Archive for July, 2009

Too popular Cash for Clunkers suspended

Posted on July 31, 2009. Filed under: Climate change, Vehicles |


From an article in the Wisconsin State Journal:

WASHINGTON — The government plans to suspend its popular “cash for clunkers” program amid concerns it could quickly use up the $1 billion in rebates for new car purchases, congressional officials said Thursday.

The Transportation Department called lawmakers’ offices to alert them to the decision to suspend the program at midnight Thursday. The program offers owners of old cars and trucks $3,500 or $4,500 toward a new, more fuel-efficient vehicle. . . .

A White House official said later that officials were assessing the situation facing the popular program but auto dealers and consumers should have confidence that transactions under the program that already have taken place would be honored. . . .

Congress last month approved the Car Allowance Rebate System program, known as CARS, to boost auto sales and remove some inefficient cars and trucks from the roads. The program kicked off July 24 and was heavily publicized by car companies and auto dealers.

Through late Wednesday, 22,782 vehicles had been purchased through the program and nearly $96 million had been spent. But dealers raised concerns about large backlogs in the processing of the deals in the government system, prompting the suspension.

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Cash for Clunkers kicks off

Posted on July 28, 2009. Filed under: Clean Air, Vehicles |


From a news release issued by the U.S. Department of Transportation:

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood today kicked off a buyer incentive program designed to help consumers purchase new fuel efficient vehicles and boost the economy at the same time. The Car Allowance Rebate System (CARS), commonly referred to as Cash for Clunkers, is a new federal program that gives buyers up to $4,500 towards a new, more environmentally-friendly vehicle when they trade-in their old gas guzzling cars or trucks.

“With this program, we are giving the auto industry a shot in the arm and struggling consumers can get rid of their gas-guzzlers and buy a more reliable, fuel-efficient vehicle,” Secretary LaHood said. “This is good news for our economy, the environment and consumers’ pocketbooks.”

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) also released the final eligibility requirements to participate in the program. Under the CARS program, consumers receive a $3,500 or $4,500 discount from a car dealer when they trade in their old vehicle and purchase or lease a new, qualifying vehicle. In order to be eligible for the program, the trade-in passenger vehicle must: be manufactured less than 25 years before the date it is traded in; have a combined city/highway fuel economy of 18 miles per gallon or less; be in drivable condition; and be continuously insured and registered to the same owner for the full year before the trade-in. Transactions must be made between now and November 1, 2009 or until the money runs out.

The vehicle that is traded in will be scrapped. NHTSA estimates the program could take approximately 250,000 vehicles that are not fuel efficient off the road.

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$28 million available for state clean energy manufacturing projects

Posted on July 27, 2009. Filed under: Climate change, Economic development, General |


From a news release issued by Governor Doyle:

MADISON – Governor Jim Doyle today announced that Wisconsin has been approved for $28 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act federal funds for its State Energy Program (SEP). The funds are the first part of the $55 million in Recovery Act funding the state is receiving for this program. . . .

Projects must create or retain jobs, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, reduce fossil fuel use, and/or deploy renewable energy.

Applications and program information will be available at the Commerce website: http://commerce.wi.gov/BD/BD-SEP-ARRA.html

For more information on the SEP, contact Amy Cumblad at Commerce, amy.cumblad@wisconsin.gov; or David Jenkins at the Office of Energy Independence, davidj.jenkins@wisconsin.gov.

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Crave Brothers Farm turns manure into electricity

Posted on July 24, 2009. Filed under: Biomass |


Two digesters - hi res Electricity-generating anaerobic manure digesters drew attention from visitors to the 2009Farm Technology Days at the Crave Brothers Farm near Waterloo.

From a story on WITI-TV, Green Bay:

This farm equipment may not look familiar to most folks, but it is part of the process to provide the Crave brothers family farm with fuel.

“Just feel the heat coming off, here. The BTU’s that are being produced, off of the exhaust, heat hot water,” says Charlie Crave.

The farm is the site of 2009’s Wisconsin Farm Technology Days, and all the power to operate the farm, along with some which is sold to the local utility, is generated from the cattle waste.

“We have 750,000 gallons of manure in each tank. The manure is heated to 105 degrees, to where it starts to break down, and the bacteria-action produces methane gas,” explains Charlie Crave.

Charlie Crave runs the farm, while his son works for clear horizon, a Milwaukee-based company Crave contracts to make methane magic, from manure. The waste created by the Crave cattle is still also used to fertilize the fields and in potting soil. On the farm it is all about renewable, sustainable energy.

Read about Wisconsin’s other digesters in the Wisconsin Agricultural Biogas Casebook published by Focus on Energy.

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Local hearing on Columbia County wind farm delayed

Posted on July 23, 2009. Filed under: Wind |


From an article by Lyn Jerde in the Portage Daily Register:

A public hearing on a wind energy project proposed for northeast Columbia County that had been scheduled for last week has been delayed to late October or early November, to give the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin more time to study the project’s potential environmental effects.

The delay means that the proposed We Energies wind farm in the towns of Scott and Randolph – including up to 90 wind turbines, capable of generating up to 207 megawatts of electrical power – won’t come to the PSC for final approval any sooner than January 2010.

The project, called Glacier Hills Wind Park, includes a proposal to locate up to 65 turbines in the town of Randolph and 35 in the town of Scott. About 250 parcels of land would be leased from about 45 different owners.

PSC spokeswoman Teresa Smith said the commission requested the delay, and later requested an in-depth environmental impact study, after concerns were raised about a PSC environmental assessment released in May that concluded the project posed “no significant impact.”

According to an addition to the environmental assessment, added in June, some of the other issues that require further exploration include:

• Noise created by the wind turbines and its possible health effects.

• The effects of the turbines on flying wildlife, including bats and various species of birds.

• The patterns of land use and population in the area, including small pockets of residential development in the 17,300 acres encompassed by the project.

• The effect of “shadow flicker” – a strobe-like flashing of light experienced by some who live near wind turbines.

• The aesthetic effects of numerous turbine towers, which can be several hundred feet tall.

“Based on experience with recently constructed wind farms,” the addendum to the environmental assessment said, “there is a wide range in how non-participating landowners react to nearby new turbines. To some the turbines are an inconsequential change on the landscape; others believe that the turbines greatly degrade their lives. Many have feelings that range somewhere in between.”

Smith said an environmental impact statement can address concerns in more depth than an environmental assessment can give.

Brian Manthey, spokesman for We Energies, said the PSC first asked to delay a decision on Glacier Hills Wind Park for 180 days. Later, the PSC decided that the environmental impact statement was among the pieces of additional information it needed to make the decision.

Manthey said the delay would slow the company’s construction plans. Originally, We Energies had hoped to start building the wind farm before the end of the year or in early 2010, with 2012 as the first full year of operation. Now, he said, if the PSC approves the project, construction can start no sooner than next spring.

“That makes things a little tighter,” Manthey said. “But it makes for a more thorough process.”

A public hearing was supposed to have been held last Monday at the Randolph Town Hall in Friesland.

Town Board Chairman David Hughes of rural Cambria said the PSC posted several announcements in and around the community that the hearing had been delayed.

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Calumet sets wind turbine moratorium after court ruling

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


From an article by Jim Collar in the Appleton Post-Crescent:

CHILTON — Wind turbine construction is off the table in Calumet County for the time being as supervisors regroup from a court decision that invalidated their restrictions on placement of the systems.

The Calumet County Board passed a moratorium on turbine construction Tuesday that could remain in effect until the end of the year.

The board also voted to petition the state Supreme Court for review of the appeals court opinion that prompted Tuesday’s discussions.

The moratorium could end earlier should the board change or replace the ordinance.

The state appeals court decision said Calumet County exceeded its authority with a blanket ordinance that set regulations for any and all proposed turbines.

County officials said developers could have taken advantage of the ruling and began projects without a moratorium in place.

“We decided we had to do something quickly,” Board Chairman Bill Barribeau said.

Calumet County’s wind turbine ordinance dictated setbacks and maximum heights and sound levels for proposed turbines.

The 2nd District Court of Appeals, based in Waukesha, found Calumet County’s ordinance acted against state laws that support use of alternative energy systems.

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PSC issues draft environmental impact statement for Columbia County wind farm

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


From a news release issued by the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin:

MADISON -– Today the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (PSC) issued the draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for a proposed wind electric generating facility, Glacier Hills Wind Park, in northeast Columbia County.

The proposed wind park project would consist of a 90-turbine wind facility with a capacity of up to 207 MW within 17,350 acres of predominately agricultural land in the townships of Randolph and Scott. The draft EIS is a thorough review and analysis of the proposed project, including the need for the project, the alternatives considered, its cost and short- and long-term potential impacts of building the facility.

In October 2008, Wisconsin Electric Power Company (WEPCO) filed an application with the PSC for permission to build the facility. The facility would consist of the turbines, access roads to the turbines, an underground 34.5 kilovolt system to collect the power produced at each turbine, a new substation to connect to the existing electric transmission system and an operations and maintenance building that would house a supervisory control and data acquisition system to monitor turbine operation.

Comments on the draft EIS will be accepted for 45 days after the document is issued, and are due by Friday, September 4, 2009. Comments received on the draft EIS will be considered when the final EIS is prepared. Hearings to take testimony from the public regarding the proposed project and the final EIS are expected to be held late October or early November 2009. The exact dates and times have yet to be determined.

The PSC has the authority to approve, deny or modify proposed an electric construction project, such as this one. To ensure a full and complete record, the PSC follows a process outlined by state law for every case. Part of this process is to perform a thorough environmental review and to gather input from the public.

To review the final report, visit the PSC’s website at http://psc.wi.gov and click on the Electronic Regulatory Filing System (ERF) button and enter docket number 6630-CE-302.

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RENEW testimony supports Excel’s conversion of generation plant to wood

Posted on July 21, 2009. Filed under: Biomass, Coal, Wood |


From the direct testimony of Michael Vickerman on behalf of RENEW Wisconsin:

Q. What is the purpose of your testimony?
A. The purpose of my testimony is to communicate our organization’s support for the installation of a biomass gasification system that would produce biomass-derived synthetic gas (“syngas”) for serving Northern States Power’s Bay Front Unit #5.

Q. Why does RENEW support this particular application?
A. We note the following public policy objectives that would be advanced if the proposal submitted by Northern States Power Corporation (“NSPW”) were approved. These objectives include:
1) Meeting Wisconsin’s current Renewable Energy Standard;
2) Eliminating a source of coal-fired power from its system;
3) Using a locally available renewable energy resource;
4) Reducing carbon dioxide emissions and other gaseous pollutants;
5) Maintaining a strong generation source in northern Wisconsin; and
6) Investing Wisconsin capital in a renewable energy generating facility power plant within its borders.

Clean Wisconsin also submitted testimony.

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Wisconsin utilities leave home for wind work

Posted on July 19, 2009. Filed under: General |


From an article by Paul Snyder in The Daily Reporter:

Wisconsin utilities have a track record of building, operating and maintaining their own wind farms, leaving independent producers little reason to build in the state.

But when those same utilities build wind farms in other states, Wisconsin’s economy and construction work force suffer, said Michael Vickerman, executive director of RENEW Wisconsin.

“There’s quite a lot of construction going on in places like Illinois and Iowa where wind producers can sell their product to utilities,” he said. “But here, the market is controlled by utilities.”

And that keeps independent developers from considering Wisconsin, said Timothy Polz, senior project developer with Chicago-based Midwest Wind Energy.

“If utilities prefer to own the projects, it takes away some of the benefits developers can get from constructing or maintaining the farms while selling the power,” he said.

But more troubling, Vickerman said, is that even though utilities have the power to push new developments, they are building beyond state borders. The only major wind farm under development in Wisconsin is We Energies’ Glacier Hill Wind Farm in Columbia County, which will have about 90 turbines and produce 162 megawatts of electricity.

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Wis. to get $5.4 million for Energy Star rebates

Posted on July 17, 2009. Filed under: Energy Efficiency |


From a post on Tom Content’s blog on JSOnline:

The state of Wisconsin is slated to receive $5.4 million from the federal stimulus package to fund rebates for consumers to buy energy-efficient home appliances, the U.S. Department of Energy said Tuesday.

DOE announced it will make $300 million available nationwide from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to help boost sales of energy-efficient appliances and help homes become more energy-efficient.

“Appliances consume a huge amount of our electricity, so there’s enormous potential to both save energy and save families money every month,” said Energy Secretary Steven Chu in a statement. “These rebates will help families make the transition to more efficient appliances, making purchases that will directly stimulate the economy and create jobs.”

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