Archive for December, 2005

Wood-pellet stoves help plant business thrive

Posted on December 30, 2005. Filed under: Wood |

From a story by Michele Derus from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, December 29, 2005:

Sunnyslope Gardens Inc. in New Berlin won’t be caught with its plants down this winter.

Seedlings in the nursery’s 11 greenhouses are staying hardy, thanks to six new wood-pellet furnaces that owner Steve Schutz expects will pay for themselves within four years. . . .

His timing was impeccable. Natural gas heating prices will soar 40% this winter, utilities based in Milwaukee and Madison predict. Wood pellets cost 30% less than natural gas to produce the same amount of energy. Plus, Wisconsin Focus on Energy, a public-private conservation coalition, has a campaign under way until at least June 30, 2006, which offers cash-back rebates for renewable-energy investments made by homeowners and businesses. The fuel for the furnaces is manufactured from sawdust.

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Kansas Farm Bureau endorses wind development

Posted on December 29, 2005. Filed under: Wind |

Bill Roush posted the news about the Kansas Farm Bureau endorsement of wind energy on the list serve

The Kansas Farm Bureau, a respected and influential group in Topeka, will urge legislators to get behind wind and even support mandates. That group and a majority of its members see wind development as another way to bring a little more economic vitality to farms and rural communities. Terry Holdren, policy director for the Bureau, said he believes state leaders and utility companies both are beginning to see the light, especially because of growing consumer demand for cheaper energy alternatives.

Bill says, “This is big news for Kansas.”

Similarly, the Wisconsin Farm Bureau endorsed the recommndations of the Wisconsin Task Force on Energy Efficiency and Renewables.

Read the full article on the Kansas Farm Bureau endorsement.

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Power line not needed yet

Posted on December 28, 2005. Filed under: Transmission |

The cooperation and postive outcome demonstrate the value of collaboration among various stakeholders, including RENEW Wisconsin, in Wisconsin’s energy future, as reported in a story by Tom Content in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. The story reads in part:

A $124 million high-voltage power line that would cross 60 miles of Waukesha, Jefferson and Dane counties won’t be needed as soon as planners had envisioned.

That conclusion was reached recently by a collaborative that included customer and environmental groups, American Transmission Co. of Pewaukee and Milwaukee-based We Energies.

The 345,000-volt power line was thought to have been needed as soon as 2011, and was part of a $3.4 billion, 10-year transmission upgrade plan released in September by ATC, the company that owns and operates eastern Wisconsin’s major electric lines.

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Monroe County sets hearing on wind farm

Posted on December 27, 2005. Filed under: Wind |

The Tomah Journal Online ran a story by Bob Kliebenstein on a public hearing on January 10, 2006, in Sparta on a Monroe County ordinance to regulate commercial wind farms. The story reads in part:

Monroe County residents are invited to attend a public hearing for discussion on an ordinance to regulate commercial wind farms. The hearing is Tuesday, Jan. 10, 7:30 p.m. in the Monroe County board room in the basement of the courthouse in Sparta.

The Monroe County Sanitation/Planning & Zoning/Forestry Committee has been working to draft an ordinance that would provide guidance for wind farm developments. The committee decided earlier this year the county should have an ordinance in place with interest from a firm to develop a wind farm to harness wind from Monroe County’s ridges.

Invenergy LLC, based in Chicago, Ill., began meeting with county landowners in 2004 to gauge interest in developing a wind farm called Summit Ridge Energy Corporation.

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Solar water heater cuts costs

Posted on December 27, 2005. Filed under: Solar |

The Wisconsin State Journal, December 27, 2005, ran an excellent story by Marv Balousek on the installation of a solar water heater on a Madison home:

Caleb Pourchot has found a way to escape a portion of the higher utility bills that are hitting most homeowners this winter.

He watched last week at his East Side home as a crew installed a solar water heating system, which will include solar panels on the roof and a new water heater in the basement. The system will heat some of the hot water used in Pourchot’s home.

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An ill wind off Cape Cod – A response

Posted on December 23, 2005. Filed under: Wind |

The New York Times ran an op ed on December 16, 2005, from Robert F. Kennedy Jr. who wrote:

As an environmentalist, I support wind power, including wind power on the high seas. I am also involved in siting wind farms in appropriate landscapes, of which there are many. But I do believe that some places should be off limits to any sort of industrial development. I wouldn’t build a wind farm in Yosemite National Park. Nor would I build one on Nantucket Sound, which is exactly what the company Energy Management is trying to do with its Cape Wind project.

Michael Vickerman, Executive Director of RENEW Wisconsin, submited a response which begins:

Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.’s litany of complaints over the proposed Cape Wind offshore wind farm is little more than conjecture spiced with hysteria. Had Mr. Kennedy bothered to bone up on the European offshore wind experience, which is extensive, he would have learned that the reality there is quite benign, nothing resembling the environmental nightmare he portrays. But what the facts say about offshore wind development is inconvenient to those who want to locate the project in somebody else’s back yard.

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Trying to spark alternative energy: Pending state legislation would target goals and funding sources

Posted on December 22, 2005. Filed under: Energy Policy |

An excerpt from a story in the Racine Journal Times:

In this winter of discontent and complaint about the cost of heating our homes, the Wisconsin Legislature is facing the task of reworking the state’s energy policy.

Senate Bill 459 would rewrite several sections of state law to change the goals for the use of renewable energy sources and who controls the funding. While they are generally very supportive of the bill, some environmental and public interest groups are hesitating over the loopholes left for future lawmakers to crawl through.

. . . The bill is an outgrowth of the Governor’s Task Force on Energy Efficiency and Renewables, created in 2003 and comprised of people representing utilities, business, and environmental and citizen advocacy organizations.

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Farm Bureau members support Task Force on Energy Efficiency & Renewables

Posted on December 20, 2005. Filed under: Energy Policy |

The Wisconsin Farm Bureau issued a press release on December 6 to report that members at the annual meeting adopted several resolutions:

Farm Bureau members backed two resolution to boost the production of renewable fuels by urging adoption of the recommendations of the Governor’s Task Force on Renewable Efficiency and Renewables, and supporting funding for the expansion of biobased products for energy like ethanol and biodiesel and other clean energy sources.

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Join RENEW at Conservation Lobby Day, January 25

Posted on December 19, 2005. Filed under: Energy Policy |

RENEW will once again participate in Conservation Lobby Day, January 25, 2006.

We invite RENEW’s members and friends to join us in the Capitol to lobby on a wide range of conservation issues, includingAssembly Bill 841 and Senate Bill 459, the bill to codify the recommendations of the bipartisan Task Force on Energy Efficiency and Renewables.

The Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters (WLCV), the event organizer, will make appointments with specific legislators for specific times. You’ll visit each legislator with three or four other conservationists who will talk about issues important to them, just as you’ll get the opportunity to talk about renewables and energy efficiency.

Before the legislative visits, the WLCV will provide training on how to talk to a legislator and briefings on the major conservation issues that others may be discussing during the visits. In other words, you’ll feel like you know what you’re doing.

The first training begins at 9:00 a.m. at the Monona Terrace, and the first legislative visits begin at 9:45 a.m.

Lunch will be provided. Light refreshments will also be provided throughout the day, at both the Monona Terrace and at the Capitol.

SIGN UP and get more details at the WLCV Web site. (Please also let RENEW know when you sign up by contacting Ed Blume:

Parking details and directions are on the Monona Terrace Web site.

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Passive design: Harnessing sun’s power saves money

Posted on December 19, 2005. Filed under: Green Building, Solar |

In an article from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, retired builder Bob Stockdale says:

[it’s] “a crime” that today’s house designs don’t incorporate passive-solar concepts as standard practice.

It’s wasteful, too, according to Clay Sterling, education director at Midwest Renewable Energy Association in Custer.

“A home that’s oriented to the south-southwest, with minimal windows on the northwest and east will consume 30% less energy than its neighbor next door,” Sterling said. “There are people who do that and don’t even know it. Just go down a street with run-of-the-mill ranch houses – big bay in front, small window to the backyard – on both sides. You’ll find the energy bills of the houses facing south are much lower.”

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