Archive for April, 2009

Bipartisan group of legislators introduce wind siting bill

Posted on April 30, 2009. Filed under: General, Wind |


Terry McGowan of the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 139 speaks at the press conference for the introduction of a bill to set uniform siting standards for wind projects in Wisconsin.

From a news release issued by Sen. Jeff Plale, Rep. Jim Soletski, Sen. Randy Hopper, and Rep. Phil Montgomery:

MADISON – A bipartisan coalition of Wisconsin legislators announced that they are introducing legislation that calls for the creation of uniform siting standards for wind energy projects. Senate Bill 185 (SB 185), and its Assembly companion, directs the Public Service Commission (PSC), after public input, including a stakeholder committee, to establish by rule, permitting standards to be applied by local or state government to wind energy installations, regardless of size and location.

“Too many wind projects are victims of delay tactics and other obstructions,” Senator Jeff Plale, Chair of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Utilities, Energy, and Rail said. “SB 185 will enhance Wisconsin’s economy by protecting and creating “green-collar” jobs; it will attract new investment to our state and support state energy policy. I look forward to working with my colleagues to ensure that we can make Wisconsin more attractive to wind energy and achieve the resulting economic and environmental benefits.”

“A sensible wind energy policy will help Wisconsin harness the jobs and growth opportunities that green power provides,” stated Representative Jim Soletski, Chair of the Assembly Energy and Utilities Committee. “I am excited to be working with a bipartisan group of legislators from diverse regions of the state to remove the obstacles to more development of wind power in Wisconsin. By advancing this legislation, Wisconsin utilities can move toward meeting their obligation to generate clean energy and much needed jobs can be created for our workers.”

“We can’t build a 21st century energy infrastructure by digging in our heels,” Senator Randy Hopper said. “This legislation will ensure that interested parties from all over our state can take part in developing the Public Service Commission’s guidelines.”

“Wind power is job-creating power,” according to Representative Phil Montgomery. “A fair and uniform state standard for siting wind developments will create an environment of investment in our state while moving us closer to our green energy goals.”

In addition to RENEW, the following organizations issued statements of support for Senate Bill 185: CREWE, Clean Wisconsin, Citizens Utility Board, Customers First!, Renewegy, Wind Capital Group, WPPI/Municipal Electric Utilities.

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Exploring a solar cooperative in Madison

Posted on April 29, 2009. Filed under: Solar |

Come to a free talk open to all in the community to discuss investing in and owning local solar projects!

Monday, May 4th
Goodman Community Center
149 Waubesa Street, between Atwood & Milwaukee

Gil Halsted & Kurt Reinhold, Community Solar
Burke O’Neil, Full Spectrum Solar

More information: email Kurt at

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Coalition releases final policies to boost economy, reduce greenhouse gas

Posted on April 28, 2009. Filed under: Biomass, Nuclear, Wind |

From a news release issued by the coalition for Clean, Responsible Energy for Wisconsin’s Economy (CREWE):

MADISON, Wis. – The coalition for Clean, Responsible Energy for Wisconsin’s Economy (CREWE) today released its final three policy papers—Biofuels, Nuclear Power and Wind Development— which include recommendations that would spur economic development, reduce greenhouse gas reductions and create jobs.

Last week, CREWE circulated its policies on Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS) and Energy Efficiency in conjunction with Earth Day.

“We feel that Wisconsin is poised for a transition to a sound economy powered by new, good-paying, green jobs,” Thad Nation, executive director of CREWE, said. “These papers are the culmination of months of hard work amongst our members who bring a wide variety of expertise from the business and energy sectors of Wisconsin.”

Key points from the Biofuels paper include:
+ Using biofuels can reduce our dependence on out-of-state energy sources and thus keep energy dollars invested in Wisconsin’s economy; and
+ Producing biomass can sequester carbon and may be compatible with the tourism industry and wood products industry if the incentives are targeted the right way.

Key points from the Nuclear Power paper include:
+ Changing the state’s “nuclear moratorium” should take place in conjunction with the enhanced 25 percent by 2025 renewable portfolio standard; and
+ Following certain criteria in construction and storage can make nuclear energy a credible way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Key points from the Wind Development paper include:
+ Taking advantage of the $54 billion stimulus package passed by Congress for green projects. Clean projects reduce greenhouse gas emissions and create good-paying jobs;
+ Strengthening and extending the RPS will signal to wind energy developers that Wisconsin is committed to renewable energy growth.

CREWE members include Alliant Energy, EcoEnergy, Johnson Controls, Xcel Energy, C5•6 Technologies, Madison Gas and Electric, Orion Energy Systems, Forest County Potawatomi Community, Wisconsin Energy Corp., Emerging Energies of Wisconsin, MillerCoors, American Transmission Co. and WPPI Energy.

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Wind farm generates debate

Posted on April 26, 2009. Filed under: Wind |

From an article by Joe Knight in the Eau Claire Leader-Telegram:

Wisconsin has a goal of producing 15 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2015.

If the state wants to meet that goal, most of that renewable energy will have to come from the wind, says Ryan Schryver of the environmental group Clean Wisconsin.

However, environmental and industry groups say a patchwork of local wind ordinances, including one in Trempealeau County, has stymied wind energy development in many cases.

More than 600 megawatts of planned wind developments are stalled across Wisconsin because of new ordinances or changes in local rules, Schryver said. One megawatt is enough to power 800 to 1,000 homes.

Three relatively large wind farm developments have gone up in southeastern Wisconsin over the past two years.

Wisconsin spends about $22 billion a year importing energy, including what is used in transportation, according to the Wisconsin Office of Energy Independence, another strong argument for local wind energy, environmentalists note.

A bill to set statewide standards for siting wind generators is being considered by the Legislature. Among the standards to be considered would be how far a wind generator has to be set back from property lines, roads and houses and how much noise they could make.

The current version of the bill also would create a process for appealing wind energy decisions by local governments to the Public Service Commission. Under Wisconsin law, the commission regulates the largest wind farms, those of 100 or more megawatts, or farms with about 60 or more towers.

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Solar carport looks to recharge plug-in hybrid vehicles

Posted on April 24, 2009. Filed under: General |

From an article by Rachel Zwirlein on

VERONA – Motorists have used carports for decades to shield vehicles from the ravages of weather, including paint-fading sun. Now comes an idea for using solar-collecting carports to help power vehicles.

Solar Carport Canopy is a product that can provide an innovative solution for businesses looking to economically power plug-in hybrid vehicles while reducing costs and their carbon footprints.

As a contestant in the Wisconsin Governor’s Business Plan Contest, Farhat Iqbal of Verona developed the idea for the Solar Carport and was one of 50 entrants to move to the semi-final phase of the competition.

Iqbal is the president of Silica Solar LLC in Verona. The idea for Solar Carport came from her desire to create a tangible way to use solar energy to generate electricity for plug-in hybrid vehicles.

Solar Carport would be leased to individual firms to recharge company-owned and employee plug-in hybrids throughout the Madison area and beyond.

Although it is mechanically and structurally engineered for Wisconsin winds and snow, Iqbal said, Solar Carport can be used in any location where there is a need.

Businesses are going to start looking for ways to reduce their carbon footprints and non-polluting solutions. “Solar is one of the options,” Iqbal said.

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CREWE supports proposed uniform wind siting rules

Posted on April 23, 2009. Filed under: General |

From a news release issued by Clean, Responsible Energy for Wisconsin’s Economy (CREWE):

MADISON, Wis.— CREWE supports the current legislative proposal recommending uniform standards for the siting of large and small wind energy systems to be set by the Public Service Commission (PSC).

The bill proposed by State Sen. Jeff Plale (D- South Milwaukee), chair of the Senate Energy and Utilities Committee advocates that the Public Service Commission develop uniform siting standards for wind power projects across the state. The bill is circulating in the legislature but has not yet been introduced.

The current siting rules are just not fair says Curt Pawlisch, attorney for Wind for Wisconsin, a member of CREWE. Recent disputes over municipal ordinances have had a negative impact on developing energy alternatives and a greener economy.

Wind power is a growing and maturing industry that can play a significant role in Wisconsin. Perhaps the single greatest barrier to the development of this sector of energy policy is a lack of consistent and stable policy.

“Adopting a consistent and uniform siting policy will signal to land owners, wind developers, wind turbine manufacturers and in essence, to the rest of the nation, that Wisconsin is open for business in terms of wind development and growth.” Supporters of this legislation also contend that the single biggest constraint to increasing wind generation in Wisconsin is the current permitting environment which is far more problematic in Wisconsin than other states in the region. . . .

CREWE members include Wisconsin Energy Corp., Alliant Energy, Xcel Energy, EcoEnergy LLC MillerCoors, Johnson Controls, the Forest County Potawatomi Tribe, Madison Gas & Electric, Orion Energy Systems, C5•6 Technologies, American Transmission Co., Wind for Wisconsin, WPPI Energy and Emerging Energies of Wisconsin.

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Support a strong clean energy economy bill for state

Posted on April 22, 2009. Filed under: Wind |

From a letter to the editor of The Capital Times by Alexandra Miller:

On the eve of Earth Day, 1970, Sen. Gaylord Nelson told the United Auto Workers that the automobile was a symbol of environmental decay. Nelson argued that the automobile “powered America into unparalled affluence, but now may drive it to unprecedented environmental disaster.” He hoped for pollution-free automobiles.

Nearly 40 years later, we have harnessed the clean energy of sunlight, water and wind to run cars, buildings and industries. However, our state still generates more than 70 percent of its electricity from coal plants, some dating back to the 1940s — the very plants that Nelson fought against!

Luckily, Wisconsin, ranked as a “top 20 state” for wind power and a leader in sustainable agriculture, is in the perfect position to transition to a “homegrown” energy economy. With $21 billion leaving Wisconsin each year to fuel our energy needs, it’s time to start investing here at home.

In celebration of Earth Day and Wisconsin’s own Sen. Gaylord Nelson, please contact your legislators. Ask them to support a strong clean energy economy bill . . .

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State should loosen red tape that restricts wind power

Posted on April 21, 2009. Filed under: Wind |

From an editorial in the Eau Claire Leader Telegram:

. . . a coalition of dozens of groups – including [RENEW, Clean Wisconsin, Wisconisn Farmers Union], environ-mentalists, labor unions, utilities such as Xcel Energy, and business rep-resentatives such as Wisconsin Manu-facturers and Commerce – that supports a soon-to-be-introduced bill that would require the state Public Service Commission to create statewide standards for wind projects. Under current law, local governments can block these projects for health or safety reasons – but those reasons aren’t well-defined, which has led to blanket restrictions such as the one in Trempealeau County.

Critics likely will charge that the bill is an attack on local control. However, it still lets local governments make wind-siting decisions, and allows those who disagree with them to appeal to the PSC and the courts.

It’s understandable that potential neighbors of any large project – including a wind farm – would be concerned about how it might impact their lives. However, the hum of a windmill or the flickering shadows it may create seem greatly preferable to the sulphurous fumes of a coal-fired plant or the potential deadly contamination of a nuclear reactor. Unless we redouble our efforts to pursue clean energy, those may be our only other options to keep the lights on.

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Iowa proves wind energy successes, disproves myths

Posted on April 19, 2009. Filed under: Wind |

From a report by Teresa Galluzzo and David Osterberg published by The Iowa Policy Project:

It’s 2009, do you know where your power is coming from? According to new estimates by the Iowa Utilities Board, wind fuels about 15 percent of the electricity generated in Iowa. This is a big increase from the 5 percent wind-powered generation estimated in 2006.

There have been consistent signs that Iowa has been increasing its wind power, including the ones right before our eyes: the construction of towers and spinning of turbine blades. Iowa has also regularly been at the top in national rankings of states’ wind production. As of the end of 2008, the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) tabulated that Iowa was second in the nation in installed wind power capacity. Iowa had installed 2,791 megawatts (MW) of nameplate capacity by year-end 2008, equal to 11 percent of the nation’s total wind capacity.

The number of wind turbine-related companies setting up business in Iowa is also an indicator of the growth of Iowa’s wind industry. Today, nine companies are dedicated to producing or repairing blades, towers, turbines and turbine components operating or planning operations in Iowa. Despite the current slowdown in demand for turbines and components, these companies employ or plan to employ about 1,400 Iowans. . . .

Iowa’s outstanding growth in wind production calls into question the common argument that the near-term costs of reducing our greenhouse gas emissions and addressing climate change are too high to justify action. Looking at Iowa’s electricity prices since 1998 — the year before Iowa’s wind boom began — our electricity prices have remained below the national average and in fact have not increased as quickly as the national average price in the last three years (2005 to 2007).8 Not only did Iowa’s wind generation increase during this period, natural gas generation grew and there was a corresponding decrease in our reliance on coal.9 Assuming a somewhat similar portion of the wind-generated electricity produced in Iowa was actually consumed in Iowa, wind’s great expansion did not cause prices to spike.

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Doyle joins Midwest governors for Wind Energy Coalition Roundtable in Chicago, May 5

Posted on April 17, 2009. Filed under: General |

Windpower 2009, May 5-7, 2009

Tuesday, May 5
8:30 am – 11:00 am

The Governor of Iowa, Chet Culver brings together fellow members of the Governors’ Wind Energy Coalition to discuss the development of the nation’s wind energy resources to meet America’s domestic energy demands in an environmentally responsible manner and the importance of reducing the nation’s dependence on imported energy sources and stimulating state and national economic development. The Governors’ Roundtable will share ways their states are working together to implement initiatives to achieve these goals and address the challenges of the wind industry.

Iowa Governor
The Honorable Chet Culver
Governor Culver began his career as an environmental and consumer advocate in the Iowa Attorney General’s Office. As a founding member of the Governors’ Wind Energy Coalition he is working to advance wind energy production across the Midwest and the nation.

Wisconsin Governor
The Honorable Jim Doyle
Governor Doyle is focused on creating opportunities for all of Wisconsin’s people and is building upon current efforts to create jobs, make America energy independent, and address the global climate crisis.

Ohio Governor
The Honorable Ted Strickland
Governor Strickland understands the environmental and economic promise of alternative energy sources. Strickland helped pass SB 221 that includes the Advanced Portfolio Standard and the third most aggressive renewable portfolio standard in the United States.

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