Archive for November, 2007

Governors agree to combat climate change

Posted on November 16, 2007. Filed under: Uncategorized |

From an article Megan Orear by in The Daily Cardinal:

Leaders from nine Midwestern states and the province of Manitoba met in Milwaukee Thursday to sign the Midwestern Regional Greenhouse Gas Reduction Accord, a plan to increase renewable energy and help curb global climate change.

Governors from the states of Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Kansas, Illinois, and Michigan, and the premier of Manitoba signed as full participants in the accord.

South Dakota, Indiana and Ohio have signed with an “observer status,” according to Keith Reopelle, program director of the environmental advocacy organization Clean Wisconsin.

Participating states will set targets for limiting greenhouse gas emissions within the next year, and will enact the new policies in full within the next 30 months, according to a statement from Gov. Jim Doyle’s office.

Some of the policies include a regional trading system of carbon emissions and incentives to businesses that reduce emissions.

The agreement also attempts to save energy by promoting the use of renewable fuel, according to the release.

Michael Vickerman, executive director of the environmental non-profit organization RENEW Wisconsin, said the energy-saving tactics might only improve matters marginally. He said residents need to cut energy consumption by reducing wasteful habits.

“We can make progress on the technology side, but we have to change our behaviors,” Vickerman said.

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Introductory renewable energy workshops in Oak Creek

Posted on November 15, 2007. Filed under: General, Solar |

We Energies is sponsoring 2 two-hour workshops next Saturday, November 17, in Room E114 of the new ECAM Center on MATC’s Oak Creek Campus in cooperation with MATC and the Midwest Renewable Energy Association (MREA). Both workshops will be taught by Jim Funk for MREA.

10 AM to Noon: Introduction to Renewable Energy Systems
This two-hour workshop covers renewable energy systems (solar electric, solar hot water, solar thermal and small wind systems) for the residential and small business setting, 10 steps to install a renewable energy system and available financial incentives.

1 to 3 PM: Solar PV Systems for Homeowners
This two-hour workshop covers solar photovoltaic (PV) technology basics, making solar PV work in Wisconsin, determining if your site is solar ready, sizing a system to meet your needs, obtaining financial incentives and selecting an installer.

The official street address of Milwaukee Area Technical College’s Oak Creek campus is 6665 South Howell Avenue, Oak Creek, WI.

If you’re driving from downtown Milwaukee, go south on I-43 approximately 8 miles to the first exit past the airport at College Avenue; drive east about a mile on College to the MATC entrance on the right. The ECAM Center is on the west end of the Oak Creek campus.

Each workshop includes handouts and Focus on Energy fact sheets. Demonstration equipment will be available for viewing and hands-on activities are included in the Solar PV Systems for Homeowners workshop. The workshops have no prerequisites. You may attend one or both workshops. The cost is $15 per workshop or $5 for any We Energies Energy for Tomorrow® residential, small business or large business customer.

To register, phone George Stone at 414-297-7430.

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Wisconsin lauded for leadership on clean energy

Posted on November 14, 2007. Filed under: Energy Policy |

A press release issued by Wisconsin Environment:

From left to right: Wes Slaymaker, EcoEnergy; Dan Kohler,
Wisconsin Environment; Lt. Gov. Barbara Lawton.

Madison, WI – Wisconsin has earned a rising star for its bold leadership to increase renewable energy and save energy, according to a report released today by Wisconsin Environment.

The Environment America report, “America’s Clean Energy Stars: State Actions Leading America to a New Energy Future” praised the Doyle Administration for leadership and the legislature for adopting bold policies to promote clean energy that can provide a model for the entire nation. In releasing the report, Wisconsin Environment and Lt. Governor Barbara Lawton called on Congress to follow the lead of the states by passing a strong energy bill that increases renewable energy, fuel economy and energy conservation.

“Wisconsin is rising to our nation’s energy challenge by taking action to reduce energy consumption and promote clean renewable energy and Lt. Governor Lawton deserves tremendous credit for helping to lead the nation,” said Dan Kohler, director of Wisconsin Environment. “While we can and should do even more to meet our energy challenges, our leaders in Washington should stop dragging their feet and start dancing with the clean energy stars in the states. They can follow the road map provided by the Wisconsin legislature, and pass a strong energy bill this year that saves energy, saves oil and moves America forward to a new energy future.”


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Dane County budget boosts wind power, energy efficiency investments

Posted on November 13, 2007. Filed under: Energy Efficiency, Solar, Wind |

From a press release issued by Supervisors Bret Hulsey and Matt Veldran:

Madison, WI—This year’s Dane County budget passed by the County Board Monday has a record number of renewable and energy efficiency measures. The County Board budget sent to the County Executive expanded the commitment to energy efficiency and conservation, while holding the line on property tax growth to 3.35%, one of the lowest increases in recent memory.

“This budget for the first time purchases wind energy and more efficient light bulbs,” said Supervisor Matt Veldran, chair of the county Energy Independence Subcommittee. “The best way to reduce the need for new power plants and power lines is to use less energy and buy more renewable energy.”

Veldran sponsored an amendment to purchase 20% of the airport’s electricity using renewable windpower for the first time at no cost to taxpayers. This was one of many measures for clean energy.

“The 2008 Dane County budget invests in clean energy programs implementing our commitment to reduce air pollution that causes global warming,” said Supervisor Brett Hulsey, Chair the Personnel and Finance Committee. “It shows that you can be green and save greenbacks at the same time.”

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Energy subsidy comparison: renewables get little

Posted on November 12, 2007. Filed under: Uncategorized |

From the blog of Wind Energy Works:

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) recently released a report comparing electricity subsidies by fuel type in response to a request from Senators Alexander and Carper. The report looks at both R&D and tax expenditures for fossil fuel, nuclear and renewable energy from FY 2002 through FY 2007. While this report does not include the subsidies received by conventional generation over the past 50 to 80 years or subsidies outside of R&D or tax measures, such as limited liability insurance and loan guarantees, it does present a clear picture that renewable energy continues to receive only a fraction of subsidies from the Federal government.

The Results?

Total R&D Expenditures from FY 2002 to FY 2007: $11.5 billion with nuclear receiving $6.2 billion, fossil fuel receiving $3.1 billion and renewable energy receiving $1.4 billion.

Total Tax Expenditures from FY 2002 to FY 2007: $18.2 billion with fossil fuel receiving $13.7 billion and renewable energy receiving $2.8 billion.

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Making and saving energy at the zoo

Posted on November 11, 2007. Filed under: Energy Efficiency, Green Building, Solar |

From a story by Jennifer Page in The Isthmus:

For the past few years, Dane County has been working to make its buildings more energy-efficient, hoping to save taxpayers thousands of dollars in heating and cooling costs and reduce environmental impact. One main focus of these efforts has been the Henry Vilas Zoo.

“The county is doing a lot right now with conservation and eco-friendly building,” says county Supv. Chuck Erickson, a member of the zoo commission. “The zoo has seen a lot of this focus.”

. . . The zoo has long looked for ways to improve energy efficiency. For several years, there has been a solar panel array in the flamingo yard. The energy it generates — about one-quarter of what’s needed to power the average home — is sold back to Madison Gas & Electric.

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How are wind farms regulated and permitted?

Posted on November 11, 2007. Filed under: Wind |

From an article by Gina Duwe in The Janesville Gazette clearly outlines process and issues in siting wind turbines in Wisconsin:

A new crop is sprouting in Wisconsin.

In windy areas of the state, utility and renewable energy companies are planting wind farms that will help the state meet its mandate of producing 10 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2015.

But that’s not the only reason utility companies are attracted to wind energy, said Michael Vickerman, executive director of Renew Wisconsin.

— With tax credits, wind energy can compete with natural gas or coal generation plants.

“If a utility were to build something new, all three are roughly competitive,” Vickerman said.

— Wind is the only renewable energy that can be scaled up to the utility size, he said. For example, 2,000 homes each with a solar electrical system would be needed to match one commercial wind turbine, he said.

“We expect wind to account for about 90 percent of all renewable electricity required under the law,” he said.

— The cost to produce wind energy doesn’t increase over time, Vickerman said.

“Ninety percent of the cost is wrapped up in original generating equipment,” he said.

Wisconsin has 53 megawatts being generated by 55 commercial wind turbines, although several other projects are being planned, permitted and or built.

The state Public Service Commission has approved three projects in the Fox River Valley, and We Energies announced plans last month to build a 100 MW project in central Wisconsin.

“There’s no shortage of projects in the pipeline or development queue,” Vickerman said.

So how are the farms regulated and permitted?

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Wind farm planned in Dane County

Posted on November 10, 2007. Filed under: Wind |

A bit of old news in a story by Matthew Defour in the Wisconsin State Journal:

Dane County ‘s first wind farm is on track to be up and spinning in about a year just west of Highway 12 in the town of Springfield.

A group of property owners has cooperated with Elgin, Ill.,-based EcoEnergy to build six 397-foot turbines, which will generate an estimated 22 million kilowatt-hours of energy per year, or enough to power more than 2,500 homes, according to Curt Bjurlin, permit project manager for EcoEnergy.

Property owners Tom Helt and Stan Hellenbrand proposed building two turbines in 2005, but after EcoEnergy, a member of the Morse Group, a national electric contracting firm, spent two years collecting wind data at the location, the project has expanded to include five properties, Hellenbrand said.

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Wind is wonderful to turbine operator Alliant

Posted on November 9, 2007. Filed under: Wind |

A story by Tom Content in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

Gusty winds across the upper Midwest this week helped Alliant Energy Corp. of Madison generate plenty of power from wind turbines, the utility said.

At 5 a.m. Monday [November 5], Alliant’s wind turbines produced 313 megawatts of electricity, enough to power more than 78,000 homes.

During the day, Alliant generated an average of more than 300 megawatts of electricity across Iowa, southern Minnesota and Wisconsin.

The company generates wind power from 16 different wind farms, based primarily in Iowa.

The Monfort wind farm near Dodgeville generates about 1% of the wind power generated by the utility, said Alliant spokesman Scott Reigstad.

Reigstad said the utility typically generates more than 300 megawatts on about 10 or 15 days a year when winds are at least 35 mph.

Alliant plans to more than double its wind-power generation over the next three years, including the construction of a 41-turbine wind farm in Fond du Lac County. That project will produce 68 megawatts of power, or enough to supply at least 17,000 additional homes.

By 2010, the company plans to spend $1 billion to add 400 more megawatts of electricity, including 200 in Iowa and 200 in Minnesota. The projects in Minnesota will generate power for the company’s Wisconsin Power & Light Co. customers.

Wisconsin Power & Light serves 450,000 customers in southern and eastern Wisconsin, including parts of Kenosha, Dane, Dodge, Fond du Lac, Sheboygan, Walworth and Winnebago counties.

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Racine to reap solar power from parking lot project

Posted on November 8, 2007. Filed under: Solar |

From an article by Michael Burke in The Journal Times:

RACINE — Instead of investing in parking lots, the city has decided to invest in solar power.

Officials here had a choice: Spend $135,000 to repave a little-used parking lot; or do something else with the money and the property.

They chose the latter. The city will soon build one of the larger solar electricity-generating systems in the state.

“It’s certainly the largest of any government facility in Wisconsin,” said Carl Siegrist, solar programs manager for We Energies.

He said the system would power about five average homes, although the electricity will help run the City Hall Annex, where it will be installed.

On Tuesday the Racine City Council authorized Sturtevant’s Magaw Electric Construction Co. to build the 37-kilowatt photovoltaic system.

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