Archive for March, 2010

Fond du Lac turbine company pumps up energy, economy

Posted on March 31, 2010. Filed under: Economic development, Wind |

From an article by Toni Hoh in The Northwestern (Oshkosh):

One of the first wind turbines to come out of Oshkosh’s Renewegy Inc. is up and running at the business’s Jackson Street headquarters. Soon, eight more turbines will leave the plant and begin churning out wind energy at other northeast Wisconsin businesses and even out of state.

The company’s next eight units will be installed by early summer. Four will go to SCA Tissue in Menasha; one to Manitowoc’s Orion Energy Systems; one to an undisclosed location in the Fox Valley; and two to Nebraska. Turbines can meet anywhere from 1 percent to 100 percent of a facility’s energy demands.

Renewegy, launched in 2008, is poised to bring small wind energy turbines — the type that serves commercial and industrial businesses, schools, universities, municipalities and farms — into the forefront when it comes to meeting clean energy needs.

The company has created 10 new research, development and manufacturing jobs so far and expects to hire between 60 and 100 people over the next few years, including another five to 10 in 2010.

“This is exactly the type of company we want to grow in our area,” said Rob Kleman, executive director of the Oshkosh Area Economic Development Corporation.
Kleman said the technology being created by Renewergy can have a spin-off effect that benefits other companies in its supply chain.

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Some compromise reached in Clean Energy Jobs Act

Posted on March 29, 2010. Filed under: Climate change, Economic development, Energy Policy |

From a report by Chuck Quirmbach on Wisconsin Public Radio:

(STATE CAPITOL) A key lawmaker says some compromises have been reached in the global warming bill now in the State Legislature. But he says more deal-making is ahead.

During the last couple of weeks, legislators have been working behind closed doors trying to agree on changes to the Clean Energy Jobs Act. At an energy forum in Milwaukee, Senate author Mark Miller said some agreements have been reached. The Madison-area Democrat says there are deals on idling of trucks, reducing carbon in transportation fuels, tariffs for utilities purchasing power from renewable sources, and whether to link Wisconsin car fuel efficiency standards to California’s. He says the golden state plan is gone.

Miller says the plan to reduce carbon in fuels ran into a lot of opposition, and wasn’t a major part of the bill. The changes are good news to the Democrats leading candidate for governor, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett. Barrett says any new carbon in fuels standard would also have hurt the state.

Sen. Miller says lawmakers are also trying to accelerate job creation goals in the Clean Energy Jobs Act. He says he’s hoping to announce final compromises next week.

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RENEW treasurer asks Sen. Schultz to support Clean Energy Jobs Act

Posted on March 26, 2010. Filed under: Climate change, Economic development, Energy Efficiency, Energy Policy, Wind |

From a letter to State Senator Dale Schultz from Shelly Laffin, RENEW Wisconsin’s treasurer, who lives in Spring Green:

Dear Senator Schultz,

I recently learned from the Spring Green Home News that you do not support any provisions of the Clean Energy Jobs Act. Your district is distinctly suited to benefit from two parts of the Act in particular.

There are wind projects in Lafayette, Grant and Iowa counties that will be built if the Renewable Portfolio Standard is increased, especially with a mandated percentage of the energy projects to be built in Wisconsin. Wind projects in those counties not only will supply clean energy and jobs, but local towns and counties will receive annual payments. I am sure you know that the local economies in those areas are depressed and would materially benefit. Wind projects are good neighbors, which I’m also sure you are aware of, based on the ten year operating history of the Montfort Wind Farm in Iowa County.

Another critical provision in the Act is the Advanced Renewable Tariff component. While I see that you support tax credits for food processing plant modernization, you perhaps have not made the linkage to food processing waste and energy generation that many cheese plants would like to incorporate in their operations. Several cheese companies are considering anaerobic digestion for their plants (in your district), but cannot make the financial aspects work without an advanced renewable tariff as a standard offer. Grants are fine, but they work best to support technologies in initial stages of market development, rather than as a permanent feature to sustain a market. Preliminary analysis has been done on the cost of advanced renewable tariffs that could be offered by investor owned Wisconsin utilities ( In offering approximately 11 cents per kilowatt hour, at a fully subscribed level of 1.5% of customer retail sales, the cost for a typical Wisconsin residential customer (~usage at 10,000 kilowatt hours per year) would average an extra 83 cents a month ($10.00 per year). The analysis uses the marginal amount that would be added to each investor owned utility’s current avoided cost. As the avoided cost rate continually increases over time, this marginal amount diminishes or disappears.

When I look at the Wisconsin State Capitol, the county courthouse in Lancaster and other early government projects, the investment in better building, better craftsmanship and better materials has stood the test of time. It is pitiful that we now exhibit such lack of vision that we cannot enthusiastically invest in Wisconsin’s future as our ancestors did. The two items I mentioned translate into local development, local jobs and local industry (ala Cuba City’s Wausaukee Composites – wind nacelle housings).

Wisconsin is currently the national leader in dairy farm digesters. The opportunity that comes from being a focal point in the country for anaerobic digestion technology will slip away, and has already begun to slip (federal digester funding targeted to New York state), without taking the next step – advanced renewable tariffs. The Focus on Energy Program has a very limited budget for renewables in general and this technology in particular. With a granting program, choices of winners and losers tend to be based on the program and state agency priorities, not necessarily the customer’s needs. DATCP does not have a RD&D budget to move farm digesters from being a large farm option to a viable mid-size farm option. Farms, in cooperation with investors, coops and using other business models could make the move themselves, with the assurance of an advanced renewable tariff. Wisconsin has already attracted the attention of German companies who would like to make investments in Wisconsin digester projects. And finally, Wisconsin is home to the company that has, by far, the most farm digester installations in the U.S. – GHD, Inc. in Chilton, Wisconsin. We would be crazy to forgo such a unique opportunity to support our agricultural community. I truly wish you could see it that way.

Another critical opportunity for Wisconsin is the promising mid-size wind industry. Several companies in eastern Wisconsin are obtaining UL listing for their equipment and are attracting investors to finance the building of small and mid-sized wind turbines in Wisconsin. Their chances of success improve greatly if there are buyback rates in Wisconsin to sustain consistent sales of wind equipment. Without the tariffs, Wisconsin is defaulting to wind turbines built in China. The industrial infrastructure is still in place that would make these companies viable, but the support of advanced renewable tariffs for small systems is critical.

The advanced renewable tariffs reward only equipment and projects that actually produce energy. As a contrast, grants are paid for projects whether they subsequently produce energy at the level promised, or do not. Higher buyback rates and tariffs do not pick and choose winners in the marketplace. They reward energy production – period. I fail to see why you would not support the advanced renewable tariff provision of the Clean Energy Jobs Act. The Wisconsin Distributed Resources Collaborative, with most of Wisconsin’s utilities as members, ( has investigated many options and administrative structures for advanced renewable tariffs over a range of cost recovery methods for utilities. Alliant Energy modeled its advanced renewable tariff offering (fully subscribed in less than a year) on tariff work done by the Wisconsin Distributed Resources Collaborative. By limiting tariff subscription levels and capping eligible project sizes, utilities and utility customers are protected from unmanageable financial impacts.

Wisconsin did not deregulate its retail electric utilities as did some other states in the 1990’s. Customer-based renewable electric projects are therefore restricted to selling energy to retail electric providers, at prices largely based on energy production from fully amortized coal plants. A variety of renewable energy businesses are in your district and will be able to thrive at a modest and controlled cost to utility customers. Small renewable companies in your district, such as Timmerman’s Talents, Platteville (solar and wind), point to the future growth and vigor that will be possible with support for renewable energy through an advanced tariff. There is no other energy policy on the horizon that would have more benefit for small growing renewable businesses.

I hope that you will reconsider y our current position and support these two Clean Energy Jobs Act provisions.

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Over 200 businesses pledge support for Clean Energy Jobs Act

Posted on March 25, 2010. Filed under: Climate change, Economic development, Energy Policy |

From a news release issued by Clean Wisconsin:

Regionally Diverse Large and Small Businesses Among Supporters

MADISON — In a show of support for the Clean Energy Jobs Act, the Wisconsin business community delivered a letter signed by over 200 Wisconsin businesses to state legislators today highlighting the economic and job-creation benefits of strong energy efficiency and renewable energy policies.

“As businesses currently working in the production, installation and maintenance of energy efficiency and renewable energy systems we understand better than anyone that clean energy policies create jobs and stimulate local economies,” read the letter. “By enacting statewide policies that will help Wisconsinites make their homes and businesses more energy efficient or invest in renewable energy, the state Legislature will create thousands of jobs and help support local businesses like ours…”

Studies have repeatedly demonstrated the job-creation potential of the Clean Energy Jobs Act. A recent study from the Office of Energy Independence estimates that the bill would create over 15,000 jobs in the state.

“Wisconsin’s businesses support the Clean Energy Jobs Act because they recognize its enormous potential to create jobs and aid economic recovery,” said Keith Reopelle, senior policy director at Clean Wisconsin. “With strong renewable energy and energy efficiency policies, Wisconsin can become a leader in the production of clean energy technologies.”

“Clean energy policies like those in the Clean Energy Jobs Act help businesses like Wave Wind grow,” said Dionne Lummus at Wave Wind Energy located in Sun Prairie. “Increased demand for renewable energy means an increased demand for our services, which translates to more jobs and economic growth in Wisconsin.”

A report released this morning by the Union of Concerned Scientists shows that securing 25 percent of the state’s renewable electricity by 2025, a main provision of the bill, is affordable and easily achievable. In fact, the report illustrates that generating 25 percent of Wisconsin’s current electricity load would require only 5 percent of the state’s renewable energy potential.

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Colorado increases renewables and distributed generation requirements

Posted on March 24, 2010. Filed under: Energy Policy, Generation Plants |

While the Wisconsin legislature considers a renewable portfolio requirement of 25% by 2025, Colorado will soon have a requirement of 30% by 2020, according to an article by Kate Balbraith on a New York Times blog:

In a bid to propel his state to the forefront of the new energy economy, Colorado’s governor is expected to sign one of the most aggressive renewable energy requirements in the country on Monday afternoon.

The new law requires 30 percent of large utilities’ electricity to come from renewables by 2020. The previous requirement was 20 percent by 2020.

The higher target “will continue to position Colorado as a national pacesetter for creating jobs, strengthening our economy and protecting our environment,” wrote the governor, Bill Ritter, in an op-ed article in a Colorado newspaper on Sunday.

About half of all states in the country have renewable energy requirements, known as a “renewable portfolio standard.”

California’s rule — the most aggressive — requires big utilities to get 33 percent of their electricity from renewables by 2020, and 20 percent by 2010. However, the state is likely to fall short of the 2010 goal — showing that targets are easy to establish but more difficult to meet.

Mark Stutz, a spokesman for Xcel Energy, which serves about 70 percent of Colorado’s population, said that the utility supported Colorado’s increased target. The new law also requires that “distributed generation” — small, dispersed electricity sources — equate to 3 percent of each utility’s electricity sales.

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Case Builds for the Clean Energy Jobs Act Bills

Posted on March 23, 2010. Filed under: General |

From Wisconsin Renewable Quarterly, Spring 2010, the newsletter of RENEW Wisconsin:

After holding five public hearings on the Clean Energy Jobs Act (CEJA) legislation, the committees’ co-chairs signaled their plan to hammer out a set of substitute proposals in meetings among themselves.

While waiting for the expected substitute amendment sometime in late March, proponents continue to build the public case for passage in this legislative session.

The refashioned bill will likely retain the core provisions in the original, specifically:
+ 25% renewable energy standard(RES) by 2025;
+ 10% in-state renewable energy set-aside, also by 2025; and
+ Energy efficiency goals to begin reduction of consumption in 2011.

The original legislation (AB 649/SB 450) also contained a requirement that the Public Service Commission (PSC) increase buyback rates for small renewable systems. This controversial section is likely to be reworked substantially in the substitute amendment.

Since the introduction of the bills in early January, many affected interests have bombarded the print and electronic media with news releases, advertisements, economic analyses, news conferences, commentaries, and photo opportunities in hopes of influencing the Legislature before the session ends.

Just to list a few examples from the proponents:
+ RENEW Wisconsin released a study in February showing that increased renewable energy buyback rates, by themselves, would have a minimal impact on base residential electricity rates;

Other newsletter articles:
Tour Spotlights Homegrown Renewables
Energizing Fort Atkinson Schools
Clearing Up Lakes with Clean Energy
Of Molehills and Renewable Energy

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Poll: Wisconsin voters overwhelmingly support clean energy policies

Posted on March 22, 2010. Filed under: Climate change, Economic development, Energy Policy |

From a news release issued by Clean Wisconsin:

76% support policies stronger than those in the Clean Energy Jobs Act

MADISON — More than three-quarters of Wisconsin voters support renewable energy policies requiring 30 percent of our state’s power to come from renewable sources, according to polling data released today by a bipartisan research group.

“An overwhelming majority of Wisconsin’s voters recognize the need to replace our dependence on dirty, imported fossil fuels with new investments in clean, renewable energy,” said Keith Reopelle, senior policy director at Clean Wisconsin, an environmental advocacy organization celebrating 40 years of service. “With no fossil fuel reserves of our own, transitioning toward renewable energy sources such as wind, solar, crops, and agricultural waste will help Wisconsin become more energy independent and economically prosperous.”

According to the data released today, 76 percent of Wisconsin voters support passing policies “ensuring that 30 percent of the state’s electricity comes from renewable sources.” Known as a renewable electricity standard, current policy ensures that only 10 percent of Wisconsin’s electricity comes from renewable sources by 2015. The Clean Energy Jobs Act would set new goals by ensuring that 25 percent of our electricity comes from renewable resources by 2025.

“This data highlights the need to pass a strong renewable electricity standard in the Clean Energy Jobs Act,” said Reopelle. “Spending $16 billion dollars every year on out-of-state fossil fuels drains Wisconsin’s economy. By investing in renewable energy, we can create jobs and keep much of that money right here at home.”

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Outagamie Co. farmer: Clean energy bill’s opponents lack perspective

Posted on March 19, 2010. Filed under: Climate change, Economic development, Energy Policy |

From a guest column in The Country Today by Rick Adamski, an organic dairy farmer near Seymour:

As a dairy farmer, I understand that wise investments reduce operating costs. On our farm we have seen the need to save energy as a means to flourish in a changing economy.

The state needs to learn this lesson. We can create opportunities in rural Wisconsin to become net energy producers through some common-sense policies such as the advanced renewable portfolio standard, the low-carbon fuel standard and the Energy Crop Reserve Program, three policies being considered in the Clean Energy Jobs Act (Assembly Bill 649 and Senate Bill 450). All of these policies encourage adoption of more renewable energy sources and open up a market for Wisconsin farmers.

But I especially want to emphasize the importance of another common-sense policy being considered: advanced renewable tariffs.

Advanced renewable tariffs are essentially a statewide, uniform buyback rate for renewable energy that is fed into the grid. Locally owned, small-scale energy systems won’t happen without these tariffs. Individuals need to know how much they will be paid for their energy before they invest.

I was fortunate to have had a We Energies experimental small wind buyback rate, which allowed me to build a wind turbine on our farm. It is unfortunate that there are people across the state with better wind resources than ours but worse buyback rates that keep them from producing renewable energy and earning a return. We need this bill to allow entrepreneurs to have fair access, no matter what utility they have.

While it seems an advanced renewable tariff is just common sense, some interests are actively trying to defeat this policy. Perspective is a quality that seems to be absent in so many political debates today, and the debate around the Clean Energy Jobs Act is no exception. It sure seems to me like the critics of this bill have a different understanding of the past or a lack of memory of the past.

At the basis of their argument is their belief that fossil fuels are cheap and will always be cheap. Both of those beliefs are wrong. We forget we are subsidizing fossil fuels. In the case of coal, currently 10 percent of the gross production is exempt from taxation. That is hardly a market-driven force.

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Homegrown energy is hidden pot of gold

Posted on March 17, 2010. Filed under: General |

From a news release from the Homegrown Renewable Energy Campaign, a coalition of RENEW Wisconsin, Wisconsin Farmers Union, Clean Wisconsin, and Michael Fields Agriculture Institute:

Madison, Wis – Farmers and owners of renewable energy companies gathered for Homegrown Energy Day at the state Capitol today to ask legislators to pass strong policies encouraging the production of clean, renewable energy in the Clean Energy Jobs Act.

“Homegrown energy is a hidden pot of gold for Wisconsin’s rural communities,” said Jamie Derr, farmer and owner of Derr Solarmass LLC. “By producing our own energy from agricultural waste and natural resources, we can create an important new source of revenue for Wisconsin’s farmers and rural communities.”

By harnessing energy from the sun, wind, crops like switchgrass, and even waste products like manure and crop remnants left on fields after harvest, Wisconsin farmers have become a leader in the production of clean, renewable energy. Unfortunately, current policy prevents farmers from actively competing in the energy market, and, as a result, Wisconsin residents send $16 billion dollars out of state every year out to purchase fossil fuels.

“Passing policies that foster the growth of homegrown energy production will not only help farmers increase revenue, it will also give an economic boost to companies like mine that manufacture renewable energy technologies such as manure digesters, solar panels, and residential wind turbines,” said Dan Nemke, general
manager of Clear Horizons, a manure digester manufacturer located in Milwaukee. “Why should we continue to ship $16 billion a year out of state for dirty fossil fuels when we can produce our own clean,
renewable energy and keep money flowing right here in Wisconsin?”

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Wisconsin PSC names panel to study wind farms

Posted on March 17, 2010. Filed under: Wind |

A news release from the Public Service Commission:

The Public Service Commission (PSC) today announced appointments to Wisconsin’s Wind Siting Council, an advisory body created by 2009 Wisconsin Act 40 (Act 40). Act 40 directs the PSC to develop administrative rules that specify the restrictions that may be imposed on the installation or use of wind energy systems. The new law also requires the PSC to appoint a Wind Siting Council that will advise the PSC as it develops uniform wind siting standards for Wisconsin.

“I am very pleased to have the Wind Siting Council up and running,” said PSC Chairman Eric Callisto. “Wind siting regulation is complex and sometimes controversial. I look forward to the Council’s input as we develop these rules for Wisconsin, and I thank the Council members for their service.”

Council members were selected to adhere to Act 40’s specific categorical requirements. The following people have been appointed to serve on Wisconsin’s Wind Siting Council:

Dan Ebert, WPPI Energy
David Gilles, Godfrey & Kahn
Tom Green, Wind Capital Group
Jennifer Heinzen, Lakeshore Technical College
Andy Hesselbach, We Energies
George Krause Jr., Choice Residential LLC
Lloyd Lueschow, Green County
Jevon McFadden, University of Wisconsin School of Medicine & Public Health
Tom Meyer, Restaino & Associates
Bill Rakocy, Emerging Energies of Wisconsin, LLC
Dwight Sattler, Landowner
Ryan Schryver, Clean Wisconsin
Michael Vickerman, RENEW Wisconsin
Larry Wunsch, Landowner
Doug Zweizig, Union Township

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