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Tuesday, September 22, 2015

2015 Ride with RENEW: Our Biggest, and Best One Yet!

Gaea's Farm Wind Turbines
Our 3rd annual Ride with RENEW took place this past Sunday, September 20th and was a great success! We had beautiful weather, saw some great renewable energy installations, and not only did we meet our $15,000 fundraising goal, we passed it!

RENEW would like to thank all of you who sent your support and donations to us for our Ride with RENEW bike tour event. So far, 212 of you donated over $15,000 to support this event and work toward a clean, renewable energy future in Wisconsin. Thanks to you, we were able to meet John and Mary Frantz’s fundraising challenge of $15,000 which they agreed to match, bringing our total to over $30,000! We are humbled by John and Mary’s continued generosity towards RENEW Wisconsin, and thank them for all their support over the years.

We also had our highest biker turn out ever, with 36 riders joining us in Lake Geneva! Thank you to everyone who came out and rode for renewable energy.

We want to share with you some of the highlights of the bike ride, so we created a photo album on our Facebook page.

The 2015 Ride, our third annual, was our biggest and best one yet!

6 excellent renewable energy stops
36 riders
24 miles ridden by each rider
4 riders rode an extra 12 miles out to the solar farm, while the rest met us there by car
About 850 kilowatts of renewable energy capacity visited
Special thanks to our sponsors featured below, plus Potbelly's and Jimmy Johns for lunch: 

Ride Summary

Johnson LEED Platinum House
We began our journey with the toughest segment of hills, up to the LEED Platinum certified house of Steve & Karen Johnson of Convergence Energy, our co-host. Steve showed us his beautiful home, as well as the solar PV installation on his garage.

From there we ventured over to Gaea’s Farm on State Line Road. Gaea’s Farm provides stable space for horse owners, and also has an arena for shows. The net-zero energy facility includes 100 kW of solar, two small wind turbines, and geothermal pipes which keep the horse barn cool in the summer and warm in the winter.

Next, we stopped by Easy Living Equine Sanctuary, a horse rescue operation. Here, we not only viewed another excellent solar installation, but we had lunch (thanks Convergence Energy, Jimmy Johns, and Potbelly for your contributions!) with a great view and made friends with some of the horses. 

After that, we visited Engerman Contracting, who installed its own solar panels after installing clean energy for several clients. Our last stop on the main loop was the Franke residence, an Engerman client with solar shingles on their roof.
Solar Farm at Osborn Property

Then, four people biked and the rest of us drove out to the Convergence Energy solar farm, hosted on the property of Dan and Sandy Osborn.  The solar farm is 680 kilowatts of solar, one of the largest solar installations in the state of Wisconsin. 

All in all, it was a fantastic Sunday at the end of September, riding for a really great cause and fun adventure.  Many thanks to all who participated as riders, sponsors, supporters, logistic planners, and renewable site owners. Special thanks to John and Mary Frantz who are doubling the efforts of all our Ride sponsors with their match, and also to John Kivlin and Steve Johnson of Convergence Energy, who did a wonderful job planning our route and stops for the day.

If you donated $35 or more, you are now considered a member of RENEW and we are happy to have you with us. You will receive e-newsletters from us and can keep up to date via our website and blog. We have a number of events coming up around the state, so be sure to check out our events calendar.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Eau Claire City Commission Opposes Xcel Fixed Charge Hike

Consistent with other Wisconsin investor-owned utilities in recent years, Xcel Energy is seeking  approval from the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (PSCW) to increase mandatory monthly customer charges from $8 to $18. As reported in an article in today's Eau Claire Leader Telegram, an Eau Claire City Commission voted 6-0 on Tuesday to oppose the utility's electric rate proposal. The resolution will soon be taken up by Eau Claire's City Council.

As of today, the PSCW is the only state utility commission in the nation to have approved radically higher monthly fixed charges for small customers.

Utilities in other states are seeking higher fixed charges, consistent with the industry playbook to protect their revenue, reduce the savings from energy conservation efforts, and discourage customers from tapping into the power of the sun.

However, as highlighted by the table below, other utility commissions have rejected similar proposals to radically redesign rates, and their decisions dramatically depart form the regressive example set by the PSCW.

When compared with the rate design decisions reached in other states, Wisconsin is clearly the outlier here.

Below are links to some great news coverage of yesterday's Public Hearing on Xcel's proposal in Menomonie, where residents and members of AARP and local social justice group JONAH spoke in opposition of the proposal as unfairly harming those on low or fixed incomes:

-Eau Claire's WEAU
-The Chippewa Herald

See the tables below for approved monthly charge increases in Wisconsin and the nation.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Bloomberg Lays Bare Walker's Sorry Record on Renewables

Alex Nussbaum of Bloomberg News published an article on Wednesday telling the nation what we Wisconsinites already know: when it comes to renewables, Governor and Republican presidential candidate Scott Walker has made it harder for renewable energy businesses here than any other Midwestern state.

The article opens: "Scott Walker's up-and-down campaign for the Republican presidential nod has produced at least one constant: As far as wind and solar developers are concerned, the Wisconsin governor may be the worst man for the job."

Read the full article here, which includes quotes from RENEW's Executive Director Tyler Huebner, and Board Member Amy Heart of The Alliance for Solar Choice.

Below are some graphs from the Bloomberg article showing how Wisconsin is lagging behind our Midwestern neighbors in both wind and solar development under Governor Walker's administration.