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Friday, April 25, 2014

St. Francis Convent Solar Project in the News

FOX 11′s Emily Deem spent Thursday morning at the St. Francis Convent to learn all about a new solar power project! Watch the video

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Ground Broken on Green Bay’s Largest Solar Array

Largest Project in State Serving a Religious Community

The Sisters of St. Francis of the Holy Cross will soon become powered by the largest solar array in Green Bay and the third largest in Brown County.

Work has commenced on a 416-panel, ground-mounted solar system that will start producing electricity for the convent in May. At 112 kilowatts (kW), the array will be the 18th largest in the state and the largest to date hosted by a religious community.

Green Bay-based Eland Electric is the general contractor for this project. Eland has also constructed two other solar systems in Brown County larger than 100 kW, both on company rooftops. 

“The Sisters of St. Francis have decided to take control of their energy costs with solar power, and by doing so expect to save an estimated $500,000 over the next 20 to 25 years,” said RENEW Wisconsin’s Executive Director Tyler Huebner. “This is the big advantage of solar energy: once the system is installed, the energy is practically free for years to come. Their actions will also yield economic dividends for the businesses and workers involved with this project. We also applaud the Sisters of St. Francis’ educational mission to help others learn about and consider renewable energy resources.”

In partnership with Eland Electric, RENEW Wisconsin, a nonprofit clean energy advocacy and education organization, will host a casual early evening event on Thursday, May 1st at the Barkhausen Waterfowl Preserve in Suamico. RENEW’s meet-and-greet will run from 4:00 PM to 7:00 PM.

Featuring 920 acres of forest, meadows and wetlands, the Barkhausen is powered by a large outdoor (30’ tall freestanding) solar array and two trackers installed by Eland Electric. Barkhausen’s solar system totals 21.2 kW.

“We invite the public to learn more about Wisconsin’s renewable energy landscape in a beautiful setting powered by solar energy,” Huebner said. 

Monday, April 21, 2014

Wisconsin needs ambitious clean energy goal : Wisconsin State Journal

Wisconsin needs ambitious clean energy goal : WSJ

See also the April 27, 2014 response by Keith Reopelle, Clean Wisconsin

The paramount environmental issue this Earth Day, which arrives Tuesday, is climate change. Wisconsin, our nation and the world need solid steps forward to stem the worst impacts of rising temperatures.

The most recent report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change suggests the world could quickly transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy and lose just 0.06 percent of annual economic growth.

But the IPCC’s rosy prediction ignores some realities. Foremost, many industrial nations, including the United States, lack the political will to make such wholesale changes.

Yet change is possible and necessary. Even as nations search for common ground, state and local actions hold promise.


Monday, April 14, 2014

Natural Gas Mythology Faces Stiffest Test Yet

Note: This post continues our look at the U.S. natural gas market picture, which was turned upside-down by the coldest winter in a generation. It is my thesis that the “natural gas miracle” story leaves us unprepared for the day when inescapable geological and financial realities collide. --Michael Vickerman

The natural gas injection season has begun. Last week, EIA reported a net build of 4 billion cubic feet (bcf) in storage, raising inventories from 822 bcf to 826 bcf. One would have to go back to early 2003 to find stored natural gas levels this low.

Since the heating season began last November, a record-setting three trillion cubic feet (tcf) of natural gas was pulled out of storage to keep this country from freezing over during the 2013-2014 winter. That total is almost 50% larger than the 2012-2013 drawdown, which reflected a statistically average heating season.

The question arises: can injections of natural gas between now and early November bring storage volumes back to recent norms without a significant price increase? That is the question posed by Jim Hansen in his April 11, 2014, edition of Ravenna Capital Management’s Master Resource Report. While Jim’s newsletter is always worth reading, this issue in particular stands out in its comprehensive look at the dynamics affecting natural gas supplies for the remainder of this year. The opening paragraph sets up the discussion perfectly:

“Will shale gas be able ride to the rescue of natural gas storage by next fall and keep natural gas both cheap and abundant? The market for the last few weeks appears to be saying that supply will ride over the hill just in time to save the day. This week’s report looks at how likely it is the shale gas cavalry will show up and save the day.”

Jim’s superb discussion of this complex and evolving story leaves little room for embellishment or clarification. It’s worth pointing out, however, that we have already gone through three months of increased natural gas output this year, as projected by U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), yet still we find ourselves looking out of a three tcf hole. Marketed output this January exceeded last year’s totals by 4%. As impressive as that increase sounds, it was more than offset by the drawdown in supply that month. Ditto February and March. Whatever increase in output that occurred in those two months was wiped away completely by the record cold.

EIA predicts that storage levels will rebound by 2.6 tcf this year, leaving us with 3.4 tcf for the next heating season. Never before have energy companies managed to inject such a large volume of gas into storage in such a short period of time. Yet Wall Street’s reaction in facing up to this herculean task remains decidedly ho-hum. Traders are content to coast along with prices averaging 4.50/MMBtu. This is the sort of complacency that invites skeptics like myself to think about the all the unsinkable ships in history now in permanent residence on the ocean bottom.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Vernon Electric developing Wisconsin's first Community solar farm

The pace of customers signing up to participate in this venture is impressive. In the nine days following the official roll-out, about one-third of the solar panels have been subscribed, according to Clean Energy Collective, the developer of Vernon Electric Cooperative's array.
Vernon Electric Cooperative (VEC) is bringing community-owned solar to Wisconsin. In partnership with national community solar developer Clean Energy Collective (CEC), VEC will provide any member in its service territory the opportunity to own individual panels in a new locally-sited, utility-scale solar PV array. This is the first community-owned solar facility under construction in the state of Wisconsin. 
The Vernon Electric Community Solar Farm, a 305 kW, 1001-panel clean power facility will be built at VEC’s headquarters in Westby. Through CEC’s model, any member of VEC can purchase panels from the shared farm — as few as one or enough to completely offset the energy demands of a home or business. Credit for the power produced will be provided directly on their monthly utility bills.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Wisconsin Senate passes 50% Renewable Energy Standard!!!

In a very surprising move on Monday, March 31st, the Wisconsin Senate took up and passed an updated “renewable energy standard” that would put Wisconsin among the top 4 states nationally. The new target is to get 50% of our state’s electricity from renewables by 2030. Wisconsin’s current renewable energy standard of 10% by 2015 is currently the lowest of any state which has such a target.

The impetus for the quick action appears to be that the Wisconsin Badgers men’s basketball team made the Final Four over the weekend. “The Badgers are in the Final Four. Not Minnesota, not Iowa, not any team from Michigan, not Illinois. I just couldn't stomach the fact that we were dead last in renewable energy standards but the among the best in basketball,” said a leading Republican Senator. “I love basketball, but renewable energy is just as important, and it takes us as legislators making good policy for our state to make this happen!”

Iowa already gets over 25% of its electricity from wind power, and Minnesota and Illinois are on track to reach 25% by 2025. The new standard would leap Wisconsin past these neighbors and into a leading position nationally. "These states can't beat us in basketball so they shouldn't beat us in renewable energy, either," said the Senator.

The Assembly is expected to return for a special session just to vote on this bill!

RENEW Wisconsin will keep you apprised as more details emerge on this fast-breaking news.

If you've made it this far, we appreciate your interest in renewable energy, but it's time to break the news to you....

Happy April Fools Day!