Archive for October, 2006

RENEW Wisconsin calls for advanced renewable tariffs

Posted on October 30, 2006. Filed under: Energy Policy |

Paul Gipe, who writes extensively about wind energy for both the popular and trade press, noticed RENEW’s recent filing at the Public Service Commission wrote about it on Renewable Energy Access:

RENEW Wisconsin filed testimony with the Wisconsin Public Service Commission (PSC) last month calling for implementation of Advanced Renewable Tariffs (ARTs) in the state by January 1, 2008. The move is the first formal action by a non-governmental organization in the U.S to urge adoption of the policy mechanism used in Germany, France and other countries to successfully spur rapid development of renewable energy.


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Don’t talk about energy efficiency, focus groups say

Posted on October 27, 2006. Filed under: Energy Efficiency, Energy Policy |

Katie Nekola, Energy Program Diector for Clean Wisconsin and a member of the board of directors of RENEW Wisconsin, looked a focus group results on energy efficiency in the latest edition of Clean Wisconsin’s monthly newsletter The Defender:

Recently I attended a meeting where the topic was “how do you talk to people about energy?” What messages make the most sense to most people? We discussed the results of polls and focus groups where the researchers had tried various approaches, to see which ones got the best response from folks. From that, we are supposed to be able to tailor our communications to fit what people will listen to and what “resonates.” Since I spend a lot of time talking and writing about energy, I was eager to hear the results.

The research showed that (drum roll…) here in Wisconsin, people recognize that our rapacious appetite for electricity has serious health and environmental consequences. They know coal is dirty and pollutes the air and water. They understand that our insatiable thirst for gasoline has given rise to a political regime that will stop at nothing to position the United States as the absolute controller of worldwide oil supplies. They don’t trust the utilities or the government to provide solutions or act in our best interest.

So, what did the folks in these focus groups think would solve our energy problems? In a nutshell, the answer was simple: technology. There was general agreement that good old American ingenuity could find a way to fix things. For example, energy efficient appliances can save lots of electricity. Buildings can be designed for efficient
heating and cooling. More fuel-efficient cars save gas.


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Mark Green touts energy plan

Posted on October 26, 2006. Filed under: Energy Efficiency, Energy Finance, Energy Policy |

A story by Jason Allen on WBAY-TV covered an energy accouncement by gunernatorial candidate Mark Green:

At the Solar Mining Company in Green Bay, Congressman Mark Green unveiled his plan Wednesday to make your power bill smaller if he wins the race for governor.

Inside the country’s largest manufacturer of solar hot water systems, the Republican gubernatorial candidate said it’s only through the advancement of similar renewable energy technology that home energy costs will come down.

“None of us knows which of the technologies is going to provide the greatest breakthroughs. We’ve got to pursue them all,” Green said.

His plan is to encourage more use of alternative energy through a series of tax exemptions and credits.


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Wind generates power for couple for 25 years

Posted on October 25, 2006. Filed under: Wind |

A story by Barbara Mahler in the Fond du Lac Reporter tells of the wind-generation experience of a farm couple in Auburndale, Wisconsin:

Twenty-five years ago, area farmer Francis Cherney and his wife, Beverly, answered an ad in the local shopper that offered wind generators. They traveled to Athens to discuss the advantages of this equipment and purchased one.

Their installation is a 17-kilowatt generator mounted atop a 100-foot tripod steel tower. The legs of the tower are set six feet into the ground. The generator is designed in a vertical configuration and weighs one ton. More modern units are lighter, and generators now usually are in line with the rotor. They are available in a variety of sizes and capacities.

Like all machines with moving parts, the Cherney generator requires semiannual service entailing an oil change and lubrication. A trained technician scales the tower to perform this work on the unit. On occasions, more involved service is needed, and a crane must be brought in to lower the unit to the ground for work.

Cherney faithfully has kept weekly records of the amount of electricity generated. Every Thursday, he reads the meter and records the power provided by his setup. Those numbers consistently are highest in the spring and fall months. He has generated $800 worth of power so far in 2006, and his greatest savings have come in recent years with the increasing cost of electricity.

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Midwest Renewable Energy Association receives Travel Green Wisconsin certification

Posted on October 24, 2006. Filed under: General |

MADISON, Wis. (October 24, 2006) – Travel Green Wisconsin today announced the certification of the ReNew the Earth Institute, the Midwest Renewable Energy Association’s demonstration site in Custer, Wisconsin. Travel Green Wisconsin is a program run jointly by the Wisconsin Department of Tourism and the Wisconsin Environmental Initiative and is designed to recognize tourism-related businesses that are reducing their environmental impact through operational and other improvements.

The ReNew the Earth Institute, drawing more than eighteen thousand visitors annually, is the first central Wisconsin participant to receive Travel Green Wisconsin business certification. To gain Travel Green certification businesses have to meet several goals including staff and vendor environmental awareness and reductions in solid waste generation and energy consumption.


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Business members of RENEW Wisconsin

Posted on October 21, 2006. Filed under: General |


Terawatt Sponsors

Alliant Energy, providing utility customers in the Midwest with electric and natural gas services.

American Transmission Company, LLC (ATC), providing the pathway for power into communities in portions of Wisconsin, Michigan, Minnesota and Illinois.

EcoEnergy, LLC, energy project development, design, engineering, construction, operations and maintenance, customer and community support.

enXco, a full service renewable energy company that enXco develops, builds, operates and manages state-of-the-art renewable energy projects throughout North America.

Horizon Wind Energy, LLC , develops, constructs, owns and operates wind farms throughout North America.

Invenergy, LLC, focuses on the development, acquisition and management of large-scale power generation assets.

Madison Gas & Electric, generates and distributes electricity to 136,000 customers in Dane County and purchases and distributes natural gas to 140,000 customers in seven south-central and western Wisconsin counties.

We Energies, serves more than 1.1 million electric customers in Wisconsin and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and more than one million natural gas customers in Wisconsin.

Gigwatt Sponsors

A-A Exteriors, an exterior home and business improvement company.

Michels Wind Energy, a balance of plant (BOP) contractor that provides full engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC) Services.

Megawatt Sponsors

AgWind Energy Partners

Clear Wind Renewable Power, Inc., wind-energy development company

Cooperative Development Services, consulting for organizations that contribute to cooperative and sustainable development.

Crave Brothers Farm, milk and cheese producer.

Castleman & Sons Plumbing, Inc., full service solar hot water system installer.

Clover Hill Dairy, Cambellsport, Wisconsin.

Cullen Weston Pines and Bach LLC, law firm.

Decton Iron Works Inc., manufacturer of quality woodwaste-to-energy systems.

Energy Law Wisconsin, providing Wisconsin utilities, businesses, governmental organizations, non-profits and individuals legal support.

Elexco, Inc., construction and utility services.

Emerging Energies, LLC, wind project developer.

Energize, LLC, providing reliable and clean renewable electrical energy systems to residential, commercial, non-profit and governmental customers.

Energy Concepts, Inc., provides reliable, creative and elegant energy solutions for commercial and residential clients.

First Affirmative Financial Network, LLC , an independent investment advisory firm.

Gary A. Daun Agency, American Family agent.

GreenSky Energetics, Inc., installer of high efficiency solar water and air heating systems.

H&H Solar Energy Services , full service installer of PV and solar hot water.

Neil Palmer & Associates, “creates and implements public affairs strategies.”

NRG Systems, Inc., manufacturer of products “to help our customers measure and understand the wind.”

Own Energy, partners with landowners to develop renewable energy projects, with an initial focus on 10 – 80 MW wind energy projects.

Pieper Power, Inc., electrical construction company.

Productive Energy Solutions, LLC, an independent training and consulting company that helps customers achieve higher productivity through optimizing mechanical and renewable energy systems.

Full Spectrum Solar, full-service solar electric and solar thermal installer.

GDS Associates, Inc., multi-service consulting and engineering firm.

GHD, Inc., designs and installs anaerobic digesters.

Global Energy Options, installs geothermal energy (heatpumps), solar thermal and water heating.

Green Sky Energetics, Inc., full service solar installer and site assessor.

Hot Water Products, Inc. distributor of solar thermal and water heating products.

L & S Technical Associates, Inc., full service conultant in bioenergy, solar, and wind.

Lake Breeze Dairy, a 3000 cow dairy located along the eastern shore of Lake Winnebago in Fond du Lac county, Wisconsin.

Lake Michigan Wind and Sun, full service wind and solar installer.

Lakeshore Technical College, offering a Wind Energy Technology Associate Degree in Applied Science.

Midwest Wind Finance, finances community wind projects.

Miller Engineers & Scientists, a civil, environmental, and geotechnical engineering firm.

Mitchell’s Heating and Cooling, geothermal and bioenergy installer

Mortenson Construction, a diversified construction organization.

Mueller Communications, a marketing and public relations firm.

Natural Resources Consulting, environmental services for wetlands, wildlife, restoration, GIS, and regulatory support.

New Solar, LLC, full service solar installer.

Next Step Energy Systems, specializes in radiant heating and renewable energy applications.

North American Hydro, specializes in developing, upgrading, owning, and operating hydroelectric facilities.

North Wind Renewable Energy, full service installer for photovoltaic, solar thermal and water heating, and wind energy systems.

Organic Valley Cooperative, farmer-owned producer of organic foods.

Photovoltaic Systems Co., full service photovoltaic installer.

Prairie Solar Power & Light, full service solar and wind installer.

Progressive Law Group, legal matters related to the environment, energy, natural resources, and commercial and consumer affairs.

Ritger Law Office, Random Lake, Wisconsin.

Rottier Agri Solutions, Inc., Onalaska, Wisconsin.

Sagrillo Power and Light, full service solar consultant and installer.

Solarwinds, full service solar and wind installer.

Superior Safety and Environmental Services, wind energy consulting.

Sierra Club – Midwest Office, conservation organization.

SOLutions, full service installer of photovoltaic and solar thermal and water heating.

Stony Brook Wind, LLC, a Wisconsin wind project.

Sun & Daughters Solar, full service solar installer.

Sunny Solutions, full service solar installer.

Teko Mechanical, Inc., solar hot water installer.

Timmerman’s Talents, full service installer of photovoltaic, solar thermal and water heating, wind energy systems.

Trench-It, Inc., construction services for utilities, municipalities, developers, electrical contractors, communication companies, home owners and many others in the Midwest.

Union of Concerned Scientists, science-based nonprofit working for a healthy environment and a safer world.

Wisconsin Energy Conservation Corporation, champions innovative energy initiatives that deliver short- and long-term economic and environmental benefits to consumers, businesses and policy makers.

Wisconsin Public Power Inc., a regional power company serving 50 customer- owned electric utilities.

Wisconsin Technical College System Foundation, not-for-profit, non-stock corporation dedicated to the advancement of vocational, technical, and adult education in Wisconsin.

Zephyr Lake EnergiesGlendale, Wisconsin.

Kilowatt Members

A. L. Andersen Companies, representing a “stable” of the highest quality manufacturers available in the world.

ALT Energy, renewable energy consulting; solar, wind, and solar hot water site assessments.

Artha Renewable Energy, solar thermal consulting and design.

Bay Area Performance, full service solar installer.

Biogas Direct, LLC, environmental engineering and construction company specialized in constructing biogas plants.

Door County Environmental Council, an environmental council in Northeastern Wisconsin.

DR Energy Exchange

Gimme Shelter Construction, Inc., builds energy-efficient, high-performance homes with artful design.

Great Northern Solar, full service installer of solar, wind, and hydro

Green Home Solar, full service installer of solar thermal and water heating.

Lutz, Daily & Brain, professional engineering services for utility, industrial, and institutional clients.

Madison Environmental Group, Inc., interdisciplinary, team-oriented research and consulting firm helping clients and communities build and live green.

Paterson Solar, site assessments and installation of solar hot water and solar thermal panels.

Solar Solutions, Inc., provides solar electric education programs to all interested educators, students and members of the public.

The Green Leaf Inn, an inn green from the ground up.

Thomas Brown, Architect, specializing in environmentally-responsible design.
WES Engineering, professional wind project development services

Trega Foods, Weyauwega, Wisconsin.

Yahara Linden Energy, LLC, Madison, Wisconsin.

Conservationist Members

Allied Industrial Marketing, Inc. , a technical (business to business) marketing firm.

BEC Solar, service, system design, sales, and installation.

Bubbling Springs Solar, the midwest source for glazed, liquid flat-plate thermal solar collectors.

Kersten Lumber Co., a sawmill producer of quality hardwoods.

Lew White’s Pine, Inc., timber producer.

Quantum Dairy, Weyauwega, Wisconsin.

Schmitt Woodwork and Cabinetry, Aniwa, Wisconsin.

Silica Solar, LLC, facilitates projects that reduce green house gas emissions.

Symbiont, a full-service engineering and consulting firm that plans, builds, controls and improves environments.

Wilcox Law Offices, Waukesha


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Notes from San Jose Solar Power Conference October 16-19, 2006

Posted on October 20, 2006. Filed under: Solar |

Don Wichert, director of the Renewable Energy Programs of Focus on Energy, wrote the following report after returning from a major solar conference:

This conference may be remembered as the event signifying the take off of the solar energy industry, or possibly the beginning of the second solar revolution. The difference from the first solar movement of the early 1980’s is the market entrance of deep pocket players, new technology development; using lessons learned from the first solar revolution and the evolution of creative and proactive energy policy based on: rising fuel costs, climate change and resource depletion.


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Payback Analysis: An Impediment to Sustainability

Posted on October 19, 2006. Filed under: Energy Finance, Energy Policy, Peak Oil & the End of Cheap Fossil Fuel, Solar |

Petroleum and Natural Gas Watch, Vol. 5, Number 7
by Michael Vickerman, RENEW Wisconsin
October 16, 2006

In my 15 years of promoting renewable energy use in Wisconsin, I have come to believe that the most persuasive advocates are those who back up their words with their wallets. So when the federal government in August 2005 established tax credits for residential solar water heaters, it was time for me to act.

Last January our household became one of a growing number of households that heats a portion of their domestic water with a solar system. Between April and September the solar system provided most of the hot water we use. During the cooler months, the natural gas water heater becomes the primary—though not the sole–source of hot water. If we chance upon a sunny stretch of weather during the winter solstice, our solar collector is there to gobble up the low-altitude sunshine and convert it into warm water.

Scaling back consumption of natural gas, a high-density and highly versatile fossil fuel, serves two beneficial purposes.

First, the less we burn, the less carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere. Even though natural gas has a reputation as a clean fossil fuel, the amount of CO2 that is released from a combustion process weighs more than the gas that went into it.


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Energy Robin Hood to speak in Madison, Oct. 18

Posted on October 18, 2006. Filed under: Energy Policy |

Randy Udall sees himself as a modern-day Robin Hood of sorts, taking from the rich and giving to the poor. Udall heads the Community Office for Resource Efficiency in Aspen, Colorado, which oversees the world’s stiffest tax on energy use. The tax, called “REMP” or Renewable Energy Mitigation Program, requires owners of new homes larger than 5,000 square feet to pay fees of up to $100,000 for excess energy use. — The Osgood File, July 31, 2003

Randy Udall, whose father (Morris) and uncle (Stewart) were conservation giants, will discuss America’s energy challenges at 7:00 p.m. on October 18, 2006, at the Pyle Center, 702 Langdon Street, Madison.

Udall also write prolifically and insightfully on energy issues and the coming end of cheap oil. His articles include: Stud Muffins and Kilowatt-hours; When will the Joy Ride End?; Methane Madness; Cleopatra to Columbia.

He will also speak at 8:30 a.m. on the same day at the Monona Terrace during the Sustainability Energy Efficiency conference of the Wisconsin Green Building Alliance.

Sponsored by Madison Peak Oil Group, RENEW Wisconsin, Gaylord Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies, and Wisconsin Green Building Alliance.

Community Office for Resource Efficiency –
Madison Peak Oil Group –
RENEW Wisconsin –
Gaylord Nelson Institute –
Wisconsin Green Building Alliance –

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U.S. Energy Flow – In the Belly of the Beast

Posted on October 17, 2006. Filed under: Energy Efficiency, Energy Policy, Peak Oil & the End of Cheap Fossil Fuel |

Randy Udall, whose father (Morris) and uncle (Stewart) were conservation giants, will discuss America’s energy challenges at 7:00 p.m. on October 18, 2006, at the Pyle Center, 702 Langdon Street, Madison.

Udall also writes prolifically and insightfully on energy issues and the coming end of cheap oil. From U.S. Energy Flow:

From a biological perspective, think of the U.S. economy as the largest “animal” the planet has ever seen—a living, breathing T. Rex Americus,whose energy appetite is gargantuan. If we dissect the beast to study the energy flows that sustain it, we end up with [a]chart, produced at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. . . .Our economy is not, metabolically speaking, a thrifty creature. About 55 percent of the energy that flows into the economy is ejected as T. Rex dung. This waste carries with it a huge pollution and climate burden.

Udall, who founded the Community Office for Resource Efficiency, will also speak at 8:30 a.m. on the same day at the Monona Terrace during the Sustainability Energy Efficiency conference of the Wisconsin Green Building Alliance.

Madison Peak Oil Group, RENEW Wisconsin, Gaylord Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies, and Wisconsin Green Building Alliance sponsor the evening event.

Community Office for Resource Efficiency –
Madison Peak Oil Group –
RENEW Wisconsin –
Gaylord Nelson Institute –
Wisconsin Green Building Alliance –

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