Archive for May, 2010

Canadian company’s first U.S. turbine spins plenty of power for cranberry farm

Posted on May 27, 2010. Filed under: General |

May 24, 2010

Ry Thompson
Seventh Generation Energy Systems

Alicia Leinberger
Seventh Generation Energy Systems

Canadian company’s first U.S. turbine spins plenty of power for cranberry farm

Dentist Frederick Prehn, owner of Prehn Cranberry Marsh near Tomah, wanted the power that the cranberry farm paid for without having to pay the utility.

“The second order of business, I wanted a turbine that has a history of working in low wind speed,” said Prehn.

A 35-kilowatt (kW) Canadian turbine, perched on a 140-foot-tall tower, accomplishes both. The first of its model line ever manufactured by Endurance Wind Power, Prehn’s wind generator underwent five months of testing at the company’s Quebec manufacturing facility.

“Wind speeds are all relative,” Prehn said. “The wind speed in the cranberry bog isn’t as good as the Great Lakes, but I’m amazed. I’ve gone through all the data I can gather, and the turbine is producing pretty well.”

“The Endurance fits Wisconsin’s climate conditions,” according to Ry Thompson, a project manager with Seventh Generation Energy, Madison, which installed the turbine.

“We’ve been eager to install one of these,” Thompson said. “It’s a very well-designed, durable machine and the 30-foot long blades make it suitable to lower wind speed environments, as are common in Wisconsin,” Thompson said.

“This should be a very popular turbine among farmers, schools, small municipalities, and manufacturing facilities,” he added.

The generator begins to produce electricity when the wind blows just under 8 miles per hour (mph). With an estimated average wind speed of 12.5 mph at his location, Prehn expects to harvest as much as 85,000 kilowatt hours of electricity – more than 150 percent of the amount he needs. The turbine powers a shop, three homes, and two wells. The excess energy is sold to the Oakdale Electric Cooperative, the farm’s local utility.

In addition, Seventh Generation installed a 5 kW solar electric system at the farm. “Some days the turbine produces goose eggs, and the solar system continues to crank out the electricity, and there’s no maintenance,” Prehn said.

“This is a shining example of home-grown energy,” stated Michael Vickerman, executive director of RENEW Wisconsin, a nonprofit advocate for all types of renewable energy.

“Installations like these help reduce Wisconsin’s dependence on coal from Wyoming which is transported here using oil from the Gulf of Mexico,” Vickerman said.

Prehn apparently agrees. He already has a contract with Seventh Generation to install a second Endurance turbine that will be slightly larger than the first.


RENEW Wisconsin ( is an independent, nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization that acts as a catalyst to advance a sustainable energy future through public policy and private sector initiatives.

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UW doctor: No evidence that wind turbines cause health problems

Posted on May 26, 2010. Filed under: Wind |

From a presentation to the Public Service Commission Wind Siting Council by Jevon D. McFadden, MD, MPH:

􀂄Self-reported physiological reactions correlated with psychological reactions — expectation of increase in noise can lead to increased self-reported symptoms, even in the absence of actual increases in noise
􀂄No indication that sound from wind turbines had an effect on self-reported health [impacts], except sleep at around levels >45 dBA (Van den Berg, 2008)

General Conclusions
􀂄Evidence does not support the conclusion that wind turbines cause or are associated with adverse health outcomes
􀂄Current evidence is not compelling enough to invoke the precautionary principle
􀂄Gaps remain in our knowledge of the impact that wind energy may have on human health
􀂄Defined broadly enough, “health effects” would include most of the human experience
􀂄Annoyance is not a disease

􀂄Encourage concerned individuals to report symptoms or illness to a healthcare provider
􀂄Encourage health officials to continue to assess new evidence as it becomes available
􀂄Recommend involving affected individuals in siting process

Dr. McFadden lists the following affiliations at the beginning of his presentation:

􀂅Centers for Disease Control and Prevention —Epidemic Intelligence Service Officer
􀂅United States Public Health Service — Lieutenant Commander
􀂅Wisconsin Department of Health Services, Division of Public Health, Bureau of Environmental and Occupational Health
􀂅University of Wisconsin, School of Medicine and Public Health, Department of Population Health Sciences —Adjunct Assistant Professor

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Wind turbines fit with farms

Posted on May 25, 2010. Filed under: Economic development, Wind |

From an editorial in the Wisconsin State Journal:

Congratulations to the Columbia County Board for recognizing last week that wind turbines complement farmland preservation.

The board agreed Wednesday that farmers in the towns of Randolph and Scott can lease small amounts of land to We Energies for wind turbines without violating their state agreements to keep their land in agricultural production.

The board’s decision is wise because the turbines will give each farmer thousands of dollars in extra income to keep their farm operations going. And the amount of land taken out of production for turbine foundations and access roads will be miniscule compared to the total size of cropland that will remain.

We Energies also has agreed to buy two homes from neighbors who were concerned about living within a quarter mile of some of the turbines.

That means this exciting wind project in northeast Columbia County can now move forward with 90 turbines scattered across some 17,000 acres of productive farmland.

We Energies started developing the site, called Glacier Hills Energy Park, last week. It’s located about 50 miles northeast of Madison.

The energy company hopes to fire up the wind park by the end of next year or early 2012. It will produce enough clean energy to power 45,000 homes.

Wisconsin’s wind industry is just taking off, and more clean energy is needed to reduce Wisconsin’s reliance on dirty coal and gas that’s imported from other states and foreign countries.

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Wisconsin lacks coal, oil, natural gas, but not biomass

Posted on May 24, 2010. Filed under: Biomass, Economic development |

From an article by Pete Bach in the Appleton Post-Crescent:

APPLETON — The Wisconsin Bio Industry Alliance brought its media campaign to the Fox Cities last week, spreading the word that green fuel isn’t just a passing fad.

“We don’t have coal, oil or natural gas, but we do have biomass,” said Josh Morby, executive director of the alliance, who along with two other members met with The Post-Crescent.

“The logistics and the transportation system to date has been set up to move large, dense objects like coal, primarily by rail. That’s certainly going to change as we look for potential alternative feedstocks, whether it’s wood waste or some type of animal waste,” he said.

The supply of biomass — organic matter like plant material, vegetation, agriculture waste, forestry waste — isn’t inexhaustible in Wisconsin. But Morby said the available supply is more than sufficient to meet the need for projects eyed at the Domtar Corp. paper mill in Rothschild and Flambeau River Papers in Park Falls.

Steven Fields, a Miron Construction employee based in Madison who is project manager for the company’s industrial division, said biomass ventures produce a rippling economic benefit.

“These are large projects. It creates a lot of construction jobs, so it brings a lot of money into the local towns around construction sites, plus the vendors and materials suppliers,” he said.

“It gives the whole community a boost.”

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Alliant says no nukes and no more coal plants … for now

Posted on May 21, 2010. Filed under: Coal, Generation Plants, Nuclear |

From an article by Judy Newman in the Wisconsin State Journal:

Alliant Energy is giving up on the idea of building more coal-fired power plants “for the time being,” Alliant chairman, president and chief executive Bill Harvey said Thursday.

In an interview after the Madison utility holding company’s annual shareholders meeting, Harvey said Alliant subsidiary Wisconsin Power & Light will not ask for a new coal-fueled power plant to replace one proposed for Cassville that state regulators rejected in late 2008.

“I think it’s politically … too risky to think about building coal plants until climate legislation gets in place,” Harvey said. “There’s got to be substantial technological improvements before the country returns to building coal plants. That’s certainly true for us,” he said.

Thanks to adequate power available to buy on the electric transmission grid, Harvey said it will likely be two or three years before Alliant proposes building another natural-gas-fired power plant. That could happen sooner, though, if the economy recovers quickly or if climate change rules force the company to abandon its older coal-fired power plants sooner than expected.

As for nuclear power, Harvey said Alliant is not big enough to consider spending up to $10 billion to build a nuclear plant but it might buy part of a new one, if one is built. “We have to consider that. We have to consider all possibilities,” he said.

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Doyle signs disputed waste-to-energy bill

Posted on May 20, 2010. Filed under: Renewable energy - generally, Wind |

Disregarding the pleas from RENEW and others for a veto, Doyle signed Senate Bill 273, as reported by Tom Content in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

Gov. Jim Doyle on Wednesday signed into law a bill that wind power developers and environmental groups had asked him to veto.

The bill, known as the Renewable Resource Credits bill, would allow energy generation produced from waste such as garbage to be classified as renewable and qualify that electricity for the state’s renewable power mandate.

The bill was drafted to grant renewable status to the Apollo light pipe, a a small glass skylight dome that, when mounted in a roof, reflects daylight inside to help cut energy use. The light pipe is a technology developed by Orion Energy Systems Inc. of Manitowoc, a maker of high-efficiency lighting systems.

Environmental and renewable energy groups had called on Doyle to veto the bill after it was amended to allow garbage-to-energy projects to be classified as renewable as well.

Doyle said he was torn on whether to sign the bill but said that, ultimately, Orion is the kind of business the state wants to see grow and succeed.

“I certainly didn’t want to be in the position I was in. To me the (state) Senate’s refusal to go ahead with the Clean Energy Jobs Act put everybody in a very difficult spot on this bill,” he said.

Doyle conceded that there would be some effect on the wind industry from the new law but said it would be so slight as to be negligible.

A waste-to-energy process known as plasma gasification is being envisioned by Alliance Federated Energy, which announced a plan in February to build a waste-to-energy plant in Milwaukee that would create up to 250 construction jobs and 50 permanent jobs.

The bill’s signing came after Doyle vetoed a bill that would have required the state to make its buildings greener, saying the measure was laudable but unworkable.

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Mayo Clinic says turbines do not hamper medical helicopters

Posted on May 19, 2010. Filed under: Wind |

From an article by Brett Boese in The Post-Bulletin, Rochester, MN:

RED WING — Mayo Clinic officials say concerns from wind farm opponents that the tall turbines might limit their emergency coverage are unfounded thus far in southeastern Minnesota.

Goodhue County could see as many as 300 wind turbines in the coming years if several wind farm projects pass through a regulatory process and still seem financially viable. The prospect has brought out opponents of the farms, who are worried about a range of concerns, including livestock health, declining property values and spoilage of rural landscape.

But as for diminished safety for medical helicopters, Mayo Clinic says no.

“In regards to wind turbine farms affecting our operations, it’s pretty insignificant,” said Paul Drucker, Mayo Clinic’s director of air operations. “We draw that (conclusion) from the wind farms for Dodge Center and the one in Dexter. … We’ve been operating around those for years. The impact has been minimal to none, really.”

Neil Wienk, Mayo’s aviation site manager, says the three Mayo medical helicopters must remain 300 feet above any land-based structures, but he’s resisted putting further limitations on their services.

“It’s really no different than landing along the Mississippi (River), where we have the bluffs,” Wienk said. “Where I can land today might be different from where I can land tomorrow” because of wind.

“It boils down to pilot discretion, because there’s way too many variables.”

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Wisconsin 5th most dependent state on imported coal

Posted on May 18, 2010. Filed under: Coal, Energy Efficiency, Renewable energy - generally |

From a news release issued by Clean Wisconsin:

State Spends $853 Million Every Year on Imported Coal

MADISON — Wisconsin is the fifth most dependent state on imported coal, spending $853 million to import the fuel in 2008, according to a national report released today by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS).

“Despite having no in-state coal supplies, Wisconsin relies on coal for nearly two-thirds of the electricity it produces,” reads Burning Coal, Burning Cash, a report released today by UCS that ranks the states that import the most coal. “Compared with other states, Wisconsin is the fifth most dependent on net imports as a share of total power use.”

In 2008, Wisconsin spent $152 for every man, woman and child importing coal from nine different states. According to the report, the state spent $25 million on coal from Montana, $94 million on Colorado coal, and over $700 million on coal from Wyoming.

“Relying on coal in a non-coal-mining state is a costly and dangerous addiction,” said Ryan Schryver, clean energy advocate at Clean Wisconsin. “We not only pay $152 for every man, woman and child to import coal into the state every year, we also pay the high price of coal polluting our waters, diminishing the quality of our air, and threatening our health.”

Beyond showing the high costs of imported coal, the report also highlights solutions that will help Wisconsin reduce its heavy dependence on the fossil fuel. “Investing in energy efficiency is one of the quickest and most affordable ways to replace coal-fired power while boosting the local economy,” it reads. It later continues, “The state has the technical potential to generate 4.2 times its 2008 electricity needs from renewable energy.”

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We Energies to begin Glacier Hills wind farm construction

Posted on May 17, 2010. Filed under: Economic development, Wind |

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

Crews will begin site preparation next week for the largest wind farm in Wisconsin, after state regulators finalized plans for the Glacier Hills Wind Park northeast of Madison.

We Energies of Milwaukee said it will erect 90 turbines at the wind farm, two more than it installed on its first large wind farm, near Fond du Lac, in 2008.

The cost of the Glacier Hills project came in at $367 million, utility spokesman Brian Manthey said. By comparison, the 88-turbine Blue Sky Green Field wind farm that opened two years ago cost $295 million.

The tab for We Energies’ customers isn’t yet known, but the company will seek to collect construction costs from ratepayers beginning in 2012, Manthey said.

Friday’s announcement came after the state Public Service Commission approved the sale of two Columbia County homes to We Energies. Both homes would have had at least nine turbines within one-half mile, and the commission directed We Energies to negotiate with the two property owners.

We Energies also had to reconfigure its turbine layout after the commission established bigger setbacks from the turbines for neighboring property owners than the utility had proposed.

Those larger setbacks addressed concerns about noise and shadow flicker – a phenomenon created by wind turbines’ rotating blades. The Coalition of Wisconsin Environmental Stewardship had raised concerns about the impact of turbines on property values and homeowners’ qualify of life.

The project is expected to be completed by late 2011 and generate 162 megawatts of power, or enough over a year’s time to supply 45,000 typical homes.

Both projects are needed to help diversify the utility’s energy mix and add more renewable power to comply with the state mandate requiring 10% of Wisconsin’s electricity to come from wind turbines, landfill gas projects and other types of renewable power by 2015, up from 5% this year.

Vestas Wind Systems is supplying turbines to We Energies for the Glacier Hills project, after supplying 88 turbines for the Fond du Lac County project.

Three Wisconsin firms have been hired to handle the project’s construction: The Boldt Co. of Appleton; Michels Corp. of Brownsville; and Edgerton Contractors of Oak Creek.

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PSC sets hearings on wind siting rules

Posted on May 14, 2010. Filed under: Wind |

From a news release issued by the Public Service Commission:

MADISON – The Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (PSC) is seeking public comment on the proposed wind siting rules, issued today by the PSC. The proposed rules will ultimately result in uniform wind siting standards for local units of government in Wisconsin and ensure consistent local procedures for regulation of wind energy systems.

“Developing uniform wind siting standards is crucial for a sound energy future in Wisconsin,” said Chairperson Eric Callisto. “I look forward to receiving robust public input on these proposed rules and finalizing them later this summer.”

2009 Wisconsin Act 40 (Act 40) requires the PSC to promulgate a variety of rules that specify the conditions a city, village, town, or county (political subdivision) may impose on the installation or use of a wind energy system. If a political subdivision chooses to regulate such systems, its ordinances may not be more restrictive than the PSC’s rules. The PSC will also consider the restrictions specified in these rules when determining whether to grant a certificate of public convenience and necessity for a wind energy system over 100 megawatts.

The PSC established docket 1-AC-231 to conduct the rulemaking under Act 40. Act 40 requires the PSC to conduct this rulemaking with the advice of the Wind Siting Council. The Wind Siting Council is an advisory body created by Act 40. The Wind Siting Council members have begun to provide input to Commission staff concerning these rules during a series of meetings in early 2010. The PSC will seek comments from the Wind Siting Council on the proposed draft rules issued by the Commission.

Any person may submit written comments on these proposed rules. Comments on the proposed rules will be accepted until July 7, 2010, at noon (July 6, 2010, at noon, if filed by fax). The comments are considered when staff is drafting the rules.

The PSC will hold hearings to take testimony from the public regarding the proposed rules in the Amnicon Falls Hearing Room at the Public Service Commission Building, 610 North Whitney Way, Madison, Wisconsin, on June 30, 2010. Act 40 requires that hearings regarding these rules also be held in Monroe County and a county other than Dane or Monroe, where developers have proposed wind energy systems. The PSC will also hold public hearings on these proposed rules at City Hall, Legislative Chambers, 160 West Macy Street in Fond du Lac on June 28, 2010, and Holiday Inn, 1017 East McCoy Boulevard in Tomah on June 29, 2010.

More information on the Wind Siting Council and the wind siting rulemaking pursuant to Act 40 can be found by visiting the Commission’s website and clicking on the Electronic Regulatory Filing System (ERF) at Type case numbers 1-AC-231 in the boxes provided on the ERF system. To comment on the proposed rules, click on the Public Comments button on the PSC’s homepage and scroll down to select Wind Siting Rulemaking.

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