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Thursday, February 28, 2013

RENEW petitions PSC to improve interconnection rules

222 S. Hamilton, Madison, WI 53704

Immediate Release February 26, 2013
More Information

Don Wichert, Executive Director
608.255.4044, ext. 1

RENEW Petitions PSC to Improve Interconnection Rules
RENEW Wisconsin (RENEW) filed a petition on February 22 asking the Public Service Commission (PSCW) to simplify the process under which distributed generators can connect their generators to Wisconsin’s electrical grid. The vast majority of these small generating facilities are fueled with locally available renewable energy resources like biogas, solar, and wind.
RENEW’s filing grew out of a year-long study that assessed how Wisconsin’s 10-year old interconnection rule (PSC 119) compares with best practices established in other states.
“We found that  Wisconsin’s outdated rules hurts distributed generators by adding complexity, time, and cost to the interconnection process ,” said Don Wichert, RENEW’s interim Executive Director and study coordinator.  “Most of the renewable energy systems coming on line now are owned by non-utility generators. Fixing the problems in PSC 119 will lead to more renewable energy systems going in faster and at a lower cost. Supported by 86 companies, organizations, and individuals, RENEW’s petition identified 10 specific changes that, if adopted by the PSC, would align Wisconsin’s interconnection procedures with national best practices.    
 “Customer-owned renewable energy systems save ratepayers money in many ways”, said Wichert.  “Because they offset electrical needs right where the electricity is being used, distributed renewables supply clean electricity in a reliable and affordable manner, avoiding potentially expensive investments in central generating plants and costly transmission lines. Moreover, they create jobs and support local businesses.  These are all positive public policy goals”, Wichert said.  
RENEW’s petition can be accessed at RENEW’s web site (http://www.renewwisconsin.org/interconnection/interconnectionToolbox.htm) or at the PSCW’s electronic filing system under Docket No. 05-GF-233.

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

RENEW petitions PSC to improve interconnection rules

222 S. Hamilton, Madison, WI 53704

Immediate Release February 26, 2013
More Information

Don Wichert, Executive Director
608.255.4044, ext. 1

RENEW Petitions PSC to Improve Interconnection Rules
RENEW Wisconsin (RENEW) filed a petition on February 22 asking the Public Service Commission (PSCW) to simplify the process under which distributed generators can connect their generators to Wisconsin’s electrical grid. The vast majority of these small generating facilities are fueled with locally available renewable energy resources like biogas, solar, and wind.
RENEW’s filing grew out of a year-long study that assessed how Wisconsin’s 10-year old interconnection rule (PSC 119) compares with best practices established in other states.
“We found that  Wisconsin’s outdated rules hurts distributed generators by adding complexity, time, and cost to the interconnection process ,” said Don Wichert, RENEW’s interim Executive Director and study coordinator.  “Most of the renewable energy systems coming on line now are owned by non-utility generators. Fixing the problems in PSC 119 will lead to more renewable energy systems going in faster and at a lower cost. Supported by 86 companies, organizations, and individuals, RENEW’s petition identified 10 specific changes that, if adopted by the PSC, would align Wisconsin’s interconnection procedures with national best practices.    
 “Customer-owned renewable energy systems save ratepayers money in many ways”, said Wichert.  “Because they offset electrical needs right where the electricity is being used, distributed renewables supply clean electricity in a reliable and affordable manner, avoiding potentially expensive investments in central generating plants and costly transmission lines. Moreover, they create jobs and support local businesses.  These are all positive public policy goals”, Wichert said.  
RENEW’s petition can be accessed at RENEW’s web site (http://www.renewwisconsin.org/interconnection/interconnectionToolbox.htm) or at the PSCW’s electronic filing system under Docket No. 05-GF-233.

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

RENEW petitions PSC to improve interconnection rules

222 S. Hamilton, Madison, WI 53704

Immediate Release February 26, 2013
More Information

Don Wichert, Executive Director
608.255.4044, ext. 1

RENEW Petitions PSC to Improve Interconnection Rules
RENEW Wisconsin (RENEW) filed a petition on February 22 asking the Public Service Commission (PSCW) to simplify the process under which distributed generators can connect their generators to Wisconsin’s electrical grid. The vast majority of these small generating facilities are fueled with locally available renewable energy resources like biogas, solar, and wind.
RENEW’s filing grew out of a year-long study that assessed how Wisconsin’s 10-year old interconnection rule (PSC 119) compares with best practices established in other states.
“We found that  Wisconsin’s outdated rules hurts distributed generators by adding complexity, time, and cost to the interconnection process ,” said Don Wichert, RENEW’s interim Executive Director and study coordinator.  “Most of the renewable energy systems coming on line now are owned by non-utility generators. Fixing the problems in PSC 119 will lead to more renewable energy systems going in faster and at a lower cost. Supported by 86 companies, organizations, and individuals, RENEW’s petition identified 10 specific changes that, if adopted by the PSC, would align Wisconsin’s interconnection procedures with national best practices.    
 “Customer-owned renewable energy systems save ratepayers money in many ways”, said Wichert.  “Because they offset electrical needs right where the electricity is being used, distributed renewables supply clean electricity in a reliable and affordable manner, avoiding potentially expensive investments in central generating plants and costly transmission lines. Moreover, they create jobs and support local businesses.  These are all positive public policy goals”, Wichert said.  
RENEW’s petition can be accessed at RENEW’s web site (http://www.renewwisconsin.org/interconnection/interconnectionToolbox.htm) or at the PSCW’s electronic filing system under Docket No. 05-GF-233.

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

RENEW petitions PSC to improve interconnection rules

222 S. Hamilton, Madison, WI 53704

Immediate Release February 26, 2013
More Information

Don Wichert, Executive Director
608.255.4044, ext. 1

RENEW Petitions PSC to Improve Interconnection Rules
RENEW Wisconsin (RENEW) filed a petition on February 22 asking the Public Service Commission (PSCW) to simplify the process under which distributed generators can connect their generators to Wisconsin’s electrical grid. The vast majority of these small generating facilities are fueled with locally available renewable energy resources like biogas, solar, and wind.
RENEW’s filing grew out of a year-long study that assessed how Wisconsin’s 10-year old interconnection rule (PSC 119) compares with best practices established in other states.
“We found that  Wisconsin’s outdated rules hurts distributed generators by adding complexity, time, and cost to the interconnection process ,” said Don Wichert, RENEW’s interim Executive Director and study coordinator.  “Most of the renewable energy systems coming on line now are owned by non-utility generators. Fixing the problems in PSC 119 will lead to more renewable energy systems going in faster and at a lower cost. Supported by 86 companies, organizations, and individuals, RENEW’s petition identified 10 specific changes that, if adopted by the PSC, would align Wisconsin’s interconnection procedures with national best practices.    
 “Customer-owned renewable energy systems save ratepayers money in many ways”, said Wichert.  “Because they offset electrical needs right where the electricity is being used, distributed renewables supply clean electricity in a reliable and affordable manner, avoiding potentially expensive investments in central generating plants and costly transmission lines. Moreover, they create jobs and support local businesses.  These are all positive public policy goals”, Wichert said.  
RENEW’s petition can be accessed at RENEW’s web site (http://www.renewwisconsin.org/interconnection/interconnectionToolbox.htm) or at the PSCW’s electronic filing system under Docket No. 05-GF-233.

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

Monday, February 25, 2013

ACTION ALERT: Support Highland Wind Farm


ACTION ALERT – SUPPORT HIGHLAND WIND FARM

DATE:
February 25, 2013
SUBJECT:
Fate of Highland Wind Farm in St. Croix County Hangs in the Balance

In December 2011, Emerging Energies of Wisconsin filed an application with the Wisconsin Public Service Commission (PSC) for permission to construct the $250 million Highland Wind project in St. Croix County. If built, this 102 megawatt (MW) installation would generate enough zero-carbon electricity from its 41-44 turbines to power 30,000 residences.  Constructing Highland Wind would create more than 100 jobs, while operating and maintaining this facility would require six to eight full-time positions. In addition to its job creation impacts, Highland Wind would pump nearly $1 million each year into the local economy, in the form of both lease payments to host landowners as well as shared revenues to host townships and St. Croix County.

To date, Emerging Energies has invested six years and nearly $2 million on this project.  Highland Wind is the only large wind energy project currently in active development in Wisconsin. 

On February 14, 2013, the PSC issued a preliminary decision turning down Emerging Energies’ application to build Highland Wind.  In doing so, the PSC cited concerns over the level of measurable sound propagated by the turbines that could be detected at neighboring residences.  In a nutshell, the PSC wants stronger assurances that Highland Wind’s wind turbines would be able to operate without exceeding the maximum allowable sound emission levels at any time. The PSC will take up the Highland Wind case again at its next open meeting this coming Friday (March 1st).

On February 22, Emerging Energies filed a request to the PSC to submit additional evidence on the sound propagation issue. The filings came with several affidavits and exhibits to substantiate Emerging Energies’ assurances that the turbines can operate within the sound emissions limits likely to be specified by the PSC. According to Emerging Energies, compliance with sound emission limits will be achieved through the selection of a quieter wind turbine model, one equipped with operational controls that can automatically ramp down output when sensors detect atmospheric conditions conducive to high levels of sound propagation.  Emerging Energies’ filing can be accessed at the link below: http://psc.wi.gov/apps35/ERF_view/viewdoc.aspx?docid=181219

If this filing were accepted into evidence, the PSC would have both the factual foundation and a procedure for approving this project before March 25. As noted in Emerging Energies’ filing, approval of the project by March 25 is necessary to enable the developer to submit the project for consideration in Xcel Energy’s pending solicitation for an additional 200 MW of wind generating capacity.

On Monday February 25th, RENEW Wisconsin will file comments supporting Emerging Energies’ request to have its February 22 filing entered into the case record as evidence. RENEW also supports Applicant’s request to the Commission not to issue a final denial order in this proceeding, as well as its suggested procedures and related time frames for presenting additional evidence in a manner that allows the Commission to issue a final order by March 25.  The text of RENEW’s two-page filing appear below this Action Alert.
March 1st is a red-letter day for Highland Wind. Either the PSC will (1) accept Emerging Energies’ filing and with it documentation substantiating Highland Wind’s capacity to operate in full compliance with sound limits established by the PSC in this case, or (2) finalize its denial of Highland Wind.
If the PSC turns down Highland Wind, it’s a pretty safe bet that Emerging Energies will not submit another application to build in that location. A denial would also send a clear signal to all concerned that Wisconsin’s political climate has become positively radioactive for wind development. 
YOU CAN HELP! YOU CAN LET THE GOVERNOR’S OFFICE KNOW THAT YOU ARE AMONG THE 85% OF WISCONSIN RESIDENTS WHO SUPPORT THE DEVELOPMENT OF ENVIRONMENTALLY RESPONSIBLE RENEWABLE ENERGY PROJECTS LIKE HIGHLAND WIND.
Please contact Governor Scott Walker:  Phone (608) 266-1212 or e-mail  govgeneral@wisconsin.gov
ENVIRONMENTALLY RESPONSIBLE WINDPOWER PROJECTS ADVANCE THE PUBLIC INTEREST. NOW IS A GOOD TIME TO COMMUNICATE THAT MESSAGE TO THE GOVERNOR’S OFFICE.
Thank you for your thoughtful consideration of our request.
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++



BEFORE THE
PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION OF WISCONSIN

Application of Highland Wind Farm, LLC for a
Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity                                              Docket No. 2535-CE-100
To Construct a 102.5 MW Electric Generation
Facility and Associated Electric Facilities, to be
Located in the Towns of Forest and Cylon,
St. Croix County, Wisconsin


RENEW WISCONSIN’S COMMENTS ON HIGHLAND WIND FARM’S EMERGENCY REQUEST FOR LEAVE TO PRESENT ADDITIONAL EVIDENCE


RENEW Wisconsin respectfully requests the Commission consider the following comments in response to the Emergency Request filed by Highland Wind Farm LLC on February 22, 2013 (PSC REF# 181219). RENEW Wisconsin is an intervener in this proceeding.
RENEW Wisconsin has reviewed the Applicant’s Emergency Request as well as the exhibits and affidavits associated with that filing. Highland Wind’s filings address the central issue—the ability of this project to comply with applicable sound emission limits--that led to the Commission’s motion to deny the Application at its February 14, 2013 open meeting. Applicant’s Emergency Request asks the Commission not to issue a final order denying Highland Wind’s CPCN at its March 1st open meeting. Instead the Applicant asks the Commission to conduct further discussion of the evidence that is already in the record and, if necessary, to also consider the information contained in the Applicant’s filings as a basis for determining whether the Highland Wind project can comply with the sound limits established by the Commission. Based on our review, RENEW believes that this information warrants Commission consideration. We therefore support Applicant’s request for leave to present additional evidence, as well as its request to allow interveners to respond to its request prior to the next open meeting. RENEW also supports Applicant’s request to the Commission not to issue a final denial order in this proceeding, as well as its suggested procedures and related time frames for presenting additional evidence in a manner that allows the Commission to issue a final order by March 25. 

Discussion: RENEW supports the Applicant’s Emergency Request because we believe that operational curtailment is an appropriate and effective mitigation measure to ensure compliance with applicable sound emissions standards. In fact, we believe that operational curtailment is the most effective tool available to a windpower project operator for reducing sonic output from individual wind turbines to allowable levels. Of the many variables and factors that determine what levels of sound might be measurable at a residence near a wind turbine (e.g., wind speed differential at different elevations, barometric pressure, humidity, background sound levels), the only one that is fully under the project operator’s control is power production.  Operational curtailment limits power generation from turbines, which results in a reduction of sound emissions. The Commission is fully cognizant of the role that operational curtailment can play in controlling sound emissions, as demonstrated by the conditions it imposed on the Glacier Hills wind project in its January 2010 order and by the provisions it approved in the development of PSC 128. In the latter instance, PSC 128.14 explicitly allows project owners to use curtailment procedures to maintain sound emissions below the maximum allowable levels.
Many of today’s utility-scale wind turbines come equipped with automated curtailment protocols that are triggered under a variety of atmospheric conditions. The more sophisticated models can ratchet power production when sensors detect atmospheric conditions that could contribute to long-distance sound propagation. As stated in its Emergency Request, Highland Wind is committed to using only those wind turbine models that are programmed to curtail power output based on real-time atmospheric phenomena such as wind shear. This commitment should remove any lingering uncertainty over whether Highland Wind can operate in full compliance with the sound limits specified by the Commission in this proceeding.

Summary: Apart from the question of whether Highland Wind can comply with sound limits modeled for the Commission’s consideration, this project undeniably advances the public interest in terms of stimulating local economic development, diversifying our region’s resource portfolio, enhancing energy security, and reducing pollution caused by fossil generation sources. We believe that the Applicant is correct that the existing record supports issuance of a CPCN with appropriate conditions.  Moreover, the exhibits and affidavits submitted with Applicant’s Emergency Request fully address any lingering questions that the Commission might have about the project’s sound profile. For that reason, RENEW believes that these filings should be entered into evidence and made a part of the record, so that the Commission has a factually solid foundation for rendering a decision on Highland Wind.

Respectfully submitted this 25th day of February 2013. 

ACTION ALERT: Support Highland Wind Farm


ACTION ALERT – SUPPORT HIGHLAND WIND FARM

DATE:
February 25, 2013
SUBJECT:
Fate of Highland Wind Farm in St. Croix County Hangs in the Balance

In December 2011, Emerging Energies of Wisconsin filed an application with the Wisconsin Public Service Commission (PSC) for permission to construct the $250 million Highland Wind project in St. Croix County. If built, this 102 megawatt (MW) installation would generate enough zero-carbon electricity from its 41-44 turbines to power 30,000 residences.  Constructing Highland Wind would create more than 100 jobs, while operating and maintaining this facility would require six to eight full-time positions. In addition to its job creation impacts, Highland Wind would pump nearly $1 million each year into the local economy, in the form of both lease payments to host landowners as well as shared revenues to host townships and St. Croix County.

To date, Emerging Energies has invested six years and nearly $2 million on this project.  Highland Wind is the only large wind energy project currently in active development in Wisconsin. 

On February 14, 2013, the PSC issued a preliminary decision turning down Emerging Energies’ application to build Highland Wind.  In doing so, the PSC cited concerns over the level of measurable sound propagated by the turbines that could be detected at neighboring residences.  In a nutshell, the PSC wants stronger assurances that Highland Wind’s wind turbines would be able to operate without exceeding the maximum allowable sound emission levels at any time. The PSC will take up the Highland Wind case again at its next open meeting this coming Friday (March 1st).

On February 22, Emerging Energies filed a request to the PSC to submit additional evidence on the sound propagation issue. The filings came with several affidavits and exhibits to substantiate Emerging Energies’ assurances that the turbines can operate within the sound emissions limits likely to be specified by the PSC. According to Emerging Energies, compliance with sound emission limits will be achieved through the selection of a quieter wind turbine model, one equipped with operational controls that can automatically ramp down output when sensors detect atmospheric conditions conducive to high levels of sound propagation.  Emerging Energies’ filing can be accessed at the link below: http://psc.wi.gov/apps35/ERF_view/viewdoc.aspx?docid=181219

If this filing were accepted into evidence, the PSC would have both the factual foundation and a procedure for approving this project before March 25. As noted in Emerging Energies’ filing, approval of the project by March 25 is necessary to enable the developer to submit the project for consideration in Xcel Energy’s pending solicitation for an additional 200 MW of wind generating capacity.

On Monday February 25th, RENEW Wisconsin will file comments supporting Emerging Energies’ request to have its February 22 filing entered into the case record as evidence. RENEW also supports Applicant’s request to the Commission not to issue a final denial order in this proceeding, as well as its suggested procedures and related time frames for presenting additional evidence in a manner that allows the Commission to issue a final order by March 25.  The text of RENEW’s two-page filing appear below this Action Alert.
March 1st is a red-letter day for Highland Wind. Either the PSC will (1) accept Emerging Energies’ filing and with it documentation substantiating Highland Wind’s capacity to operate in full compliance with sound limits established by the PSC in this case, or (2) finalize its denial of Highland Wind.
If the PSC turns down Highland Wind, it’s a pretty safe bet that Emerging Energies will not submit another application to build in that location. A denial would also send a clear signal to all concerned that Wisconsin’s political climate has become positively radioactive for wind development. 
YOU CAN HELP! YOU CAN LET THE GOVERNOR’S OFFICE KNOW THAT YOU ARE AMONG THE 85% OF WISCONSIN RESIDENTS WHO SUPPORT THE DEVELOPMENT OF ENVIRONMENTALLY RESPONSIBLE RENEWABLE ENERGY PROJECTS LIKE HIGHLAND WIND.
Please contact Governor Scott Walker:  Phone (608) 266-1212 or e-mail  govgeneral@wisconsin.gov
ENVIRONMENTALLY RESPONSIBLE WINDPOWER PROJECTS ADVANCE THE PUBLIC INTEREST. NOW IS A GOOD TIME TO COMMUNICATE THAT MESSAGE TO THE GOVERNOR’S OFFICE.
Thank you for your thoughtful consideration of our request.
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++



BEFORE THE
PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION OF WISCONSIN

Application of Highland Wind Farm, LLC for a
Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity                                              Docket No. 2535-CE-100
To Construct a 102.5 MW Electric Generation
Facility and Associated Electric Facilities, to be
Located in the Towns of Forest and Cylon,
St. Croix County, Wisconsin


RENEW WISCONSIN’S COMMENTS ON HIGHLAND WIND FARM’S EMERGENCY REQUEST FOR LEAVE TO PRESENT ADDITIONAL EVIDENCE


RENEW Wisconsin respectfully requests the Commission consider the following comments in response to the Emergency Request filed by Highland Wind Farm LLC on February 22, 2013 (PSC REF# 181219). RENEW Wisconsin is an intervener in this proceeding.
RENEW Wisconsin has reviewed the Applicant’s Emergency Request as well as the exhibits and affidavits associated with that filing. Highland Wind’s filings address the central issue—the ability of this project to comply with applicable sound emission limits--that led to the Commission’s motion to deny the Application at its February 14, 2013 open meeting. Applicant’s Emergency Request asks the Commission not to issue a final order denying Highland Wind’s CPCN at its March 1st open meeting. Instead the Applicant asks the Commission to conduct further discussion of the evidence that is already in the record and, if necessary, to also consider the information contained in the Applicant’s filings as a basis for determining whether the Highland Wind project can comply with the sound limits established by the Commission. Based on our review, RENEW believes that this information warrants Commission consideration. We therefore support Applicant’s request for leave to present additional evidence, as well as its request to allow interveners to respond to its request prior to the next open meeting. RENEW also supports Applicant’s request to the Commission not to issue a final denial order in this proceeding, as well as its suggested procedures and related time frames for presenting additional evidence in a manner that allows the Commission to issue a final order by March 25. 

Discussion: RENEW supports the Applicant’s Emergency Request because we believe that operational curtailment is an appropriate and effective mitigation measure to ensure compliance with applicable sound emissions standards. In fact, we believe that operational curtailment is the most effective tool available to a windpower project operator for reducing sonic output from individual wind turbines to allowable levels. Of the many variables and factors that determine what levels of sound might be measurable at a residence near a wind turbine (e.g., wind speed differential at different elevations, barometric pressure, humidity, background sound levels), the only one that is fully under the project operator’s control is power production.  Operational curtailment limits power generation from turbines, which results in a reduction of sound emissions. The Commission is fully cognizant of the role that operational curtailment can play in controlling sound emissions, as demonstrated by the conditions it imposed on the Glacier Hills wind project in its January 2010 order and by the provisions it approved in the development of PSC 128. In the latter instance, PSC 128.14 explicitly allows project owners to use curtailment procedures to maintain sound emissions below the maximum allowable levels.
Many of today’s utility-scale wind turbines come equipped with automated curtailment protocols that are triggered under a variety of atmospheric conditions. The more sophisticated models can ratchet power production when sensors detect atmospheric conditions that could contribute to long-distance sound propagation. As stated in its Emergency Request, Highland Wind is committed to using only those wind turbine models that are programmed to curtail power output based on real-time atmospheric phenomena such as wind shear. This commitment should remove any lingering uncertainty over whether Highland Wind can operate in full compliance with the sound limits specified by the Commission in this proceeding.

Summary: Apart from the question of whether Highland Wind can comply with sound limits modeled for the Commission’s consideration, this project undeniably advances the public interest in terms of stimulating local economic development, diversifying our region’s resource portfolio, enhancing energy security, and reducing pollution caused by fossil generation sources. We believe that the Applicant is correct that the existing record supports issuance of a CPCN with appropriate conditions.  Moreover, the exhibits and affidavits submitted with Applicant’s Emergency Request fully address any lingering questions that the Commission might have about the project’s sound profile. For that reason, RENEW believes that these filings should be entered into evidence and made a part of the record, so that the Commission has a factually solid foundation for rendering a decision on Highland Wind.

Respectfully submitted this 25th day of February 2013. 

ACTION ALERT: Support Highland Wind Farm


ACTION ALERT – SUPPORT HIGHLAND WIND FARM

DATE:
February 25, 2013
SUBJECT:
Fate of Highland Wind Farm in St. Croix County Hangs in the Balance

In December 2011, Emerging Energies of Wisconsin filed an application with the Wisconsin Public Service Commission (PSC) for permission to construct the $250 million Highland Wind project in St. Croix County. If built, this 102 megawatt (MW) installation would generate enough zero-carbon electricity from its 41-44 turbines to power 30,000 residences.  Constructing Highland Wind would create more than 100 jobs, while operating and maintaining this facility would require six to eight full-time positions. In addition to its job creation impacts, Highland Wind would pump nearly $1 million each year into the local economy, in the form of both lease payments to host landowners as well as shared revenues to host townships and St. Croix County.

To date, Emerging Energies has invested six years and nearly $2 million on this project.  Highland Wind is the only large wind energy project currently in active development in Wisconsin. 

On February 14, 2013, the PSC issued a preliminary decision turning down Emerging Energies’ application to build Highland Wind.  In doing so, the PSC cited concerns over the level of measurable sound propagated by the turbines that could be detected at neighboring residences.  In a nutshell, the PSC wants stronger assurances that Highland Wind’s wind turbines would be able to operate without exceeding the maximum allowable sound emission levels at any time. The PSC will take up the Highland Wind case again at its next open meeting this coming Friday (March 1st).

On February 22, Emerging Energies filed a request to the PSC to submit additional evidence on the sound propagation issue. The filings came with several affidavits and exhibits to substantiate Emerging Energies’ assurances that the turbines can operate within the sound emissions limits likely to be specified by the PSC. According to Emerging Energies, compliance with sound emission limits will be achieved through the selection of a quieter wind turbine model, one equipped with operational controls that can automatically ramp down output when sensors detect atmospheric conditions conducive to high levels of sound propagation.  Emerging Energies’ filing can be accessed at the link below: http://psc.wi.gov/apps35/ERF_view/viewdoc.aspx?docid=181219

If this filing were accepted into evidence, the PSC would have both the factual foundation and a procedure for approving this project before March 25. As noted in Emerging Energies’ filing, approval of the project by March 25 is necessary to enable the developer to submit the project for consideration in Xcel Energy’s pending solicitation for an additional 200 MW of wind generating capacity.

On Monday February 25th, RENEW Wisconsin will file comments supporting Emerging Energies’ request to have its February 22 filing entered into the case record as evidence. RENEW also supports Applicant’s request to the Commission not to issue a final denial order in this proceeding, as well as its suggested procedures and related time frames for presenting additional evidence in a manner that allows the Commission to issue a final order by March 25.  The text of RENEW’s two-page filing appear below this Action Alert.
March 1st is a red-letter day for Highland Wind. Either the PSC will (1) accept Emerging Energies’ filing and with it documentation substantiating Highland Wind’s capacity to operate in full compliance with sound limits established by the PSC in this case, or (2) finalize its denial of Highland Wind.
If the PSC turns down Highland Wind, it’s a pretty safe bet that Emerging Energies will not submit another application to build in that location. A denial would also send a clear signal to all concerned that Wisconsin’s political climate has become positively radioactive for wind development. 
YOU CAN HELP! YOU CAN LET THE GOVERNOR’S OFFICE KNOW THAT YOU ARE AMONG THE 85% OF WISCONSIN RESIDENTS WHO SUPPORT THE DEVELOPMENT OF ENVIRONMENTALLY RESPONSIBLE RENEWABLE ENERGY PROJECTS LIKE HIGHLAND WIND.
Please contact Governor Scott Walker:  Phone (608) 266-1212 or e-mail  govgeneral@wisconsin.gov
ENVIRONMENTALLY RESPONSIBLE WINDPOWER PROJECTS ADVANCE THE PUBLIC INTEREST. NOW IS A GOOD TIME TO COMMUNICATE THAT MESSAGE TO THE GOVERNOR’S OFFICE.
Thank you for your thoughtful consideration of our request.
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++



BEFORE THE
PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION OF WISCONSIN

Application of Highland Wind Farm, LLC for a
Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity                                              Docket No. 2535-CE-100
To Construct a 102.5 MW Electric Generation
Facility and Associated Electric Facilities, to be
Located in the Towns of Forest and Cylon,
St. Croix County, Wisconsin


RENEW WISCONSIN’S COMMENTS ON HIGHLAND WIND FARM’S EMERGENCY REQUEST FOR LEAVE TO PRESENT ADDITIONAL EVIDENCE


RENEW Wisconsin respectfully requests the Commission consider the following comments in response to the Emergency Request filed by Highland Wind Farm LLC on February 22, 2013 (PSC REF# 181219). RENEW Wisconsin is an intervener in this proceeding.
RENEW Wisconsin has reviewed the Applicant’s Emergency Request as well as the exhibits and affidavits associated with that filing. Highland Wind’s filings address the central issue—the ability of this project to comply with applicable sound emission limits--that led to the Commission’s motion to deny the Application at its February 14, 2013 open meeting. Applicant’s Emergency Request asks the Commission not to issue a final order denying Highland Wind’s CPCN at its March 1st open meeting. Instead the Applicant asks the Commission to conduct further discussion of the evidence that is already in the record and, if necessary, to also consider the information contained in the Applicant’s filings as a basis for determining whether the Highland Wind project can comply with the sound limits established by the Commission. Based on our review, RENEW believes that this information warrants Commission consideration. We therefore support Applicant’s request for leave to present additional evidence, as well as its request to allow interveners to respond to its request prior to the next open meeting. RENEW also supports Applicant’s request to the Commission not to issue a final denial order in this proceeding, as well as its suggested procedures and related time frames for presenting additional evidence in a manner that allows the Commission to issue a final order by March 25. 

Discussion: RENEW supports the Applicant’s Emergency Request because we believe that operational curtailment is an appropriate and effective mitigation measure to ensure compliance with applicable sound emissions standards. In fact, we believe that operational curtailment is the most effective tool available to a windpower project operator for reducing sonic output from individual wind turbines to allowable levels. Of the many variables and factors that determine what levels of sound might be measurable at a residence near a wind turbine (e.g., wind speed differential at different elevations, barometric pressure, humidity, background sound levels), the only one that is fully under the project operator’s control is power production.  Operational curtailment limits power generation from turbines, which results in a reduction of sound emissions. The Commission is fully cognizant of the role that operational curtailment can play in controlling sound emissions, as demonstrated by the conditions it imposed on the Glacier Hills wind project in its January 2010 order and by the provisions it approved in the development of PSC 128. In the latter instance, PSC 128.14 explicitly allows project owners to use curtailment procedures to maintain sound emissions below the maximum allowable levels.
Many of today’s utility-scale wind turbines come equipped with automated curtailment protocols that are triggered under a variety of atmospheric conditions. The more sophisticated models can ratchet power production when sensors detect atmospheric conditions that could contribute to long-distance sound propagation. As stated in its Emergency Request, Highland Wind is committed to using only those wind turbine models that are programmed to curtail power output based on real-time atmospheric phenomena such as wind shear. This commitment should remove any lingering uncertainty over whether Highland Wind can operate in full compliance with the sound limits specified by the Commission in this proceeding.

Summary: Apart from the question of whether Highland Wind can comply with sound limits modeled for the Commission’s consideration, this project undeniably advances the public interest in terms of stimulating local economic development, diversifying our region’s resource portfolio, enhancing energy security, and reducing pollution caused by fossil generation sources. We believe that the Applicant is correct that the existing record supports issuance of a CPCN with appropriate conditions.  Moreover, the exhibits and affidavits submitted with Applicant’s Emergency Request fully address any lingering questions that the Commission might have about the project’s sound profile. For that reason, RENEW believes that these filings should be entered into evidence and made a part of the record, so that the Commission has a factually solid foundation for rendering a decision on Highland Wind.

Respectfully submitted this 25th day of February 2013. 

Thursday, February 21, 2013

January 2013: 100% new energy generating capacity was renewable

This brief article was originally posted room the Iowa Energy Center. See the original article here.

The U.S. Federal Energy Regulation Commission (FERC) reports that in January 2013, 100 percent of new electric generating capacity was renewable. The full dataset from FERC outlines the January additions: 958 megawatts of wind, 267 of solar, and 6 megawatts of biomass, totaling 1,231 megawatts of capacity.



The megawatts of wind and solar from January 2013 outnumbered the megawatts of natural gas and coal in January 2012. While this is exciting news, it is unlikely that this renewable-only trend will continue for the rest of 2013.

Below are two pie charts showing the new capacity in January 2012  and the new capacity in January 2013. Click on the charts for interactive content courtesy of grist.com.


Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Dairy power: GreenWhey to open $28 million food waste-to-energy project

A new digester project is a great addition to Wisconsin's renewable energy. This article comes from Thomas Content, and was originally posted on the Journal Sentinel on Feb. 18, 2013.

Byproducts of cheese production will be converted into electricity, heat and a fertilizer product in northwest Wisconsin, as part of a renewable energy project that is expected to be completed this summer.

Project developers say the anaerobic digester will be among the largest of its kind in the country. The project is moving forward after obtaining construction and long-term financing, GreenWhey Energy said.

GreenWhey is combining a wastewater treatment facility that will bring organic waste from cheese and dairy producers to a central facility to treat the waste and generate power.

The project, under construction in Turtle Lake, about 70 miles northwest of Eau Claire, will sell its electricity to Xcel Energy Inc. in Eau Claire.

Supporters of anaerobic digester projects for the food industry note that the projects derive multiple benefits, including reduced landspreading of waste that contributes to phosphorus runoff.

The project will provide 50 to 70 construction jobs as well as up to 13 full-time operating jobs.

The $28 million project is being financed through a combination of senior loan financing from Caterpillar Financial Services as well as new markets tax credit financing from CAP Services Inc. The project will also qualify for a federal grant once construction is completed, with bridge financing in turn supplied by the Wisconsin State Energy Program, which is administered by the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp.

See the original posting of this article here.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Third-Party Residential Solar Surging in California; Nearly a Billion-Dollar Business


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Friday, February 15, 2013

Wind farm proposal rejected, developer plans another try

More on the Highland Wind Farm PSC decision: an article by Thomas Content of the Journal Sentinel:

State regulators on Thursday rejected an application to build a new wind farm in St. Croix County, citing concerns about turbine noise the project would generate for nearby homes.

The state Public Service Commission voted 2-to-1 to reject Emerging Energies’ proposal to build the Highland wind farm, which was proposed to generate 102.5 megawatts of power from 41 turbines, or eough to supply about 30,000 homes.

Commissioners said that they were rejecting the proposal “without prejudice,” in essence leaving the door open for the developer to file a new application for the project, after it conducts a new noise study using more conservative assumptions about the background noise in the area.

The $250 million Highland project is the first wind farm to be ruled on by the state commission since Republican Gov. Scott Walker appointed two commissioners, a majority of the three-member panel.

Emerging Energies representative Jay Mundinger said after the vote the developer plans to continue its pursuit of a permit for the project.

Commissioner Eric Callisto, the lone remaining appointee of former Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle, said he would have approved the project but would have attached conditions binding the developer to protect nearby landowners from excessive turbine noise.

Noise studies by the applicant found that 20 homes would experience noise levels above the 45 decibel standard at night, but the commission could work with the developer on "micro-siting" issues after new analysis was done, he said.

The Highland project is the only large wind energy project currently in active development in the state. The state’s utilities have already built enough wind farms to comply with the Wisconsin renewable portfolio standard, which requires that 10% of the state’s electricity come from renewable sources by 2015.

During the commission’s meeting in Madison, commissioner Ellen Nowak said the applicant didn’t prove that all the wind project would result in noise levels below 45 decibels at night, the standard that’s in Wisconsin’s wind siting rule.

As a result, she said she concluded the project was not in the public interest.

In their decision, the PSC commissioners decided not to attach special requirements concerning low-frequency noise, after wind consultants studied the impacts of low frequency noise from wind turbines the same developer built near Green Bay.

Reached after the meeting, Mundinger said Emerging Energies would take the commissioners' noise concerns into account but was not giving up on the project.

“We believe that sound, from what we’ve heard, is a big concern, and we believe we can address that and we believe we have a pathway to get the (project permit) in short form,” he said. "We want to make sure we address the sound and be able to move this project forward.”

The company has offered not to use the kind of turbine that it used when developing the Brown County wind farm -- the tallest towers built so far in Wisconsin. Instead, Emerging Emergies has agreed to use two other turbines that don’t generate as much sound, he said.

PSC commissioners said they would not approve the project if it used the loudest of the three turbines Emerging Energies had been considering.

“The turbines are better than ever before,” Mundinger said. “They’re quieter than the ones just 10 years ago.”

Peter McKeever, attorney for the Forest Voice, a group that mobilized in opposition to the wind farm,said he was pleased with the commission’s decision.

Wind farms are difficult to build in Wisconsin because the state’s dairy farming heritage and land use history resulted in smaller farms being closer together rather than large farms that are farther apart on the Great Plains, he said.

“If we want wind to be a really viable energy source we have to get smart about siting wind farms in Wisconsin,” he said.

The state should be leery of developing projects where homeowners could experience problems similar to those found in the Green Bay area project, McKeever said.

At issue in this case is one of the variables in that model – an estimate of how much sound would be absorbed by the ground when the wind turbines are spinning.

In this case, the commission essentially asked Emerging Energies to assume a worst-case scenario:  That the 45-decibel standard will be met at all times, even when there is totally reflective ground – hard frozen ground with no snow or vegetation on it.

The commission adopted a more stringent noise requirement than it did when it approved its most recent wind farm, the We Energies Glacier Hills Wind Park, in 2010, said Katie Nekola, general counsel at the conservation group Clean Wisconsin. However, in that case, there was no challenge to the assumptions used by We Energies in its turbine noise modeling.

She expressed hope that the decision would be a temporary setback for the Highland project.

See the original posting of this article here.