Archive for June, 2009

RENEW contacts Doyle to ask for veto

Posted on June 26, 2009. Filed under: General |

RENEW hand-delivered the letter below to Governor Doyle almost at the end of business on Friday afternoon, since Doyle may sign the budget bill this weekend.

June 26, 2009

Governor James E. Doyle
115 East, State Capitol
Madison, Wisconsin 53707

Dear Governor Doyle:

RENEW Wisconsin and its members across the state respectfully request a veto of the budget bill provision that would delay the effective date of the sales and use tax exemption for equipment powered by or used in the generation of wind and solar energy and manure digesters from July 1, 2009, until July 1, 2011.

Though the sales tax exemption might seem of little economic importance to a planned installation, the amount could significantly change a project’s economic feasibility, depending on installation size. For instance, the sales tax on a 50 kilowatt wind turbine that costs $250,000 would come to at least $12,500. That would add several years to the project’s payback.

This year Wisconsin businesses and homeowners have planned and bid on renewable energy systems based on system costs that include the sales tax exemption. Some would-be system owners have delayed their installation in anticipation of the sales tax exemption. Repealing this exemption on such short notice will result in project cancellations and delays.

Customer-owned wind and solar systems will contribute toward the renewable energy needed to achieve a 25% target by 2025. Please keep us moving toward the target by vetoing the delayed effective date for the sales tax exemption.

Thank you for your consideration.

Michael Vickerman
Executive Director

RENEW also asked members and renewable energy supporters to ask Doyle to veto the provision by sending his office by sending an e-mail through his Web site —

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Rooftops are ill-suited for wind turbines

Posted on June 24, 2009. Filed under: Wind |

From a fact sheet published by Focus on Energy:

Rooftop wind turbines are one of the most talked about trends in renewable energy. City dwellers and suburbanites, inspired by the spread of large turbines and intrigued by the idea of producing their own energy, are today inquiring about rooftop wind systems in record numbers.

But just how viable are these systems? Can small rooftop wind turbines ever produce enough electricity to make the investment worthwhile? Find out the answers to these and other commonly asked questions below. . . .

Will a small rooftop turbine power my whole house?
No. Small turbines can only produce small quantities of electricity due to their small rotors.

Rooftops are ill-suited to harness the wind regardless of their location due to the trees and buildings surrounding a home. Rooftops in the city are particularly difficult places to harness the breeze. Not only are cities less windy than the countryside, but the air is turbulent because of trees and the variation in heights of buildings. Turbulence can wear out a turbine and reduce its life expectancy.

One analysis showed that a common type of rooftop turbine (being tested by Madison Gas Electric) “had generated about 45 kWh in about eight months (in a year about 65 kWh). The average single family WI home uses 10,000 kWh/year. Are you ready to live on 65 kWh/year?”

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Revitalizing Ourselves Through Renewable Energy

Posted on June 23, 2009. Filed under: Peak Oil & the End of Cheap Fossil Fuel |

MV speakingFrom a presentation by RENEW’s Michael Vickerman at the Energy Fair of the Midwest Renewable Energy Association:

Energy Policy Must Recognize Energy Realities
+ Supplies of liquid fuels peaked in 2008
+ Capital is disappearing before our very eyes
+ Energy and food are the original currencies
+ The shift from stores to flows is inevitable
+ Current economy is highly energy-intensive
+ Energy return on energy invested (EROEI) must inform decision-making
+ We can’t afford to prop up existing energy sinks or engage in wealth-draining military adventures

Three paths to choose
+ Business as usual
+ Clean green technology
+ Curtailment and community

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Wind siting bill passes major legislative hurdle with strong bipartisan support

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

From a news release issued by Clean Wisconsin:

Madison, Wis. – Wisconsin could soon see greater growth in the promising wind energy industry after the Assembly Committee on Energy and Utilities passed Assembly Bill 256 today, a bipartisan bill that would encourage growth in the clean energy industry by replacing a chaotic patchwork of local regulations with sensible statewide standards for permitting safe wind farms.

“Wind energy holds the potential to address many of the greatest problems facing our state –it can clean our environment and reduce global warming pollution while reducing our dependence on fossil fuels and creating jobs for hard working Wisconsinites,” said Amber Meyer Smith, program director at Clean Wisconsin the state’s largest environmental advocacy organization. “With so much to gain, we’re extremely encouraged that the legislature seems poised to eliminate administrative barriers holding up the development of this promising infant industry.”

As other industries struggled in poor economic times and cut workers, the wind energy industry grew immensely in 2008 – increasing its national workforce by 70 percent to over 85,000 workers. Unfortunately, while wind developers stand ready to invest in Wisconsin’s economy and put Wisconsinites to work building safe wind farms, a complicated system of over-stringent local regulations currently puts our state at a disadvantage to neighboring states, holding up more than an estimated 500 megawatts of wind farm development in the state.

Assembly bill 256 would charge the Wisconsin Public Service Commission with studying and determining safe permitting standards for wind farms, then replacing the current disorganized system that discourages the growth of the wind energy industry with sensible statewide standards.

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Wind siting reform and local control

Posted on June 16, 2009. Filed under: Wind |

From Wind for Wisconsin:

SB 185/AB 256 would direct the PSC to establish statewide siting standards for wind energy projects. Projects fewer than 100 MW in size would still be reviewed and approved by a local unit of government after the rules are adopted.

+ The status quo is the only approach to wind siting that would leave local control completely unchanged. The status quo has stalled over 600 MW of potential wind projects forfeiting thousands of Wisconsin jobs and millions of investment dollars.
+ The bill draft requires the PSC to establish an advisory committee of diverse interests to advise the Commission on the rules. Representatives from local units of government will be part of that advisory committee.
+ In 2006 the WTA passed a resolution at its annual convention entitled “Uniform Standards for Public Health or Safety of Wind Energy Systems.” The resolution called for uniform standards, and was the impetus for wind siting reform legislation.
+ The bill draft from the previous legislative session was negotiated with the Wisconsin Counties Association and the Wisconsin Towns Association. The WTA was in favor of wind siting reform last session while the WCA was neutral.1 The bill draft for the current legislative session is substantively similar.
+ An amendment from the Wisconsin Realtors Association (supported by Wind for Wisconsin) allows local governments to deny a project application if a project would be sited in an area that has been primarily designated for future residential or commercial development.2
+ Under SB 185/AB 256, local units of government would maintain their central role in the regulatory process for wind energy systems. Applications for wind energy projects under 100 MW in size would still be subject to review and approval at the local level.

Local governments would be responsible for enforcing permit standards. Local governments would maintain control over their roads including restoration requirements and regulating driveway use (access roads).

In the coming weeks, the state Legislature will have a chance to make it easier for clean energy creating wind turbines to proliferate in Wisconsin…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.3
-Eau Claire Leader-Telegram

1 The WTA has registered in opposition in 2009. The WCA has remained neutral.
2 Maps adopted under s. 66.1001(2)(b) on or before June 1, 2009.

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Businesses invited to support Homegrown Renewable Energy Campaign

Posted on June 15, 2009. Filed under: General |

In December 2008, four organizations–Wisconsin Farmers Union, Michael Fields Agricultural Institute, Clean Wisconsin, and RENEW Wisconsin–launched the Wisconsin Homegrown Renewable Energy Campaign. This campaign was developed to spur clean energy job creation right here in Wisconsin and advance the Governor’s goal of 25% renewable energy by 2025. As you know, advancing a renewable energy economy will not just happen unless businesses and citizens work to make it happen.

The Wisconsin Homegrown Renewable Energy Campaign (HREC) focuses on four policy initiatives that advance rural Wisconsin interests and promotes the sustainable use of biomass, biogas, wind and solar energy. They are:

+ Biomass Energy Crop Reserve Program
+ Renewable Fuels for Schools and Communities Program
+ Advanced Renewable Tariffs: Building Renewable Energy Producers
+ Low Carbon Fuel Standard

RENEW is the lead organization fighting for Advanced Renewable Tariffs (ARTs)—a remarkably simple mechanism for supporting the development of smaller-scale renewable energy resources. Since 2005 RENEW has forcefully advocated for renewable tariffs that are pegged to the production cost of the specific resource and are uniformly set across utility service territories. Both popular and effective in Europe, ARTs have the potential to make similar inroads in North America for customer-sited wind, solar, biogas and biomass energy systems. For the last six months, the Public Service Commission has been investigating the merits and costs of this policy mechanism. Recently, the agency has requested further input from the public. We believe we can persuade the PSC to require the utilities it regulates to offer ARTs to customer producers of renewable energy.

HERE’S HOW YOU CAN HELP: If you’re a business, PLEASE consider adding your business to the list of supporters and sponsors of this initiative (see reverse side). By signing on you say that you support one or more of these initiatives and you will lend your organization’s name to a list of supporters. We hope you will also help us in advancing these policy initiatives through communication with your members, the media, and policy makers.

We thank you in advance for your consideration. If you would like to join the list of supporters for this initiative, please send an e-mail to Ed Blume indicating your support.

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End unnecessary obstacles to wind power

Posted on June 12, 2009. Filed under: Wind |

From an editorial in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

The single biggest constraint on increasing wind generation of electricity in Wisconsin is the permitting process, according to Clean, Responsible Energy for Wisconsin’s Economy, a group working on implementing the recommendations of the Governor’s Task Force on Global Warming. And one of the biggest problems in the permitting process is local opposition to wind farms.

CREWE has said that over 600 megawatts of planned wind developments are stalled across Wisconsin “due to midstream changes in regulations and procedures.” The Journal Sentinel’s Thomas Content pointed out in an article on Monday that more than a dozen wind projects around the state have been slowed by local opposition.

That can’t continue. What’s needed, as CREWE officials argue, is regulatory reform and, specifically, uniform siting standards for all wind farms that would be built in the state. Such legislation has been introduced. It deserves adoption by the Legislature.

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Lake Erie likely to get wind turbines first

Posted on June 11, 2009. Filed under: Wind |

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

The first wind turbine development on the Great Lakes could be built within three years or so, experts on offshore wind power said during a conference Wednesday in Milwaukee.

The first project is expected to consist of three to five turbines just off the shore of Cleveland in Lake Erie.

The project is being pushed by the Cuyahoga County government as an economic development strategy to help boost the development of a wind-power manufacturing industry in a state that’s been hit hard by cutbacks in the auto industry, said Steve Dever of the Ohio Great Lakes Energy Development Task Force.

During the Great Lakes Wind Collaborative meeting at We Energies, experts on offshore wind in Wisconsin said they expect development to start slowly over the next few years. But the industry could grow rapidly from there, the experts said.

“In 2010-2013 you’ll see pilot projects get started. Then I think we’ll see incredible growth – really, really rapid growth,” said Tom Stanton of the Michigan Public Service Commission. . . .

Experts believe wind speeds are much faster over large bodies of water than over land, with parts of Lake Michigan and Lake Superior having stronger winds than Iowa and Minnesota, two of the leading states in generation of wind power.

Wisconsin is looking into Great Lakes wind power as one option for the state to generate more renewable energy that would help reduce the state’s greenhouse gas emissions, said Deborah Erwin of the state Public Service Commission.

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Wisconsin’s clean economy: “Small and losing”

Posted on June 10, 2009. Filed under: General |

From a post on Tom Content’s blog on

Wisconsin’s clean-energy economy is smaller than the national average and lost jobs between 1997 and 2007, a new report published Thursday says.

Wisconsin employed more than 15,000 jobs in the clean-energy sector, according to a study by the Pew Charitable Trusts. But employment in the clean sector fell 5% during that decade, at a time the state’s overall job growth was more than 3%, according to the report.

As a result, the company ranks with Maryland, Utah and West Virginia as states where the clean-energy sector is described as “small and losing.”

Despite that stark description, Wisconsin ranked well in one area, the report found. With 2,801 people employed in the energy efficiency field, Wisconsin employed more people in this area than all but five other states.

The state has attracted $46 million in clean-technology venture capital in the past three years, but even that pales in comparison with other states. Wisconsin ranks behind Illinois, Michigan and Minnesota in raising clean-tech funding — ranking 24th among all states and the District of Columbia.

The Pew report, “The Clean Energy Economy: Repowering Jobs, Businesses and Investments Across America,” found there were 68,200 businesses nationwide in the clean-energy sector, accounting for 770,000 jobs.

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PSC Sensible Agency for Wind Rule-Making

Posted on June 9, 2009. Filed under: Wind |

From Wind for Wisconsin:

SB 185/AB 256 direct the Public Service Commission (PSC) to initiate an administrative rule-making process to establish statewide siting standards for wind energy projects. The bill draft requires the PSC to establish an advisory committee of diverse interests to advise the Commission on the rules. The legislature will have the opportunity to review the proposed rules prior to their publication.

+ The PSC is an independent regulatory agency dedicated to serving the public interest. The agency is responsible for the regulation of more than 1,100 Wisconsin public utilities, including those that are municipally-owned.
+ The PSC works to ensure that, in the absence of competition, adequate and reasonably priced service is provided to utility customers. The PSC has oversight on every form of electric generation in the state.
+ Alternatives to bypass the PSC are designed to introduce more delay and confusion into the siting process. Additional layers of bureaucracy only serve to reinforce the siting stalemate.
+ Under the bill the PSC would establish a unique, comprehensive review of siting issues. Any attempt to predict the rule-making is speculative at best.
+ The PSC is the agency with the expertise to provide the appropriate scientific, fact based review of issues related to siting wind energy projects. The bill does not specify any siting requirements but establishes a process to review the relevant health and safety issues.

“I pledge to you a rule-making process which will be open and inclusive…The Commission will continue to be a fair partner with local government to ensure that the siting process is equitable to all, and that decisions are made in a timely and transparent way…The PSC’s rulemaking process is as open and inclusive a process as any.”(Joint public hearing May 12, 2009)
-Eric Callisto, PSC Chairman

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