From an article by Tom Content in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
Companies working toward energy independence
The stalled state of wind farm development in Wisconsin has led to little development activity for large wind farms.
But on a much smaller scale, wind projects are moving ahead as companies fulfill commitments to environmental and energy independence.
In western Wisconsin, Organic Valley Cooperative and Gundersen Lutheran Health System have broken ground on a two-turbine wind project that will generate enough power to offset the energy use for Organic Valley’s corporate headquarters and distribution center, as well as meet 5% of Gundersen Lutheran’s energy needs.
In southeastern Wisconsin, S.C. Johnson & Son has proposed building two or three turbines that would generate 1.5 megawatts of power each. If the plans proceed on schedule, the turbines would be erected next year.
The co-op and health care system project, Cashton Greens, calls for roads and foundations for the $9.9 million project to be completed this fall, with the turbines scheduled for installation in spring 2012, said Cecil Wright, Organic Valley’s director of sustainability.
When completed, the turbines will generate about 12 million kilowatt-hours a year.
It’s a boost to a brand that has the word “organic” in its name, but this is about more than conveying a green image, Wright said.
“One of the main reasons we did is that it’ll help manage and fix our costs,” Wright said. “We’re not just doing it because it’s a nice thing to do. The higher the price of electricity goes up, the better we’ll do at paying off our project quicker, and that’ll be a profit center for us,” he said.
“In addition to providing renewable energy to Cashton and Organic Valley, the wind turbines will serve as a ‘living lab’ for research and education for students at Western Technical College,” Wright said.
Windmills and more
At S.C. Johnson, the wind proposal is the latest in a string of distributed generation and renewable energy initiatives for the company, which uses landfill methane gas to generate energy for the factory. The Waxdale factory will be able to produce 100% of its electricity on-site, with 60% of it from renewable sources, said Christopher Beard, S.C. Johnson spokesman.
The reasons for the projects are many – everything from a desire for energy security to a goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions linked to energy use and a platform to showcase their brands as environmentally friendly.
“Both of those projects show that customers are demanding and making clean energy happen,” said Lee Cullen, a Madison energy lawyer who has been working with clients in the wind-energy sector. “There’s a groundswell of renewable energy production that’s happening because people understand its importance.”
Beard said the S.C. Johnson wind project “helps us address the fact that consumers are asking for products that are green and products that have been produced in a sustainable way. Manufacturing our products using on-site sustainable energy helps meet that consumer demand,” Beard said.
Projects to erect wind turbines and solar panels needs to be complemented with efforts to slash energy waste from a company’s buildings and production processes, said Tom Eggert, who runs the Wisconsin Sustainable Business Council.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
From an article in the Chicago Tribune:
MADISON, Wis.— A poll of Wisconsin residents finds strong support for increasing the use of wind energy, even if doing so would raise electricity bills several dollars per month.
The Wisconsin Public Radio poll was released Friday. It shows that 77 percent of respondents want to see the state invest more in wind energy. Reasons included decreasing the nation’s reliance on foreign oil and helping the environment.
A majority, 69 percent, wouldn’t mind eight to 10 wind-energy machines being placed closed to where they live, and 79 percent favor placing the machines offshore in Lake Michigan.
Click here for poll results.
From an Associated Press article by Matthew Brown published in The Washington Post:
WYODAK, Wyo. — Utilities across the country are building dozens of old-style coal plants that will cement the industry’s standing as the largest industrial source of climate-changing gases for years to come.
An Associated Press examination of U.S. Department of Energy records and information provided by utilities and trade groups shows that more than 30 traditional coal plants have been built since 2008 or are under construction.
The construction wave stretches from Arizona to Illinois and South Carolina to Washington, and comes despite growing public wariness over the high environmental and social costs of fossil fuels, demonstrated by tragic mine disasters in West Virginia, the Gulf oil spill and wars in the Middle East.
The expansion, the industry’s largest in two decades, represents an acknowledgment that highly touted “clean coal” technology is still a long ways from becoming a reality and underscores a renewed confidence among utilities that proposals to regulate carbon emissions will fail. The Senate last month scrapped the leading bill to curb carbon emissions following opposition from Republicans and coal-state Democrats.
“Building a coal-fired power plant today is betting that we are not going to put a serious financial cost on emitting carbon dioxide,” said Severin Borenstein, director of the Energy Institute at the University of California-Berkeley. “That may be true, but unless most of the scientists are way off the mark, that’s pretty bad public policy.”
Federal officials have long struggled to balance coal’s hidden costs against its more conspicuous role in providing half the nation’s electricity.
Hoping for a technological solution, the Obama administration devoted $3.4 billion in stimulus spending to foster “clean-coal” plants that can capture and store greenhouse gases. Yet new investments in traditional coal plants total at least 10 times that amount – more than $35 billion.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )