Archive for June, 2010

20 MW solar energy farm proposed in Jefferson

Posted on June 30, 2010. Filed under: Solar |

From an article by Ryan Whisner in the Jefferson Daily Union:

JEFFERSON – A proposal to build the second-largest solar-generation farm in the United States was presented to City of Jefferson officials Wednesday night.

Green States Energy Inc. of Deerfield Beach, Fla., unveiled plans to build a solar energy farm on 100 acres of the city’s north industrial park that would generate approximately 20 megawatts of electricity.

Jefferson Sun One would have approximately 100,000 individual solar panel modules on the 100-acre parcel. The site – just north of the former Brigg & Stratton plant – would generate approximately 3.5 million kilowatt hours per year, equivalent to generating sufficient electricity for about 3,500 homes. An interconnectivity agreement with Jefferson Utilities and WPPI is intended.

“This is a big deal if it can be brought to fruition and can be built,” said David Jenkins of the Wisconsin Office of Energy Independence.

Currently, he noted, Wisconsin has approximately 6.5 megawatts of installed solar capacity. Only two cities in the state are labeled by the U.S. Department of Energy as solar cities.

“Overnight, if this project were built, the City of Jefferson would have three times as much solar energy as there is in the entire state,” Jenkins said. “As far as I’m concerned, if you had 20 megawatts of power here, you would be a solar city.”

Approximately five to six weeks ago, Jefferson city officials were approached by representatives from Green States Energy about locating the solar energy farm in Jefferson. Green States representatives presented its proposal Wednesday to a joint session of the Jefferson Common Council, Jefferson Plan Commission and Jefferson Redevelopment Authority.

“It is an opportunity for us to not only provide a lot of good jobs in the construction phase and also the operational stage, but it is also an opportunity for the City of Jefferson to create an identity of being a nationwide leader in renewable energy,” Mayor Dale Oppermann said. “We have the task, the challenge and the opportunity to reinvent the economy of Jefferson and the surrounding area.”

He said Green States Inc. is offering the city the chance to get involved with state-of-the-art technology and create an identity for the city as being clean and green.

Green States Energy Inc. chief executive officer Jeffrey Lord described the company as a group of people who have come together under a common principle.

“The planet and the people on it will be better off if we can start using less fossil fuels to get the energy we need,” Lord said, citing the company’s mission.

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Fond du Lac hearing on wind farm siting draws crowd

Posted on June 29, 2010. Filed under: Wind |

From an article by Colleen Kottke in the Fond du Lac Reporter:

They came from near and far, packing Legislative Chambers at the City County Government Center in Fond du Lac Monday to voice their opinions about proposed wind farm siting rules to be crafted by the Wisconsin Public Service Commission.

The proposed rules would ultimately result in uniform wind farm siting standards for local units of government, replacing a patchwork of different rules and moratoriums that have been imposed by counties and towns around the state in relation to small wind power projects.

The public hearings, scheduled around the state this week, were launched by the state Legislature after it passed a uniform siting law in October.

Using citizen input, the PSC will draft legislation touching on controversial issues such as maximum sound levels and setback requirements. Once passed, municipalities considering ordinances for wind farms would not be allowed to make their local ordinance more restrictive than the state model. . . .

“Right now the proposed rules are just a draft; that’s why the public comments are very important. There are a lot of interested parties and we want to make sure this is a balanced process,” said Deborah Erwin, renewable energy policy analyst for the PSC.

Energy slacker
Barnaby Dinges, owner of a public relations firm and member of the American Wind Energy Association, warned that more restrictive rules for siting wind farms would further harm the state’s quest to build its alternative energy portfolio.

“Wisconsin is already an energy slacker. We’re the only Midwest state that doesn’t currently have a major wind energy project under construction,” Dinges said. “New restrictions will make the state even less desirable for development of wind projects.”

He pointed out that the Wisconsin PSC already has a rigorous wind farm approval process in place for wind farms over 100 mega watts.

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Well water near power plant contaminated: We Energies supplying bottled water to affected residents while seeking source

Posted on June 29, 2010. Filed under: Coal, Generation Plants |

From an article by Christine Won in The Journal Times (Racine):

CALEDONIA — Some residents near the Oak Creek power plant have not had access to drinking water since last August because their wells have been contaminated.

They have been advised by the state Department of Natural Resources to not drink or cook with the well water because of higher-than-standard levels of a dissolved metal called molybdenum.

Instead, they’ve been drinking and cooking with the water bottles supplied to them by We Energies “as a courtesy and precautionary measure.”

“It is possible that molybdenum is naturally occurring at these levels in your well water, or it could represent impacts from coal ash fills in the area,” reads a letter from Kristine Krause, vice president-environmental at Wisconsin Energy Corp., dated Aug. 24.

The state groundwater standard for molybdenum, set in 2006, is 40 micrograms per liter. The residents along County Line Road or Douglas Avenue are finding higher levels, even up to triple the standard in one case.

Frank Bink’s water sample read 113 micrograms per liter on Aug. 26, according to an Oct. 5 letter from We Energies. Because it was so high, they tested it again — it read 124 micrograms per liter on Sept. 25.

“Had I known … I wouldn’t have built out here,” says Bink, who’s 84, retired and has lived at his house on County Line Road near the plant for 51 years.

Out of the 27 residential wells We Energies tested since 2007, 14 of those showed higher concentrations of molybdenum than the state standard. Test results ranged from 3 micrograms per liter to 58, plus two farther away at 89 and 124 micrograms per liter, according to the company.

The company has taken a proactive approach to be a good neighbor, spokesman Barry McNulty said, by testing the water regularly, immediately alerting the state and going door-to-door to personally notify residents. That goes along with providing bottled water while trying to determine the extent of molybdenum in the groundwater, he said, because it is not clear whether the source is natural or manmade.

“We feel the right thing is to provide bottled water to those customers until we can conclude that in fact it is not We Energies in any way contributing to that,” McNulty said.

Preliminary data indicates no molybdenum is migrating from the ash fills toward the residential wells, he said, adding groundwater in the area has been shown to flow primarily to the east toward Lake Michigan.

A state hydrogeologist will study the results of the state’s two sampling rounds to determine how widespread the contamination is, how severe and what the source of the contamination may be, said Rhonda Volz, regional drinking water and groundwater supervisor for the DNR.

“It’s a tough position for people who have wells in the area to be in,” Volz said. “That’s why we are trying to help them.”

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Sustainability and energy conservation in the workplace

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

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SCA Tissue bets on wind to power its Town of Menasha office needs

Posted on June 24, 2010. Filed under: Wind |

With three turbines set, crews raise a fourth one beside the SCA Tissue office building in the Town of Menasha.

From an article by Michael King in the Appleton Post-Crescent:

TOWN OF MENASHA — SCA Tissue is at the forefront of renewable energy applications and looking for more opportunities.

On Monday, the papermaker installed the first of four 100-foot-tall, 20-kilowatt wind turbines outside the SCA Tissue Service Excellence Center offices at 1451 McMahon Drive as part of a $300,000 project. The turbines with the 15-foot blades tower over the building, which has rooftop solar panels that were installed a few years ago.

“This is the first commercial wind (turbine project) in the town,” said Mike Dillon, SCA Tissue manager of environmental and risk management. He said SCA once again turned to local firms to aid its latest renewable, or “green” initiative.

“The turbines are the first commercial units built by a new Oshkosh company called Renewegy,” he said. “Faith Technologies in Menasha is doing the electrical work and the foundation work for the towers was done by our neighbor, Miron Construction.”

Once in place, the four turbines will produce 100 to 125 megawatt-hours annually, enough to power 10 to 12 homes each year, but the electricity is being used exclusively in the office building, Dillon said.

“We’re actually going to consume every bit of (electricity) in the building,” Dillon said. “This is a continuation of our work with renewable energy, looking at new technologies and improved technologies. It’s another piece of a (renewable) portfolio we’re trying to develop.”

SCA Tissue already is looking at solar and wind power options for its converting facility on Ehlers Road in the Town of Menasha and for its Menasha paper mill, along with SCA facilities in Arizona, New York and Alabama.

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Concensus unlikely on recommendations from Wind Siting Council

Posted on June 23, 2010. Filed under: Wind |

From an article by Paul Ryan in The Daily Reporter:

Deadline pressure and 100 amendments are cracking the unity of the state‘s Wind Siting Council as it strives to agree on turbine placement standards.

Even the definition of agreement is a point of contention among the 15 members. The state law that formed the council requires only that the panel make recommendations that will go to the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin and, ultimately, the state Legislature.

But some council members insist they will testify against recommendations not based on a consensus vote.

“I told them they can come in with studies and articles and hearsay,” said Larry Wunsch, a Brownsville resident and council member. “I come in with experience. I live in a wind farm, and I can tell you what it looks like and how it sounds.”

“But if they’re going to go with majority rule, then, yeah, I would argue against it at future hearings.”

The council is designed to establish turbine placement standards for wind farms that generate less than 100 megawatts of electricity. The PSC already reviews wind farms that generate more than 100 megawatts.

The PSC intends to finalize rules based on the council’s recommendations by Sept. 1, PSC spokeswoman Teresa Weidemann-Smith said.

Public hearings on draft rules begin next week, and the public comment period for recommendations ends July 7.

That puts the council on a tight timeline to finish its work, said Michael Vickerman, a member of the council and executive director of RENEW Wisconsin, a nonprofit organization focused on clean energy. . . .

Vickerman said he doubts there will be consensus. But, he said, the council represents a wide array of experience and interest, and the PSC and Legislature must take that into account when approving rules for wind turbine placement.

“Those who oppose wind have already made their minds up,” Vickerman said. “We can have a dialogue with them, but I don’t think we can have a meeting of the minds.”

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PSC rejects Oakfield family’s wind farm claim

Posted on June 22, 2010. Filed under: Wind |

From an article by Coleen Kottke in the Fond du Lac Reporter:

The Public Service Commission of Wisconsin has rejected a complaint filed by an Oakfield family about the Forward Energy Wind Center.

Jason and Ann Wirtz contended that the Forward Energy Wind Center cost them their alpaca-breeding business and created such significant health problems for the family that they were eventually forced out of their home.

PSC Chairman Eric Callisto said the commission is not the proper forum for personal injury claims.

In the claim, the Wirtzes asked the PSC to reopen the Forward Wind Energy Center proceedings to hold a hearing about prior health claims from residents living within the wind farm. The Wirtzes hoped to convince the PSC at a hearing to require Invenergy to compensate the family for prior damages.

The Wisconsin Attorney General’s Office advised the PSC that it cannot do so.

In a 12-page decision released on June 18, the PSC said that according to the Wisconsin Supreme Court, the agency has no legal basis to assert jurisdiction over a lawsuit filed in April by the Wirtz family that claims the wind farm caused them personal injury and diminished their property value.

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Another successful Energy Fair

Posted on June 21, 2010. Filed under: General, Wind |

At the MREA Energy Fair, Jim Yockey (left) and Ry Thompson (right) of Seventh Generation Enregy Services talk to a fairgoer interested in installating a turbine.

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Visit RENEW at the Energy Fair, June 18-20

Posted on June 18, 2010. Filed under: Renewable energy - generally |

Visit RENEW in booth C2 at the 21st Annual Energy Fair June 18-20, 2010.

Each year the MREA Energy Fair transforms rural Central Wisconsin into the global hot spot for renewable energy education. The Energy Fair brings over 20,000 people from nearly every state in the U.S. and several countries around the world to learn, connect with others and ready them for action at home. The Energy Fair is the nation’s longest running energy education event of its kind.

Advance Energy Fair tickets and Reservations for Back 40 Camping will be available starting April 1st.

The Energy Fair features:

•Over 275 exhibitors – sustainable living and energy products
•Over 200 workshops – from introductory level to hands-on education
•Clean Energy Car Show – demonstration vehicles and workshops
•Green Home Pavilion – focused on building and remodeling in a sustainable way
•Sustainable Tables – workshops, chef demos, and a farmers market bringing sustainability to your dinner table
•Inspirational keynotes, lively entertainment, great food, and local beer.
The Energy Fair is held in Custer, WI just seven miles east of Stevens Point. Join us for the 21st Annual Energy Fair June 18-20, 2010. For more information about the Fair, contact the Midwest Renewable Energy Association at 715-592-6595 or visit the website:

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Permitting Wind Turbines in Wisconsin: The Way Forward

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

From a presentation by Michael Vickerman, RENEW executive director, at the MREA Energy Fair:

What 2009 Act 40 Does
1) Require PSC to establish, by rule, uniform siting standards for all wind turbines, covering, but not limited to:
 Setbacks
 Sound levels
 Shadow flicker
 Studies and testing requirements
 Decommissioning
2) Create procedures for municipal review of permit applications and a process

RENEW’s Positions on the Rule
 Health and safety-based standards should be based on objective, fact-based research and analysis
 Rule should rely less on prescriptive setbacks and more on measurable physical impacts
 There are no grounds for establishing property value guarantees
 Rule should standardize complaint procedures
 With proper management and attentiveness to community concerns, wind turbines do become an accepted part of the landscape (the lesson of the Kewaunee County projects)

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