Archive for December, 2011

SC Johnson cuts GHG emissions by 26 percent

Posted on December 28, 2011. Filed under: Climate change, Renewable energy - generally |

From an article by Leslie Guevarra on

SC Johnson, the maker of household products ranging from Windex to Ziploc bags, has met — if not topped — five-year environmental goals that were to be accomplished by 2011, the company said in a new accounting of its sustainability efforts.

Key achievements included absolute reductions in greenhouse gas emissions worldwide and in the U.S that were more than double the amount expected, according to the latest annual progress report, called “360º of Greener Choices.”

Here’s a look at some of the numbers from the report:

•Global GHG: Factories worldwide reduced GHG emissions by 26.2 percent by the close of 2010, compared to a baseline set in 2000. The goal was an absolute reduction of 12 percent by 2011.
•U.S. GHG: In the U.S., the company reduced GHG emissions by 27.4 percent by the end of 2010, compared to a 2005 baseline. The goal was an 8 percent absolute reduction by 2011.
•Renewable energy: The company hit its target in this category by sourcing 40.2 percent of its electricity worldwide to renewable energy via purchased green power and on-site generated energy.
•Waste and emissions: Globally, the company reduced its combined air emissions, water effluents and solid waste by 55 percent as a ratio to production, compared to a 2000 baseline. The goal was a 50 percent reduction.

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Solar PV system installed on First Congregational Church, UCC in Sheboygan

Posted on December 22, 2011. Filed under: Solar |

A news release issued by Arch Electric:

Arch Electric recently installed and commissioned a 19.32-kilowatt solar electric (PV) system for First Congregational Church, UCC in the City of Sheboygan.

The solar array consists of 84 solar modules and was installed on the roof of the church building with a custom-designed ballast rack system that required only 1 roof penetration into the building.

On an annual basis the Solar PV System will produce over 24,000 kilowatt hours of electricity and save the church more than $2,800.

The solar panel manufacturer has a facility in Georgia, the racking system was designed and manufactured in Southeast Wisconsin, and the NABCEP Certified installers from Arch Electric are local residents. Based in Plymouth, WI, Arch Electric is a leading designer and installer of renewable energy throughout the Midwest, having commissioned over 2-Megawatts of renewable energy on businesses, homes, churches, farms, YMCA’s and other organizations.

Arch Electric also installed a solar electric system at St. Nicholas Senior Apartments in Sheboygan.

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Years later, Wisconsin wind farm fears fail to materialize

Posted on December 22, 2011. Filed under: Wind |

From an article by Rick Chamberlin in Midwest Energy News:

LINCOLN TOWNSHIP, Wis. — When the 31 Vestas wind turbines in northeast Kewaunee County, Wisconsin began producing electricity in the summer of 1999, a moderate Republican named Tommy Thompson was a few months into his fourth term as governor. Relative peace reigned between the parties in the legislature, statewide unemployment was at a record low and the Dow had just topped 10,000 for the first time.

But in Lincoln and Red River townships, where the turbines were erected, the climate was anything but mild. Residents’ tempers had been flaring since before April 1998 when Madison Gas & Electric (MGE) hosted the first meetings in the community about its plans to build 11.2 megawatts of wind power in the area. Wisconsin Public Service (WPS), a Green Bay-based utility, had also announced its intention to build a large-scale wind farm in the area.

Despite the heat, the two utilities found more than enough landowners in the two towns willing to host all 31 turbines, and the town boards soon voted to approve conditional use permits for the projects. But pressure from several vocal landowners convinced the Lincoln town board in February of 1999 to amend its zoning ordinance to require board affirmation of all applications for future conditional use permits. A few months later, both townships adopted 18-month moratoriums on future wind farm sitings.

“We had some real knock-down-drag-outs,” said Mick Sagrillo, who chaired a committee charged with evaluating the impact of the projects on residents and proposing any changes to the permit process. More than anything, Sagrillo said, people feared change. . . .

A 2003 study by the Renewable Energy Policy Project (REPP) found “no significant evidence that the presence of the wind farms had a negative effect on residential property values” in the communities closest to the Kewaunee County turbines. . . .

When asked if dollars promised to landowners and the townships have materialized, Jerabek said, “I haven’t had any landowners complain that they haven’t received their lease payment.”

An excellent video tells the same story.

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Wisconsin’s biggest wind farm goes online

Posted on December 21, 2011. Filed under: Wind |

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

Construction of the largest wind farm in the state is complete, with the Glacier Hills Wind Park northeast of Madison online and generating power for We Energies.

With 90 turbines, the Columbia County wind project is expected to generate 162 megawatts of power, or enough over a year’s time to power 45,000 homes. We Energies also operates the 88-turbine Blue Sky Green Field Wind Center in Fond du Lac County.

“The completion of Glacier Hills on time and on budget was achieved largely through the talents of Wisconsin companies and Wisconsin labor,” Gale Klappa, the utility’s chairman and chief executive, said in a statement announcing the wind farm was placed into commercial service.

Wisconsin contractors participating in the project included Boldt Construction, Edgerton Contactors and Michels Corp., with towers manufactured by Broadwind Energy, formerly TowerTech, in Manitowoc.

When all costs are finalized, We Energies said, the project will come in below the target of $363.7 million set by the state Public Service Commission.

The two We Energies wind farms are part of the utility’s plan to meet Wisconsin’s renewable-energy standard, which requires the utility to supply about 8% of its power from renewable sources by 2015.

More photos.

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Why Scott Walker Killed Wind Energy Jobs in Wisconsin

Posted on December 20, 2011. Filed under: Wind | Tags: |

From an article by Louis Weisberg in the Wisconsin Gazette:

When Wisconsin voters elected Scott Walker governor and handed Republicans control of the Legislature, about 1,000 new jobs in the emerging wind energy sector stood waiting on the state’s horizon, according to industry proponents.

But Walker, who received at least $1.5 million in campaign cash directly from interests opposed to wind energy and much more indirectly, quickly quashed the rules that would have allowed those jobs – and the state’s energy independence – to move forward.

Walker’s move reportedly startled wind-energy supporters on both sides of the political aisle, since the so-called “wind siting” rules were ironed out during a year of negotiations with all the major stakeholders and approved by a two-thirds, bipartisan majority of lawmakers during the legislative session immediately preceding the state’s GOP takeover.

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Highland Wind Farm, LLC files application for project in St. Croix County

Posted on December 19, 2011. Filed under: Wind | Tags: , |

December 19, 2011
Contact: Kristin Ruesch or Matthew Pagel, 608-266-9600 or

Madison, WI—The Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (Commission) has received an application from Highland Wind Farm, LLC to build a 102.5 megawatt wind project located in the townships of Forest and Cylon, St. Croix County, Wisconsin. When the application is deemed complete, the Commission will have up to 360 days to make a decision on the application.

An electric generation project of 100 megawatts (MW) or greater requires a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity (CPCN) from the Commission.

The Commission has siting jurisdiction over all wind energy systems 100 MW or larger and over utility-owned wind energy systems, regardless of size.

A political subdivision (city, town, village, or county) has siting jurisdiction over non-utility wind energy systems smaller than 100 megawatts.

2009 Wisconsin Act 40 made several changes to the state statutes regarding the siting of wind energy systems. The law retained the jurisdictional split between the Commission and political subdivisions; directed the Commission to write wind siting rules; and stated that a political subdivision may not impose requirements that are more restrictive than those in the Commission’s wind siting rules.

In response, final Wind Siting Rules promulgated by the Commission (PSC 128) were published in the Wisconsin Administrative Register on February 28, 2011, to be effective March 1, 2011. Currently the rules are not in effect due to legislative suspension.

The Commission and interested parties are currently working to resolve concerns regarding wind siting for non-utility projects under 100 MW. Because Highland Wind Farm, LLC has planned a project surpassing the 100 MW threshold, the project application will be treated like any other CPCN application received by the Commission; however, the Commission is also statutorily required to “consider whether installation or use of the facility is consistent with the standards specified in the rules promulgated by the commission under Wis. Stats. §196.378 (4g) (b),” meaning the Commission will need to at least consider whether the application is consistent with the standards in the promulgated, yet suspended, PSC 128 rules.

Once the Commission receives all pieces of an application, the Commission has 30 days to determine whether the application is complete. After a CPCN application is deemed complete, the Commission urges the public to take advantage of the many opportunities to weigh in. The public is encouraged to read the Commission’s public notification letter, verify interested parties are included on the Commission mailing lists, review the application posted online, ask questions of the Commission staff, submit comments, and testify at hearings. Information can be found at the Commission’s web site,, and at local libraries, government offices, clerks’ offices, and within the environmental review documents that will be prepared for the project.

Wis. Stats. § 196.491 describes the procedures related to the issuance of a CPCN. The general application requirements for the CPCN are described in Wis. Admin. Code ch. PSC 111. An overview of a typical application review process can be found at:

Documents associated with the Highland Wind Farm application can be viewed on the PSC’s Electronic Regulatory Filing System at Type case numbers 2535-CE-100 in the boxes provided on the PSC homepage, or click on the Electronic Regulatory Filing System button.

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Cashton community wind project under way

Posted on December 16, 2011. Filed under: Economic development, Energy independence, Wind |

An article by Danielle Endvick in The Country Today:

The turbine foundations have been built and basic infrastructure is in place for Wisconsin’s first community wind project.

Cashton Greens Wind Farm, set to begin operation this spring near Highway 27 southwest of Cashton in Monroe County, is expected to generate nearly 5 megawatts of energy, enough to power 1,000 Cashton homes annually.

The $11 million renewable energy project is a collaborative effort of the Village of Cashton, Gundersen Lutheran Health System and Organic Valley, the nation’s largest cooperative of organic farmers.

Cecil Wright, Organic Valley director of sustainability, said planning on the wind farm, which is being erected on land near the cooperative’s distribution center, began in 2008.

“It’s taken a lot of discussion and a lot of learning,” he said.

The project is one of several Organic Valley has spearheaded in an effort to gain energy independence. Others included the use of biodiesel in its truck fleet, solar photovoltaic windows in its headquarters and solar hot water panels in its cheese packaging plant and cafe. (more…)

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Mount Pleasant approves SC Johnson wind turbines

Posted on December 13, 2011. Filed under: Energy independence, Wind | Tags: , |

From an article by Kimber Solana in the Racine Journal Times:

MOUNT PLEASANT – Amid some opposition from neighbors, SC Johnson is set to build two of the largest wind turbines in Racine County at its Waxdale manufacturing facility, a project expected to supply about 15 percent of the facility’s electricity usage.

In a 6-1 vote, the Village Board approved the conditional use petition on Monday to erect the turbines at the facility, 8311 16th St. Trustee Harry Manning dissented, expressing concerns over the size – about 415 feet tall – of the energy facilities.

“The noise is going to be there. There is going to be flickering. You read anywhere, they’ve had nothing but problems,” said Mount Pleasant resident Gail Johnson, 62. Johnson said her home is located on Willow Road, right across from where the turbines are expected to be built.

However, village officials said SCJ has gone “above and beyond” to address concerns by neighbors. Conditions set by the village include ensuring the wind turbines minimize noise decibel levels and shadow flickering.

Any noise would be no louder than traffic heard on Highway 20 or Highway 11, said Christopher Beard, reputation management director at SCJ.

The company has also offered to put in additional landscaping, if needed, such as trees that may block views of the turbines from residences, he added.

In addition, after meetings between the company and some residents, including those who opposed the project, SCJ has reduced the number of turbines from five to two.

Racine-based SCJ has said the wind turbines are the latest in a series of investments at Waxdale that will enable the site to produce 100 percent of its electrical energy on-site, with about 60 percent from renewable sources.

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Coal Critic Coming to Madison to Speak on Effective Renewable Energy Advocacy, January 2012

Posted on December 7, 2011. Filed under: Coal, Economic development, Energy Policy, Jobs, Renewable energy - generally | Tags: , , , |

For immediate release
December 7, 2011

More information
Michael Vickerman

Leslie Glustrom, research director of Colorado-based Clean Energy Action, and an unwavering critic of utility reliance on coal for electricity generation, will be the featured speaker at RENEW Wisconsin’s Energy Policy Summit.

The Summit will be held on Friday, January 13, 2012, at the University of Wisconsin-Extension’s Pyle Center located on the UW-Madison campus. Summit attendees will spend the day discussing and selecting renewable energy strategies that make sense in the current political environment in Wisconsin. More information on the Summit can be found on the RENEW Wisconsin website at

As research director, Glustrom authored in 2009 an extensively referenced report on U.S. coal supplies titled, “Coal—Cheap and Abundant—Or Is It? Why Americans Should Stop Assuming that the US has a 200-Year Supply of Coal,” available for free at

Since 2009, Glustrom has traveled to numerous states helping them to understand the likely constraints on their coal supplies.
Glustrom’s on-going research illuminates a future in which coal prices will likely continue to escalate, driven by a combination of less accessible coal supplies, increasing demand from Asian countries, and rising diesel fuel costs for hauling coal to distant markets like Wisconsin.

Clean Energy Action is spearheading a campaign to shut down Colorado’s coal-fired power plants and replace them with locally generated renewable electricity.

“Leslie’s experiences with Clean Energy Action can help Wisconsin renewable energy advocates formulate effective strategies for 2012 and beyond,” said Michael Vickerman, executive director of RENEW Wisconsin, a statewide sustainable energy advocacy organization headquartered in Madison.

“Even though Colorado is a coal-producing state, it has adopted some of the most aggressive policies in the country for advancing renewable energy,” said Vickerman. “Colorado’s commitment to clean energy is driving its economy at a time when its coal output is diminishing. For example, Vestas, the world’s largest manufacturer of wind turbines with four plants employing 1,700 people in Colorado, supplied 90 turbines this year to Wisconsin’s largest wind project, the Glacier Hills Wind Park in Columbia County.”

“Leslie will inspire us to reverse the retreat from renewables and retake the initiative going forward,” Vickerman said.

In Boulder, Glustrom was part of the team that led the successful 2010 and 2011 ballot initiatives allowing Boulder to move ahead with plans to municipalize and break away from the long term commitment to coal plants made by their incumbent utility, Xcel Energy.

 — END —

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RENEW on team to remove solar red tape

Posted on December 6, 2011. Filed under: Energy Policy, Solar |

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

A group of Wisconsin cities and nonprofit organizations was awarded $467,188 on Thursday to help develop ways to remove red tape with the goal of bringing down the cost for homeowners and businesses to add solar power.

The funding from the U.S. Department of Energy was part of $12 million awarded nationwide to 22 different projects.

“We’re making it quicker, easier and cheaper for Americans to go solar,” said Energy Secretary Steven Chu during a conference call with reporters about the Solar Rooftop Challenge. “This is about eliminating some of the hassle and costs of installing solar.”

A maze of local permitting requirements can add $2,500 to the price of a solar system on average nationwide, according to an analysis by the solar installation firm SunRun Inc.

The program is part of a series of initiatives launched by the Energy Department, called the SunShot Initiative, that aim to bring down the cost of solar so that it’s competitive with other forms of energy, without subsidies, by the end of the decade.

The Wisconsin team receiving the award includes the Midwest Renewable Energy Association of Custer, the cities of Milwaukee, Madison and Marshfield, as well as Madison Solar Consulting, Renew Wisconsin and the Wisconsin Solar Energy Industries Association.

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