Archive for February, 2006

We Energies Announces New Renewable Energy Programs

Posted on February 27, 2006. Filed under: General |

From We Energies:

We Energies, headquartered in Milwaukee and Wisconsin’s largest utility, has received authorization from the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (PSCW) to significantly expand their renewable energy programs. Renewable energy is a means of generating electricity from resources that replenish themselves naturally – examples include solar power, wind power, and biomass (or the production of electricity from organic material such as manure-to-electricity technology on farms). Included in the PSCW rate case order are the following new additions or enhanced changes to We Energies renewable energy program:

– Authorization to invest $6 million per year on renewable energy development programs in 2006-2007.

– A program to allow customer-owned wind turbines to engage in net metering for wind turbines between 20 kilowatts and 100 kilowatts in size.

– New buy-back rates for solar electric systems (We Energies will pay 22.5 cents per kilowatt-hour for 10 years) and biogas anaerobic digesters (8 ¢/kWh on peak, 4.9 ¢/kWh off peak).

– Lower cost to participate in We Energies voluntary green power purchase program, Energy for Tomorrow (EFT). The voluntary purchase cost was reduced from 2.04 ¢/kWh to 1.37 ¢/kWh, based on lower, more stable renewable energy costs, making it one of the lowest cost programs in the country.

– Continuation of We Energies’ Bulk Purchase Rate for larger business (purchasing 70,000 kWh of renewable energy per month or greater). The new rate, first approved in 2005, has been reduced to 1.0 ¢/kWh.


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Three contract opportunities with We Energies

Posted on February 27, 2006. Filed under: General |

We Energies, Milwaukee, announced a solicitation for applications for the following three 22-month contracts for asssitance in the utilities’ renewable energy program:

Project Manager – Renewable Energy Development

Program Specialist – Customer Interconnections

Program Specialist – Renewable Energy Development

Applications should be submitted by the end of business on March 2 to:
Joan Herriges
c/o RED Program Support
We Energies
Mail Code P318
231 West Michigan Street
Milwaukee, WI 53203

And/or fax to 414-221-2851, attention:
Joan Herriges
c/o RED Program Support

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Senate passes Energy Efficiency & Renewables Bill

Posted on February 24, 2006. Filed under: Energy Policy |

On Tuesday, February 21, the Wisconsin State Senate passed legislation to codify the recommendations of the bipartisan Task Force on Energy Efficieny and Renewables.

A story by Tom Content and Patrick Marley in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported:

More power would be generated by wind turbines and solar panels in Wisconsin under a bill that the state Senate passed overwhelmingly on Tuesday.

The bill, expected to be taken up by the Assembly as soon as next week, is expected to help trigger billions in investment in new wind-power projects in the state, said Michael Vickerman, executive director of the clean-energy advocacy group Renew Wisconsin.

The bill requires that 10% of the state’s electricity must be generated by renewable sources by the year 2015.

RENEW Wisconsin also issued a press release praising the action:

“This is a bill that reaffirms Wisconsin’s traditional leadership in energy efficiency and conservation, and expands the contribution of native energy resources like solar, wind, small hydro and biogas to our energy future,” Vickerman said.

Vickerman praised Sen. Cowles, who chairs the Senate Energy and Utilities Committee, for his leadership in crafting a measure that is supported by farmers, industry, environmental and consumer groups, utilities and labor. “Working the kinks out of these very challenging and complex issues took a great deal of deliberation and dedication,” Vickerman said. “But Sen. Cowles and his staff proved equal to the task, as demonstrated by the overwhelmingly positive Senate vote.”

The Citizens Utility Board (CUB) also lauded the action in a separate release:

“If enacted into law, this legislation will provide benefits to the Wisconsin economy by reducing energy bills, creating jobs, and reducing environmental impacts from energy use,” said Charlie Higley, CUB executive director.

“CUB appreciates the leadership of Senator Rob Cowles, who drafted the legislation and worked with his colleagues to see the bill through the Senate.”


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Bush pulls plug on renewable energy research

Posted on February 23, 2006. Filed under: Energy Policy |

A story by Diane Carman in the Denver Post reports on the contrast between State of the Union rhetoric and reality:

The day Carol Tombari got fired plays in her head like a scene from a cheesy espionage thriller.

She arrived at work and was told to appear at a mandatory meeting in 20 minutes. It was there that she learned she was being laid off and that she had five hours to pack and vacate the premises.

When she returned to her desk, her computer had been disabled, her phone service cut. . . .

She was among the disappeared from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, where 31 workers were dismissed seven days after President Bush read the words “addicted to oil” off the teleprompter and announced yet another “Advanced Energy Initiative.”

“It was a week to the day after the State of the Union,” Tombari said. The single mother of three with a son in college was given one month’s severance pay.

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New Study Shows Ethanol Beats Gas in Net Energy Race

Posted on February 14, 2006. Filed under: Vehicles - Ethanol |

Better Environmental Solutions issued the following press release on the comparison of ethanol and gasoline:

Shows ethanol up to 9 times more energy efficient than gasoline

Madison, WI—As Wisconsin legislators consider AB 15, the Cleaner Fuels bill to give state drivers the choice of 10% ethanol in regular gas, a new study from the prestigious journal Environmental Science and Technology shows ethanol is more efficient than gasoline in the energy rate of return and can help meet our energy challenges.

The study, “Ethanol’s Energy Return on Investment: A Survey of the Literature 1990-Present,” reviewed studies over the last 15 years on the net energy rate of return for gasoline, and ethanol from corn and cellulose. It compared the existing studies based on the energy rate of return, the amount of renewable energy that comes from the fuel divided by the non-renewable energy put into production. It showed that gasoline is an energy loser containing only 76% of the original energy due to drilling, refining and distribution losses. This data is summarized on the chart below and the study abstract is at the end of the release.

Read the release here.

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Lines drawn for wind turbine project

Posted on February 14, 2006. Filed under: Wind |

A story by Bob Kliebenstein in The Tomah Journal reports on public response to a proposed wind project in Monroe County:

If attendance at Tomah Holiday Inn on Feb. 9 is any indication, the Feb. 20 Sanitation/Planning & Zoning/Forestry Committee meeting will likely be standing room only.

Opponents of a proposed commercial wind farm in Monroe County sponsored the meeting last Thursday at the Holiday Inn. Opponents are asking the committee to take more time to review a proposed wind farm ordinance that will be considered by the committee at its Feb. 20 meeting, scheduled to start at 8:30 a.m. The committee will meet in the county board room. . . .

The Chicago, Ill., firm Invenergy is proposing a wind farm development, Summit Ridge Wind Farm, that would be spread over five Monroe County townships, Ridgeville, Wells, Wilton, Tomah and Jefferson. It would consist of 43 to 50 turbines. Company officials have secured easement contracts from landowners for 10,000 acres.

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Chances good for bill on energy efficiency and renewables

Posted on February 14, 2006. Filed under: Energy Efficiency, Energy Policy |

A story by Tom Content in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports on the prospects for passage of SB 459, the bill to codify the recommendations of the bipartisan Task Force on Energy Efficiency and Renewables:

A “hidden tax increase” being paid by electrical utility customers in Wisconsin would end under a bill that a state Senate committee is expected to vote on this week.

Over the last four years, budget transfers have shifted more than $100 million in charges paid on Wisconsin utility customers’ electricity bills to help balance the state budget.


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UW Green Bay Students Vote “Yes” for Green Energy

Posted on February 13, 2006. Filed under: General |

In a press release issued on February 13, the UW-Green Bay resports:

The UW Green Bay Phoenix just got a little greener. The students recently voted to approve the purchase of electricity from renewable resources. Beginning in Fall 2006, UW Green Bay will purchase approximately 10% of the campus’s energy from renewable energy sources through NatureWise®, a renewable energy program offered by Wisconsin Public Service.

What makes this purchase unique is the source of funding. UW-Green Bay is the first school in Wisconsin to fund the purchase of “green energy” through a voluntary increase in student fees. Students have agreed to pay $1.69 more per semester for the next four years, allowing about 10% of the campus energy to come from renewable sources.


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World”s First Commercial Cellulosic Ethanol Plant

Posted on February 10, 2006. Filed under: Uncategorized |

The Dow Jones News Service carries a story on a cellulosic ethanal, which could be of interest to Wisconsin given the abudance of forest products and forest product wastes in the state:

CENTRAL CITY, Neb. (Dow Jones)–Opening of the world’s first commercial cellulosic ethanol plant is slated for this fall in northern Spain, even though costs of producing alcohol fuel via the emerging technology are still estimated to be about 50%-100% higher than that for plants which use grain as a feedstock.

The Ontario-based SunOpta BioProcess Group (formerly Stake Technology), a division of SunOpta Inc. (STKL), announced last week that plans for start-up of a wheat straw-to-ethanol plant near Salamanca, Spain, are proceeding on schedule. . . .

“Most viewers see present cost of cellulose ethanol as around $3.50 per gallon – double cost from carbohydrate,” said Harrison Cooper president of the Bountiful Applied Research Corporation in Bountiful, Utah. “There has been mention (that) cellulose enzyme/fermentation costs might be (reduced) to as low as $1.30, but this is based on hopeful conjecture.”

Murray Burke, vice president and general manager of SunOpta’s BioProcess Group, disagrees with those figures, estimating that modern grain alcohol plants being built today may have a breakeven as low as 90-95 cents per gallon, compared to a cost-of-production which likely ranges from $1.40-$1.60 per gallon for a commercial-scale cellulosic facility, such as the Spanish plant. . . .

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Automakers commit to ethanol in some places

Posted on February 9, 2006. Filed under: Vehicles - Ethanol |

The Wall Street Journal reports on a commitments of Ford and GM to E85 ethanol for their vehicles:

. . . General Motors and Ford Motor said they would join with energy companies to promote the use of ethanol as an alternative to gasoline in Illinois and Missouri, the Los Angeles Times reports. GM will team with Shell Oil Products U.S. and VeraSun Energy to add 26 ethanol fuel stations in the Chicago area, while Ford and VeraSun will convert 40 gasoline pumps in Illinois and Missouri to dispense E85, a mixture of 85% ethanol, which is made from crops such as corn, and 15% gasoline. Details and financial terms were not disclosed. Increasing the availability of E85 will make it easier for auto makers to sell more “flexible-fuel” cars, which can run on fuel containing as much as 85% ethanol, the Times says. GM and Ford have said they plan to increase sales of the vehicles this year. Such ethanol plans are driving up the price of sugar futures to their loftiest levels in a quarter century, the Journal adds. Hedge funds and other investors are betting that more sugar will soon be needed to produce ethanol.

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