Archive for January, 2007

The Icebergs Ahead

Posted on January 31, 2007. Filed under: Energy Efficiency, Energy Policy, Peak Oil & the End of Cheap Fossil Fuel, Vehicles - Ethanol |

Petroleum and Natural Gas Watch
by Michael Vickerman, RENEW Wisconsin
January 31, 2007, Vol. 6, Number 2

The State of the Union address presented President George W. Bush with the only scheduled opportunity he’ll have in 2007 to articulate a new energy agenda for this nation. Word dribbled out in advance of his speech that the President would unveil several ambitious energy proposals, including at least one specifically to lower the volume of greenhouse gases discharged by U.S. sources. As a result of this build-up, there were many viewers–I among them–who expected Bush to seize the moment and outline an energy initiative that would move this nation toward a more secure and environmentally responsible direction.

But like the protagonist in “Casey at the Bat,” George W. Bush struck out when it counted. Instead of announcing a bold plan to shrink America’s supersized energy appetite and shift to low-carbon sources of fuel and power, Bush offered up a potpourri of uninspiring platitudes along with an alternative fuels proposal that is richly deserving of the term “crackpot.” In so doing, he screwed up a room-service opportunity to rescue his energy legacy from winding up in the same dumpster that contains all his other policy failures.


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Radical, post-modern theologian to speak March 2-3

Posted on January 31, 2007. Filed under: General |

The Network for Spiritual Progressives and Unity Church of Madison are co-sponsoring a visit by radical, post-modern theologian Matthew Fox on March 2nd & 3rd, 2007.

During the weekend events, Friday night’s talk is titled, “Interfaith and our Ancestral Faiths: Searching for Shared Wisdom in a Perilous Time”. Matthew spiritual teachings provides a solid foundation and holistic perspective from which to address the critical issues of our times, including the revitalization of education, religion, work, and culture; the honoring of women’s wisdom; the restoration and celebration of hope in today’s youth and the promotion of social and ecological justice.

Saturday night is the Cosmic Celebration, the highlight of the weekend. The Cosmic Celebration is an event that integrates live music, multi-media imagery and eastern and indigenous spiritual elements to create a multi-cultural, intergenerational and ecumenical form of worship. In an atmosphere of artistic and spiritual celebration, computer generated art, multi-vision projection and sound systems, and digitally composed and mastered dance music encourages us to celebrate with our bodies.

The Ritual brings together people of diverse ages, faiths, cultures and prayer. And each mass holds true to our ancestral traditions, respects and honors our held differences, and highlights our common human bonds.

You can find out more information about Matt and the weekend events and purchase tickets for the Friday and Saturday night events by going to, contacting Unity Church at 221-1376 or by stopping by ticket outlets; Border’s East & West, Mimosa Books, Earthsong Books (Janesville) and Frugal Muse North & West.

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Looking for alternatives

Posted on January 30, 2007. Filed under: Energy Efficiency, Energy Finance, Energy Policy, Global Warming |

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel editorialized in support of Governor Doyle’s global warming and energy initiatives:

Gov. Jim Doyle’s proposals to cut global warming emissions and the use of fossil fuels deserve legislative approval.

Wisconsin has long been considered a leader in efforts to protect the environment through conservation and preservation policies. After all, the founder of Earth Day was former Gov. Gaylord Nelson.

Buy a link hereNow, Gov. Jim Doyle wants to make Wisconsin a leader in developing policies that will protect the environment by changing the way people use energy. Legislators have to make sure that those policies are effective, of course, but Doyle is headed in the right direction.

And he’s doing it at the right time. Last week, President Bush – perhaps not the most environment-friendly president the nation has had – announced proposals to counter human causes of global warming and to reduce the nation’s reliance on foreign sources of oil. Many states have begun their own initiatives. In the Midwest, Minnesota aims to cut electricity use and to promote new ways to make ethanol, and Iowa is aggressively tapping its corn crop to become a major player in national ethanol production.

In his “state of the state” address tonight, Doyle is expected to build on energy policies enacted in his first term by announcing proposals to invest more in wind power, ethanol and other sources of renewable energy and to explore ways to reduce global warming emissions.

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Doyle seeks more renewables, global warming solutions

Posted on January 29, 2007. Filed under: Uncategorized |

Doyle will announce in his “state of the state” address Tuesday night that he will appoint a global warming task force and create an energy independence office to coordinate the state’s effort to dramatically expand the use of renewable energy by 2025.

The governor will propose grants, loans and tax credits for projects to help the state rely less on fossil fuels and curb emissions linked to global warming at a time when energy costs and concerns about climate change are rising.

“You can’t just sit and pretend this isn’t happening anymore,” Doyle said.

Read the full story by Tom Content and Lee Berquist in JS online.

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Renewables in Wisconsin’s Energy Mix

Posted on January 26, 2007. Filed under: General |

Brown-bag Lunch Series on Energy
Noon to 1:00 p.m., January 29, 2007
Room 400 SE, State Capitol

RENEW Wisconsin and the Madison Peak Oil Group invite legislators, aides, Capitol staff, lobbyists, agency staff, and the general public to a series brown-bag lunches on energy-related issues.

Without a doubt, this legislative session will see several bills and administrative rules on energy issues, and the brown-bag lunches will provide the background and context to help with a better understanding of the underlying issues. The briefings will be non-partisan and will not offer positions on any proposals pending at the time.

The short briefing will allow ample time for questions and discussions.

January 29 – Renewables in Wisconsin’s Energy Mix, presented by Ed Blume. A discussion of Wisconsin’s total energy use and the contribution made by various renewable energy resources – wind, solar, biomass, biodigesters, and hydro.

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Xcel Energy moves on carbon and renewables

Posted on January 26, 2007. Filed under: Clean Air, Global Warming, Wind |

Xcel Energy which serves portions of northwestern Wisconsin announced plans to expand its renewable energy generation and limit emissions of green house gases, according to a story by Leslie Brooks Suzukamo in the St. Paul Pioneer:

The new Democratic-controlled Congress is expected to pass laws limiting the greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global warming. And Dick Kelly, chief executive of Minnesota’s largest electricity producer, says: Bring it on.

The Xcel Energy CEO sees regulation of carbon emissions from his industry’s coal-fired power plants as not just inevitable, but desirable — and he wants to help shape it.

“We’ve got to come up with a plan that’s good for everyone,” he said from his office in downtown Minneapolis. “We’ve all got to figure out what the rules are, and then we’ll go out and do it.”

At the moment, renewable sources like wind and hydroelectric power contribute only 10 percent of Xcel’s power — coal remains the backbone of the industry — but Kelly said he believes that renewable energy sources could generate 20 percent of Xcel’s output someday soon.

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RENEW praises PSC decision on wind farm

Posted on January 25, 2007. Filed under: Wind |

January 25, 2005

Michael Vickerman
Executive Director

RENEW praises PSC decision on wind farm

Renewable energy advocates welcomed today’s decision by the Public Service Commission (PSC) of Wisconsin to approve plans for development of a large wind generation facility in Fond du Lac County.

“We couldn’t agree more completely with PSC Chairman Dan Ebert when he said that We Energies’ project is an important step in meeting the goal of generating 10 percent of the state’s electricity from renewables by 2010,” said Michael Vickerman, executive director of RENEW Wisconsin, a Madison-based state-wide nonprofit promoter of renewable electricity generation.


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Energy in the State of the State

Posted on January 24, 2007. Filed under: Biomass, Energy Efficiency, Energy Policy, Solar, Vehicles - Ethanol, Vehicles - Hybrid, Vehicles - Vegetable oil, Wind |

From Bush’s State of the State speech:

It is in our vital interest to diversify America’s energy supply — and the way forward is through technology. We must continue changing the way America generates electric power — by even greater use of clean coal technology … solar and wind energy … and clean, safe nuclear power. We need to press on with battery research for plug-in and hybrid vehicles, and expand the use of clean diesel vehicles and biodiesel fuel. We must continue investing in new methods of producing ethanol — using everything from wood chips, to grasses, to agricultural wastes.

We have made a lot of progress, thanks to good policies in Washington and the strong response of the market. Now even more dramatic advances are within reach. Tonight, I ask Congress to join me in pursuing a great goal. Let us build on the work we have done and reduce gasoline usage in the United States by 20 percent in the next ten years — thereby cutting our total imports by the equivalent of three-quarters of all the oil we now import from the Middle East.

To reach this goal, we must increase the supply of alternative fuels, by setting a mandatory Fuels Standard to require 35 billion gallons of renewable and alternative fuels in 2017 — this is nearly five times the current target. At the same time, we need to reform and modernize fuel economy standards for cars the way we did for light trucks — and conserve up to eight and a half billion more gallons of gasoline by 2017.

Achieving these ambitious goals will dramatically reduce our dependence on foreign oil, but will not eliminate it. So as we continue to diversify our fuel supply, we must also step up domestic oil production in environmentally sensitive ways. And to further protect America against severe disruptions to our oil supply, I ask Congress to double the current capacity of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve.

America is on the verge of technological breakthroughs that will enable us to live our lives less dependent on oil. These technologies will help us become better stewards of the environment — and they will help us to confront the serious challenge of global climate change.

The White House also posted substantially more details on Bush’s plans.

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Feedlot, biofuel plant delayed

Posted on January 23, 2007. Filed under: Vehicles - Vegetable oil |

Nathan Leaf reports in the Wisconsin State Journal on developments with the Belmont project:

A large feedlot and biofuel plant planned for northwest Lafayette County has been scaled back and delayed due to environmental concerns from local residents. But Belmont BioAg officials are still confident the project will be a success and are hoping for it to be operational by late next year.

When the project was announced in late 2005, it called for a facility with room for 20,000 cattle. Belmont BioAg president Bob Brodbeck said Monday the initial cost of the project would have been more than $200 million. But now, after considering a recommendation from a citizen advisory committee formed by the company to evaluate the plan, the cost has been reduced to $120 million and the initial herd size will be 2,500 housed in one barn. Brodbeck believes the changes, which includes swapping out an expensive waste incinerator for a lower-cost kiln, will improve the plant’s return on investment.


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Wind farms for Columbia County

Posted on January 22, 2007. Filed under: Wind |

A story by Jen McCoy in the Portage Daily Register reports on the development of two wind farms in Columbia County:

The winds of change are blowing steadily on Friesland Road in northeast Columbia County as two major players in energy — Midwest Renewable Energy Corp. and FPL Energy, an affiliate of Florida Power and Light — each plan to construct wind farms in 2008.

For the past three years, both renewable energy companies have been courting farmers in that area to lease land for the construction of wind turbines. The leases under option agreements run between 20 and 25 years long for farmers who decide to sign with either company.

The proposed Columbia Community Wind Power LLC wind farm would have 40 wind turbines, while the FPL Energy proposes 53. Each company would need 5,000 to 6,000 acres to accommodate the turbines, and both companies would like to run at 80 megawatts at full capacity. The large proposed acreage could effect residents and farmers across the town of Randolph, the town of Scott, the village of Cambria and the village of Friesland.

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