Archive for June, 2008

Wind/solar installer named Market Provider of the Year

Posted on June 30, 2008. Filed under: Solar, Wind |

John Hippensteel (right) talks with a fairgoer at the Energy Fair, where Hippensteel was named Market Provider of the Year by Focus on Energy.

John Hippensteel (right) talks with a fairgoer at the Energy Fair, where Hippensteel was named Market Provider of the Year by Focus on Energy.

From a media release issued by Focus on Energy:

MADISON, Wis. (June 30) – Focus on Energy’s Renewable Energy Program honored John Hippensteel, of Sturgeon Bay, Wis. based Lake Michigan Wind & Sun Ltd., with the 2008 Market Provider of the Year Award. The award was presented at the Midwest Renewable Energy Association’s (MREA) 19th annual Energy Fair on June 22, 2008 in Custer, Wis.

The Market Provider of the Year Award was conceived as a way to recognize renewable energy contractors who exemplify the goals and expectations of the Focus on Energy Renewable Energy Program. The award provides the opportunity to honor one such contractor each year for their commitment and dedication to excellent customer service and quality renewable energy systems installation. Contractors who receive this award are exceptional in their passion, intelligence and dedication when it comes to providing renewable energy services.

“For more than a decade John has been installing solar electric, solar hot water and wind electric systems for satisfied customers,” said Don Wichert, renewable energy director for Focus on Energy. “Wisconsin truly benefits from having well qualified businesses like Lake Michigan Wind & Sun Ltd. grow our renewable energy markets.”

Hippensteel has consistently had a strong presence at many events throughout the state and is always willing to share information, photos and his innovative models. His professionalism and workmanship keep existing customers coming back for more projects, and his creativity continues to attract new customers. Hippensteel is the only North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP) Certified Solar Electric and Solar Thermal Installer in Wisconsin. He has installed more than 50 solar and wind power systems with support from Focus on Energy.

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Meet the experts: Vickerman, Sagrillo, Bartman

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

From an article by Dustin Block in The Daily Reporter features RENEW Wisconsin Executuive Director Michael Vickerman, RENEW board members Mick Sagrillo, and Dan Bartman, one of the founders of, an organization dedicated to homegrown alternative energy:

Of all renewable energy sources, wind power presents the best chance for the state to produce green energy. Wind power is expected to make up 95 percent of the state’s goal to have 10 percent of its energy come from renewable sources by 2015, according to the nonprofit environmental group RENEW Wisconsin.

But what does it take to build wind power? We asked four small wind experts what it takes to build a viable wind power project.

Q. What is small wind?

A. MICHAEL VICKERMAN: It essentially means turbines that feed back to the grid from your house or business. They’re not utility-scale. They generate under 100 kilowatts per turbine and are shorter than 170 feet. We Energies new wind turbines near Fond du Lac are 260 feet tall with blades that are 130 feet long.

Q. Why should businesses and individuals consider small wind?

A. VICKERMAN: We need diversity in the size and resources of our energy grid. The more diverse the grid, the strong it is. We would like to empower all sizes of players in the energy market. Anybody who wants to build a power plant should be able to build a power plant, large medium or small.






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Images of the Energy Fair

Posted on June 25, 2008. Filed under: General | Tags: |

The EETimes Web site hosts a gallery of images from the recent Energy Fair.

In addition, the site includes an article by George Leopold:

CUSTER, Wis. — The man’s fishing cap has a picture of a fish piloting a boat. Under the picture it states, “My wife says I fish too much.”
Not the kind of person you’d expect at an alternative energy fair in this bucolic central Wisconsin community known for progressive thinking and it’s back-to-nature lifestyle.

But the fisherman is standing in front of Mike Mitchell’s booth at the Midwest Renewable Energy Association’s annual fair grilling the electric bike dealer from Milwaukee about how long it will take the recharge the battery on the “Mikey” bike. “What size is the motor?” the fisherman asks. “Thirty-six volts,” Mitchell responds.

“How do I get a dealership?” counters the fisherman, wheels turning in his head.

The fisherman’s son joins in, saying he’s interested in an electric bike to haul his kayak back after long, tiring river trips.

This and countless other examples illustrate how soaring energy costs are pushing alternative power and green technology into the mainstream. This year’s energy fair was the largest ever, according to the association’s executive director, Tehri Parker.

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Mr. Bush, Lead or Leave

Posted on June 24, 2008. Filed under: Energy Policy, Peak Oil & the End of Cheap Fossil Fuel |

From an op ed by Thomas Friedman in The New York Times:

Two years ago, President Bush declared that America was “addicted to oil,” and, by gosh, he was going to do something about it. Well, now he has. Now we have the new Bush energy plan: “Get more addicted to oil.”

Actually, it’s more sophisticated than that: Get Saudi Arabia, our chief oil pusher, to up our dosage for a little while and bring down the oil price just enough so the renewable energy alternatives can’t totally take off. Then try to strong arm Congress into lifting the ban on drilling offshore and in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

It’s as if our addict-in-chief is saying to us: “C’mon guys, you know you want a little more of the good stuff. One more hit, baby. Just one more toke on the ole oil pipe. I promise, next year, we’ll all go straight. I’ll even put a wind turbine on my presidential library. But for now, give me one more pop from that drill, please, baby. Just one more transfusion of that sweet offshore crude.”

It is hard for me to find the words to express what a massive, fraudulent, pathetic excuse for an energy policy this is. But it gets better. The president actually had the gall to set a deadline for this drug deal:

“I know the Democratic leaders have opposed some of these policies in the past,” Mr. Bush said. “Now that their opposition has helped drive gas prices to record levels, I ask them to reconsider their positions. If Congressional leaders leave for the Fourth of July recess without taking action, they will need to explain why $4-a-gallon gasoline is not enough incentive for them to act.”

This from a president who for six years resisted any pressure on Detroit to seriously improve mileage standards on its gas guzzlers; this from a president who’s done nothing to encourage conservation; this from a president who has so neutered the Environmental Protection Agency that the head of the E.P.A. today seems to be in a witness-protection program. I bet there aren’t 12 readers of this newspaper who could tell you his name or identify him in a police lineup.

But, most of all, this deadline is from a president who hasn’t lifted a finger to broker passage of legislation that has been stuck in Congress for a year, which could actually impact America’s energy profile right now — unlike offshore oil that would take years to flow — and create good tech jobs to boot.

That bill is H.R. 6049 — “The Renewable Energy and Job Creation Act of 2008,” which extends for another eight years the investment tax credit for installing solar energy and extends for one year the production tax credit for producing wind power and for three years the credits for geothermal, wave energy and other renewables.

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Alliant needs more compelling case for new coal plant

Posted on June 23, 2008. Filed under: Generation Plants | Tags: |

From an editorial in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

Wisconsin Power & Light Co. took a significant step recently when it promised to offset the greenhouse gas emissions from a new coal plant it is proposing to build in southwestern Wisconsin. Company officials understand the importance of balancing energy sources to provide customers with reliable and affordable energy while reducing emissions that contribute to climate change.

The problem is that while Wisconsin needs power, it also needs to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, not just offset increases in emissions. So while WP&L officials deserve credit for proposing their mitigation plan, they still need to make a more compelling case than they have so far for building a coal plant in Cassville.

State regulators need to carefully examine that case before they make their decision by the end of the year. And unless WP&L officials make a convincing case for the kind of coal plant they have proposed, the state shouldn’t give its OK.

In a recent meeting with the Journal Sentinel Editorial Board, company officials said demand was growing at a rate of 2% to 3% per year. To meet that demand, the utility says it needs to build a 300-megawatt $1.1 billion base load plant that would generate enough power to supply 150,000 homes.

Based on those numbers, WP&L, a subsidiary of Alliant Energy Corp., makes a reasonable case. Neither conservation nor renewable sources now available are likely to fill that demand.

But an analysis by state environmental and energy regulators predicts demand to grow by 1.65%. That analysis also concluded that although Alliant “needs to procure more energy resources to keep rates affordable,” this particular coal plant proposal was “not the least-cost option.” The environmental group Clean Wisconsin and the ratepayer group Citizens’ Utility Board oppose the plant and have urged the utility to spend more on energy efficiency and renewables. . . .

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Complaint filed against Manitowoc wind farm

Posted on June 21, 2008. Filed under: Wind |

From an article by Kristopher Wenn in the Manitowoc Herald Times Reporter:

MANITOWOC — Residents opposed to a wind farm project in Two Creeks have filed a complaint in Manitowoc County Circuit Court requesting a permit extension for the project be nullified.

Jerome Hlinak, of rural Two Rivers, his neighbors and members of Wisconsin Independent Citizens Opposing Windturbine Sites (WINDCOWS) claim they are aggrieved by the Manitowoc County Board of Adjustment’s decision to uphold the project’s two-year extension.

Navitas Energy Inc. has proposed building 49 wind turbines in Two Rivers, Mishicot and Two Creeks, dubbed the Twin Creeks Wind Park.

Hlinak and others are asking the court to order the permit extension null and void and order the BOA to pay their attorney fees and costs.

Pete Tarnowski, Manitowoc County senior planner, in December granted the permit extension. In March, Hlinak filed an appeal with the BOA to review Tarnowski’s decision. The BOA denied Hlinak’s appeal after discussing the issue at two May meetings.

Navitas told county officials it was unable to complete its project because of difficulty obtaining turbines caused by increased demand and delays in connecting with an electric grid and ordering supplies.

Hlinak and others claim the BOA wrongly concluded Tarnowski had the authority to approve the extension under the county’s recently revised ordinance without also applying other provisions in the new ordinance.

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RENEW Wisconsin Comments on Comprehensive Strawman Proposal for Governor Doyle’s Global Warming Task Force

Posted on June 18, 2008. Filed under: Energy Policy, Global Warming |

From a statement on behalf of RENEW Wisconsin submitted by Michael Vickerman to the Governor’s Global Warming Task Force:

These comments, submitted on behalf of RENEW Wisconsin, address the strawman proposal developed by the co-chairs of Governor Doyle’s Global Warming Task Force. I represented RENEW in the Electric Generation and Supply Workgroup and took part in the drafting and preparing of several specific proposals that were submitted to the full Task Force. Among them were proposals to establish (1) uniform permitting standards for wind projects, (2) fixed-rate production-cost-based tariffs to stimulate customer-sited renewable energy systems; and (3) post-2015 renewable energy requirements on utilities. The comments address various proposed changes to the existing renewable energy standard (RES). . . .

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Let there be light: Church sees mission in solar panels

Posted on June 16, 2008. Filed under: Solar |

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

Tapping into a higher power, Unitarian Universalist Church West in Brookfield has become the first church in southeastern Wisconsin to install a solar-electric generating system.

Rob Zimmerman, president of Unitarian Universalist Church West in Brookfield, and the Rev. Suzelle Lynch stand on top of the church next to the new solar panels that were recently installed.

Using 42 roof-mounted solar panels, the 8.4-kilowatt system is expected to provide energy equal to about 15% of the electrical needs for the church, 13001 W. North Ave. The system went on line June 5.

Church leaders also hope that the system will generate a conversational buzz. For both theological and practical reasons, they’d like to see more homes, churches and businesses get greener.

“Part of our purpose is to be visible, not only to church members but to the community, so we can be a resource for them,” said the Rev. Suzelle Lynch, the church’s minister.

One principle of Unitarian Universalism is to respect and honor the Earth.

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Groups pan Alliant coal-plant plan

Posted on June 13, 2008. Filed under: Biomass, Carbon, Coal, Generation Plants, Global Warming | Tags: |

From a news release from the Sierra Club:

Madison – When Alliant Energy announced plans to shut down a small coal plant in a vain attempt to deal with the huge amounts of pollution that may be spewed from its proposed new coal plant in Cassville, Mark Kresowik, the corporate accountability representative for the Sierra Club’s National Coal Campaign, felt a sense of déjà vu.

“This is exactly the same thing they tried to pull in Iowa, distract ratepayers and regulators from the plain fact that their new coal plant is dirty, unnecessary, and will send costs sky high right along with the increased pollution from their plants,” said Kresowik, who moved to Madison from Iowa just a few months ago. “Wisconsin’s economy can’t deal with the investment risks and higher energy costs of new coal plants right now, look at what happened to the assembly plant in Janesville as oil prices have increased. We need lower-cost energy efficiency, clean energy, and green-collar jobs in the 21st century, not expensive and dirty coal.”

Alliant’s claimed global warming pollution reductions pale in comparison to their proposed coal-fired power plant’s estimated 2.9 million tons of global warming pollution each year.

“Investments in wind and energy efficiency are always good,” notes Jennifer Feyerherm, Director of Sierra Club’s Wisconsin Clean Energy Campaign. “Unfortunately, when they are made in conjunction with a proposal for a new coal plant, it smacks of green-washing.”

And a news release from Clean Wisconsin:

Madison, Wis. – Today’s latest proposal in Alliant Energy’s push to construct a coal plant in Cassville, Wisconsin, would still result in one of the state’s dirtiest power facilities, according to the state’s largest environmental advocacy organization.

“Alliant continues to repackage their proposal in an attempt to sell this dirty coal plant as an environmentally friendly option,” said Katie Nekola, Energy Program Director at Clean Wisconsin. “Replacing a nearly retired coal plant that emitted less than 500,000 tons of carbon dioxide in 2006 with one that would emit more than 2.3 million tons of greenhouse gas annually for at least 50 years is not a solution to global warming.”

The company announced changes in a new proposal today, including the retirement of one small coal plant, the addition of more wind to its energy portfolio and the ability to burn up to 20 percent biomass in the plant.

Even at 20 percent biomass, the Cassville plant would emit more greenhouse gas emissions than other, more efficient, power plants fueled exclusively by coal in Wisconsin. The Public Service Commission, however, has questioned many details of Alliant’s previous commitment to burn even 10 percent biomass in the recent environmental impact statement.

The announcement comes one month after the Public Service Commission released a draft environmental impact statement claiming Alliant’s proposal was “not the optimal generation choice,” and “not the least cost option under any scenario.”

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Alliant to retire aging coal plant, build more wind, double biomass commitment, and increase energy efficiency, to reduce carbon ‘footprint’

Posted on June 12, 2008. Filed under: Biomass, Carbon, Coal, Energy Efficiency, Generation Plants, Global Warming, Wind | Tags: |

From a media release issued by Wisconsin Power and Light, parent company of Alliant:

MADISON, Wis., June 12 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ — Wisconsin Power and Light Company (WPL), a subsidiary of Alliant Energy Corporation (NYSE: LNT – News), proposed today to reduce its generation fleet’s greenhouse gas emissions by retiring a coal-fired generating unit, dramatically increasing its wind power portfolio, doubling its commitment to utilizing biomass, and aggressively building upon its energy efficiency measures, when its proposed expansion at the Nelson Dewey Generating Station becomes operable in 2013. . . .

As part of its greenhouse gas emissions reduction proposal, WPL would retire Edgewater Generating Station’s coal-fired unit 3. The facility is the oldest coal plant in WPL’s generation fleet. The company would also increase its commitment to develop new wind power resources. Previously the company had announced plans for approximately 300 megawatts of new wind by the end of 2010. Upon approval of the Nelson Dewey expansion, the company would add 200 megawatts to that total by the time the new facility begins commercial operation. While the sites for the future wind farms have not yet been determined, it is possible that one of the sites could be located in southwestern Wisconsin.

WPL would also double the amount of renewable resource fuels to be used at the new third unit of Nelson Dewey, to twenty percent. As a result of utilizing fuels such as switch grass, waste wood, or corn stalks, not only are CO2 emissions reduced by offsetting the use of coal at the facility, but Wisconsin farmers and foresters will have access to new economic markets, an ecologically friendly crop and better land and forest management practices. Analysis by researchers from the University of Wisconsin has shown that the 20 percent biomass at Nelson Dewey unit 3 could create economic development revenues for the State of Wisconsin to exceed an estimated $50 million annually.

This proposal, along with a fifty percent increase in WPL energy efficiency savings, is projected to more than offset the carbon emissions from the new Nelson Dewey unit. The potential increased capital costs associated with these changes in WPL’s generation fleet are expected to be $500-$550 million, and are contingent upon the company receiving all applicable regulatory approvals related to the expansion of the Nelson Dewey Generating Station.

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