Small Businesses Request Resumption of Renewable Energy Support

Posted on January 31, 2012. Filed under: Energy Efficiency, Energy Policy, Focus on Energy/Public Benefits, General, Renewable energy - generally |


For immediate release
January 31, 2012

More information
RENEW Wisconsin
Michael Vickerman
608.255.4044
mvickerman@renewwisconsin.org

Small Businesses Request Resumption of Renewable Energy Support

Over 150 small businesses, organizations, schools, and local officials appealed to the Public Service Commission (PSC) to restore full funding for a nationally recognized renewable energy program that reduces the cost of solar, wind, and biomass installations for Wisconsin utility customers.

In an open letter delivered to the PSC yesterday, the signers asked the PSC to “to exercise its oversight authority over Focus on Energy and restore funding, without delay, for renewables at a level consistent with previous years’ allocations.”

The impetus for the open letter arose from RENEW Wisconsin’s Energy Policy Summit held two weeks ago in Madison.  At the summit, the 140 people who participated asked RENEW to make Focus on Energy funding restoration its highest policy priority for 2012.

Focus on Energy suspended its support for customer-sited renewable energy systems last July, when rising demand for renewables outstripped available funds.  The program administrator said that incentives will be resumed later this year, but no firm timeline has been set.

“This problem needs to be fixed as expeditiously as possible before the funding interruption permanently damages Wisconsin’s renewable energy marketplace,” said Michael Vickerman, Executive Director of RENEW Wisconsin, a statewide, nonprofit renewable energy advocacy organization.

“A number of renewable energy installers and contractors are already feeling the effects of the funding hiatus, and the result is less new hiring and potential layoffs down the road.  However, we remain optimistic that once funding is restored renewable energy development will once again become a dynamic economic sector and a source of new jobs here in Wisconsin,” said Vickerman.

An Open Letter to the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin
January 30, 2012

In 2002, the State of Wisconsin began offering incentives from Focus on Energy to encourage tangible and significant savings with the implementation of distributed renewable energy systems. By employing a small fraction of the funds available to Focus on Energy for this purpose, the vast majority of customer-sited solar, wind, biogas and biomass projects now operating in Wisconsin received critical financial support. In under 10 years, Focus on Energy succeeded in building an in-state marketplace that supported steady growth of new businesses and jobs in manufacturing, distributing, designing, installing and servicing renewable energy systems. It is no exaggeration to say that the renewable energy program run by Focus on Energy was a nationally recognized as a model for other states to follow.

It’s a very different picture today. For the first time since 2002, Wisconsin business and residential customers entered the new year without a functioning statewide renewable energy program in place. Focus on Energy said that it intends to resume offering incentives for renewables later this year, but has not set a timeline for restoration of funding or services. Nor is there any information available as to whether the renewable products and services supported in the past will be supported again, and, if so, at what levels. What was a successful engine for advancing small-scale renewables in Wisconsin is now, for frustrated businesses and customers alike, a source of vague assurances and little else.

Unfortunately, the ongoing lack of support and uncertainty is guaranteed to cause layoffs and business cutbacks.  Furthermore, it is contrary to state law, which specifies that Focus on Energy support customer use of renewable energy as well as energy efficiency. Without the products and services to fuel the renewable market, 2012 will usher in a period of contraction that portends significant declines in installations, accelerated job losses, and increased business migration to markets in other states.

In our view, the most economically efficient way to transition Wisconsin to a sustainable energy future is to pair an aggressive conservation and efficiency program with products and services that increase the market drivers for on-site renewable energy production. Both approaches mutually reinforce each other while delivering economic benefits to customers. Adopting energy efficiency enables customers to reduce the size of their renewable energy investments, and on-site renewables allow customers to lower all or part of their energy bills going forward.

We support the conclusions reached by Commissioner Eric Callisto regarding the economic returns to ratepayers and the public generated by Focus on Energy’s programs. As part of a recent proceeding on Focus on Energy, Commissioner Callisto wrote:

Focus programs save energy, help offset the need for new power generation, lower utility bills, create jobs, reduce fossil fuel emissions, and support broad-based economic development in Wisconsin. And in study after study, it is shown that these benefits are produced at a ratio that far exceeds program costs. As the LAB report points out, the benefit-cost ratio for Focus programs is as high as 7.2 to 1, when taking into account economic metrics like job creation and increased business sales. That is more than seven dollars in benefit to Wisconsin for every dollar invested. http://psc.wi.gov/apps35/ERF_view/viewdoc.aspx?docid=158228

The impressive payback from Focus on Energy is sufficient reason for restoring the renewable energy funding that had been a key feature of that program. Given the near certainty of rising electric rates as the price of delivered coal continues to climb, as coal pollution equipment is mandated to meet new regulations, and to pay for new transmission, we cannot afford any more backsliding by not supporting in-state, distributed renewables. The ongoing funding hiatus for renewables is inconsistent with state law. The Commission has a responsibility to fix this problem immediately, before the lack of support for renewables permanently damages Wisconsin’s renewable energy marketplace. We the undersigned call upon the Public Service Commission to exercise its oversight authority over Focus on Energy and restore funding, without delay, for renewables at a level consistent with previous years’ allocations.

Sincerely,

John Ahles
Solar System Owner
Neenah, WI

Jeff Anthony
American Wind Energy Association
Milwaukee, WI

Steve Arndt, Director of Facilities Management
UW-Oshkosh
Oshkosh, WI

Michael Arney
Green Neighbor, Inc.
Wauwatosa, WI

Peter Bakken, Public Policy Coordinator
Wisconsin Council of Churches
Sun Prairie, WI

Rich Bannen, Owner
Prairie Solar Power & Light
Prairie du Chien, WI

Bruce Barker, President
Chippewa Valley Technical College
Eau Claire, WI

Barb Basaj
SunSpe, LLC
Milwaukee, WI

David Behnke-Seper
First Affirmative Financial Network
Chili, WI

Rick Bergman
Aquilo Wind Development
Glendale, WI

Oscar Bloch
Arboretum Co-Housing
Madison, WI

Hans Jr. and Katie Breitenmoser
Breitenmoser Family Farms
Merrill, WI

Thomas Brown, Architect
Stevens Point, WI

Brent Brucker, General Manager
Helios Solar Works
Milwaukee, WI

Justin Castleman
Castleman & Sons Plumbing
Franklin, WI

Chris Collins, Marketing Director
H&H Solar Energy Services
Madison, WI

Becky Comeau
Southwest Community Biofuels
LaFarge, WI

Lisa Conley, President
Town and Country RC&D
Jefferson, WI

Lisa Daniels, Executive Director
Windustry
Minneapolis, MN

Mark Dawson
Sand Creek Solar
Amherst, WI

Susan De Vos
Madison Area Bus Advocates
Madison, WI

Tom DeBates, Owner
Habi-Tek
Geneva, IL

Michael Dearing, Owner
Driftless Solar
Spring Green, WI

Trang Donovan
Unlimited Renewable Energies
Prairie du Sac, WI

Thomas Duffy, President
Commercial Air, Inc.
Madison, WI

Jeff Ehlers, President
Renewegy LLC
Oshkosh, WI

Jim Erdman
Solar Electric and Small Wind Certified Site Assessor
Menomonie, WI

James Erickson, Owner
Antech Properties
Janesville, WI

Brian Evans, Production Manager
Associated Housewrights
Madison, WI

Jerry Eyler, Executive Dean
Fox Valley Technical College
Appleton, WI

Randy Faller, Owner
Kettle View Renewable Energy
Random Lake, WI

Jay Farnsworth, Teacher
Waunakee School District
Waunakee, WI

Pete Flesch, Chair,
Crawford County Board of Supervisors
Prairie du Chien, WI

Scott Freier
Freiers Electric and Heating
Ellsworth, WI

Greg Fritsch, CEO
Clean Energy North America
Glendale, WI

Jim Funk, Owner
Energize LLC
Winneconne, WI

Mark Furst
Grading Spaces LLC
Fort Atkinson, WI

Rex Gillespie
Wisconsin Solar Energy Industries
Madison, WI

David Goepfert, President
Thermal Design, Inc.
Stoughton, WI

Grant Grinstead
Northern Biogas
Fond du Lac, WI

David Hansen, Owner
Lake Country Energy
Oconomowoc, WI

Daniel Harkins, Manager
Trantow Properties LLC
Stoughton, WI

Ryan Harkins, Project Manager
Synergy Renewable Systems LLC
Stoughton, WI

Michael Harvey
Able Electric Co.
River Falls, WI

Mark Heffernan, President
CBT Wear Parts, Inc.
Bio-Products Engineering Corp.

Richland Center, WI
Charlie Higley, Executive Director
Citizens Utility Board
Madison, WI

John Hippensteel, President
Lake Michigan Wind and Sun
Sturgeon Bay, WI

Lou Host-Jablonski, Architect
Design Coalition
Madison, WI

John Imes, Executive Director
Wisconsin Environmental Initiative
Madison, WI

Greg Jahnke, Manager, Renewable Energy
Pieper Electric
Milwaukee, WI

Micah James, General Manager
Energycraft Synergy Systems, LLC
Stoughton, WI

Jennifer Jenkins, Executive Director
Distributed Wind Energy Association
Flagstaff, AZ

Brad Johnson, Director, Business Development
Green Sky Energetics
Manitowoc, WI

James Jozwiak
Black Magic Organics
Spencer, WI

Andrea Kaminski
League of Women Voters Wisconsin Education Network
Madison, WI

Roger Kanitz
ECOS – Fox Valley
Menasha, WI

James Kerbel
Photovoltaic Systems LLC
Amherst, WI

Duane Kexel
Duane Kexel Consulting
Madison, WI

Chris Klein
Town of Dayton
Waupaca, WI

Joe Klein
Applied Plastics
Oak Creek, WI

Mark Klein
Gimme Shelter Construction
Amherst, WI

Richard Klemme, Dean and Director
UW Extension – Cooperative Extension
Madison, WI

Randy Knox
Solar PV System Owner
Whitewater, WI

Jeff Knutson, Owner
A-A Exteriors, com
Waupaca, WI

Kurt Koepp, Manager
Hot Water Products
Milwaukee, WI

Fritz Kreiss
Community Green Energy LLC, Lake Geneva, WI
Eco-Vision Sustainable Learning Center, Inc., Lake Geneva, WI

Green Leaf Inn LLC, Delavan, WI
Larry Krom, Principal
L&S Technical Associates
Spring Green, WI

Christopher LaForge, Owner
Great Northern Solar
Port Wing, WI

Alicia Leinberger, Marketing and Development Manager
Seventh Generation Energy Systems
Madison, WI

Jesse Lerner
Sustain Dane
Madison, WI

Doug Lindsey
Lakeshore Technical College – Energy Education Center
Cleveland, WI

Timothy Linn, Partner/Builder
Edge Grain LLC
Milwaukee, WI

Vicki Lipinski, Marketing and Sales Coordinator
Procorp Enterprises
Milwaukee, WI

Jeanne Lisse
Madison Computer Works
Madison, WI

Mark Lydon
Artisan Energy LLC
Marshall, WI

Randy Mader
Faith Technologies
Sun Prairie, WI

Tom Martin, CEO
Convergence Energy
Lake Geneva, WI

Neil Matthes
Duck Creek Engineering, Inc.
Helenville, WI

Nick Matthes
Midwest Photovoltaics, Inc.
Milwaukee, WI

Heather McCombs
Wisconsin Green Building Alliance
Milwaukee, WI

Natalie McIntire
enMac Energy Consulting
Viroqua, WI

Christine Merritt, Ph.D
TAPCO – Traffic and Parking Control, Inc.
Brown Deer, WI

Eric Meyer
Werner Electric Wisconsin
Neenah, WI

Jesse Michalski
Eland Electric Corporation
Green Bay, WI

Randy Moberg
Werner Electric Minnesota
Cottage Grove, MN

Gerd Muehllehner
Retgen Solar LLC
North Freedom, WI

Ingrid Nahm
Appleton Solar
Appleton, WI

Dan Nemke
US Biogas LLC
Mequon, WI

Andy Olsen
Environmental Law & Policy Center
Madison, WI

Jim Olson
E3Coalition
Viroqua, WI

Burke O’Neal, Director
Full Spectrum Solar
Madison, WI

Robert H. Owen, Jr.
Consulting Engineer/Meteorologist
Middleton, WI

Hon. Joe Parisi
Dane County Executive
Madison, WI

George Penn
Global Energy Options
Madison, WI

Katie Peterman, Manager, Cooperative Affairs
Organic Valley Family of Farms
LaFarge, WI

Ted Petith
Greenlink Projects, LLC
Madison, WI

Greg Phillips
American Power, Inc. Electrical Contractors
Janesville, WI

Eric Pipkin
Pipkin Electric, Inc.
Sparta, WI

John Price
Access Solar LLC
Waukesha, WI

Chris Quandt, Senior Project Manager
Bachmann Construction
Madison, WI

Bob Ramlow
Artha Sustainable Energy Center
Amherst, WI

Alex Rein
Verona, WI

Kurt Reinhold
Solar Connections LLC
Madison, WI

Ed Ritger
Ritger Law Office
Random Lake, WI

Cathy Robinson
Chippewa Valley Alternative Energy
Chippewa Falls, WI

Rik Rosenlund
Midwest Solar Power
Madison, WI

Mick Sagrillo
Sagrillo Power & Light
Forestville, WI

Kris Schmid
Legacy Solar LLC
Frederic, WI

Brian Schwaller
EcoManity LLC, Owner
The Sustainable Living Group, President
Elkhart Lake, WI

Al Schulz, Owner/CEO
Safe Work
La Crosse, WI

Jeff Seidl, President
I-Quip
Seymour, WI

Roy Settgas, Owner
Sunrise Energy Services
Washburn, WI

Carl Siegrist
Carl Siegrist Consulting
Whitefish Bay, WI

Wes Slaymaker
WES Engineering
Madison, WI

Chuck Smith, President
Current Electric Company
Brookfield, WI

Judy Spring
Sustain Sauk County
Baraboo, WI

Zeus Stark, Owner
Next Step Energy LLC
Eau Claire, WI

Doug Stingle, Development Director
Midwest Renewable Energy Association
Custer, WI

Josh Stolzenburg
North Wind Renewable Energy, LLC
Stevens Point, WI

Amy Taivalkoski, Principal
ALT Energy
Sussex, WI

Craig Tarr, President
Energy Concepts
Hudson, WI

Dave Tebo, Administrator
Town of Greenville
Greenville, WI

Neale Thompson
Janesville Home and Solar
Janesville, WI

Todd Timmerman
Timmerman’s Talents LLC
Platteville, WI

Melissa Van Ornum
DVO, Inc.
Chilton, WI

Michael Vickerman, Policy Director
RENEW Wisconsin
Madison, WI

Jerry Viste
Door County Environmental Council
Sturgeon Bay, WI

Larry Walker
Walker Energy Systems
Madison, WI

Ray Walter, Ph.D, President
MyEnergy, LLC
Pewaukee, WI

Michael Ward
E & W Heating and Air Conditioning
Middleton, WI

David Washebek, President/CEO
Lemberg Electric Company
Brookfield, WI

Frank Weeks
D H Solar
Prairie du Chien, WI

Robert Weier, Vice President
ELEXCO, Inc.
Seymour, WI

Laura West
West Winds Renewable Resources, LLC
Plover, WI

Sr. Janet Weyker, Director
Eco-Justice Center
Racine, WI

Terry Wiggins
Earth Justice Ministry of the First Unitarian Society of Milwaukee
Milwaukee, WI

Sally Wiley
Gaea’s Farm
Walworth, WI

Tom Wilson
HOME REMEDIES Residential Energy Services, Viroqua, WI
Northern Thunder, Eau Claire, WI

Dona Wininsky
American Lung Association in Wisconsin
Milwaukee, WI

Dean Wolff
Milwaukee Solar
Milwaukee, WI

Niels Wolter, Owner
Madison Solar Consulting
Madison, WI

Mark Yeager
Sun & Daughters Solar, LLC
Rhinelander, WI

Jim Yockey, CEO
Seventh Generation Systems Integration
Madison, WI

John Young
Resource Solar
Madison, WI

Bruce Zahn,
Architect
Milwaukee, WI

Michael Zander, CEO
Biogas Direct
Sauk City, WI

Ed Zinthefer, President
Arch Electric, LLC
Plymouth, WI

– END –

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    A statewide nonprofit dedicated to promoting economically and environmentally sustainable energy policies and practices in Wisconsin.

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