Archive for December, 2006

Meet My Solar Dryer

Posted on December 28, 2006. Filed under: Solar |

Petroleum and Natural Gas Watch
by Michael Vickerman, RENEW Wisconsin
December 28, 2006, Vol. 5, Number 9

A year ago my wife was firmly in charge the household laundry. Now, not only am I washing and drying all our clothes, including the sheets, towels, and pillow cases, I find myself looking forward to doing it. What is going on here?

A divorce? Wrong answer. Anyway, that would only explain the shift in personnel, not the attitudinal change. A personality transfer à la “Freaky Friday”? Incorrect. This is not a case of life imitating a Disney movie.

Place the blame instead on our rooftop solar water heating system, which was installed in January 2006. That purchase challenged me to think about integrating our solar ration—the daily allotment of sunlight that falls on our house and yard—more effectively into our regular routines. And few routines are as unavoidable as doing the laundry.


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Wind power creates Wisconsin jobs

Posted on December 27, 2006. Filed under: Energy Policy, Wind |

From the Web site of Magnetek:

Magnetek Receives First Production Order For Wind Power Inverters

Menomonee Falls, WI –December 20, 2006 –Magnetek, Inc. (NYSE: MAG) today announced that it has received an initial production order for calendar 2007 delivery of 60 wind power inverters valued at more than $7 million. Magnetek’s digital wind power inverters transform the DC voltage produced by rectifying variable-frequency alternating current (AC) from wind turbine generators into the steady flow of 60-cycle AC needed to feed the utility power transmission grid.

In 2003, Magnetek entered into an agreement with a leading wind power company to develop power inverters for large, multi-megawatt wind turbines. The first 60 wind inverters to be delivered by Magnetek beginning in mid-2007 are a result of that agreement. Under a separate supply agreement reached in October of this year, Magnetek will provide inverters for an initial period of one-year with customer options to extend the agreement in subsequent years. If exercised, the options could produce incremental revenues of more than $60 million for Magnetek through 2011.


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Former CIA director touts biofuels

Posted on December 26, 2006. Filed under: Vehicles - Ethanol, Vehicles - Vegetable oil |

RENEW Wisconsin and other renewable energy advocates often stress the importance of developing our own sources of energy. A former CIA director agrees, according to a story by Heidi Clausen in The Country Today:

ST. PAUL, MINN. – The figure is startling: The United States borrows $320 billion a year – almost $1 billion a day – to finance its addiction to foreign oil.

Homegrown, renewable fuels are a great way to keep more of that money at home, “so we profit instead of the suicide bombers,” said R. James Woolsey, former Central Intelligence Agency director.

Net farm income in the United States last year was $80 billion, he said.

“If we can replace only one-fourth of our imports of oil at today’s prices with domestically-created fuels … that’s $80 billion. We effectively double net farm income or come close to it,” he said.

Mr. Woolsey discussed energy security Dec. 12 at the first Midwest Agriculture Energy Network Summit in St. Paul. The theme was “Midwest Energy Independence: Taking Ownership.”


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RENEW files support for Blue Sky Green Field wind project

Posted on December 22, 2006. Filed under: Energy Policy, Wind |

RENEW Wisconsin filed a post-hearing brief in support of We Energies’ 88-turbine Blue Sky Green Field wind project in Fond du Lac County. In summary, RENEW makes the following arguements:

The design of the proposed Project is in the public interest first and foremost because it will be powered by wind rather than fossil fuels. . . . Wind energy is a locally available,self-replenishing, emission-free electricity source. . . . Fossil fuels, on the other hand, must be imported, are available in limited quantities, and emit pollutants.

Moreover, using wind energy furthers the State’s policy goal that all new installed capacity for electric generation be based on renewable energy resources to the extent cost-effective and technically feasible. . . . The Project will also assist [We Energies] in meeting the State’s recently established Renewable Portfolio Standard that requires electric providers to increase the amount of renewable electricity they sell to 10% by the year 2015.

Finally, the location of the proposed Project is in the public interest because it will be sited in an area that has both a favorable wind resource and a settlement pattern that can accommodate large clusters of wind turbines.

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Build new home to be solar ready

Posted on December 21, 2006. Filed under: Uncategorized |

Foucs on Energy, Wisconsin’s energy efficiency and renewable energy program, offers a fact sheet on making a new home “solar ready.”

Rising energy costs and concern for energy security and the environment are driving forces in a growing trend to incorporate renewable energy technology into residential housing. Focus on Energy and the Wisconsin ENERGY STAR®Homes Program recognize this as an opportunity for builders [and homeowners}.

The fact sheet includes a checklist of building details for construction of new homes that are built “ready” for future renewable energy installations.

Click here to read the fact sheet.

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Solar progress continues on new WECC building

Posted on December 19, 2006. Filed under: Solar |

Solar progress.JPG

Approximately 12 kilowatts of solar generation sits atop the new offices of the Wisconsin Energy Conservation Corporation (WECC), administrator of Focus on Energy, the state’s program for energy efficiency and renewables. WECC will move into the building in University Research Park on Madison’s west side sometime in March.

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Renewable Energy Summit, MilwaukeeMarch 8-9, 2007

Posted on December 18, 2006. Filed under: General |

The 4th Annual Wisconsin Technical Colleges Renewable Energy Summit will be held in Milwaukee, WI, March 8-9, 2007.

Organizations that have committed to sponsorship of the Renewable Energy Summit include:

Milwaukee Area Technical College
We Energies
City of Milwaukee
Wisconsin Technical College System Office
Wisconsin Technical College System Foundation
Focus on Energy

Watch for more details. In the meantime, see last year’s program here.

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Climate Policy Could Hinder Renewable Energy

Posted on December 17, 2006. Filed under: Energy Policy, Global Warming |

by Michael Vickerman
RENEW Wisconsin

In the area of global climate change, the United States is both a leader and a laggard. Comprising only three percent of the planet’s population, Americans are responsible for one-fourth of the carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions attributable to human activity. No other nation comes close to matching America’s prodigious appetite for carbon-based energy sources, though China is clearly beginning to close the gap.

Where the United States lags is in instituting policies for reducing the volume of greenhouse gases discharged into the atmosphere. Here we are, less than a month away from 2007, and we still don’t officially recognize climate change as a global environmental emergency requiring a national commitment to slash carbon emissions. Among other affluent countries, only Australia is willing to march with the United States down the path of inaction and denial, forging a fellowship of reprobate nations that refuses to treat the terrible environmental fix we’re in with any degree of urgency.

During their 12 years of iron-fisted control over Congress, Republican leaders were successful in bottling up legislation to limit emissions of heat-trapping gases. Now that the Republicans have been relegated to minority party status, the odds that Congress will pass a climate bill are greater than zero.

Clean air and renewable energy advocates cheered when the incoming Senate Environment Committee chair, California’s Barbara Boxer, announced plans to introduce a measure resembling AB 32, her home state’s new and ambitious climate change policy. It certainly stands to reason that lowering atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide (CO2)could necessitate greater use of such emission-free energy sources as wind, solar and hydro.

But when it comes to designing the mechanism that will drive reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, air regulators and renewable energy producers hold conflicting viewpoints. As a result of this fundamental disagreement, it is entirely possible that new federal climate change policies may do more harm than good for renewable energy development.


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14 firms fight over Dane County’s manure

Posted on December 15, 2006. Filed under: Digesters |

The following story by Bill Novak appeared in The Capital Times on December 13, 2006:

This might be hard to digest, but 14 companies are clamoring to get a contract from Dane County to see if tons of cow manure can be turned into a cash crop of sorts, with methane gas wafting from the poop soup sold to power companies to make electricity and dried manure sold to consumers as fertilizer.


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MG&E seeks 100 MW of base load

Posted on December 14, 2006. Filed under: Generation Plants |

From MG&E’s Web site:

Madison, Wis., Dec. 13, 2006—Madison Gas and Electric (MGE) (NYSE: MGEE) is issuing a Request for Proposal (RFP) for up to 100 megawatts (MW) of baseload capacity beginning as early as 2011. MGE estimates baseload power needs to increase 10 MW annually.

The company will consider an equity ownership, a purchased power agreement (PPA) or a PPA with an option to acquire ownership in a facility. PPA proposals will have terms ranging from 10 to 30 years. Final bidder selection will be on or before April 27, 2007.

Public information associated with the RFP, including all RFP documents as issued and updated, is available at Prior to the Feb. 22, 2007, submission deadline, all communications should be directed to MGE via the Web site or by sending an e-mail to

See MG&E’s Web site for complete details on the RFP.

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