Archive for October, 2005

A Comparison of Impacts: Coal versus Wind Power

Posted on October 14, 2005. Filed under: Uncategorized |

This months e-newsletter from The Alternative Energy Institute included a lengthy comparison of coal versus wind. Sections of the article are excerpts from Powering Our Future: An Energy Sourcebook for Sustainable Living. Excerpts were modified to fit the article.

A. Pollution Emissions

Coal: Coal is one of the greatest contributors to acid rain, smog, and global warming. It is the most polluting energy source per unit of energy.

Each year, a single coal plant of average size (500 megawatts) emits:

• 3,700,000 tons of carbon dioxide, the equivalent of cutting 161 million trees. Carbon dioxide, primarily due to fossil fuel combustion, is the leading contributor to global warming. • 10,200 tons of nitrogen oxides, a leading cause of smog and acid rain. In humans, nitrogen oxides also become trapped in the lungs, causing and aggravating respiratory problems. • 10,000 tons of sulfur dioxide. Sulfur dioxide is a leading cause of acid rain, which deteriorates the health of forests and lakes. It also penetrates our lungs causing a number of respiratory conditions in humans. • 720 tons of carbon monoxide, which is a highly poisonous gas. It enters the bloodstream through the lungs and disrupts the distribution of oxygen throughout the body. Carbon monoxide is fatal in sufficient concentrations. • 500 tons of particulate matter, which causes bronchitis and premature death, among other health challenges. • 220 tons of volatile organic compounds, which are an essential ingredient of smog. • 225 pounds of arsenic, which causes cancer, even in small quantities. • 170 pounds of mercury, which particularly affects the mental development of fetuses. One-sixth of American women of child-bearing age have unsafe mercury levels in their bodies. • 14 pounds of lead, which is also highly poisonous.


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Solar Toolbox Goes Online

Posted on October 14, 2005. Filed under: Solar |

RENEW Wisconsin just posted a toolbox of useful references and resources for solar electric (PV) installations. Niels Wolter of MSB Energy Associates and WisconSUN provided most of the material and organized it into logical groups, including funding options, electric codes, and fact sheets.

Many of the fact sheets were authored by Niels over many years for publication in other venues.

Although many of the materials are Wisconsin-specific, RENEW hopes that the toolbox will assist anyone planning to install a solar electric system for their own use.

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“Futuristic” Center Taps Renewable Energy

Posted on October 13, 2005. Filed under: Green Building |

The Stevens Point Journal reports on the grand opening of the Mead Wildlife Center. According to Center officials:

The building is the among the first of its kind not only in the state but America . . . to contain such renewable energy sources like wind power and solar panels. Reusable items also abound, even under foot: The tiles are made from crushed bottles.

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We Energies New Solar/Renewable Rates & Solar Workshop

Posted on October 12, 2005. Filed under: Solar |

Utility regulators gave the green light to two We Energies initiatives that will promote customer-owned solar power systems and large-scale purchases of renewable electricity from the utility.

In approving a new solar tariff, which will take effect October 1 this year, the Public Service Commission (PSC) of Wisconsin cleared the way for We Energies to buy solar power from its customers at 22.5 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh), a much higher rate than customers usually receive for renewable electricity that they produce.

The PSC also approved a “bulk purchase premium” of 1.5 cents/kWh for Energy for Tomorrow customers who buy more than 70,000 kWh per month. The current premium is 2.04 cents/kWh. The new bulk purchase premium will be become effective October 1 as well.

Click here for more.

We Energies and the Focus on Energy Renewable Energy Program will hold a one-day conference titled Wisconsin’s Solar Decade 2005-2015 on November 3 in Milwaukee. The event will target building owners and businesses interested in entering the solar market, highlighting the benefits of generating electricity from solar energy. RENEW Wisconsin, Milwaukee Area Technical College, Wisconsin Green Building Alliance, and other organizations are co-sponsoring the workshop. More information and registration form are available from Focus on Energy.

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Bush Unleashes Energy Policy — Cartoons

Posted on October 11, 2005. Filed under: Energy Policy |

Randy Udall provided the following news on the latest installment of the Bush administration’s energy policy:

With gas prices already skyrocketing and home heating costs expected to follow, the Bush administration yesterday unveiled a long-term clean-energy and conservation program.

Oh, wait, did we say “long-term clean-energy and conservation program”? What we meant was “cartoon character.” Yes, yesterday the Department of Energy (working with consumer group Alliance to Save Energy) introduced a campaign featuring Energy Hog, a sneering swine in leather jacket and jeans who will join McGruff the Crime Dog and Woodsy Owl in the pantheon of animated mascots failing to solve national problems.
Energy Hog will offer Americans a fun, funny, and positive role model as they strive to … hog energy? No, wait. He’ll be featured on billboards, in magazine ads, and in public-service radio announcements sent to about 4,500 radio stations nationwide, giving advice on how to save energy at home and gas in cars.

Remember: give an oink, don’t, uh … waste energy!

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Raiding energy fund is wrong

Posted on October 7, 2005. Filed under: Focus on Energy/Public Benefits |

Sens. Cowles, Ellis: Utility Customers Shafted Due To Bad State Budgeting

MADISON – Today two veteran State Senators strongly criticized the bipartisan raid of $55 million in energy efficiency and conservation funds this year. Senator Rob Cowles (R-Green Bay) and Senator Mike Ellis (R-Neenah) specifically charged that poor state budgeting will lead to future electricity and natural gas rate increases.

“At a time when we are seeing electricity rates and natural gas prices soar, we shouldn’t be taking these backwards steps,” said Cowles. “Raiding the energy conservation fund is absolutely going in the wrong direction.”

Read the full release on

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Fossil Fuel Watch – October 2005

Posted on October 6, 2005. Filed under: Peak Oil & the End of Cheap Fossil Fuel |

In Fossil Fuel Watch: Stirrings in the Land of What-Me-Worry?, Michael Vickerman, RENEW Wisconsin’s executive director, analyzes “America’s collective subconsciousness” on energy conservation and asks:

[when]the availability of natural gas becomes an issue, does it make sense to heat garages, outdoor swimming pools and water parks with it? Would it make sense to power existing gas-fired generators with other fuels? How about running them less frequently as an economy and conservation measure? Has the time come for the state to adopt a moratorium on new gas-fired generation?

Read the full analysis in a PDF format.

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Bird Kills

Posted on October 6, 2005. Filed under: Wind |

A RENEW member sent this note:

[A] web site was just put up by John Idzikowski. It’s quite stunning and well documented with photos. It also provides good links to other sources of bird kills. Powerful, albeit anecdotal, evidence for permitting/zoning battles.

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RENEW Open House – Oct. 17

Posted on October 4, 2005. Filed under: General |

You’re invited to an environmental, sustainability open house with free food and drink.

Hosted by

Madison Audubon Society
RENEW Wisconsin
Sauk Prairie Conservation Alliance
Sierra Club – John Muir Chapter
Sustain Dane
Thrall Conservation Consulting, LLC
Trout Unlimited
Wisconsin Wetlands Association

Monday, October 17, 2005, from 5:00 p.m. to 7 p.m.

222 S. Hamilton where W. Wilson, S. Hamilton, & S. Henry Streets meet.

Enjoy getting reacquainted with friends you didn’t see over the summer!

Meet new people who share your love and concern for our world!

Join one of the organizations . . . if you’re so inclined!

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Running vehicles on veggie oil – Workshop Oct. 8

Posted on October 3, 2005. Filed under: Vehicles - Vegetable oil |

On Saturday October 8th at 1:30pm, VORTECS, a project of Seventh Generation Energy Systems, will present the basics of running diesel engines on vegetable oil in the Community Room of the Willy St. Coop, 1221 Williamson St. Madison, WI. This event is free and open to the public.

For more information contact Seventh Generation Energy Systems (SGES) at 608-424-1870 or SGES is a 501(c)(3) organization that promotes and demonstrates clean energy resources to safeguard the environment, empower communities, vitalize local economies, create skilled jobs and respect the rights of future generations.


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