Archive for March, 2008

Milwaukee chosen for solar grant

Posted on March 31, 2008. Filed under: Solar |

From a press release issued by the Department of Energy:

DENVER, CO – U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Samuel W. Bodman today announced that DOE will make available up to $2.4 million to 12 cities across the country selected as Solar America Cities, chosen for their commitment and comprehensive approach to the deployment of solar technologies and the development of sustainable solar infrastructures. These projects further President Bush’s Solar America Initiative (SAI), which aims to make electricity from solar photovoltaics cost-competitive with conventional electricity by 2015. Combined with industry cost share and funding from each city, total investment in all 12 cities is estimated at $12.1 million. Secretary Bodman made the announcement while delivering keynote remarks at the New Frontiers in Energy Summit 2008 in Denver. “These Solar America Cities aim to jumpstart integration of solar power and encourage other cities across the nation to follow suit,” Secretary Bodman said. “With the President’s leadership, the Energy Department is working aggressively to make clean, abundant and affordable solar energy the norm, and no longer an ‘alternative’ source of energy. The innovative programs already underway in each city will help us raise the bar of what’s possible, and will help cities and towns across America harness the tremendous potential of the sun.”

Cities designated as Solar America Cities, which will each receive $200,000 from DOE to integrate a variety of solar energy technologies throughout the city, include: Denver, CO; Houston, TX; Knoxville, TN; Milwaukee, WI; Minneapolis & St. Paul, MN; Orlando, FL; Philadelphia, PA; Sacramento, CA; San Antonio, TX; San Jose, CA; Santa Rosa, CA; and Seattle, WA.

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Alliant partners with Prairie Lands Bio-Products, Inc. to develop renewables to fuel Iowa power plant

Posted on March 30, 2008. Filed under: Biomass, Generation Plants |

From a press release posted on Alliant Energy’s Web site:

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa – March 26, 2008 – Interstate Power and Light Company (IPL), a subsidiary of Alliant Energy Corporation (NYSE: LNT), announced today a partnership with Prairie Lands Bio-Products, Inc. (Prairie Lands) to assess ways to create a commercially viable market for switchgrass or other similar agriculturally based products to serve as a fuel source for up to 10 percent of the power for the proposed 630 megawatt Sutherland Generating Station Unit 4 in Marshalltown, Iowa.As part of the assessment, Prairie Lands is evaluating the potential environmental, economic and agricultural benefits of switchgrass or other similar agricultural products. Prairie Lands Bio-Products, Inc. is also identifying cost-effective and efficient methods to collect, aggregate, process, and deliver the products to the power plant.

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State to start issuing energy grants, loans

Posted on March 29, 2008. Filed under: Biomass, Digesters, Energy Finance, General, Solar, Vehicles - Ethanol, Vehicles - Vegetable oil, Wind, Wood |

From an article by Rick Barrett in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

Businesses and researchers may soon apply for state grants and loans aimed at developing renewable energy, Gov. Jim Doyle said Tuesday.The state expects to award about $15 million per year for 10 years from the newly created Wisconsin Energy Independence Fund, Doyle said at a news conference at Johnson Controls Inc.The money will be used to support research and development of renewable fuels and encourage businesses to adopt new technologies that save energy and use renewable energy.

Typical grants are expected to range from $100,000 to $500,000. Matching funds of at least 50% of total project costs must come from other sources, according to the state Department of Commerce.

Doyle laid out a long-term strategy that he hopes will make Wisconsin a leader in renewable energy. He repeated his call for the state to generate 25% of its electricity and motor fuels from renewable resources by 2025.

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Call for energy research proposals

Posted on March 28, 2008. Filed under: General |

From Focus on Energy:

Wisconsin’s Focus on Energy Environmental and Economic Research and Development Program (EERD) is pleased to announce $1,300,000 in grant funding available this year for research projects that study the environmental and economic impacts of electricity and natural gas use in Wisconsin. EERD is looking for projects that study the environmental impacts of biomass and biofuel energy, the economic impacts of the renewable energy and energy efficiency industries, the environmental and economic impacts of climate change in Wisconsin due to electricity or natural gas use, and the economic effects of electric and natural gas use. Multiple year projects will be considered in this funding cycle.Any researcher or research organization with a project relevant to Wisconsin can apply for a grant. The EERD Research Forum will evaluate proposals and make funding recommendations. We expect to announce funded projects in late May or early June.

Prospective applicants must submit an Intent to Propose form by April 8, 2008 and those invited to submit a full proposal must send it electronically by 12 p.m. on May 1, 2008. The 2007-2008 Request for Proposals and other forms can be found on the Focus on Energy website at

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Do wind turbines make too much noise?

Posted on March 27, 2008. Filed under: Wind |

Apparently the Fond du Lac Reporter filmed the new wind turbines in Fond du Lac County and posted the footage on You Tube:

A bubbling brook and birds can be plainly heard while the turbines spin. A passing automobile drowns out all other sound.

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Alliant touts Cassville plant; intervenors respond

Posted on March 26, 2008. Filed under: Biomass, Coal, Generation Plants, Wind |

The Wisconsin State Journal ran an opinion piece by Barbara Swan, president of Alliant Energy ‘s Wisconsin Power & Light Company. Here’s an excerpt:

For us, innovation starts in Cassville. Rather than depend solely on traditional fuels like coal, the new, state-of-the-art plant will have the flexibility to also burn hay from Wisconsin fields (switchgrass), leftover corn stalks (stover) and waste wood — all harvested locally.

Our early tests reveal switchgrass and others are a cleaner-burning alternative to coal, which is why we are investing in technology that will allow us to reduce our reliance on coal at Cassville and replace it with renewable fuels. This will dramatically reduce harmful emissions.This investment also will provide Wisconsin farmers and foresters new markets, an ecologically friendly crop and better land and forest management practices.

Michael Vickerman for RENEW and Ryan Schryver for Clean Wisconsin submitted a response to the newspaper:

The year 2007 was not kind to the coal industry and 2008 appears to be more of the same steady stream of bad news for companies wishing to build new coal plants. Public opposition and financial problems have continued to plague projects in every corner of the country. Perhaps that explains Alliant Energy’s eagerness to greenwash its proposed coal plant in Cassville as a “flex fuel” or “biomass-ready” plant (in a guest column in the WSJ, March 18).

But of the 300 megawatts of new capacity that Alliant seeks to build, 90% of it would be dedicated entirely to coal, the dirtiest source of power available. The fuel flexibility would only apply to the remaining 10% of the plant, and even that is hypothetical. There is no guarantee that the plant would ever burn any other fuels besides coal from the Powder River Basin in Wyoming.

The inefficient design of Alliant’s plant ensures that only one-third of the energy in the coal and biomass is converted into electricity. The other two-thirds will go up the stack as exhaust heat and pollution. This new coal plant would be no more efficient than the existing Cassville plant built more than 40 years ago.The “flex fuel” concept that Alliant is peddling is simply a smokescreen meant to distract us from the dirty reality of their old-technology coal plant. While the technology Alliant has chosen may allow them to burn small amounts of biomass, it also will have the highest rates of global warming pollution of any technology available. In fact, the technology Alliant proposes to use is so inefficient that the utility would have to burn nearly 25% biomass to have the same rates of global warming pollution as other coal plants burning 100% coal in Wisconsin today.

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Turbine built too close to residence

Posted on March 26, 2008. Filed under: Wind |

From an article by Tom Content in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

Town of Marshfield – We Energies is facing a 15-yard penalty of sorts after a resident flagged the power company for building a wind turbine too close to his home.Local ordinances require that wind towers be erected at least 1,000 feet from a neighboring house, but a series of mistakes ended up with the tower being built 47 feet too close to Bill Winkler’s home.

Winkler couldn’t be reached for comment. His brother, Mike Winkler, was among the most vocal opponents of the We Energies 88-turbine wind power project.

“I don’t know what’s going to happen with that,” Mike Winkler said of the tower location problem.

After the location error was discovered, We Energies hired a consultant to use global positioning system technology to measure the distance of every wind tower from nearby properties, said wind farm project manager Andy Hesselbach.

The utility’s analysis and the consultant found that no other tower in the $300 million project was too close to a neighbor’s property. The only exception: a few homes that have been built in recent years, but owners of those homes were informed that they would be building homes within 1,000 feet of where a turbine would be located.

We Energies knew last summer that the turbine site selected by a prior developer was too close to the Winkler residence, Hesselbach said, so the utility drew up revised plans moving the turbine by 85 feet, and filed those with the state Public Service Commission.

“We thought everything was all squared away,” he said.

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Farms clean up with new crop – wind turbines

Posted on March 25, 2008. Filed under: Wind |

From an article by Tom Content in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

Town of Marshfield – The state’s newest energy crop is rising above the rolling farm fields overlooking Lake Winnebago in northeastern Fond du Lac County.

While farmers throughout Wisconsin have planted more corn in recent years to make ethanol, some area farmers will soon receive payments for giving land over to another renewable resource: wind turbines.

More than 170 turbines sit atop towers in two new wind farm projects in Fond du Lac and Dodge counties. The new turbines will generate only a fraction of the state’s power needs, yet they are the most significant expansion yet of the state’s renewable energy efforts.

“It’s our future for energy, isn’t it?” said Melvin Olig of Mount Calvary as he took an afternoon walk on country roads with turbines on either side.

Proposals to build the turbines were floated five years ago, and the projects became controversial. Some homeowners worried that the towers would dramatically change the rural landscape, and they raised concerns about noise and other potential problems.

“It doesn’t bother me,” said Olig, who checks which way the wind is blowing each morning by looking out his kitchen window at the two turbines he can see from his home.

“Some people are quite up in arms about it, but if you’re doing something that’s legal on your own land, I don’t have a problem with it.”

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Kansas governor rejects two coal-fired power plants

Posted on March 23, 2008. Filed under: Coal, Global Warming |

From an article posted on the Environmental News Service:

TOPEKA, Kansas, March 21, 2008 (ENS) – Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius today vetoed legislation that would have overturned a decision of her administration to deny an permit application to build two new coal-fired power plants because of the greenhouse gases they would have produced. The measure passed without a veto-proof majority of state legislators.

Last October Secretary of Kansas Department of Health and Environment Rob Bremby denied a permit to regional wholesale power supplier Sunflower Electric Power Corporation to build two new power plants at its Holcomb Station in western Kansas.

The bill Sebelius vetoed today would have permitted the power plants and stripped the state agency of the power to deny such permits in the future if they held utilities to standards stricter than those in the federal Clean Air Act.

“We know that greenhouse gases contribute to climate change,” Sebelius said. “As an agricultural state, Kansas is particularly vulnerable. Therefore, reducing pollutants benefits our state not only in the short term – but also for generations of Kansans to come.”

“Of all the duties and responsibilities entrusted to me as governor, none is greater than my obligation to protect the health and well-being of the people of Kansas,” Sebelius said. “And that is why I supported the decision of the Secretary of Kansas Department of Health and Environment regarding Kansas’ energy future. For that reason, I must veto House Substitute for SB 327.”

“Instead of building two new coal plants, which would produce 11 million new tons of carbon dioxide each year, I support pursuing other, more promising energy and economic development alternatives,” the governor said.

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Public sends mixed signals on energy policy

Posted on March 22, 2008. Filed under: General, Wind |

From a summary of the findings of the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press:

At a time of rising energy prices, the public continues to be conflicted in its overall approach toward energy and the environment. A majority of Americans say that developing new sources of energy, rather than protecting the environment, is the more important priority for the country. However, when asked specifically about energy policy priorities, 55% favor more conservation and regulation of energy, compared with 35% who support expanded energy exploration.As in recent years, specific policies that address both energy and the environment draw overwhelming support. Nine-in-ten Americans favor requiring better auto fuel efficiency standards, while substantial majorities also support increased federal funding for alternative energy (81%) and mass transportation (72%).By contrast, there is greater division over other energy policies. A majority (57%) favors increased federal funding on ethanol research, but support has fallen over the past two years (from 67% in February 2006).The public continues to be almost evenly split over the idea of promoting more nuclear power (48% oppose vs. 44% favor). And a majority (53%) opposes giving tax cuts to energy companies to do more oil exploration.

With gas prices already high and expected to increase, the public overwhelmingly rejects boosting gas taxes to encourage carpooling and energy conservation. By greater than three-to-one (75% to 22%), Americans oppose raising gas taxes.

The latest nationwide survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, conducted Feb. 20-24 among 1,508 adults, finds continued public divisions over drilling for oil and gas in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Currently, 50% oppose drilling in the Alaska refuge while 42% are in favor. As recently as September of 2005, 50% of Americans favored allowing drilling in ANWR, while 42% were opposed.

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