Archive for August, 2009

Wisconsin Rapids company mulls Great Lakes wind farms

Posted on August 31, 2009. Filed under: Economic development, Wind |

From an article by Nathaniel Shuda in the Wausau Daily Herald:

leaders of a Wisconsin Rapids company finalize logistics of a planned local manufacturing plant, they have their sights set on an even larger project.

Officials with Energy Composites Corp. are developing a group to build wind farms on the Great Lakes, said Sam Fairchild, chief executive officer.

“There have been a lot of groups trying to align some interest in the Great Lakes in terms of energy,” Fairchild said Friday. “The problem is no one is trying to build wind farms in the Great Lakes. That’s what we’re trying to do.”

Two weeks after announcing plans to form what it’s calling a Great Lakes Consortium, Energy Composites already has attracted the attention of state and federal officials, outside energy companies and power utilities in states surrounding the lakes, Fairchild said. Because of that, company leaders are trying to acquire federal funding for wind development.

Energy Composites, which plans to build a 350,000-square-foot wind turbine component plant in Wisconsin Rapids, is drafting a document to send to all parties interested in the Great Lakes project and then wants to organize a commercial development session with financiers and developers, Fairchild said. He already is talking with wind farm developers across the nation in an attempt to garner their support.

“I have had parties step forward and say, ‘I was going to build as far out as South Dakota,'” Fairchild said. Now they have decided to consider the Great Lakes as a potential location.

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )

Assembly Speaker makes priorities of wind siting bill and green jobs

Posted on August 28, 2009. Filed under: Economic development, Wind |

From an article by Scott Bauer in the Appleton Post-Crescent:

MADISON—Saving and creating jobs will be Democrats’ top priority when the Assembly comes back in session next month, Speaker Mike Sheridan said Wednesday. . . .

A particular focus would be on growing so-called “green” jobs, Sheridan said. The only proposals he cited were bills that would clear the way for wind farms to more easily be built in Wisconsin and that would spur alternative energy growth.

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )

PSC opens door for more in-state renewable installations

Posted on August 27, 2009. Filed under: General |

A news release issued by RENEW Wisconsin:

At its open meeting today, the Public Service Commission (PSC) called for the expansion of voluntary utility programs that offer premium rates for in-state sources of renewable energy. Today’s discussion marked the first time the PSC took up the issue of premium renewable energy buyback rates since it opened a docket in January to investigate the viability of a statewide policy governing utility purchases of solar, wind and biogas energy generated by their customers.

“While we would have preferred a policy-driven approach to making homegrown renewable energy a bigger part of Wisconsin’s energy future, we are heartened that the PSC will direct utilities to produce plans for encouraging more customer investments in this market sector,” said Michael Vickerman, executive director of RENEW Wisconsin, a Madison-based sustainable energy advocacy organization.

During the PSC’s investigation, RENEW Wisconsin submitted comments advocating for the establishment of fixed-rate, technology-specific payments pegged at the production cost of the facility. Where offered, these premiums—also known as Advanced Renewable Tariffs—have significantly increased private investment in distributed sources of renewable energy. Earlier this year, the State of Vermont passed a law mandating premium rates for renewable energy, the first in the nation to do so.

Several years ago, RENEW and other organizations helped We Energies design and launch a voluntary program for encouraging customer ownership of renewable energy systems, including the state’s first premium solar rate.

“We hope the state’s utilities will take advantage
of our experience in this area and work collaboratively to develop renewable energy premium plans that will work,” Vickerman said.

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )

Governor to push renewable energy agenda

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

From an article by Giles Morris in The Daily News (Rhinelander):
As Governor Jim Doyle continues his northern tour, he is promoting a policy agenda that will serve as his legacy when he leaves office next year.

One of the most ambitious pieces of legislation Doyle is pushing for is a law that would create a new renewable energy benchmark for the state.

On Monday, Eric Callisto, chairperson of the Public Service Commission (PSC), spoke about how the new goals would change the way the state looks at its energy policy.

“The governor is not running for re-election and as he announced that he talked about some of the priorities for the state going forward,” Callisto said. “Among those are environmental protection and sustainable energy.”

Callisto, who heads the agency charged with overseeing the state’s energy utilities, said the governor’s energy plan involves a three-pronged approach consisting of strengthening the state’s standards for renewable energy consumption, expanding the state’s market share of clean energy production and ramping up clean energy research programs throughout the UW system.

The first piece of legislation that could emerge from the governor’s energy platform could reach the Legislature this fall. The bill — which would likely come through Sen. Mark Miller’s committee on the environment and Rep. Spencer Black’s natural resources committee — would entail a modification of the state’s renewable portfolio standard (RPS).

The current RPS requires that the state’s utility companies produce 10 percent of their energy from renewable sources by 2015. Under the revamped bill, the deadline for the 10 percent renewable mark would be moved up to 2013 and two new benchmarks would be added to create a “25 by 25” agenda — 25 percent renewable by 2025 with at least 10 percent produced in Wisconsin.

“I think it’s a realistic goal,” Callisto said. “It’s a goal in which Wisconsin utilities, businesses and rate payers are all going to have to play a major role.”

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )

Pursuing Sustainability Through Economic Adversity

Posted on August 25, 2009. Filed under: Economic development, General |

From a commentary by Michael Vickerman, RENEW executive director:

Continuing a trend that began in 2008, America’s energy appetite will continue to decline through 2009, according to the U.S. Energy Information Agency (EIA). The reductions are cutting across all primary energy sources: petroleum, coal, and natural gas. These projections appear in the July edition of EIA’s Short-Term Energy Outlook.

In the same document, EIA anticipates a 2% decline in this year’s electricity use, following a 1.6% dip in 2008. The ongoing reduction in electricity demand is having a particularly pronounced effect on coal consumption, which is projected to drop by 5.2% from year-earlier totals. Between the sharp pullback in industrial demand for electricity and low natural gas prices, the current market for coal is very weak.

Needless to say, as fossil fuel consumption goes, so go carbon dioxide emissions. Given EIA’s expectations that the ongoing pullback in energy demand will persist through this year, there should be a continued slackening in greenhouse gases discharged into the atmosphere. If you add this year’s projected reductions to last year’s recorded decline, the overall drop in annual CO2 emissions from 2007 could be as much as 5%. That’s a far larger reduction than what would be accomplished under any of the various cap-and-trade proposals being debated in Congress.

While energy efficiency spending and stricter building codes are good policies for moderating demand, their effects are modest compared with the consequences of a full-blown economic downturn. The current situation raises an important question: what is the value of displacing a ton of CO2 when economic conditions are sufficiently bleak to guarantee future declines in emissions regardless of new climate change policy initiatives?

From a climate change perspective then, current economic conditions present a kind of a good news-bad news situation. On the plus side, Americans are driving less, flying less, buying fewer disposable items made in foreign countries, and building fewer energy sinks like houses, hotels, and megamalls. This slowdown provides us with an opportunity to conserve fossil fuel supplies over a longer period of time, reduce our vulnerability to traumatic events occasioned by human disturbance of the atmosphere, and deploy capital to build up more localized and less high-maintenance economic arrangements that can be sustained over the long haul.

Indeed, out of this contraction could emerge a slower-paced and more sustainable America, one less dependent on the kindness of Middle East petrostates and hail Mary legislation from Congress. A broad-based movement to invest in community-based sustainable energy would in turn have a far more positive and lasting effect on our energy economy than would a Green New Deal that extends the presumption that the American way of life is non-negotiable, as former Vice President Dick Cheney would have us believe. Energy sustainability is an easier goal to achieve when everyone takes part in the project.

But there’s no denying the substantial loss of investment capital available for sustainable energy development. As spending is curtailed and debt is paid down, dollars that could underwrite wind, solar and bioenergy installations are bring taken out of circulation. Moreover, the prices of competing fuels like coal, natural gas and liquid propane have fallen substantially from their 2008 highs, as has the wholesale price of electricity. Many of the renewable energy proposals that looked good on paper 12 months ago are now in hiatus, waiting for the economic headwinds to subside.

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )

Wind industry downturn hits Alliant

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

From a post on Tom Content’s blog on

As if falling power sales and record cold July weather weren’t enough challenges for Alliant Energy Corp., the company’s wind-power construction business is also seeing sales slide.

A downturn in the wind power industry led Alliant to reduce its earnings forecast Thursday for RMT, its Madison-based wind power construction business, for 2009.

Alliant had said RMT would bring in 12 cents per share of profit, but now is forecasting profit of 3 cents, company executives said on a conference call after the utility posted lower-than-expected earnings.

“At the same time the utilities were experiencing negative weather and economic impacts on sales, the wind development market in the U.S. has slowed to a crawl, leading us to revise RMT’s prospects for the year as well,” said Bill Harvey, chairman, president and chief executive.

The American Wind Energy Association is forecasting that new wind installed capacity will fall 40% in 2009, compared with last year, and General Electric Co.’s energy infrastructure division is projecting a 50% decline, Harvey said.

RMT works as an engineering, construction and development firm on wind power projects. It built the state’s largest wind farm, Blue Sky Green Field, for Milwaukee-based We Energies, last year.

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )

Brown bag lunches on climate change

Posted on August 21, 2009. Filed under: Climate change |

From Clean Wisconsin:

Senate and Assembly leaders are currently drafting clean energy legislation based on the Governor’s Global Warming Task Force recommendations.

Bring your lunch to this series of policy briefings that will provide overviews of those policies and allow legislators and staff to have their questions answered by some of the state’s leading experts on these topics.

August 26: Energy Efficiency, 12-1 pm Capitol – 400 SE
The Governor’s Global Warming Task Force recommends that Wisconsin reduce its electricity use by 2% per year. Energy efficiency experts will discuss how that goal and other Task Force policy recommendations can be achieved in Wisconsin.

Keith Reopelle, Senior Policy Director, Clean Wisconsin
Susan Stratton, Executive Director, Energy Center of Wisconsin
Clay Nesler, VP, Building Efficiency, Global Energy and Sustainability, Johnson Controls

September 2: Renewable Electricity Standard, 12-1 pm Capitol – 425 SW
Current Wisconsin law requires utilities to produce 10% of their energy from renewable resources, and the Governor’s Global Warming Task Force recommended an increase to 25% by 2025. Renewable energy business, utilities and environmentalists will discuss the importance of this higher standard for Wisconsin.

Peter Taglia, Staff Scientist, Clean Wisconsin
Kristine Krause, Vice President – Environmental, WE Energies
Curt Bjurlin, EcoEnergy LLC, Project Developer

September 30: Midwestern Governors Assoc., Greenhouse Gas Accord, 12-1 pm Capitol – 425 SW
At the direction of six Midwestern Governors, a roadmap was developed for a Midwest cap and trade program to regulate greenhouse gas emissions throughout the region. Members of this MGA process will discuss the recommendation process and what it would mean for Wisconsin.

Keith Reopelle, Senior Policy Director, Clean Wisconsin
Roy Thilly, CEO, Wisconsin Public Power Inc.

October 14: Low Carbon Fuel Standard 12-1 pm Capitol – 425 SW
A Low Carbon Fuel Standard ensures that oil and fuel distributors begin switching to the cleanest, most efficient fuel sources including biofuels and renewable electricity. Discussions will focus on the impacts of an LCFS on Wisconsin.

Peter Taglia, Staff Scientist, Clean Wisconsin
Mary Blanchard, Director of Marketing, Virent Energy Systems
Gary Radloff, Director of Policy and Strategic Communications, DATCP

Speakers are subject to change. For more information, please contact Keith Reopelle at (608) 251-7020, ext. 11 or

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )

Clean energy safer for workers

Posted on August 20, 2009. Filed under: General |

From an article by Baldur Hedinsson in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

To keep the gears of America’s economy turning, energy workers need to drill deep into the Earth for explosive gas and flammable oil, a dangerous occupation.

New research finds that switching to a renewable energy system based on sun and wind would provide safer working conditions and prevent more than 130 job-related deaths in the United States each year by significantly reducing the need for mining. The study is published Wednesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

In the paper, Peter Layde, a professor in the department of population health and co-director of the Injury Research Center at the Medical College of Wisconsin, and Steven Sumner of the Medical Center at Duke University, compare the occupational hazards energy workers are exposed to in fossil fuel with that of renewable energy production. Three renewable energy sources with potential for growth – solar, wind and biomass – were included in the study.

“Focusing on the entire lifecycle is important when estimating occupational hazard, including construction and maintenance of all infrastructure needed,” Layde said.

Wind and solar energy compared favorably with fossil fuels in every aspect from production to distribution, but the researchers note that better data is needed to make more precise comparisons. Renewables are safer than fossil fuels because mining isn’t involved. Mining is the second-most dangerous industry in the U.S., resulting in 27.5 deaths per 100,000 workers, compared with an average of 3.4 deaths for all industries.

The most common biomass fuel, ethanol, did not compare as favorably.

The complete study can be found on the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )

Registration opens for Solar Decade Conference, Oct. 2, Milwaukee

Posted on August 19, 2009. Filed under: Solar |

From the Web page of the Solar Decade:

Join renowned industry experts as they discuss the benefits of solar energy for your home, business and career!

Now in its fifth year, the Wisconsin Solar Decade Conference is your opportunity to see firsthand the latest developments in the world of solar energy. Register today to hear from top industry experts and attend dozens of exhibits, workshops and panel discussions as you discover the state of the technology, the state of the market and where both will be tomorrow!

•Learn about the latest solar energy applications for your home and business
•Discover opportunities to tap the renewable energy market and expand your business
•Network with fellow builders, contractors, homeowners and business owners

Keynote speakers
Dr. Lawrence L. Kazmerski
Executive Director of Science and Technology Partnerships, National Renewable Energy Laboratory

Dr. Lawrence L. Kazmerski, executive director of science and technology partnerships at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colorado, is a solar-energy industry veteran who has authored hundreds of journal papers and several books on solar photovoltaics. For his years of research and work, “Kaz” has received recognition both nationally and internationally.

Travis Bradford
Founder and President – Prometheus Institute for Sustainable Development

Travis Bradford is founder and president of the Prometheus Institute for Sustainable Development, a nonprofit organization focused on harnessing the power of the business sector to develop cost-effective and sustainable solutions in technology. In his most recent book, Solar Revolution, Bradford argues that solar energy will become the best and cheapest choice for energy over the next 20 years.

Register here.

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )

RENEW urges support of Energy Efficiency Resource Standard

Posted on August 18, 2009. Filed under: Energy Efficiency |

Along with the Citizens Utility Board, Sierra Club – John Muir Chapter, Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters, and the Wisconsin Wildlife Federation, RENEW Wisconsin sent the following letter:

Dear Senator Kohl and Senator Feingold:

We are writing to urge your support and leadership for a strong national Energy Efficiency esource Standard (EERS). An EERS will save Americans money and create green jobs in these ifficult economic times.

Energy efficiency is the cheapest, cleanest, smartest and most readily available source of American energy. American business owners, academic experts, and states agree: Energy efficiency programs are the most effective way to fast‐track efforts to reduce our overall energy usage, affordably expand the use of renewable energy resources and address climate change. But the current Senate energy bill, S. 1462, the American Clean Energy Leadership Act (ACELA), does not do enough to help Americans tap the energy efficiency potential at their fingertips.

We are deeply concerned ACELA does not include a stand‐alone EERS. The approach of incorporating a small efficiency component into a Renewable Electricity Standard (RES) is no substitute. Indeed, the provisions in the bill will fail to use the potential of an EERS to reduce consumer costs and to accelerate the transition to a clean energy economy for America. The policy landscape on energy efficiency in this country has changed significantly in the last several years and the 15 percent RES with up to 4 percent for energy efficiency is an artifact from the past. Nineteen states currently have an EERS that, collectively, will reduce overall energy use in the U.S. by about 5 ercent by 2020, makingmaking the provisions in ACELA only slightly more than business as usual and mostly ineffective.

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )

« Previous Entries


    A statewide nonprofit dedicated to promoting economically and environmentally sustainable energy policies and practices in Wisconsin.


    Subscribe Via RSS

    • Subscribe with Bloglines
    • Add your feed to Newsburst from CNET
    • Subscribe in Google Reader
    • Add to My Yahoo!
    • Subscribe in NewsGator Online
    • The latest comments to all posts in RSS


Liked it here?
Why not try sites on the blogroll...