Archive for October, 2010

Gubernatorial Challenges – Environmentally Speaking

Posted on October 29, 2010. Filed under: Energy Policy, General |

From a report by Susan Bence on WUWM radio:

Many nonprofit groups wouldn’t dare utter a syllable that could be construed as political endorsement, but they love talking about issues close to their hearts. . . .

The office does come with significant appointment authority concerning natural resources.

For example, Wisconsin’s governor selects the DNR board along with its secretary, as well as the members of the Public Service Commission. It regulates utilities.

The next governor might consider advocating a change in the funding of renewable energy initiatives – wind, solar and biomass.

The organization, RENEW Wisconsin, advocates for the expansion of renewable energy sources.

Spokesman Ed Blume says the state launched its renewable energy standards program back in 1999, so he’s not fretting whether Walker or Barrett gains office.

“I don’t think the election of either one is going to turn the clock back,” Blume says.

Blume is convinced the next governor will realize the benefits of investing in renewable energy projects.

“We have no coal, we have no oil, we have no natural gas, so we’re exporting jobs and cash to other states and other countries in the world. I think any governor would be interested in keeping all of those jobs and all of that money in Wisconsin,” Blume says.

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Another coal plant converts to wood

Posted on October 26, 2010. Filed under: Biomass, Coal, Generation Plants, Wood | Tags: , , |

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

Efforts to add more renewable energy in Wisconsin from burning wood waste moved ahead Monday with the completion of one biomass power plant and the start of construction on another.

A 40-megawatt biomass power plant has opened in southwestern Wisconsin.

The power plant, the E.J. Stoneman Station in Cassville, is producing electricity by burning wood waste including residue from forestry and tree trimming work as well as railroad ties, demolition waste and sawdust.

Ann Arbor, Mich.-based DTE Energy Service Inc. owns and operates the plant and sells the power to Dairyland Power Cooperative of La Crosse.

“DTE Energy Services is proud to be able to give the Stoneman plant new life as a generator of renewable energy,” David Ruud, president of DTE Energy Services, said in a statement. “We also are pleased that the plant will provide employment for 32 members of the Cassville community and support the local economy through our relationships with fuel suppliers and other local businesses.”

Dairyland built the former coal-fired power plant in 1951 and operated it for more than 40 years.

“We are pleased to see this major renewable energy resource come online for our cooperative membership,” said Dale Pohlman, Dairyland vice president of strategic planning. “Our ‘green’ partnership with DTE Energy Services will supply the energy needs to power 28,000 homes across our system by utilizing a natural resource – wood waste – as fuel.”

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Governor Doyle breaks ground on coal plant conversion to biomass

Posted on October 25, 2010. Filed under: Biomass, Coal, Economic development | Tags: , |

From a news release issued by Governor Doyle:

MADISON – Governor Jim Doyle today broke ground on the Charter Street Biomass Heating Plant project. The $251 million project is one of the largest biomass projects in the nation and will create construction and clean energy jobs. The project follows Governor Doyle’s 2008 announcement that Wisconsin would stop burning coal at state-owned heating plants on Madison’s Isthmus.

“In 2008, I announced plans to stop burning coal at state-owned heating plants on Madison’s Isthmus,” Governor Doyle said. “Today, we are breaking ground on the Charter Street biomass plant and taking a major step forward to make this goal a reality. The Charter Street plant will turn a waste stream into clean energy, it will keep energy dollars in our communities, and it will help clean our air and water. This project will create great jobs in Wisconsin and will develop a new biomass market from our great fields and farms.”

The Governor’s 2009-2011 capital budget included $251 million for the Charter Street project and $25 million to convert the Capitol Heat and Power Plant to natural gas. The Charter Street plant will support local biomass providers and eliminate over 108,000 tons of coal burned every year. In March, the state stopped burning coal at the Capitol Heat and Power Plant – eliminating 4,500 tons of coal burned by the state each year. When the Charter Street project is completed in 2013, the Doyle Administration will have reduced State of Wisconsin coal use by 65 percent.

The Charter Street project is a joint effort between AMEC and Boldt Construction. The plant’s coal boilers will first be replaced by natural gas and biomass fuel. The plant will run completely on biomass by late 2013, with the capacity to burn wood chips, corn stalks and switch grass pellets and power 300 local buildings.

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Fighting for the ‘Right to Dry’

Posted on October 20, 2010. Filed under: Energy Efficiency | Tags: |

From a story on WDIO-TV, Duluth, Minnesota:

It may surprise you but 44 states–including Minnesota and Wisconsin—don’t guarantee their residents the right to line dry their laundry. But a Superior lawmaker is making sure his clothesline-using constituents aren’t hung out to dry.

There’s a million different ways Northland residents can enjoy a Sunny sunday, but at Jan Conley’s household perfect weekend weather is reserved for hanging the laundry.

“There’s something iconic about hanging clothes out,” said Jan Conley of Lake Nebagamon. “I think there’s something really nice about it you know you feel good you’re outside you’re hanging clothes you’ve accomplished something and then when you’re done great I washed these clothes and they’re hanging out.”

A movement, dubbed the “Right to Dry” revolution by followers, began some years ago in Oregon, when homeowners’ associations began banning residents from line drying their laundry. Although none of those communities exist here, Representative Nick Milroy wants to protect those rights for his Wisconsin residents before they’re taken away.

“People really cherish their freedom in this country and I think taking away something as simple as allowing people to line dry their clothes is save money save energy it just doesn’t make send to me,” said Wisconsin State Representative, Nick Milroy of Superior.

Conley joined the “Right to Dry” movement a few years ago. She said using a dryer is a waste of energy and she wishes more of her neighbors would let the wind to handle the job.

“It’s a part of America. Its part of who we are,” said Conley.

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DeForest firm gets $500,000 for solar panel recycling

Posted on October 18, 2010. Filed under: Economic development, Solar | Tags: |

From a news release issued by Governor Jim Doyle:

MADISON – Governor Jim Doyle today announced $500,000 in funding for 5N Plus Corporation to invest in their operations and create 16 jobs in the state. The funding comes from the State Energy Program (SEP), which is funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

“My top priority has been to help companies and communities move forward and create good-paying jobs for Wisconsin families,” Governor Doyle said. “We are moving Wisconsin forward in difficult national economic times by investing in our businesses and making them more efficient and competitive. With this funding, we will be able to help 5N Plus upgrade their leading energy efficiency technologies and create new jobs in De Forest.”

5N Plus Corporation will use SEP funds to purchase equipment for its 60,500 square foot manufacturing facility and create 16 new positions in De Forest. The facility will recycle metal coatings used in the production of solar panels. The SEP loan will support its $4,139,000 project. 5N Plus Corporation specializes in the production and purification of elements and compounds, such as cadmium telluride. These elements are used to manufacture many products, such as solar cells, radiation detectors and infrared lenses.

Governor Doyle has led major efforts to help Wisconsin manufacturers improve energy efficiency and invest in clean energy technologies. Wisconsin is the only state directing 100 percent of its state energy funds from the Recovery Act – more than $55 million – to help state manufacturers bring down their costs through energy efficiency and renewable energy projects. Through the State Energy Program, companies like Orion Energy Systems, McCain Foods, TecStar Manufacturing, Helios USA, Nature Tech, ZBB Energy Corporation, Renewegy and Cardinal Glass are already creating thousands of jobs through these investments.

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Solar set to shift from “cute and fuzzy” to relevant

Posted on October 15, 2010. Filed under: Solar |

From a blog post by Tom Content on JSonline:

Solar power can become relevant in the nation’s power mix as utilities look to retire coal-fired power plants to meet environmental mandates.

That was the message Julie Blunden, vice president for public policy and corporate communications at SunPower Corp., a solar cell and panel manufacturer in California, brought to Milwaukee during the Solar Decade conference Wednesday at the Frontier Airlines Center.

Solar represents but a fraction of the U.S. power mix but the pace of solar is accelerating as the cost of components used in solar panels falls.

The United States is on a pace in 2010 to double the power capacity from solar panels it installed last year, she said.

But she laid out a plan – that incorporates increased efficiency in solar cells as well as efforts to bring down costs through scaled-up manufacturing – that could make solar a bigger piece of the energy pie.

The industry needs to deploy on a much larger scale to be taken more seriously, Blunden said.

“Adding a few hundred megawatts a year is cute and fuzzy, but it’s not real or serious,” she said. “Therefore, this five-year period is our opportunity to go from being interesting but irrelevant to serious and very relevant.”

Several companies looking to capitalize on global growth in the solar industry and said they’re hiring.

“Our market is red hot. If we were operating right now, we’d be we’d be sold out,” said Steven Ostrenga, chief executive of Helios USA, which is in the process of opening a solar module factory in the Menomonee Valley. He projects one of every two modules his company will sell will be exported.

The cost of solar is coming down at a time when electricity prices overall are going up — leading Ostrenga to forecast that solar will become more economical every year and reach parity with electricity rates within several years.

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Suppliers tout opportunities in wind power industry

Posted on October 14, 2010. Filed under: Economic development, Wind |

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

Companies looking to get involved with the wind power supply chain should be ready to compete with top-notch quality and be prepared to adapt to swings in business activity in the sector, speakers at a wind energy symposium said Wednesday.

The wind power supply chain has plenty of opportunity, as the industry aims for a return to growth next year after a down year in 2010, said Jeff Anthony, business development director with the American Wind Energy Association.

“There are a lot of challenges in the wind industry. It’s not an easy industry to get in, but there are plenty of opportunities,” Anthony said.

Anthony addressed hundreds of participants at the Milwaukee symposium sponsored by Wisconsin Wind Works, a group focused on building up Wisconsin’s participation in the wind power supply chain.

David Lisle, chief executive of Wausaukee Composites, is already a veteran of the fluctuating wind market.

“Tremendous opportunities do exist, but it can be treacherous waters,” Lisle said.

In a few short years, the company has opened a plant in Cuba City that employed as many as 90 people, and then had to close it twice because of a downturn in the economy and tight credit markets that make banks reluctant to finance projects, he said.

But the company has diversified to the point where it now has four different customers in the wind industry instead of just one, he said. The company announced plans recently to expand its wind component factory in Cuba City to 76,000 square feet and create up to 200 jobs.

The challenge for suppliers dealing with the wind sector is to realize that this may be a new market in the United States but it’s not new around the world. European makers of wind turbines have been relying on European suppliers for years, and are now shifting to the U.S. market, he said.

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Doyle announces $550,000 for digester at MontChevre Cheese

Posted on October 11, 2010. Filed under: Digesters |

From a news release issued by Governor Jim Doyle:

Company to Install Anaerobic Digester and Create 13 Jobs

MADISON – Governor Jim Doyle today announced a $550,000 loan for Betin Incorporated from the State Energy Program (SEP). Department of Commerce Secretary Aaron Olver and Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection Secretary Randy Romanski made the announcement today in Belmont on behalf of the Governor.

“In Wisconsin, we are taking the lead to not only address environmental challenges, but also to find opportunities for innovation and growth,” Governor Doyle said. “I’m pleased that we could help Betin, Inc. install technology to use renewable energy and cut costs.”

“We are grateful to operate in a state where our Governor and Department of Commerce recognize the need to encourage and support private projects like ours that build environmentally-sound solutions to manufacturing,” said company President Arnaud Solandt. “The loan will allow us to expand further and create new jobs within the community.”

The SEP loan is funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Betin, Inc. is one of the nation’s largest goat-cheese manufacturers using the trade name Montchevre. It will install an anaerobic digester to process whey and waste water. The resulting methane will be used to help meet up to 80 percent of the company’s energy needs. The project will create 13 jobs and represent total investment of $3.5 million.

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Wisconsin’s green economy offers 15,100 jobs

Posted on October 8, 2010. Filed under: Economic development |

From a report published by the Wisconsin Sustainable Business Council, The Green Tier Porgram at the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, and the Wisconsin School of Business:

By 2007, 68,203 businesses in the United States had generated more than 770,000 jobs in the green economy (Pew Charitable Trust, 2009). Every state has a piece of America’s green economy. The leading states include Oregon, Maine,California, Colorado, Massachusetts and Minnesota. Wisconsin is not currently among the leading states:

SOURCE: PEW Charitable Trusts, 2009, based on the National Establishment Time Series 2007 Database; analysis by Pew Center on the Statesand Collaborative Economics

Green job growth in Wisconsin through the 2001 recession (where WI lost 100,000 manufacturing jobs that were never recovered) was anemic. Wisconsin has lost an additional 70,000 manufacturing jobs (through July, 2010) because of the recession of 2008 (Center on Wisconsin Strategy, 2010).

While Wisconsin ranks either first or second in the nation in manufacturing jobs per capita, there is still a great deal of idle capacity in Wisconsin.

In 2007, jobs associated with the green economy accounted for 0.49 percent of all jobs nationally. WI was slightly below the national average with 3,150,000 total jobs and 0.48 percent of them being green.

A closer look at the data reveals that Wisconsin ranks as a top ten state in energy efficiency jobs. Energy efficiency is one of the five types of green jobs identified in the Pew report. Wisconisn ranked sixth in energy efficiency with 2,801 jobs. Midwestern states generally did well in all sectors, with Minnesota, Michigan, and Illinois appearing among the top 10 states in multiple sectors.

In 2007, jobs associated with the green economy accounted for 0.49 percent of all jobs nationally. WI was slightly below the national average with 3,150,000 total jobs and 0.48 percent of them being green.

A closer look at the data reveals that Wisconsin ranks as a 2,801 jobs. Midwestern states generally did well in all sectors, with Minnesota, Michigan, and Illinois appearing amongthe top 10 states in multiple sectors.

The report concludes:

The United States, and Wisconsin, will be focused on job creation over the next five to ten years. Creating green jobs has to be a part of the future if we hope to maintain our roleas a manufacturing state. Green jobs will gravitate towards states that are the most attractive, or to states that actively increase their attractiveness relative to competing states. The states that actively recruit green businesses will prosper in the longer run.

Wisconsin has a long history of manufacturing strength, and we are increasingly attracting manufacturing companies that are creating green jobs. But we can do more. We have only to look at our neighboring states of Iowa or Minnesota to see the benefit of establsihing Wisconsin as a hotbed of green expertise.

New green businesses can create jobs, generate revenues, and help Wisconsin re-emerge as a bell-weather state in the heartland of America.

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Jimmy Carter redeemed: White House to tap sun for heating water and some electricity

Posted on October 6, 2010. Filed under: Solar |

From an Associated Press article by Dina Cappiello in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

WASHINGTON (AP) — Solar power is coming to President Barack Obama’s house.

The most famous residence in America, which has already boosted its green credentials by planting a garden, plans to install solar panels atop the White House’s living quarters. The solar panels are to be installed by spring 2011, and will heat water for the first family and supply some electricity.

Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced the plans Tuesday in Washington at a conference of local, state, academic and nonprofit leaders aimed at identifying how the federal government can improve its environmental performance.

Former Presidents Jimmy Carter and George W. Bush both tapped the sun during their days in the White House. Carter in the late 1970s spent $30,000 on a solar water-heating system for West Wing offices. Bush’s solar systems powered a maintenance building and some of the mansion, and heated water for the pool.

Obama, who has championed renewable energy, has been under increasing pressure by the solar industry and environmental activists to lead by example by installing solar at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, something White House officials said has been under consideration since he first took office.

The decision perhaps has more import now after legislation to reduce global warming pollution died in the Senate, despite the White House’s support. Obama has vowed to try again on a smaller scale.

Last month, global warming activists with carried one of Carter’s solar panels – which were removed in 1986 – from Unity College in Maine to Washington to urge Obama to put solar panels on his roof. It was part of a global campaign to persuade world leaders to install solar on their homes. After a meeting with White House officials, they left Washington without a commitment.

Bill McKibben, the founder of the group, said Tuesday the administration did the right thing.

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