Archive for August, 2007

Spitting into the Wind (Part 1)

Posted on August 31, 2007. Filed under: Wind |

Cape Wind Commentary
by Michael Vickerman, RENEW Wisconsin
August 31, 2007

When the news of a proposed windpower project in the waters off Cape Cod broke six years ago, the last thing developer Jim Gordon expected to create was a political tempest of such ferocity that it became the nation’s No. 1 energy hot spot, displacing Alaska’s North Slope in the process.

Clearly, Gordon miscalculated, and the battle royal that ensued—and continues to this day—is chronicled in absorbing fashion in Cape Wind, a new and valuable book that sheds light on the most privileged, if not powerful, opposition group the world has ever seen.

To be fair to Gordon, nobody knew back in the fall of 2001 how Cape Cod’s bluebloods would react to the idea of a wind project located nearby. In the aftermath of the September 11 attacks, it was reasonable to assume that Americans of all socioeconomic stripes would support energy production from domestic renewable resources like wind. Then again, no one before Gordon had the audacity to propose erecting wind turbines, 170 in total, a mere five and one-half miles from their seaside Xanadus.

As Gordon soon found out, the Cape and Island elites weren’t about to let this interloper turn their pleasuring grounds into New England’s largest source of clean energy without a fight. Abandoning uppercrust restraint for the kind of overheated language one expects from enraged Muslim clerics, the bluebloods closed ranks and issued a fatwa of sorts against the Cape Wind project. Gordon’s vision was described as “a monster project” that if built would irreparably sully “the hallowed ground” that is Nantucket Sound.

To conceal the NIMBY nature of their objections, the more well-heeled among them created an organization called the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound. But few were fooled by this transparent attempt to spin a grassroots movement out of old money. Anyone hearing the words “save our sound” knew right away that it was the view, not the environment, that needed saving.


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Job openings in wind industry

Posted on August 31, 2007. Filed under: Wind |

From RSMR, an executive search firm:

My name is Michele and I am an executive recruiter. I work exclusively
in the wind industry and have a couple of opportunities right now with
a couple of our clients. Currently we have two wind resource analyst
positions open and two project developer positions. Let me know if you
would like to receive more information on either. Thanks!

Michele Battle
RSMR Global Resources

And another opening from Renewable Energy Research Laboratory (RERL), University of Massachusetts, Amherst

RERL is hiring – the position includes technical support for community wind projects. A job description is attached.

If you are interested, please email a resume and cover letter to Include a technical writing sample if available.

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MREA hosts Harvest Fest fundraiser

Posted on August 30, 2007. Filed under: Uncategorized |

From the Midwest Renewable Energy Association (MREA):

Harvest Fest will be held September 29, from 4:00 pm to midnight at the ReNew the Earth Institute. Proceeds from the fundraiser will be used to build Aldo Leopold benches for the site. The benches will provide visitors with comfortable places to rest and reflect during the Fair and other events.

Harvest Fest activities will include: cider pressing, horse shoes, site tours, a vegetarian chili feed, folk music, and a bonfire. All events will take place outdoors, under the “big top” tent, so dress for the weather. A $25 donation is requested for each adult. Children under 13 may attend for free. Each $25 donor will have his or her name placed on a completed bench.

Harvest Fest is sponsored by: Central Waters Brewery, Amherst, WI; Flying Cat Fields, Amherst, WI; Harrison Hollow Vineyards, Viroqua, WI; Organic Valley, LaFarge, WI.

More information on the MREA Web site.

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Seeking solar site assessors and installers

Posted on August 29, 2007. Filed under: Solar |

GreenSky Energetics is currently looking for experienced solar site assessors, as well as solar thermal installers living in the east central area of Wisconsin.

Anyone who is interested can contact GreenSky Energetics at 1-888-684-5115

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Fundamentals of Wind Power Plant Design

Posted on August 28, 2007. Filed under: Wind |

The UW-Madison Department of Engineering Profesional Development (EPD) is offering a new course that may be of interest to many of you. “Fundamentals of Wind Power Plant Design” will be held on the UW campus, October 29 – November 1, 2007.

Link to the Web site or contact UW EPD Program Director Mitch Bradt,, 608-263-3370

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Solar panels cause concern in Grand Chute

Posted on August 27, 2007. Filed under: Solar |

From an article by Ed Lowe in the Appleton Post-Crescent:

GRAND CHUTE — The Plan Commission will get a legal opinion before proposing regulations on the installation of free-standing solar collectors on residential lots.

The panel on Tuesday deferred action on a proposed amendment to the municipal code after hearing statements suggesting it may have little to say about where solar collectors can or can’t go.

Mick Sagrillo, a specialist representing Focus on Energy, a state-authorized, utility-funded resource on renewable energy options, said state laws designed to promote the use of renewable energy options could overrule some of the proposed amendment’s aims.

The commission, responding to concerns raised by town residents, had proposed regulating the height, power capacity and appearance of solar collectors systems.

Sagrillo said a state regulation passed in 1983 prevents counties, towns or municipalities from any significant restriction of solar or wind generators, except in response to concerns of public health or safety, or when offering alternative systems comparable in cost and efficiency.

For those frightened by renewable energy, YouTube has a video.

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WPPI leads with solar installation at headquarters

Posted on August 24, 2007. Filed under: Solar |

Two photovoltaic solar panels have been installed at Wisconsin Public Power Inc.’s Sun Prairie headquarters. WPPI Energy Services Representative Kurt Pulvermacher says the panels’ sunlight-tracking technology, which allows them to follow the sun’s movements throughout the day, increases the solar system’s efficiency by as much as 30%.

A press release from Wisconsin Public Power, Inc. (WPPI):

SUN PRAIRIE, WIS., Aug. 22 – Electric customers who wonder what local utilities are doing about climate change and the need for clean, renewable energy don’t have to look farther than the 100% green-powered headquarters building of Sun Prairie-based Wisconsin Public Power Inc. Now helping to power the WPPI operations and office facility are two 2.8-kilowatt photovoltaic solar arrays.

“It is WPPI’s business objective to be a model for cost-effective conservation initiatives and the efficient use of energy,” says President and CEO Roy Thilly. “WPPI’s new solar installation demonstrates our commitment to the use of clean, renewable energy.”

While much of the utility industry’s renewable development efforts in the region have focused on the use of wind power, WPPI’s solar installation demonstrates its commitment to using a diverse mix of clean energy technologies. WPPI is on-track to be six years ahead of schedule in meeting the Wisconsin state requirement that 10% of its energy portfolio be supplied from renewable resources by 2015.

Michael Vickerman, Executive Director for RENEW Wisconsin, notes that WPPI’s on-site solar system is the first of its kind for an electric utility in Wisconsin.

“RENEW commends WPPI for being the first Wisconsin utility to install solar electric panels at its headquarters,” says Vickerman. “Wisconsin has by far the strongest solar electricity market in the Midwest, thanks to proactive utilities like WPPI who, through their own initiatives, demonstrate to their customers that this is an energy technology worth owning.”


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Kewaunee High School goes solar

Posted on August 23, 2007. Filed under: Solar |

From WFRV:

KEWAUNEE (WFRV) – Tuesday morning, solar-electric panels were installed on the roof of Kewaunee High School.

The panels are part of a system that will produce about 2,800 kilowatt-hours of electricity each year – that’s enough electricity to power three classrooms, which amounts to approximately $200 in energy savings per year to the school.

In addition to the solar panels, the school was awarded a three-week renewable energy curriculum to be integrated into the science curriculum. Students and teachers can access data from the solar-electric system via the Internet and use the information in classroom projects throughout the year.

The system was donated to the school by WPS Community Foundation as part of the SolarWise® for Schools program. Every year three or four new high schools are selected. Since 1996, 41 high schools in the Wisconsin Public Service area have participated in the program.

This program is funded by donations from 3,800 Wisconsin Public Service customers, as well as state grants.

For more information on solar energy, go to Focus on Energy.

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Fire station seeks green certification

Posted on August 23, 2007. Filed under: Green Building |

From an article by LeAnn R. Ralph in The Dunn County News:

When it is completed, the new North Menomonie fire station could be the first Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified fire station in Wisconsin.

The Menomonie City Council approved proceeding with LEED certification Monday evening during the council’s second regular meeting for the month.

Achieving LEED certification from the U.S. Green Building Council will cost nearly $30,000. Charlie Schneider, sector manager with Focus on Energy, urged the city council to pursue LEED certification.

He told the council that Focus on Energy will provide a $7,500 grant to the city for the certification process, and other grants may be available for energy efficient design and equipment.

Focus on Energy is a statewide program that typically works on projects with businesses and homeowners that have a payback of between two and five years. The program was the result of negotiations between the state, the Public Service Commission and utilities operating in Wisconsin.

Bob Sworski, the lead architect on the project with the engineering firm Short Elliot Hendrickson out of Chippewa Falls, told the city council that the energy efficient requirements for LEED certification were already included in the design for the fire station.

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RENEW challenges town’s proposed siting ordinance

Posted on August 22, 2007. Filed under: Energy Policy, Wind |

RENEW Wisconsin submitted the following letter to the board of the Town of Stockbridge at a public hearing on August 17:

August 17, 2007

Hon. James Mayer, Chairman
Town of Stockbridge
N5698 Lake Shore Drive
Hilbert, WI 54129

Dear Mr. Mayer:

Re: Proposed Wind Energy Systems Licensing Ordinance for the Town of Stockbridge in Calumet County

The following comments are submitted on behalf of RENEW Wisconsin, a nonprofit organization headquartered in Madison whose 275 members across the state support the responsible development of Wisconsin’s renewable energy resources. Since 1991 RENEW has acted as a catalyst to advance a sustainable energy future through public policy and private sector initiatives. Among its recent achievements is the creation of a Wisconsin Wind Coordinating Committee, a working group composed of wind industry professionals (developers, manufacturers, contractors, installers, utilities), environmental and renewable energy advocates, Focus on Energy renewable energy program staff and subcontractors, and state agency personnel directly involved with wind energy development. This stakeholder body addresses various issues, such as local ordinances, that affect the ability of wind development to proceed in an orderly manner in Wisconsin.

I have reviewed the August 3, 2007, draft ordinance that was prepared by John St. Peter, the Town Attorney, and I can safely say that if this ordinance is approved in its present form, commercial wind development will become an impossibility in this jurisdiction. So too would the use of wind energy to produce electricity for personal consumption.

To put this draft ordinance in perspective, it is worth asking whether other windpower projects operating or approved could be permitted under the terms proposed here. A quick review reveals that all five windpower installations operating in Wisconsin, including the 30 megawatt (MW) Montfort project in Iowa County, could not have been approved if those jurisdictions had in place an ordinance as restrictive as this one. The same holds true for We Energies’ Blue Sky Green Field project and Invenergy’s Forward Wind Center, both of which were approved by the Public Service Commission. Together, both developments are likely to account for more than 300 MW—10 times the generating capacity at Montfort.

In fact, none of the utility-scale projects proposed for development in Wisconsin (see accompanying summary table), would have even reached the application stage, let alone received approval, had those ordinances resembled what the Town of Stockbridge has drafted.


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