Archive for August, 2010
From a news release issued by Orion Energy Systems:
MANITOWOC, Wis. — Aug. 12, 2010 — Orion Energy Systems Inc. (NYSE Amex: OESX) on Thursday raised the first urban wind tower in Manitowoc County, which will help offset energy consumed at the company’s technology center.
Based on average wind speed, the 20-kilowatt wind turbine is expected to generate up to 32 megawatt-hours a year. The wind turbine was manufactured by Oshkosh, Wis.-based Renewegy.
The monopole tower is the first urban wind turbine in Manitowoc County. Urban wind is the process of generating electricity through wind power to be used at an adjacent load center in an urban setting, significantly reducing the inefficiencies of transmitting and distributing electricity generated in rural areas.
“Urban wind is smart because the turbine is located at the load center, eliminating the need to transmit and distribute the power over long distances, which can result in the loss of up to 15 percent of the energy,” said Orion CEO Neal Verfuerth. “Like Orion’s growing suite of energy solutions, which now includes efficient lighting, wireless control systems and renewable solar technologies, urban wind will create permanent distributed load reductions — delivering capacity to the stressed energy grid and delivering energy savings to the end-user.”
“I’m proud to be standing here today for the erection of the first wind tower in the city of Manitowoc,” said Mayor Justin Nickels. “It’s truly amazing to have a company like Orion that, like the city of Manitowoc, continually looks to the future. We’re proud to have Orion in Manitowoc and to work with them to continue offering technologies that provide real energy solutions.”
About 40 people watched from the balcony of Orion’s tech center as two hydraulic lifts erected the fully assembled wind tower into place.
U.S. Rep. Thomas Petri, R-Wis., said the wind tower and Orion’s suite of products and services that deliver permanent distributed load reductions will “make our country stronger, help us consume less, yet have a higher standard of living.”
“Orion is a change agent in the energy sector,” Petri said. “You’re looking at the problem in a different way and thinking of new solutions to energy use.”
State Reps. James Soletski, D-Green Bay, and Ted Zigmunt, D-Francis Creek also attended the event, along with media, civic leaders and Orion employees.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
From an article in the Wisconsin State Journal by Ron Seely:
Compliments far exceeded complaints at a hearing Wednesday night on a plan by the state and UW-Madison to rebuild the Charter Street Heating Plant, eliminating the use of coal and replacing it with natural gas and Wisconsin-grown alternative fuels such as wood chips and switch grass.
Nearly 100 people attended the hearing on the final version of the environmental impact statement for the $250 million project.
Though the plan will bring some challenges for the neighborhood around the plant — more train traffic and noise, for example — most comments at the hearing focused on the positives of getting rid of the dirty pile of coal that now towers over North Mills Street.
In fact, when Al Fish, head of facilities and planning management for the UW-Madison, mentioned that no coal will be burned at the plant a year from now, the audience erupted in applause. He seemed shocked.
“I don’t think there has ever been applause at a environmental impact statement hearing before,” Fish said. “This truly is a historic moment.”
Nearly all of the comments from the public were regarding some aspect of the plan to burn biofuels, which will be hauled by train from farms and forests across the state. The plant will require 250,000 tons of biofuels a year.
Gary Werner, with the John Muir chapter of the Sierra Club, praised the switch to cleaner fuels.
“I’m happy and proud that the University of Wisconsin chose to use this as an opportunity to move into a whole new era of energy generation,” said Werner.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
From a story by Bob Schraper on WKOW-TV, Madison:
MADISON (WKOW) – Hoping to build on Wisconsin’s existing wind farms, a volunteer council appointed by the Public Service Commission proposed uniform regulations for new wind farms across the state.
“Businesses were looking upon Wisconsin as a difficult place to try to establish wind farms,” Peter Taglia, staff scientist at Clean Wisconsin, said. “We had a patchwork of local regulations that had stopped many wind farms and also created a lot of division within communities.”
The proposed rules would ban developers from putting a wind turbine within 1.1 times its height of the nearest property line. It also can’t be louder than 45 decibels at night and 50 decibels during the day, as measured from the nearest property line. And for large wind farms, the total hours of “shadow flicker” cannot exceed 40 per year.
“We laid out a proposal for regulating the permitting of wind projects – large, medium, and small – and hopefully the commission will respect the incredible amount of work that the council put into this process,” says Michael Vickerman, executive director of Renew Wisconsin, a member of the council.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
A news release issued by the Public Service Commission:
MADISON – Today the Wind Siting Council presented the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (PSC) with a report on its final recommendations for the wind siting rules. The report is the result of the Council’s work conducted in 20 meetings over the course of more than four months.
[The Council vote 11 to 4 in support of the recommendations, with RENEW executive director Michael Vickerman voting with the majority.]
Originally appointed by the PSC pursuant to 2009 Wisconsin Act 40 (Act 40) in March 2010, the Council has worked diligently to provide the Commission with sound advice to consider in finalizing the wind siting rules. The PSC is conducting the wind siting rulemaking pursuant to Act 40, and issued a proposed rule draft in May, 2010 in docket 1-AC-231. The PSC accepted public comments from the public on the proposed rule until July 7, 2010.
“I look forward to carefully reviewing the Wind Siting Council’s final report, and I thank them for their unwavering commitment to provide the Commission with useful advice to consider as we finalize the wind siting rules,” said PSC Chairperson Eric Callisto. “I am confident that the rules the Commission sends to the Legislature will provide a fair, uniform foundation to ultimately benefit future energy projects in Wisconsin.”
The PSC plans to complete the rulemaking by the end of August. Once finalized, the uniform rules will set forth consistent standards for the local regulation of wind energy systems in Wisconsin.
View the Wind Siting Council’s recommendations here. Documents associated with the wind siting rules can be viewed on the PSC’s Electronic Regulatory Filing System. Enter case number 1-AC-231 in the boxes provided on the PSC homepage, or click on the Electronic Regulatory Filing System button.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
From an article by Jessica VanEgeren in The Capital Times:
For decades, pollution spewed from factories and power plants across Wisconsin.
As a result, air and water became polluted. Now it seems, so did the trees.
At a time when state-owned power plants are ditching coal and going green by including biomass such as switch grass, compost, and wood chips into the fuel mix, it is becoming evident that even trees may release harmful chemicals when burned for energy.
“We have so much mercury in our air that you do see mercury in the wood from our trees,” says Jennifer Feyerherm of the Sierra Club’s Midwest office and its national Beyond Coal Campaign. “The air was polluted for so long that our ecosystem has absorbed the pollution. When wood is burned, the mercury is going to come out.”
Burning anything but coal or other fossil fuels appears to be such a new concept that the Environmental Protection Agency is only beginning to catch up. Earlier this summer, the EPA began efforts to update the Clean Air Act by releasing preliminary, first-of-a-kind numbers on what sort of pollution, if any, is emitted from burning biofuels. An early finding: Burning too many wood chips can release too much mercury into the air.
With construction soon to begin to convert the Charter Street Heating Plant, the largest state-owned power plant, from a coal-fired power facility to one that primarily burns biomass, state officials are paying attention to what is happening in Washington.
“To ignore what is going on (at the EPA) … is to do so at our own peril,” says John Melby, air management bureau director with the Department of Natural Resources. “After spending $250 million on the Charter Street facility, we don’t want to be violating EPA rules.”
While Melby says he “does know that mercury may be an issue with tree bark,” he and other state officials question the thoroughness of the EPA’s methods. In short, Melby and others believe different sizes of boilers need to be tested along with varying amounts of wood chips and other wood products before the EPA updates the Clean Air Act.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
From an article by Ron Seely in the Wisconsin State Journal:
It’s not easy going green.
Just ask John Harrod Jr., who is helping guide the $250 million green makeover of UW-Madison’s Charter Street Heating Plant.
The coal-burning plant will be converted so that it burns natural gas and cleaner, farm-grown fuels such as switchgrass. The changeover that has won praise from the plant’s many critics, including the Sierra Club, which sued the university for violating the Clean Air Act. Gone will be the giant, dust-generating pile of coal that has become a symbol of the plant and its grimy history.
But Harrod, director of the UW-Madison Physical Plant, said getting rid of that coal pile and moving to cleaner biofuels has brought its own set of problems to solve — accommodating longer and more frequent trains, for example, or expanding the plant’s footprint in its already squeezed urban setting, or figuring out new air standards for burning biofuels when even environmental regulators aren’t quite sure what those final standards will be.
Those issues and others will be up for discussion Wednesday when UW-Madison hosts a hearing on the final version of the environmental impact statement for the project. The hearing is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. in Room 1106 of the Mechanical Engineering Building, 1513 University Ave.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
From a news release issued by Governor Doyle:
WAUNAKEE – Governor Jim Doyle today broke ground on a $12 million community digester project that will help clean Dane County air and lakes, and generate enough clean energy to power 2,500 homes. Governor Doyle joined Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk for the groundbreaking of the “Cow Power” project at the Ripp’s Dairy Valley farm in Waunakee.
“The Dane County Digester demonstrates the best of our past and future in agriculture – putting to work three local farms to power our homes and clean our environment,” Governor Doyle said.
“With the turn of these forks today, we begin new, exciting work to clean up our lakes and turn a big problem into a valuable commodity,” County Executive Kathleen Falk said. “Thanks to the help of the Governor, the courage and willingness of these farmers to be good stewards of the lakes and lands we love, and the ingenuity of Clear Horizons, we’re pioneering an innovative solution to generate green energy and curtail an environmental problem.”
In March 2009, Governor Doyle announced his support for the project. The state is providing $3.3 million in assistance for the first of two Dane County Digesters. The community digester is the first of its kind in the state – involving three family farms: Ripp’s Dairy Valley, White Gold Dairy and Richard Endres Farm.
Construction is expected to be completed later this year. Once operational, the facility will convert manure from the farms into nearly $2 million worth of electricity per year. Electricity generated by the digester will be enough to run 2,500 Dane County homes annually.
The community digester will create construction jobs and full-time jobs to run the digester. The project will also help local farms expand their operations.
More photos on Facebook.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
From an article by Lyn Jerde in the Portage Daily Register:
Another Columbia County wind farm – this one in the county’s southern tier – is still up in the air.
The Columbia County Board’s planning and zoning committee Tuesday extended, by one year, conditional use permits to two landowners, which would allow for another year of testing wind speeds, using two 197-foot test towers set up by the Madison-based Wind Capital Group. The towers have been in place for two years.
One of the towers is in the town of Arlington, on land owned by Sherri and Lloyd Manthe. The other is in the town of Leeds, where the landowner hosting it is Alan Kaltenberg, a town supervisor.
Planning and Zoning Director John Bluemke said the extension of the conditional use permit to Aug. 1, 2011, as approved by the committee, is contingent on approval from the Arlington and Leeds town boards.
Thomas Green, senior manager for project development for Wind Capital Group, said results from the test towers (which don’t have bladed turbines, as electricity-generating windmills do) have shown that southern Columbia County could have wind that is strong enough, and frequent enough, to make the area a viable location for a wind farm.
But discussion is still in the early stages, he said.
“Thus far, we feel pretty good about the wind capacity in the area,” he said. “We know we have to have the data to take further steps.”
Another year of testing the wind would provide additional information while the Wind Capital Group assesses other factors that might determine whether their wind farm might be in Columbia County’s future.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
From an article by Charlie Mathews in the Manitowoc Herald Times Reporter:
MANITOWOC — Jim Doyle isn’t running for a third term as Wisconsin’s governor, but that didn’t stop him from giving a campaign-like speech Monday afternoon at Orion Energy Systems.
“We must continue going forward with basic Wisconsin values,” Doyle told business and civic leaders at the end of a whirlwind 10 hours that started with an 8 a.m. ferry crossing to Washington Island at the northern tip of Door County.
“Yes, it costs money but we must remain committed to retraining those who are unemployed,” said Doyle, who, today, will visit communities in Sheboygan, Belgium, Port Washington, Racine and Kenosha as part of a two-day venture to Lake Michigan coastal communities.
“We can’t allow this recession to send us 15 years back,” Doyle said. He said Wisconsin must remain focused on increased use of renewable energy.
That philosophy led to his signing in May of Senate Bill 273, which classified Orion’s Apollo light pipes as using a renewable energy resource — the sun. Orion’s customers buying the technology may qualify for “green” tax credits.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
From an article by Alex Morales on Bloomberg.com:
Global subsidies for fossil fuels dwarf support given to renewable energy sources such as wind and solar power and biofuels, Bloomberg New Energy Finance said.
Governments last year gave $43 billion to $46 billion of support to renewable energy through tax credits, guaranteed electricity prices known as feed-in tariffs and alternative energy credits, the London-based research group said today in a statement. That compares with the $557 billion that the International Energy Agency last month said was spent to subsidize fossil fuels in 2008.
“One of the reasons the clean energy sector is starved of funding is because mainstream investors worry that renewable energy only works with direct government support,” said Michael Liebreich, chief executive of New Energy Finance. “This analysis shows that the global direct subsidy for fossil fuels is around ten times the subsidy for renewables.”
Countries from the U.S. and Germany to Brazil and China are trying to boost power derived from crops, the wind and the sun in order to lower emissions of greenhouse gases while increasing the security of energy supplies. The Group of 20 nations a month ago renewed a commitment to phase out fossil fuel subsidies “over the medium term.” No target date was set.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
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