Archive for April, 2012

RENEW touts renewable energy’s value on Earth Day

Posted on April 20, 2012. Filed under: Renewable energy - generally |

A news release issued by RENEW Wisconsind based on a presentation by Don Wichert, RENEW executive director:

Renewable Energy Touted for Value on Earth Day

The price consumers pay for energy fails to account for the value of environmental improvement, energy diversity, and economic development, said Don Wichert, RENEW Wisconsin’s executive director, at an Earth Day information event at Wisconsin’s Capitol.

“In the case of solar energy, for example, this energy source offers the value proposition of very low or no air emissions, uses the energy available at the site, and keeps the energy dollars circulating through the local economy,” said Wichert.

Wichert compared renewable power to the value people pay for when choosing various vehicle transportation modes. Each takes you from one spot to another, but some offer more value that people are willing to pay for.

“Fossil based energy, in contrast, produces five to ten times more lifecycle green house gases, is dug out from the earth thousands of miles away from Wisconsin, and the majority of the money paid for this energy leaves the state,” Wichert said.

A recent survey of undecided Wisconsin voters showed that nearly 90% supported solar, wind, and hydro power as their preferred energy sources, according to Wichert.  “With thousands of examples of small distributed renewable energy applications in Wisconsin, as well as 12 wind farms, it’s clear that renewable energy works and has huge potential for the Badger state.”

All of the Earth Day presentations for “Wisconsin Climate Change and Jobs Forum, Challenges and Solutions” can be seen on the Capitol Eye network at Capitol Eye Earth Day Forum


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RENEW will speak at Earth Day event, April 19

Posted on April 12, 2012. Filed under: Climate change, Renewable energy - generally |

RENEW will participate in the forum.

WI Climate Change and Jobs Forum — Challenges and Solutions
Thursday, April 19th at the State Capitol

WHAT: With the warmest March on record, scientists, citizens and leaders will hold a Wisconsin Climate Change and Jobs Forum to discuss current and future climate change impacts on Wisconsin and explore cost-effective solutions to reduce greenhouse air pollution and create clean energy jobs in our state.

WHO: State leaders, UW climate experts, conservation group, public sector, business and labor leaders, State Rep. Brett Hulsey, and others.

WHEN: 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. on Thursday, April 19th, 2012.

WHERE: GAR Hall, Room 417 North (4th Floor-North Wing) of the State Capitol, Madison, Wisconsin.

There will be a charge for pizza brought in for lunch.

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Heating the Midwest, April 25-27

Posted on April 5, 2012. Filed under: Biomass |

“Heating the Midwest: Building the Vision” Conference on April 25 – 27, 2012. Learn more.

**Early-bird rates extended until April 9**

Heating the Midwest (HTM) is a group of volunteers with a serious interest in growing awareness and usage of biomass thermal fuel for heat in the Midwest.

Our Mission:
“To advance biomass thermal heating in the Midwest for a more sustainable future, while improving the economic, environmental and social well-being of the region.”

Driven and directed by a Steering Committee, Heating the Midwest includes industry, government, non-profit organizations, university representatives and tribal representatives. It is an efficient group of biomass advocates working to promote biomass to a larger constituency, including government policy makers and entities, consumers and businesses in the Midwest.

HTM featured on webinar hosted by the Biomass Thermal Energy Council: Regional Developments of Biomass Energy – Midwestern Region
November 21, 2011. Presenters included HTM Steering Committee Members Michael Curci, Becky Philipp, and Pamela Porter, with Gregg Mast serving as moderator.

Why biomass?
Energy supply and use is a national priority and a major policy focus in the United States. Driving this is the need to reduce reliance on foreign oil, create clean energy jobs, increase our overall energy efficiency and address climate change. Biomass energy, harvested from forests and farms, provides an important source of renewable, sustainable energy for the United States.

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Catching Wind updates latest news on wind in Wisconsin

Posted on April 5, 2012. Filed under: Energy Policy, Wind |

Catching Wind, a newsletter from RENEW Wisconsin, includes the following updates on wind in Wisconsin:

Siting rule survives challenge, takes effect
Capping a bitter four-year struggle, the Legislature cleared the path for wind energy development to resume in Wisconsin under clear and consistent rules.

By adjourning without passage of bills restricting wind development, the Legislature allowed a statewide permitting rule developed by the Public Service Commission (PSC) to take effect.

Community wind sweeps into western Wisconsin
Two privately owned utility-scale wind turbines are set to rise this spring near Organic Valley Cooperative’s distribution center in Cashton, home of Wisconsin’s first Community Wind project. Called Cashton Greens, the wind project is a joint venture of LaFarge-based Organic Valley and La Crosse-based Gundersen Lutheran Health System.

St. Croix County Wind Project seeks PSC approval
In a first for the Badger State, western Wisconsin, specifically, St. Croix County will provide the backdrop for a high-profile permitting battle over a utility-scale wind energy project. The 41-turbine project would be located in the towns of Forest and Cylon, about 30 miles northeast of Hudson.

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Frustration Floods PSC over Suspension of Renewable Energy Funds

Posted on April 2, 2012. Filed under: Energy Policy, Focus on Energy/Public Benefits |

Immediate release
April 2, 2012

More information
Don Wichert
608.255.4044, ext. 1

Frustration Floods PSC over Suspension of Renewable Energy Funds

More than 200 individuals and businesses submitted comments decrying the long delay in restarting the renewable energy programs of Focus on Energy, a nationally recognized program that reduces the cost of solar, wind, and biomass installations for Wisconsin utility customers.

Focus on Energy suspended its support for customer-sited renewable energy systems for businesses last July, when rising demand for renewables outstripped available funds, according to Shaw Environmental, the program administrator. When it announced the funding suspension last June, Shaw told installers that incentives would resume before the end of 2011. In January 2012, funding for residential renewable energy systems ended.

“It is now the spring of 2012, and neither Shaw nor the Public Service Commission (PSC), which oversees Focus, have said a peep about when they will again offer incentives, as required by law,” said Don Wichert, executive director of RENEW Wisconsin, a nonprofit advocacy organization that represents businesses, organizations, and individuals who want more clean renewable energy produced in Wisconsin.

“The protracted delay in resuming incentives speaks to Shaw’s lack of experience in managing a renewable energy program. While Shaw struggles to ‘learn on the job’, dozens of contractors and small businesses are experiencing financial hardship as installation activity grinds to a halt,” added Michael Vickerman, director of policy and programs for RENEW.

“A separate contractor should administer the renewable energy program. Under the current arrangement, renewables and energy efficiency are lumped together under one administrator and are forced to compete against each other for the same pot of funding,” said Vickerman.

“The number of comments shows the huge amount of frustration over lost business and jobs for installers, as well as citizens who support and want to install renewable energy systems,” Wichert said.

James Kerbel, owner of Photovoltaic Systems LLC in Amherst, wrote: “I have seven employees on layoff and some are still collecting unemployment. I also have 20-plus bids out to customers who want to move ahead with a solar electric system, but will not move until they see the new Focus on Energy incentives.”

“My employees can’t wait forever for work,” Kerbel said. “I need an answer very soon or I will lose all these trained employees. They need to work, not have their lives in turmoil like this. I need an answer as soon as possible, please.”

State Senator Dale Schultz (R-Richland Center) posted a comment. “To benefit and not damage efforts to grow local jobs and the Wisconsin economy, the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin should direct Shaw Environmental, the state-contracted administrator of the Focus on Energy program, to immediately restore a comprehensive and robust incentive program for renewable energy system installations,” Schultz wrote.

“I would very much LIKE to put up a Solar PV system. And will if you can get the FOE incentives program going again!!” commented Martha Christensen of Madison.

All public comments can be accessed by clicking on Documents at .


RENEW Wisconsin is an independent, nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization that organizes and represents businesses, and individuals who want more clean renewable energy produced in Wisconsin. More information on RENEW’s Web site at

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


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