against wind energy,” Vickerman said.

Wisconsin adopted statewide wind siting rules in 2011 that put boundaries on the local zoning and permitting regulations, which had delayed or derailed wind projects in some counties.

In March, Lasee introduced a bill that would have rolled back those rules, putting wind developers back at the mercy of a messy patchwork of local rules, some of which were, in Vickerman’s words, “a never-ending obstacle course” meant to discourage any projects.

Lasee’s effort last spring came up one vote short when Republicans had a 17-16 margin in the state senate. Next year, Lasse’s party is expected to hold an 18-15 majority.

“We survived, really, by the skin of our teeth,” Vickerman said. “All other things being equal, we have to find another Republican senator who will stand [for the wind siting rules.]”

RPS challenge?
The American Legislative Exchange Council, a conservative policy group that promotes identical, model legislation across the country, says it plans to make repealing state renewable mandates a high priority in 2013.

State Sen. Glenn Grothman, a Republican from Sheboygan, has already announced plans for a bill that would freeze Wisconsin’s renewable standard at its 2012 levels.

“The 10 percent renewable portfolio standard imposed on Wisconsin utilities in 2006 was a mistake,” Grothman said in a press release. (The senator’s office didn’t return a phone call last week.)

Vickerman said he is “not particularly worried” about Grothman’s bill. That’s because renewable energy has too many allies — from landfill operators to equipment manufacturers — who understand its importance to growing Wisconsin’s economy.

“He is looking at legislation that would not only scale back commitments to wind energy, but also solar, biogas, landfill gas, hydro — all the resources are covered,” Vickerman said.

The legislation would also have very little practical effect, Vickerman said, because most of the state’s utilities have met their requirements for 2015 already.

Gary Radloff, director of Midwest energy policy analysis for the Wisconsin Bioenergy Initiative at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, said it’s tough to generalize about legislators’ positions on energy.

“My experience has been that there’s a pretty broad continuum of views on energy, and that there’s people within the Republican caucus who see the benefits of renewables, especially bioenergy,” Radloff said.

Renewable energy has broad support from the public and businesses in Wisconsin, Radloff said. He thinks there’s more recognition today that a broad, all-out attack on renewables would not be popular.

His advice for lawmakers: “I would urge elected officials from both parties to go slow on dramatic energy policy change around renewables,” he said. “I think it’s really important that they go slow, keep an open mind, and recognize that the world is changing.”

See the original article and comments here.

Will Wisconsin election results tip scales against renewables?

RENEW Wisconsin's Michael Vickerman weight in on the recent changes in Wisconsin politics, and what they mean for the future of renewable energies. From this article in Midwest Energy News by Dan Haugen.

Will changing political winds in Wisconsin mean another new direction for wind energy policy in the state?

Wisconsin Republicans reclaimed control of the state’s senate last week, five months after recall elections tipped the balance to Democrats. Republicans will now hold power by a wider margin in 2013 than they held in 2011.

A wind farm near Fond du Lac, Wisconsin. Renewable energy advocates are expecting another challenge to the state’s wind siting rules. (Photo by Digidave via Creative Commons)
Wind energy advocates are worried that might mean another attempt to repeal the state’s wind farm siting rules, which limit restrictions that local governments can place on proposed wind developments.

And one Republican state senator has already announced plans to seek a repeal of the state’s renewable electricity standard, though a renewable advocacy group doubts the bill will gain enough support to pass.

Hopes for bipartisanship
Overall, RENEW Wisconsin program and policy director Michael Vickerman expects less hostility and more acceptance of the fact that renewable energy plays a growing role in the state’s economy.

“We are hearing that there are Republican senators that want to introduce positive legislation on renewable energy next year, and they want to do so in a bipartisan fashion,” Vickerman said.

RENEW Wisconsin is a member of RE-AMP, which also publishes Midwest Energy News.

While Republicans haven’t announced their energy agenda, RENEW Wisconsin is concerned about a proposal by Republican state Sen. Frank Lasee that would un-do the state’s wind farm siting policy.

“He’s spearheading a one-person jihad against wind energy,” Vickerman said.

Wisconsin adopted statewide wind siting rules in 2011 that put boundaries on the local zoning and permitting regulations, which had delayed or derailed wind projects in some counties.

In March, Lasee introduced a bill that would have rolled back those rules, putting wind developers back at the mercy of a messy patchwork of local rules, some of which were, in Vickerman’s words, “a never-ending obstacle course” meant to discourage any projects.

Lasee’s effort last spring came up one vote short when Republicans had a 17-16 margin in the state senate. Next year, Lasse’s party is expected to hold an 18-15 majority.

“We survived, really, by the skin of our teeth,” Vickerman said. “All other things being equal, we have to find another Republican senator who will stand [for the wind siting rules.]”

RPS challenge?
The American Legislative Exchange Council, a conservative policy group that promotes identical, model legislation across the country, says it plans to make repealing state renewable mandates a high priority in 2013.

State Sen. Glenn Grothman, a Republican from Sheboygan, has already announced plans for a bill that would freeze Wisconsin’s renewable standard at its 2012 levels.

“The 10 percent renewable portfolio standard imposed on Wisconsin utilities in 2006 was a mistake,” Grothman said in a press release. (The senator’s office didn’t return a phone call last week.)

Vickerman said he is “not particularly worried” about Grothman’s bill. That’s because renewable energy has too many allies — from landfill operators to equipment manufacturers — who understand its importance to growing Wisconsin’s economy.

“He is looking at legislation that would not only scale back commitments to wind energy, but also solar, biogas, landfill gas, hydro — all the resources are covered,” Vickerman said.

The legislation would also have very little practical effect, Vickerman said, because most of the state’s utilities have met their requirements for 2015 already.

Gary Radloff, director of Midwest energy policy analysis for the Wisconsin Bioenergy Initiative at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, said it’s tough to generalize about legislators’ positions on energy.

“My experience has been that there’s a pretty broad continuum of views on energy, and that there’s people within the Republican caucus who see the benefits of renewables, especially bioenergy,” Radloff said.

Renewable energy has broad support from the public and businesses in Wisconsin, Radloff said. He thinks there’s more recognition today that a broad, all-out attack on renewables would not be popular.

His advice for lawmakers: “I would urge elected officials from both parties to go slow on dramatic energy policy change around renewables,” he said. “I think it’s really important that they go slow, keep an open mind, and recognize that the world is changing.”

See the original article and comments here.

Monday, November 12, 2012

State’s Renewable Standard Delivers Positive Results

More information
Michael Vickerman
mvickerman@renewwisconsin.org
608.255.4044,ext. 2

State’s Renewable Standard Delivers Positive Results
Most utilities already meeting 2015 targets

Most Wisconsin electricity providers have already acquired all the renewable energy supplies they need to meet the state’s 10% target in 2015, according to the Public Service Commission (PSCW).

The agency’s annual compliance review showed that nearly 9% of electricity sold by in-state electricity providers in 2011 originated from such renewable energy resources as sunlight, biogas, hydro, landfill gas and wind, compared with 3% in 2006.

“By any measure, the state’s Renewable Energy Standard (RES) has been an unqualified success,” said Michael Vickerman, program and policy director for RENEW Wisconsin. “From the standpoint of job creation, resource diversity, price stability, environmental protection and revenue generation, the RES has delivered  exceptional value to a state that is very dependent on imported fossil fuels for electricity generation.”

Passed in 2006, the RES has been the most powerful policy for driving growth in renewable electricity sales. Yet with so many electricity providers already in compliance with their 2015 requirements, the prospects for new investments in home-grown energy sources are uncertain.
“Right now, we don’t have a policy in place for directing investments into clean energy after 2015,” Vickerman said. “If we want to reap the economic and environmental benefits that come with renewables, state lawmakers will have to extend the Renewable Energy Standard or adopt a successor policy.”

“Investments in renewable resources not only supply Wisconsin utility customers with clean energy, they also generate work opportunities for local manufacturers and businesses, additional revenue for local governments, and income for farmers,” said Vickerman.

“Renewable energy should be the cornerstone of an economic development strategy that aims to increase the state’s workforce and expand investment opportunities,” Vickerman said. “We look forward to working with the Governor and the next Legislature to put in place a realistic, low-cost policy framework that maintains the momentum building from the current RES.”

State’s Renewable Standard Delivers Positive Results

More information
Michael Vickerman
mvickerman@renewwisconsin.org
608.255.4044,ext. 2

State’s Renewable Standard Delivers Positive Results
Most utilities already meeting 2015 targets

Most Wisconsin electricity providers have already acquired all the renewable energy supplies they need to meet the state’s 10% target in 2015, according to the Public Service Commission (PSCW).

The agency’s annual compliance review showed that nearly 9% of electricity sold by in-state electricity providers in 2011 originated from such renewable energy resources as sunlight, biogas, hydro, landfill gas and wind, compared with 3% in 2006.

“By any measure, the state’s Renewable Energy Standard (RES) has been an unqualified success,” said Michael Vickerman, program and policy director for RENEW Wisconsin. “From the standpoint of job creation, resource diversity, price stability, environmental protection and revenue generation, the RES has delivered  exceptional value to a state that is very dependent on imported fossil fuels for electricity generation.”

Passed in 2006, the RES has been the most powerful policy for driving growth in renewable electricity sales. Yet with so many electricity providers already in compliance with their 2015 requirements, the prospects for new investments in home-grown energy sources are uncertain.
“Right now, we don’t have a policy in place for directing investments into clean energy after 2015,” Vickerman said. “If we want to reap the economic and environmental benefits that come with renewables, state lawmakers will have to extend the Renewable Energy Standard or adopt a successor policy.”

“Investments in renewable resources not only supply Wisconsin utility customers with clean energy, they also generate work opportunities for local manufacturers and businesses, additional revenue for local governments, and income for farmers,” said Vickerman.

“Renewable energy should be the cornerstone of an economic development strategy that aims to increase the state’s workforce and expand investment opportunities,” Vickerman said. “We look forward to working with the Governor and the next Legislature to put in place a realistic, low-cost policy framework that maintains the momentum building from the current RES.”

State’s Renewable Standard Delivers Positive Results

More information
Michael Vickerman
mvickerman@renewwisconsin.org
608.255.4044,ext. 2

State’s Renewable Standard Delivers Positive Results
Most utilities already meeting 2015 targets

Most Wisconsin electricity providers have already acquired all the renewable energy supplies they need to meet the state’s 10% target in 2015, according to the Public Service Commission (PSCW).

The agency’s annual compliance review showed that nearly 9% of electricity sold by in-state electricity providers in 2011 originated from such renewable energy resources as sunlight, biogas, hydro, landfill gas and wind, compared with 3% in 2006.

“By any measure, the state’s Renewable Energy Standard (RES) has been an unqualified success,” said Michael Vickerman, program and policy director for RENEW Wisconsin. “From the standpoint of job creation, resource diversity, price stability, environmental protection and revenue generation, the RES has delivered  exceptional value to a state that is very dependent on imported fossil fuels for electricity generation.”

Passed in 2006, the RES has been the most powerful policy for driving growth in renewable electricity sales. Yet with so many electricity providers already in compliance with their 2015 requirements, the prospects for new investments in home-grown energy sources are uncertain.
“Right now, we don’t have a policy in place for directing investments into clean energy after 2015,” Vickerman said. “If we want to reap the economic and environmental benefits that come with renewables, state lawmakers will have to extend the Renewable Energy Standard or adopt a successor policy.”

“Investments in renewable resources not only supply Wisconsin utility customers with clean energy, they also generate work opportunities for local manufacturers and businesses, additional revenue for local governments, and income for farmers,” said Vickerman.

“Renewable energy should be the cornerstone of an economic development strategy that aims to increase the state’s workforce and expand investment opportunities,” Vickerman said. “We look forward to working with the Governor and the next Legislature to put in place a realistic, low-cost policy framework that maintains the momentum building from the current RES.”

State’s Renewable Standard Delivers Positive Results

More information
Michael Vickerman
mvickerman@renewwisconsin.org
608.255.4044,ext. 2

State’s Renewable Standard Delivers Positive Results

Most utilities already meeting 2015 targets

Most Wisconsin electricity providers have already acquired all the renewable energy supplies they need to meet the state’s 10% target in 2015, according to the Public Service Commission (PSCW).

The agency’s annual compliance review showed that nearly 9% of electricity sold by in-state electricity providers in 2011 originated from such renewable energy resources as sunlight, biogas, hydro, landfill gas and wind, compared with 3% in 2006.

“By any measure, the state’s Renewable Energy Standard (RES) has been an unqualified success,” said Michael Vickerman, program and policy director for RENEW Wisconsin. “From the standpoint of job creation, resource diversity, price stability, environmental protection and revenue generation, the RES has delivered  exceptional value to a state that is very dependent on imported fossil fuels for electricity generation.”

Passed in 2006, the RES has been the most powerful policy for driving growth in renewable electricity sales. Yet with so many electricity providers already in compliance with their 2015 requirements, the prospects for new investments in home-grown energy sources are uncertain.
“Right now, we don’t have a policy in place for directing investments into clean energy after 2015,” Vickerman said. “If we want to reap the economic and environmental benefits that come with renewables, state lawmakers will have to extend the Renewable Energy Standard or adopt a successor policy.”

“Investments in renewable resources not only supply Wisconsin utility customers with clean energy, they also generate work opportunities for local manufacturers and businesses, additional revenue for local governments, and income for farmers,” said Vickerman.

“Renewable energy should be the cornerstone of an economic development strategy that aims to increase the state’s workforce and expand investment opportunities,” Vickerman said. “We look forward to working with the Governor and the next Legislature to put in place a realistic, low-cost policy framework that maintains the momentum building from the current RES.”

State’s Renewable Standard Delivers Positive Results

More information
Michael Vickerman
mvickerman@renewwisconsin.org
608.255.4044,ext. 2

State’s Renewable Standard Delivers Positive Results

Most utilities already meeting 2015 targets

Most Wisconsin electricity providers have already acquired all the renewable energy supplies they need to meet the state’s 10% target in 2015, according to the Public Service Commission (PSCW).

The agency’s annual compliance review showed that nearly 9% of electricity sold by in-state electricity providers in 2011 originated from such renewable energy resources as sunlight, biogas, hydro, landfill gas and wind, compared with 3% in 2006.

“By any measure, the state’s Renewable Energy Standard (RES) has been an unqualified success,” said Michael Vickerman, program and policy director for RENEW Wisconsin. “From the standpoint of job creation, resource diversity, price stability, environmental protection and revenue generation, the RES has delivered  exceptional value to a state that is very dependent on imported fossil fuels for electricity generation.”

Passed in 2006, the RES has been the most powerful policy for driving growth in renewable electricity sales. Yet with so many electricity providers already in compliance with their 2015 requirements, the prospects for new investments in home-grown energy sources are uncertain.
“Right now, we don’t have a policy in place for directing investments into clean energy after 2015,” Vickerman said. “If we want to reap the economic and environmental benefits that come with renewables, state lawmakers will have to extend the Renewable Energy Standard or adopt a successor policy.”

“Investments in renewable resources not only supply Wisconsin utility customers with clean energy, they also generate work opportunities for local manufacturers and businesses, additional revenue for local governments, and income for farmers,” said Vickerman.

“Renewable energy should be the cornerstone of an economic development strategy that aims to increase the state’s workforce and expand investment opportunities,” Vickerman said. “We look forward to working with the Governor and the next Legislature to put in place a realistic, low-cost policy framework that maintains the momentum building from the current RES.”

State’s Renewable Standard Delivers Positive Results

More information
Michael Vickerman
mvickerman@renewwisconsin.org
608.255.4044, ext. 2

State’s Renewable Standard Delivers Positive Results
Most utilities already meeting 2015 targets 
Most Wisconsin electricity providers have already acquired all the renewable energy supplies they need to meet the state’s 10% target in 2015, according to the Public Service Commission (PSCW). The agency’s annual compliance review showed that nearly 9% of electricity sold by in-state electricity providers in 2011 originated from such renewable energy resources as sunlight, biogas, hydro, landfill gas and wind, compared with 3% in 2006.

“By any measure, the state’s Renewable Energy Standard (RES) has been an unqualified success,” said Michael Vickerman, program and policy director for RENEW Wisconsin. “From the standpoint of job creation, resource diversity, price stability, environmental protection and revenue generation, the RES has delivered  exceptional value to a state that is very dependent on imported fossil fuels for electricity generation.”

 Passed in 2006, the RES has been the most powerful policy for driving growth in renewable electricity sales. Yet with so many electricity providers already in compliance with their 2015 requirements, the prospects for new investments in home-grown energy sources are uncertain. 

“Right now, we don’t have a policy in place for directing investments into clean energy after 2015,” Vickerman said. “If we want to reap the economic and environmental benefits that come with renewables, state lawmakers will have to extend the Renewable Energy Standard or adopt a successor policy.”
“Investments in renewable resources not only supply Wisconsin utility customers with clean energy, they also generate work opportunities for local manufacturers and businesses, additional revenue for local governments, and income for farmers,” said Vickerman.

“Renewable energy should be the cornerstone of an economic development strategy that aims to increase the state’s workforce and expand investment opportunities,” Vickerman said. “We look forward to working with the Governor and the next Legislature to put in place a realistic, low-cost policy framework that maintains the momentum building from the current RES.”   
           
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.

State’s Renewable Standard Delivers Positive Results



More information
Michael Vickerman
mvickerman@renewwisconsin.org
608.255.4044, ext. 2

State’s Renewable Standard Delivers Positive Results
Most utilities already meeting 2015 targets

Most Wisconsin electricity providers have already acquired all the renewable energy supplies they need to meet the state’s 10% target in 2015, according to the Public Service Commission (PSCW). The agency’s annual compliance review showed that nearly 9% of electricity sold by in-state electricity providers in 2011 originated from such renewable energy resources as sunlight, biogas, hydro, landfill gas and wind, compared with 3% in 2006.
“By any measure, the state’s Renewable Energy Standard (RES) has been an unqualified success,” said Michael Vickerman, program and policy director for RENEW Wisconsin. “From the standpoint of job creation, resource diversity, price stability, environmental protection and revenue generation, the RES has delivered  exceptional value to a state that is very dependent on imported fossil fuels for electricity generation.”
Passed in 2006, the RES has been the most powerful policy for driving growth in renewable electricity sales. Yet with so many electricity providers already in compliance with their 2015 requirements, the prospects for new investments in home-grown energy sources are uncertain.
“Right now, we don’t have a policy in place for directing investments into clean energy after 2015,” Vickerman said. “If we want to reap the economic and environmental benefits that come with renewables, state lawmakers will have to extend the Renewable Energy Standard or adopt a successor policy.”
“Investments in renewable resources not only supply Wisconsin utility customers with clean energy, they also generate work opportunities for local manufacturers and businesses, additional revenue for local governments, and income for farmers,” said Vickerman.
“Renewable energy should be the cornerstone of an economic development strategy that aims to increase the state’s workforce and expand investment opportunities,” Vickerman said. “We look forward to working with the Governor and the next Legislature to put in place a realistic, low-cost policy framework that maintains the momentum building from the current RES.”   
           
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.

Friday, November 9, 2012

The Real Meaning of Kewaunee’s Demise

A commentary by Michael Vickerman, Director, Policy and Programs at RENEW Wisconsin

 Shock waves reverberated across the Upper Midwest when Dominion Resources announced in late October that it would permanently shut down its Kewaunee nuclear generating station in early 2013. Operational since 1974, the Kewaunee station, located along Lake Michigan 30 miles east of Green Bay, currently generates about 5% of the electricity that originates in Wisconsin.

Virginia-based Dominion, which bought the 560-megawatt Kewaunee plant in 2005 from two Wisconsin utilities, attributed its decision to its inability to secure long-term power purchase agreements to keep the plant going. Without securing purchasing commitments from utilities, Dominion would have to sell Kewaunee’s output into the regional wholesale market at prices well below the plant’s cost of production.

While the pricing environment for all bulk power generators is nothing short of brutal these days, Kewaunee carries the additional burden of being an independently owned power plant, since the entities most likely to buy electricity from that generator—utilities--have power plants of their own that compete for the same set of customers. And a growing number of these utility-owned generators burn natural gas, which is currently the least expensive generation source in most areas of the country.

Dominion’s decision comes down to simple economics. Wisconsin utilities believe that over the foreseeable future natural gas will remain cheap and supplies will remain abundant. That would explain their unwillingness to enter into long-term commitments with Dominion, even though Kewaunee recently acquired a 20-year extension to its operating license and does not need expansive retrofits to comply with environmental standards, unlike a host of utility-owned coal plants in Wisconsin.

But even if Dominion’s managers were convinced that natural gas prices have nowhere to go but up in 2013 and beyond, the company, lacking a retail customer base in the Midwest, could not risk producing power below cost while waiting for the turnaround.

Wisconsin utilities have placed heavy bets on natural gas in the expectation that it will remain the price-setting fuel for years to come. Over the last 12 months, they have bought several combined-cycle generators from independent power producers. Buying power plants enables them to pass through their acquisition and operating costs directly to their customers while generating returns to their shareholders. I suspect these utilities are anything but broken up over the impending demise of a nonutility competitor that could have supplied electricity to Wisconsin customers for 20 more years.

But there is another side to this story; the low-price energy future that Wisconsin utilities are embracing can only materialize if natural gas extraction companies continue to sell their output below production costs. This expectation is unrealistic, given the massive pain being inflicted on these companies in the form of operating losses, write-downs, and credit rating downgrades.

Don’t just take my word for it, ask Exxon Mobil ceo Rex Tillerson, whose company spent $41 billion during the shale gas boom to acquire XTO, a large gas producer that is now yielding more red ink than methane. As reported in a recent New York Times article, Tillerson minced no words in assessing the impact of its recent misadventures on the company’s bottom line. “We’re all losing our shirts today,” Tillerson said. “We’re making no money. It’s all in the red.”

Much of the industry’s woes are self-inflicted. The lease agreements that drillers eagerly signed during the height of the shale gas boom obligate them to extract the resource by a certain deadline, regardless of whether such activity is profitable. That these companies cannot disengage quickly from existing leases is greatly diminishing their appetite for exploring new natural gas prospects. Until a pricing turnaround occurs, they will refrain from spending money on exploring new resource provinces like Ohio and Michigan.

Sooner or later, this slowdown in exploration activity will tip the supply-demand equation in the opposite direction, resulting in lower-than-average gas storage volumes. Barring a repeat of last winter’s unusually mild weather, the crossover point should occur around January 1st . But with so many balance sheets in tatters from this highly unprofitable market environment, nothing short of a strong and sustained price increase will be required to persuade drillers to start taking risks again.

When this corrective price increase begins rippling through the electricity markets, it will be interesting to observe how the customers will respond. Right now Wisconsin utility managers are convinced that they are making the right call on natural gas. So completely have they swallowed the shale gas “game-changing” mystique that they were willing to let a 560 MW nuclear plant fall out of the supply picture for good. In this brave new world of theirs, gas is the new coal, and resource diversity is passé.

In the aftermath of Dominion’s announcement, a few commentators have defended the impending closure as a textbook example of how markets work. But this view ignores the delusional thinking that sent shale gas extraction into overdrive, causing prices to plunge below the cost of production. The real game-changer, as it turns out, here was not the emergence of “fracking” technology but the industry-generated public relations campaign that implanted the narrative of a nation awash in cheap natural gas into virtually every American cranium. But as we now see, this narrative has boomeranged on the natural gas industry, and they are paying for their current woes in ways that guarantee a pronounced pendulum swing in the direction of higher prices.

The question going forward is: will this narrative also boomerang on Wisconsin electricity users, after the last employee leaving Kewaunee turns out the lights?

 Michael Vickerman is program and policy director of RENEW Wisconsin, a sustainable energy advocacy organization. For more information on the global and national petroleum and natural gas supply picture, visit previous posts Madison Peak Oil Group’s blog: http://www.madisonpeakoil-blog.blogspot.com. This commentary is also listed on RENEW Wisconsin's blog: http://www.renewwisconsin-blog.org/

The Real Meaning of Kewaunee’s Demise

A commentary by Michael Vickerman, Director, Policy and Programs at RENEW Wisconsin

 Shock waves reverberated across the Upper Midwest when Dominion Resources announced in late October that it would permanently shut down its Kewaunee nuclear generating station in early 2013. Operational since 1974, the Kewaunee station, located along Lake Michigan 30 miles east of Green Bay, currently generates about 5% of the electricity that originates in Wisconsin.

Virginia-based Dominion, which bought the 560-megawatt Kewaunee plant in 2005 from two Wisconsin utilities, attributed its decision to its inability to secure long-term power purchase agreements to keep the plant going. Without securing purchasing commitments from utilities, Dominion would have to sell Kewaunee’s output into the regional wholesale market at prices well below the plant’s cost of production.

While the pricing environment for all bulk power generators is nothing short of brutal these days, Kewaunee carries the additional burden of being an independently owned power plant, since the entities most likely to buy electricity from that generator—utilities--have power plants of their own that compete for the same set of customers. And a growing number of these utility-owned generators burn natural gas, which is currently the least expensive generation source in most areas of the country.

Dominion’s decision comes down to simple economics. Wisconsin utilities believe that over the foreseeable future natural gas will remain cheap and supplies will remain abundant. That would explain their unwillingness to enter into long-term commitments with Dominion, even though Kewaunee recently acquired a 20-year extension to its operating license and does not need expansive retrofits to comply with environmental standards, unlike a host of utility-owned coal plants in Wisconsin.

But even if Dominion’s managers were convinced that natural gas prices have nowhere to go but up in 2013 and beyond, the company, lacking a retail customer base in the Midwest, could not risk producing power below cost while waiting for the turnaround.

Wisconsin utilities have placed heavy bets on natural gas in the expectation that it will remain the price-setting fuel for years to come. Over the last 12 months, they have bought several combined-cycle generators from independent power producers. Buying power plants enables them to pass through their acquisition and operating costs directly to their customers while generating returns to their shareholders. I suspect these utilities are anything but broken up over the impending demise of a nonutility competitor that could have supplied electricity to Wisconsin customers for 20 more years.

But there is another side to this story; the low-price energy future that Wisconsin utilities are embracing can only materialize if natural gas extraction companies continue to sell their output below production costs. This expectation is unrealistic, given the massive pain being inflicted on these companies in the form of operating losses, write-downs, and credit rating downgrades.

Don’t just take my word for it, ask Exxon Mobil ceo Rex Tillerson, whose company spent $41 billion during the shale gas boom to acquire XTO, a large gas producer that is now yielding more red ink than methane. As reported in a recent New York Times article, Tillerson minced no words in assessing the impact of its recent misadventures on the company’s bottom line. “We’re all losing our shirts today,” Tillerson said. “We’re making no money. It’s all in the red.”

Much of the industry’s woes are self-inflicted. The lease agreements that drillers eagerly signed during the height of the shale gas boom obligate them to extract the resource by a certain deadline, regardless of whether such activity is profitable. That these companies cannot disengage quickly from existing leases is greatly diminishing their appetite for exploring new natural gas prospects. Until a pricing turnaround occurs, they will refrain from spending money on exploring new resource provinces like Ohio and Michigan.

Sooner or later, this slowdown in exploration activity will tip the supply-demand equation in the opposite direction, resulting in lower-than-average gas storage volumes. Barring a repeat of last winter’s unusually mild weather, the crossover point should occur around January 1st . But with so many balance sheets in tatters from this highly unprofitable market environment, nothing short of a strong and sustained price increase will be required to persuade drillers to start taking risks again.

When this corrective price increase begins rippling through the electricity markets, it will be interesting to observe how the customers will respond. Right now Wisconsin utility managers are convinced that they are making the right call on natural gas. So completely have they swallowed the shale gas “game-changing” mystique that they were willing to let a 560 MW nuclear plant fall out of the supply picture for good. In this brave new world of theirs, gas is the new coal, and resource diversity is passé.

In the aftermath of Dominion’s announcement, a few commentators have defended the impending closure as a textbook example of how markets work. But this view ignores the delusional thinking that sent shale gas extraction into overdrive, causing prices to plunge below the cost of production. The real game-changer, as it turns out, here was not the emergence of “fracking” technology but the industry-generated public relations campaign that implanted the narrative of a nation awash in cheap natural gas into virtually every American cranium. But as we now see, this narrative has boomeranged on the natural gas industry, and they are paying for their current woes in ways that guarantee a pronounced pendulum swing in the direction of higher prices.

The question going forward is: will this narrative also boomerang on Wisconsin electricity users, after the last employee leaving Kewaunee turns out the lights?

 Michael Vickerman is program and policy director of RENEW Wisconsin, a sustainable energy advocacy organization. For more information on the global and national petroleum and natural gas supply picture, visit previous posts Madison Peak Oil Group’s blog: http://www.madisonpeakoil-blog.blogspot.com. This commentary is also listed on RENEW Wisconsin's blog: http://www.renewwisconsin-blog.org/