Archive for June, 2011

90% of consumers worldwide want more renewable energy, especially wind

Posted on June 30, 2011. Filed under: Renewable energy - generally, Wind | Tags: |


From a news release issued by Vestas Wind Systems:

New York, NY (PRWEB) June 28, 2011
Vestas Wind Systems, the global leader in wind energy, announced today the release of two studies that will help move consumers and corporations towards an increased use of renewable energy.

The Global Consumer Wind Study 2011 and the Corporate Renewable Energy Index (CREX) 2011 bring transparency to consumer preferences and the corporate use of renewable sources of energy, including wind energy. The studies show the relationship between consumer demand for renewable energy in the products and services they purchase, and what corporations are doing – or not doing – to meet these demands.

“Consumers around the world see climate change as the greatest single challenge, and 90 percent of consumers want more renewable energy. This shows a real global desire to reduce carbon emissions,” says Ditlev Engel, President and CEO of Vestas. “It gives corporate decision makers something to think about and act upon.”

Global Consumer Wind Study: Consumers want more renewable energy.
In the largest survey of its kind, 31,000 consumers in 26 countries around the world were asked about their demand for brands made with renewable energy, as well as how energy decisions by some of the world’s largest companies affect their choices. The annual study, commissioned by Vestas and conducted by TNS Gallup, provides insights that enable corporations to understand consumer perceptions about climate change, renewable energy, and how these relate to global brands.

“The Global Consumer Wind Study provides insight into the role of renewable energy, in particular wind, in relation to the products and services consumers buy. This in turn should drive the adoption of renewable energy sources by the corporations that sell these products and services,” says Ditlev Engel.

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Merrill dairy farmer studies feasibility of wind energy site

Posted on June 29, 2011. Filed under: Energy independence, Wind | Tags: |


From an article by in the Karina Gonzalez:

MERRILL — A local dairy farmer might soon take advantage of a windy hill on his property to generate renewable energy.

Hans Breitenmoser Jr. has a meteorological tower on his southwest Merrill property that measures wind capacity. In late July 2010, Madison’s Seventh Generation Energy Systems installed the tower to begin a one-year study that would look into the feasibility of using the windy hill to power the farm.

“I’ve lived here all of my life and it’s always been windy,” Breitenmoser Jr. said. “And I’ve always had an interest in green energy.”

Breitenmoser said he expects the study will help him determine what kind of wind energy equipment is the most suitable to offset traditional energy costs at his farm.

Ry Thompson, systems division manager for Seventh Generation, said the Northwoods is generally not a great area for wind turbines because of the vast number of trees that block and slow breezes. However, because Breitenmoser’s property is elevated, it appears to be a good site for generating power.

Seventh Generation will have a report ready by late summer that will include a cost analysis and wind estimates, Thompson said.

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Small businesses hit hard by energy program cuts and changes

Posted on June 28, 2011. Filed under: Economic development, Energy Efficiency, Energy independence, Energy Policy, Jobs, Renewable energy - generally |


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

Focus on Energy, a statewide program that promotes energy efficiency, is in the midst of big changes: new management by an out-of-state corporation, suspension of a popular rebate program, and sharp funding cuts in the pending state budget.

Nearly 20 people already have lost their jobs, mostly in Madison, as a result of the management change.

Meanwhile, dozens of small Wisconsin businesses that specialize in setting up solar panels and wind turbines fear for their futures because of the slashed allocation and rebate removal.

“It’s a lot of economic activity and jobs in Wisconsin. It’s a lot of energy efficiency, as well,” said Keith Reopelle, policy director for Clean Wisconsin.

Focus on Energy was created in 2001 to provide education, resources and cash incentives to Wisconsin residents and businesses to increase the use of energy-efficient products and systems, from furnaces to solar panels to vending machines.

In the past 10 years, more than 91,000 businesses and more than 1.7 million residents used the program and saved $2.20 for every dollar spent, according to Focus data. . . .

Since taking over Focus on Energy on May 9, one of Shaw’s first decisions, with PSC support, was to suspend payments to businesses that install renewable-energy systems, as of June 30.

Contractors like Seventh Generation Energy Systems were stunned.“It’s pretty devastating,” said James Yockey, chief executive officer. “It probably took out six to 10 projects that we were looking to close … for work in the fall and the coming spring.”

Several of the projects were wind turbines for farmers. “I think the incentives are decisive in people saying yes,” Yockey said . . . .

Program supporters have appealed to Gov. Scott Walker to veto the Focus budget cut, including a letter signed by 124 Wisconsin businesses. As of Friday, there was no word on his response. Walker is scheduled to sign the budget today.

“Cutting Focus on Energy will result in higher electricity bills and fewer jobs,” Randy Johnson, president of U.S. Lamp, a Green Bay energy-efficient lighting design company, said in the letter.

Seventh Generation’s Yockey said he hopes to avoid laying off any of his 16 employees by aiming his business at other states, and that could mean moving the company. “We prefer to be located in Madison but the bottom line is: we’ll see where the business takes us,” he said.

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Wisconsin wind installer wins national award

Posted on June 28, 2011. Filed under: Wind |


Immediate release: June 28, 2011
More info: Jim Yockey 608-770-9660

Wisconsin business wins National Small Wind Installer of the year

MADISON – Seventh Generation Systems Integration was awarded the National Installer of the Year honor at the 7th Annual Small Wind Conference in Stevens Point, WI on June 16th. This recognition of national scope is given to the company for their positive contribution to the growth of the distributed wind industry.

According to the American Wind Energy Association, small wind turbine installations grew 15% in 2009. Wisconsin is well suited for small wind, defined as turbines of 100 kilowatts or less, because of the rural landscape and economy. Until recently, state incentives helped grow the small wind industry through Focus on Energy, supported by a strong presence in the Midwest Renewable Energy Association.

The small wind industry has seen its share of challenges since Seventh Generation began in 2002. As an emerging industry, small wind manufacturers are always keeping up with industry standards and customers’ needs. The honor of receiving the Small Wind Installer of the Year comes as a result of working exceptionally well with manufacturers and state programs to serve the needs of rural Wisconsin.

Currently, Seventh Generation has installed more than 30 small wind turbines ranging in size from 10kW to 100kW, for a collective installed capacity of more than 1megwatt. Seventh Generation works primarily with farms, camps, schools, and businesses to match technology to the customer’s energy requirements. Along with the engineering and design of renewable energy systems, the company is recognized as a leader in resource monitoring and analysis. More about the organization can be found at www.sges.us.

END

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Wind developer: “The uncertainty is killing us”

Posted on June 27, 2011. Filed under: Economic development, Energy independence, Energy Policy, Jobs, Wind |


From an article by Clay Barbour in the Wisconsin State Journal:

In the past six months, three wind farm developers with a combined investment of more than $600 million have stopped operations in Wisconsin — victims of regulatory uncertainty and what some now perceive as a hostile business environment for “green” energy.

The wind farms — planned for Calumet, Brown and Green Lake counties — would have created more than 1,100 jobs and helped Wisconsin reach its goal of generating 10 percent of its energy through renewable sources by 2015.

But new wind regulations, more than two years in the making, were shelved as the Public Service Commission works on a more restrictive set. Combined with a series of initiatives pushed through by Gov. Scott Walker and the Republican-led Legislature, industry officials and environmental advocates say Wisconsin seems more concerned with making green than being green.

“In a typical year, you win some and you lose some. It’s about a 50-50 breakdown,” said Jennifer Giegerich, legislative director for the Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters. “But this year, it has been one loss after another. We are going backwards, fast. And it’s scary. . . .”

Currently the Public Service Commission is holding meetings with advocates and opponents, trying to iron out a compromise. Neither side wants to start from scratch, but PSC officials said they are at a standstill.

“The uncertainty is killing us,” said Dan Rustowicz, of Minnesota’s Redwind Consulting, a company trying to develop a wind farm in Buffalo County. “It’s a shame because Wisconsin has good wind. But we have other options. If you don’t have the political support here, why try and push that rope?”

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State’s Hostility Toward Renewables Escalates; “Leaders” Lag Citizenry on Wind Support

Posted on June 24, 2011. Filed under: Biomass, Digesters, Energy Policy, Hydroelectric, Landfill Gas, Renewable energy - generally, Solar, Wind | Tags: |


Two articles from Catching Wind, a newsletter published by RENEW Wisconsin with funding from a grant from the U.S. Department of Energy:

State’s Hostility Toward Renewables Escalates
At the urging of Wisconsin utilities, several lawmakers have introduced a bill to allow a renewable energy credit (REC) to be banked indefinitely. If adopted, this measure (AB146) would constitute the most devastating legislative assault yet on the state’s renewable energy marketplace, which is already reeling from the suspension of the statewide wind siting rule this March and the loosening of renewable energy definitions to allow Wisconsin utilities to count electricity generated from large Canadian hydro projects toward their renewable energy requirements.

“Leaders” Lag Citizenry on Wind Support
Public support for wind energy development has held strong against the attacks launched by Governor Walker and the Legislature’s new Republican majority, according to a poll conducted between April 11 and April 18 by the St. Norbert College Survey Center for Wisconsin Public Radio.

Asked whether Wisconsin should “increase, decrease or continue with the same amount” of energy supply from various sources, 77% favored increasing wind power, the highest of any option (60% favored increasing hydropower, 54% biomass, 39% natural gas, 27% nuclear, and 19% coal).

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Legislators are exporting wind energy jobs and torpedoing all renewables

Posted on June 23, 2011. Filed under: Economic development, Energy independence, Energy Policy, Jobs, Wind | Tags: , , |


From a commentary by Jeff Anthony, American Wind Energy Association, on BizTimes.com:

The Wisconsin Assembly recently passed a bill that would enable hydroelectric power from Manitoba, Canada, to be shipped to Wisconsin to meet the state’s 2006 renewable energy law requiring 10 percent of the state’s electricity to come from renewable energy by the year 2015.

If enacted into law, the effect of the Manitoba Hydro Bill will be to ship jobs to Canada and reduce Wisconsin’s ability to meet its clean energy requirement by building more homegrown Wisconsin energy projects.

One of the bill’s sponsors, State Sen. Frank Lasee (R-De Pere), was quoted saying, “This new law will keep electric bills from going up by making it more affordable for utilities to meet green energy mandates.”

Unfortunately, he was mistaken in assuming that other forms of “green energy” will raise electricity rates in the state. If he had gotten his facts straight, he would have found that wind energy costs are at near-record lows, and many utilities in the U.S. are reaping the benefits of lower electricity rates as wind energy expands on their systems. But the facts about wind energy costs, like many other facts, apparently weren’t relevant in the rush to pass this ill-conceived bill.

What Sen. Lasee failed to mention is that his bill will also have a significant impact on Wisconsin by sending good-paying jobs that would otherwise have been created in Wisconsin – to Canada instead.

Sen. Lasee and the other state legislators who voted for the bill would have the state import electricity from Canadian energy projects that use Canadian workers. Today, Wisconsin supports 2,000-3,000 workers in the wind energy industry alone, and the Manitoba Hydro Bill now threatens many of those jobs in Wisconsin.

This is just the latest example of legislative activities that are exporting good-paying, clean energy jobs out of Wisconsin. Why?

At the beginning of the year, another onerous bill was proposed to impose extreme requirements on where Wisconsin wind projects can be located. A few weeks, later a joint committee of the legislature voted to suspend Wind Siting Rules that had been developed through a collaborative, open, and fair process. This rule was suspended by the joint legislative committee on the very day that these far better new rules would have taken effect.

Combined, these actions have jeopardized approximately 700 megawatts of wind projects that were proposed in the state, resulting in the potential loss of $1.8 billion investments and 2 million construction job-hours. And guess what – those 2 million job-hours will not show up in Wisconsin, and will likely move to neighboring states.

So what will be the next step in the “Wisconsin Jobs Export Agenda”?

Well, another piece of anti-clean energy job legislation has emerged, Assembly Bill 146, which would significantly reduce the growth of renewable energy in the state. The Wisconsin clean energy law was originally created to incentivize new renewable energy development and increase fuel diversity. AB 146 would effectively remove that incentive.

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Sustainable energy jobs could boost economy, group says

Posted on June 14, 2011. Filed under: Biomass, Digesters, Economic development, Energy independence, Energy Policy, Hydroelectric, Jobs, Landfill Gas, Solar, Sustainability, Wind | Tags: , , |


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

Wisconsin should strive to do more to grow a renewable energy economy that creates jobs in the state, the author of a new sustainability report says.

The report was published by the Wisconsin Sustainable Business Council, the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Business and the state Department of Natural Resources’ green tier program.

The report seeks to emulate reports published by businesses that move beyond the fiscal bottom line to discuss the firms’ environmental and social impact.

Businesses in Wisconsin that have adopted a “triple-bottom line” approach – for social, economic and environmental benefit – include Kohl’s Corp., Johnson Controls Inc., Miron Construction and S.C. Johnson & Son Inc.

The report found opportunity for job creation awaits the state in the renewable energy sector, and emphasizes how much of the state’s energy spending takes place outside Wisconsin.

“Of the $19 billion that we spent last year, 87% of that money went out of state,” said Tom Eggert, the council’s executive director. “That’s going to help people’s economies in places other than Wisconsin.”

The state lacks coal mines and natural gas reserves but has ample opportunity to create jobs through development of wind, solar and biomass power, he said.

One option for the state to consider, he said, would be for the government to give renewable energy – and job creation – a push by expanding the state’s renewable energy standard.

The state Legislature, though, rejected a plan last year to expand renewable energy mandates in the state.

The Legislature last week gave final approval to a bill that would allow large dams such as those planned to be built in Manitoba to qualify for the state’s renewable energy standard.

Supporters said that access to the large hydro projects is good for the state’s economy because it would keep electricity rates affordable and help the state’s businesses create jobs.

But the direct result in terms of energy investment creates an economic impact for the Canadian province rather than here in the state, Eggert said.

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Crane makes first lifts on Glacier Hills Wind Park

Posted on June 10, 2011. Filed under: Economic development, Energy Policy, Jobs, Wind | Tags: , , |


Photos and description courtesy of We Energies:

A large, telescopic crane is being used to erect the first of 90 wind turbines at the Glacier Hills Wind Park in Columbia County, Wis. Eleven trains from Colorado are delivering the 148-foot-long fiberglass blades, and the nacelles, which house the gearboxes and generators. More than 800 trucks are delivering the steel towers, which are composed of four flanged sections totaling 262 feet, from Manitowoc, Wis.

The project is on track to be completed by the end of 2011, with all 90 foundations poured and 20 miles of access roads needed for delivery of the turbine components completed. The substation, which was designed, tested and energized by Customer Operations staff, also is complete.

We Energies developed a Wisconsin-based alliance to design and build the wind park. The construction alliance includes The Boldt Co. of Appleton, Michels Corp. of Brownsville and Edgerton Contractors Inc. of Oak Creek.

The Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (PSCW) gave final approval to the revised plan for the Glacier Hills project on May 14, 2010. The project will produce up to 162 megawatts, capable of providing power to more than 45,000 homes.

See more photos on RENEW’s Facebook page.

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Giving perpetual life to renewable energy credits makes no sense

Posted on June 8, 2011. Filed under: Energy Policy, Renewable energy - generally |


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
JUNE 7, 2011

CONTACT:
SHAINA KILCOYNE
(608) 251-0101
KILCOYNE@CWPB.COM

Giving perpetual life to renewable energy credits makes no sense

Wisconsin Assembly Bill 146 would give Renewable Energy Credits, which can now be “banked” for 4 years, perpetual life.

Supporters of AB-146 claim the primary justification for the bill is that it will save ratepayers money. However, their view of our state’s energy needs does not bear up under analysis. Instead, it is now clear that the bill is an attack on longstanding, bipartisan clean energy policy in our state.

The Wisconsin Energy Business Association asks lawmakers to oppose any further efforts to advance this misguided bill. By allowing unlimited banking of renewable energy credits, the bill would place us at risk of skyrocketing energy costs and would cost Wisconsin jobs and economic investment.

The Bill Would Increase Our Reliance on Costly and Risky Fossil Fuels
Significant rate increases in our state over the past decade have been driven by the cost of new coal plants and expensive retrofits to keep old, inefficient coal plants running, including over $2 billion on coal plant retrofits over the past six years alone. Renewable energy provides an important hedge against increased energy costs, as well as fossil fuel price and security volatility.

Currently, Wisconsin gets over 70 percent of our energy from fossil fuels such as coal and natural gas. This unbalanced portfolio places our state at risk of price fluctuations, supply disruptions, and regulatory risks. Further, it forces our state to rely almost entirely on out-of-state sources of energy as we have no fossil fuels in Wisconsin. Diversifying our energy portfolio is just sound risk management.

The Bill is Unnecessary and Out of Line with Other States
Wisconsin’s renewable energy standard already contains adequate safeguards for ratepayers. Utilities and ratepayer organizations have the power under existing law to request a waiver or delay of renewable energy purchases. In the entire history of our renewable energy standard, no utility or organization has exercised that right. If there were truly cost concerns with renewable energy, that power certainly would have been exercised. (more…)

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