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Thursday, September 28, 2017

Site Visit to HellermannTyton's Milwaukee Factory

by Tyler Huebner

Last month, Nick Korth, the Product Marketing Manager for Energy at HellermannTyton, invited me to visit their Milwaukee factory.

This is an impressive operation.  HellermannTyton manufactures and distributes a number of parts that make solar installations possible, all across America.
Nick Korth of HellermanTyton shows off a very small clip, for which
thousands would be used for a single utility-scale solar project.  In his
hand is a sample kit of zip ties, plastic parts, and safety labels used to
comply with electrical codes for solar projects of all sizes.

From zip ties for wire management to small clips that are used in each panel, HellermannTyton makes millions of these small parts which go in everything from rooftop solar for homes to utility scale projects.

The company is also a leader in ensuring compliance with electrical codes.  From wire management to labeling, the company helps solar installers ensure their projects are installed correctly and safely.

HellermannTyton makes this equipment right in Wisconsin, but sells it to solar projects all over the country.  They have a number of assembly lines with huge presses for making both plastic and metal parts.

In addition, the company makes wire management systems for automobiles. Nick explained how the system below is for a modern gasoline-powered vehicle.  He said the same types of wire harnesses for electric cars are at about twice as long and twice as thick.

HellermannTyton is one example of many Wisconsin-based companies building the parts necessary to enable a clean energy transition, both for solar power and electric vehicles.  Thank you, Nick, for the tour and education, and we look forward to seeing your products in more and more Wisconsin-based projects in the years to come!

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Press Release: New ‘Solar for Good’ program to fund Wisconsin nonprofit organizations to install solar energy

Wednesday September 20, 2017, Madison.

For Immediate Release

For More Information
Katherine Klausing, RENEW Wisconsin
608-255-4044 x5, 614-406-1105

Solar for Good, a new initiative from the renewable energy advocates at RENEW Wisconsin, will offer grant funding to assist mission-based Wisconsin nonprofit organizations with installing solar panels on their facilities.

The grant program was created and funded entirely by a donation from local philanthropists Cal and Laurie Couillard of Deerfield.

With solar installation costs falling dramatically and public enthusiasm on the rise, more and more people and businesses have installed solar in recent years, and the program seeks to expand the benefits of solar to not-for-profit organizations.

“We know that the solar energy boom is having a positive impact on our Wisconsin communities, from creating good local jobs to cleaning our air and water,” said Tyler Huebner, Executive Director of RENEW Wisconsin. “That’s why we are very excited to help more nonprofit organizations and houses of worship, who are working every day to improve our communities, join the solar movement.”

Solar for Good will award a total of $125,000 in grants to nonprofit organizations and houses of worship to assist them in installing solar electricity systems. The grant program will fund up to 20% of the cost of a solar project, with a grant cap of $10,000 for solar projects sized less than 75 kW and a grant cap of $20,000 for projects 75 kW and above. Solar for Good will also offer small grants for technical assistance, including professional solar site assessments and engineering services, to get projects started and see them through to success.

By installing their own solar projects, these organizations will be able to generate their own clean, renewable energy, save money on their utility bills, and reinvest the energy cost savings back into their missions.

RENEW Wisconsin and Solar for Good aim to use the grants to help organizations going solar to spread the word about their solar investments and educate their communities about the benefits of solar energy.

The cost of installing solar panels has fallen by over half in the past five years. With these lower costs, we have an opportunity to make sure that all segments of our community can receive the many benefits of solar energy, including a lower electricity bill and an energy source we can feel good about,” said Katherine Klausing, Engagement Manager at RENEW Wisconsin.  “As leaders and messengers, these organizations can demonstrate how solar energy really benefits everyone, not just the traditional ‘early-adopters’.”

The fund was started by a single family, “but their dream is that we would grow this initiative beyond a single round of funding,” added Huebner. “If there are other philanthropists out there who care about renewable energy and want to invest in local community organizations, we encourage them to reach out to RENEW Wisconsin and consider supporting this new initiative.”

The program will run in concert with Focus on Energy rebates which are also available for many nonprofit organizations in Wisconsin.  Beyond those rebates, homeowners and businesses can take advantage of tax credits which enable them to lower the costs of solar investment. This program is focused on mission-driven non-profits who would not benefit from those tax credits.

How to Apply
Organizations can learn more and apply at

In order to be eligible, the organization must be a registered nonprofit organization located in Wisconsin, be in good financial standing, be ready to install solar and agree to participate in educating community members about the benefits of solar energy. If approved for a grant, all fundraising, design and installation for the solar project must be completed within 12 months. The program is geared towards mission-based, primarily 501(c)3 organizations, and is not designed for local governments or schools.

Applications for this round of funding must be received by Monday November 13th 2017. Decisions and funding announcements will be made by Monday December 11th, 2017.

For organizations looking at solar for the first time, technical assistance grants are available to fund a solar site assessment (up to $250) or engineering review (up to $500) for their solar array. These applications will be reviewed separately from the applications for grants for solar installation and will be awarded on a first-come, first-served basis. 

About RENEW Wisconsin
RENEW Wisconsin is a nonprofit organization which promotes renewable energy in Wisconsin. We work on policies and programs that support solar power, wind power, biogas, local hydropower, and geothermal energy. More information is available on RENEW’s website:


Friday, September 15, 2017

RENEW Wisconsin Supports State Biodigester Investment

September 15, 2017                                                                                
Contact Tyler Huebner, Executive Director
608.255.4044 ext. 1
Today the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin announced the results of the Request for Proposals (RFP) that was issued earlier this year to support an Integrated Anaerobic Digester project. The goal of the RFP was to identify one or more projects that would support renewable energy generation, improved manure management for dairy farms, and improved water quality.

Three proposals were submitted, and one proposal was unanimously recommended by the review committee.  The PSC agreed with the recommendation, and allocated $15 million of the state’s Focus on Energy program funding to support this project. The project’s total estimated cost is $60 million. 

The project is called “Green Pastures Bio Energy Center” and was proposed by BC Organics, LLC. The PSC’s news release identified the consortium as including 24 members and led by Dynamic Concepts of Waukesha, WEC Energy Group of Milwaukee, US Biogas of Plymouth, and BioStar Organics. The project would be located in Brown County and involve 9 dairy operations with a combined 22,882 animal units.

Wisconsin is the national leader in on-farm biodigesters.  This new project will involve accepting manure and potentially other organic waste products (such as food waste) into multiple anaerobic digesters located near a proposed landfill in Brown County. The digested material will produce renewable natural gas, which would be injected into a large natural gas pipeline to bring it to customers. Enough renewable gas would be produced to provide the home heating needs of 7,600 Wisconsin homes. 

RENEW Wisconsin’s Executive Director, Tyler Huebner, issued the following statement about this decision: 

Biogas is a Wisconsin-based renewable energy resource that keeps dollars in our state. We are very happy to see the State’s investment into local renewable energy, and we hope this project proceeds and is very successful in creating value from what are waste products today. As a leader in anaerobic digesters, we hope Wisconsin policymakers and our utilities will use this investment as a springboard to increase their support for all digesters, including the 34 on-farm digesters already in operation today.  There are a lot of farms in Wisconsin that need manure management solutions, and we believe biodigesters are one solution that can meet those needs while also bolstering Wisconsin’s reputation as an innovator and leader in energy.
It is important to keep in mind that no one project is going to solve the very challenging agricultural and water-quality issues for northeast Wisconsin.  We believe today’s PSC decision is an important step in the right direction.
Wisconsin is known for our dairy cows and we hope one day soon we will also be known for our leadership on waste-to-renewable energy innovation.

The PSC had previously allocated up to $20 million for this project for the Request for Proposals stage.  With $15 million allocated for this project, the Commissioners unanimously agreed to keep the $5 million not yet spent in a dedicated fund for biodigesters and renewable energy going forward.

The Public Service Commission’s press release can be found here.


A memo from the Public Service Commission describing the proposals and the evaluation process is available here.  


RENEW Wisconsin is a nonprofit organization which promotes renewable energy in Wisconsin. We work on policies and programs that support solar power, wind power, biogas, local hydropower, and geothermal energy. More information on RENEW’s website: