Archive for March, 2011

Second Wind Developer Forsakes Wisconsin for Greener Pastures

Posted on March 31, 2011. Filed under: General |


For immediate release:
March 30, 2011
More information
Michael Vickerman
Executive Director
608.255.4044
mvickerman@renewwisconsin.org

Second Wind Developer Forsakes Wisconsin for Greener Pastures
Citing Wisconsin’s inhospitable regulatory climate, Midwest Wind Energy, LLC (MWE), a Chicago-based developer of wind generation installations, became the second developer in two weeks to suspend all wind energy development activity in Wisconsin. Another Chicago-based wind developer, Invenergy, LLC, announced last week that it had canceled a 100-turbine wind project in southern Brown County.

Both announcements come on the heels of a March 1 vote by a legislative panel to suspend a Public Service Commission (PSC) rule establishing standards for local government review of windpower projects. That body, the Joint Committee for the Review of Administrative Rules, voted yesterday to introduce legislation to repeal the wind siting rule (PSC 128) and direct the Commission to promulgate a new rule.

In 2006 MWE proposed erecting a 98 megawatt (MW) prospect in southern Calumet County, north of We Energies’ Blue Sky Green Field installation. Called Stony Brook, MWE’s proposed development was stymied in 2007 and 2008 by a combination of moratoria and arbitrary ordinance changes imposed at the county and township level. In an interesting twist, the Wisconsin Court of Appeals in 2009 invalidated Calumet County’s wind ordinance, after determining that local governments lack the authority to restrict wind energy systems beyond what is allowed in state statutes.

“One wonders if our political leadership appreciates the economic damage being done to Wisconsin when it decided to pull the welcome mat out from under the wind industry,” said Michael Vickerman, executive director of RENEW Wisconsin. ‘The industry’s exodus to greener pastures will cause manufacturing and construction jobs to migrate to states that are friendlier to wind energy. It will be a challenge for Wisconsin businesses that participate in the wind energy supply chain to avoid being caught up in the collateral damage caused by the prevailing climate of inhospitality,” Vickerman said.

MWE’s 98 MW Stony Brook facility represents about a $230 million investment in a locally available source of renewable energy that would generate more than 130 construction jobs, support 10 permanent high-tech jobs, yield an annual flow of nearly $400,000 to host local governments and more than $500,000 to host landowners, as well as create manufacturing and consulting opportunities for a host of Wisconsin businesses.

An early entrant to the Wisconsin wind development scene, MWE secured permits for two mid-sized windpower facilities now operating: Cedar Ridge, a 41-turbine, 68 MW project in Fond du Lac County; and Butler Ridge, as 36-turbine 54 MW facility in Dodge County.  Cedar Ridge is owned by Alliant Energy and Butler Ridge is now owned by NextEra Energy Resources.

— END —

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. More information on RENEW’s Web site at http://www.renewwisconsin.org.

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Business group laments loss of wind industry’s economic benefits

Posted on March 31, 2011. Filed under: Economic development, Wind |


A news release from the Wisconsin Energy Business Association:

Midwest Wind suspends development on Calumet County project

The second major wind developer in as many weeks has halted development of a project in Wisconsin following further action by a committee of the state legislature to create continued regulatory uncertainty for the wind industry.

Just one day after a legislative committee voted to introduce a bill blocking a statewide wind siting rule from going into effect, Midwest Wind Energy, LLC announced that it will suspend efforts to develop a large wind project in Wisconsin. The 98-megawatt project would have brought $225 – $245 million in direct investment to the state.

“It doesn’t make sense to devote significant dollars to a state that is creating unreasonable roadblocks for wind development,” stated Midwest Wind president Stefan Noe.

In a press release announcing the project suspension, Noe cited the recent suspension of the wind siting rule, which was over 2 years in the making. Added Noe, “Most states are clearly open for renewable energy development and the economic development dollars and jobs that come with it.”

The announcement of Midwest Wind’s project suspension comes after another major wind developer canceled a project in Wisconsin. Invenergy Wind LLC’s 150-megawatt project in Brown County
would have generated over $1.2 million annually in revenues to local governments and landowners.

The Invenergy and Midwest Wind projects together would have produced enough energy to power nearly 100,000 Wisconsin homes.
“Wind energy would provide new investment in Wisconsin, good jobs in manufacturing, construction, operation and maintenance, as well as low, stable energy costs,” said Shaina Kilcoyne of the Wisconsin
Energy Business Association. “It’s unfortunate that the regulatory uncertainty around wind siting in Wisconsin is continuing. The whole purpose of the wind siting law passed by the legislature by wide
bipartisan margins was to create reasonable statewide siting standards for this critical new source of energy.”

While the local economy benefits directly by revenues paid by wind projects to Wisconsin manufacturers, construction workers, suppliers, landowners, townships, counties, and others, there are also significant multiplier effects from this type of infrastructure investment. Wind projects in Wisconsin would also support the wind energy supply chain, providing products like steel towers and blades and allowing Wisconsin companies to expand. The economic benefits from these projects include much more than their initial construction cost.

END

Wisconsin Energy Business Association is a leading business trade
association promoting reliable, secure, and cost-effective energy solutions to strengthen our economy and support market-driven innovation and supply chain growth in the energy sector.

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Midwest Wind suspends project development in Wisconsin

Posted on March 30, 2011. Filed under: General |


Immediate release:
March 30, 2011

Contact:
Bill French
Midwest Wind Energy
(847) 414-0134
French@midwestwind.com

In view of continued regulatory uncertainty in the State of Wisconsin, a leading wind farm developer has announced that it has suspended development activity until a more predictable climate is restored. Chicago-based Midwest Wind Energy, LLC (MWE) has been developing utility scale wind farms in Wisconsin since 2003 and has two of its developed projects operating; one a 54-megawatt project in Dodge County and the other a 67-megawatt project in Fond du Lac
County. MWE is also developing a 98-megawatt project in Calumet County and another project which had not yet been announced publicly.

According to MWE President, Stefan Noe, it no longer makes sense to invest significant development capital in a state that appears to be closed to the wind energy business. “Most states are clearly open for renewable energy development and the economic development dollars and jobs that come with it. So long as there are states rolling out the welcome mat it doesn’t make sense to devote significant dollars to a state that is creating unreasonable roadblocks for wind development.”

Noe cites the recent suspension of PSC 128 by the Wisconsin Joint Committee for Review of Administrative Rules as the most convincing evidence that Wisconsin is not interested in working in good faith with the U.S. wind energy industry. The rule was the culmination of almost two years of work by the Public Service Commission and resulted in some of the most stringent and detailed wind siting rules in the country. Although restrictive, these rules created a workable
compromise between the wind industry and a range of stakeholders.

“Our four projects alone represent more than $600 million of capital investment in Wisconsin and more than 400 construction jobs and 40 permanent high-tech jobs. The industry as a whole has the potential to be a multi-bill ion dollar industry for the state. These projects also generate millions in local landowner payments and local government revenues, cash flow that is sorely needed in Wisconsin’s rural communities.” Noe said.

Midwest Wind Energy, LLC is a leading developer of utility-scale wind farms in the Midwest and Great Plains with seven projects totaling 649 megawatts currently in operation. MWE has an additional 5000 megawatts of projects in its development pipeline.

END

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Hostile regulatory climate sinks Brown County wind project

Posted on March 27, 2011. Filed under: Economic development, Wind |


More information
Michael Vickerman
Executive Director
608.255.4044
mvickerman@renewwisconsin.org

Less than a month after a 10-member legislative committee prevented a statewide wind permitting rule from taking effect, Invenergy, LLC, a Chicago-based wind developer that owns and operates the 86-turbine Forward Energy Center installation south of Fond du Lac, has ended efforts to install 100 turbines in southern Brown County.

In a March 21 letter to the Public Service Commission (PSC), Invenergy singled out the recent suspension of the agency’s wind siting rule as a significant factor in its decision to cancel the Ledge Wind Energy Center. “The absence of regulatory stability has made it imprudent for Invenergy to proceed with investments in a project which unknown regulations might make infeasible to construct,” the letter states. Invenergy’s application to build the 150-megawatt Ledge Wind project was filed in October 2009.

“The regulatory environment for permitting wind energy systems in Wisconsin is deteriorating rapidly,” said Michael Vickerman, executive director of RENEW Wisconsin. “The rollback started with Governor Walker’s proposal to impose onerous and unworkable setback requirements on wind turbines, and continues with the Legislature’s assault on the PSC’s wind siting rule.”

“By all appearances, it seems that Governor Walker and the Legislature intend to close the door on wind development in Wisconsin once We Energies completes its Glacier Hills project later this year,” Vickerman said.

The PSC rule, which was scheduled to take effect March 1st, would have fulfilled the Legislature’s intent to create uniform siting regulations to replace what had become a restrictive and hodgepodge of local requirements. On that very day, the Joint Committee for Review of Administrative Rules suspended the rule on a 5-2 vote that tracked along party line votes (Republicans in favor; Democrats against).

Had the 150 MW Ledge Wind Energy Center gone forward, it would have generated $600,000 annually in municipal revenues to Brown County and four host townships, and more than $600,000 annually to host landowners and their neighbors. On average, installing one turbine requires 1,325 hours of craft labor, and a 100-turbine wind project will support a payroll of over $10 million, according to figures provided by Boldt Construction.

“Invenergy’s cancellation of its Ledge Wind project should not come as a surprise,” Vickerman said. “It should be expected with a political leadership that treats windpower as a pariah energy source. Until the day the Governor and the Legislature put aside their ideological blinders and recognize the benefits that come with developing a clean, locally available and inexhaustible energy source, Wisconsin will remain a very unappetizing place to pursue utility- scale wind projects.”

“Wisconsin can ill-afford to export windpower-related jobs and local payments to other states,” Vickerman said.

— END —

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. More information on RENEW’s Web site at http://www.renewwisconsin.org.

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Battle-proof wind farms survive Japan’s trial by fire

Posted on March 18, 2011. Filed under: Nuclear, Wind | Tags: , |


From an article on Huffington Post by Kelly Rigg, Executive Director of GCCA (Global Campaign for Climate Action):

Despite assertions by its detractors that wind energy would not survive an earthquake or tsunami the Japanese wind industry is still functioning and helping to keep the lights on during the Fuksuhima crisis.

Colleagues and I have been directly corresponding with Yoshinori Ueda leader of the International Committee of the Japan Wind Power Association & Japan Wind Energy Association, and according to Ueda there has been no wind facility damage reported by any association members, from either the earthquake or the tsunami. Even the Kamisu semi-offshore wind farm, located about 300km from the epicenter of the quake, survived. Its anti-earthquake “battle proof design” came through with flying colors.

Mr. Ueda confirms that most Japanese wind turbines are fully operational. Indeed, he says that electric companies have asked wind farm owners to step up operations as much as possible in order to make up for shortages in the eastern part of the country.

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Glenmore wind energy project finally gets go-ahead

Posted on March 17, 2011. Filed under: Wind |


From a story on Fox 11, WLUK, Green Bay:

GREEN BAY – Emotions continue to run hot over a wind turbine project in Brown County. The Glenmore town board tonight voted to allow CG Power Solutions to build seven turbines in the community.

The vote happened without public comment.

When the meeting was adjourned soon after the vote, many of those attending shouted down the board members. Law enforcement officers watched the crowd as the board members left.

Tonight’s meeting and vote came on the heels of another heated meeting last week. At that time, the board originally approved the permit for the project, but when the crowd became angry then, the board abruptly ended the meeting.

It later reconvened and voted to delay the permit for two months. Then, the turbine company challenged that second vote, saying it violated state open meeting law.

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Builder wins gold for work on wind facility project

Posted on March 16, 2011. Filed under: Economic development, Wind |


From the award description on the Web site of the Associated Builders and Contractors:

The Butler Ridge Windfarm is located at the intersection of highways
33 and P in Dodge County and comprises 36 wind turbines. The
project required building 8.5 miles of access roads along the rolling
farm hills of Dodge County. During the first two weeks on the project,
more than 12 inches of rain fell, affecting ground conditions, erosion
control procedures, roadway construction, soil stability and workforce
mobility. Wondra Construction’s safety and training program allowed
it to bid on the project and the company’s commitment to safety
and training throughout the project exceeded expectations. Though
Wondra encountered many obstacles during the project, it met all
challenges head-on with decisive actions and timely solutions, keeping
safety as the first priority.

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Focus offers competitive grants to businesses for large renewable energy projects

Posted on March 15, 2011. Filed under: Biomass, Digesters, Landfill Gas, Solar, Wind |


From a news release issued by Focus on Energy:

Completed proposals due April 30, 2011

MADISON, Wis. (March 11, 2011) – Today, Focus on Energy, Wisconsin utilities’ statewide program for energy efficiency and renewable energy, announced that businesses can compete for incentives for large renewable energy systems. The Large Renewable Energy System Competitive Incentives allow Wisconsin businesses and organizations to apply for funds to help implement large renewable energy systems.

Businesses can receive an incentive of up to 30 percent of the project costs to complete a renewable energy project that is well-researched, documented, and justified. Eligible, large-scale renewable energy systems may include: solar electric, solar hot-water, wind electric, biomass energy, and anaerobic digestion (biogas).

“Renewable energy technology offers businesses deeper energy cost savings after energy efficiency measures are implemented.” said Ken Williams, Focus on Energy’s business programs director. “Focus’ large renewable energy competitive incentives help businesses defray some of the upfront investment cost of a renewable energy system, resulting in a quicker payback.”

Any type of business, school, government entity, agribusiness, and apartments/condo facilities can apply for a Focus competitive incentive. The application and details are available online at focusonenergy.com/competitive_incentives. Applications are due by April 30, 2011.

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Angry anti-wind crowd intimidates town board to change vote on turbine permitting

Posted on March 8, 2011. Filed under: Wind | Tags: |


From an article by Tony Walter in the Green Bay Press-Gazette:

GLENMORE — The Glenmore Town Board voted Monday to wait 60 days before voting on a permit request to have seven wind turbines built in the town.

In an emotion-filled meeting that at one point had Town Chairman Don Kittell call in police officers when residents began chanting and shouting, the board reversed an earlier vote to approve the permits.

Mark Dick of Cenergy, a subsidiary of Pennsylvania-based CG Power Solutions that is seeking to erect the turbines, said the board’s delay on a decision was based on emotion and opinion, not law.

“You’re asking the Town Board to violate law,” Dick told the more than 100 residents who crowded into the Glenmore Community Center. “You might as well as ask them to outlaw smoking.”

The board voted quickly at the meeting’s outset to approve the permits, with Kittell and Supervisor Kriss Schmidt supporting it and Supervisor Ron Nowak opposing it. Kittell argued that the board was simply following the law that required it to honor a conditional use permit that went into effect before the town changed its wind turbine ordinance last year.

But residents reacted angrily, chanting, “No permits,” then “change your vote,” prompting Kittell to call for police support.

“The people are trying to get out of hand,” Kittell said on his cell phone. One Wisconsin State Patrol officer and two Brown County Sheriff’s Department officers showed up 15 minutes later.

And from a story on Green Bay Fox 11 News: :

TOWN OF GLENMORE – An emotional outburst from some Brown County residents causes a town board to go against an original vote on a wind project.

The town of Glenmore board met Monday night and voted on the building permit proposed by CG Power Solutions to build seven turbines.

The board initially voted 2 to 1 in favor of the permits.
About 75 residents were at the meeting and then voiced their opinion.

After the outcry, the board chairman called for police assistance and briefly closed the meeting.

He later reopened it, and held an open forum.

Glenmore residents and officials from the wind turbine company spoke.

The board then voted to delay the vote on the permits for 60 days until it can be further reviewed by the state.

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Summit to focus on ‘green’ jobs, March 9-11

Posted on March 7, 2011. Filed under: Economic development, Renewable energy - generally | Tags: , |


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

Job and investment opportunities in environmental fields will be among topics addressed this week at the eighth annual Green Energy Summit at the Frontier Airlines Center.

The summit features a variety of speakers from corporate consultants, educators, chief executives and scientists concerned about the impact of climate change. The conference will focus on opportunities and challenges in a variety of areas, from sustainability and green jobs to renewable energy and water technologies.

“These areas are going to play a major role in the future economic development of this state,” said conference chair and co-founder George Stone of Milwaukee Area Technical College, the conference host. “The sooner we get into this game, the sooner we start investing, the better for everybody.”

The summit is scheduled for Wednesday through Friday at the Frontier Airlines Center, 400 W. Wisconsin Ave. The event continues Saturday with tours of Milwaukee-area renewable energy and sustainability facilities including Helios USA’s factory in the Menomonee Valley, the MATC Solar Education Farm north of Capitol Drive, and the Concordia University Wisconsin Center for Environmental Stewardship in Mequon.

The summit started as an event aimed at technical college students but has been broadened to include public and private universities, and increasingly, major businesses. This year’s theme: “The Green Frontier: Historic Changes, Unprecedented Opportunities.”

“The mission is to educate businesses and investors, as well as the future workforce – our students – to the opportunities that exist, and to the opportunities that are going to exist,” Stone said.

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