State urged to beef up clean energy policies to create jobs

Posted on October 26, 2011. Filed under: Biomass, Digesters, Economic development, Energy Policy, Jobs, Renewable energy - generally |

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

Two reports show Wisconsin has a significant renewable power industry, but with a stronger state commitment, it could be saving more energy and creating more jobs.

Wisconsin has more than 300 businesses involved in wind or solar energy, providing more than 12,000 jobs, according to a study by the Environmental Law and Policy Center in Chicago.

It found 171 Wisconsin companies that either produce, sell or install wind power equipment or plan wind development.

Another 135 companies are part of the solar energy industry. For example, Cardinal Glass makes solar panels in Mazomanie; Helios recently opened a solar panel factory in Milwaukee.

“These are real jobs; these are real businesses. Many are existing businesses that are branching out into new product lines,” said Howard Learner, the center’s executive director. (more…)

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Switch flipped: UWO biodigester producing energy

Posted on October 17, 2011. Filed under: Biomass, Digesters, Sustainability |

From an article in the UW Oshkosh Today:

The switch has effectively been flipped on the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh’s groundbreaking alternative power plant that generates energy from plant and food waste.

The UW Oshkosh anaerobic dry fermentation biodigester, first of its kind in the western hemisphere, began producing energy on Oct. 3.

Gas produced as a result of decomposition of agricultural plant and food waste loaded into and stored in the facility’s airless chambers since late summer reached an optimal point for energy-production startup. On Oct. 3, the faculty, staff and student team running the plant activated on-site turbine engines, combusting the gas and harvesting and selling energy.

The renewable energy facility is expected to initially produce up to 5 percent of the campus’ electricity and heat.

Greg Kleinheinz, UW Oshkosh professor of microbiology, said the biodigester has been running in an off-and-on mode over the course of its startup. Plant overseers continue to work with partner engineering firms to calibrate computer software and to fine tune energy production.

“The facility is producing quite a bit of gas right now, so it is a computer-control issue and not a mechanical or biological issue limiting the CHP (combined power and heat) usage,” Kleinheinz said.

Energy produced by the power generation is being sold back to the grid through regional utilities. The revenue realized over time will vary based on the level of gas production and power purchase agreements with Wisconsin Public Service, Kleinheinz said. It will ultimately support student scholarship and academic program enhancements at UW Oshkosh.

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UWO partners in second dynamic biodigester project

Posted on August 30, 2011. Filed under: Biomass, Digesters | Tags: |

From a news release issued by the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh:

Wisconsin’s largest dairy farm will be home to one of Wisconsin’s most dynamic research, renewable energy production and public education facilities as part of an initiative involving the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh’s College of Letters and Science and UW Oshkosh Foundation.

On Aug. 24, the UW Oshkosh Foundation Board of Directors unanimously endorsed a proposal to pursue an innovative partnership with Milk Source’s Rosendale Dairy and renewable energy companies Viessmann Group and BIOFerm Energy Systems of Madison.

The proposal calls for construction of a large, wet anaerobic biodigester/biogas production facility at the Pickett dairy site. The plant would use the farm’s livestock manure to make energy. It would also operate as a dynamic, collaborative UW Oshkosh student-and-faculty biosolids research and teaching laboratory with an attached public education center. . . .

The multifaceted energy plant and facility will significantly enhance UW Oshkosh student learning and community outreach opportunities involving environmental and biosolids research. It will also:

* Feature a public education center operated by UW Oshkosh students and faculty. It will introduce Wisconsin K-12 students, educators and residents to the environmental science and engineering involved in harnessing a renewable energy source from a state-of-the-art, 21st Century dairy farming operation. Furthermore, UW Oshkosh is in the early stages of discussions with UW Extension and other constituent groups of using biodigester revenues to develop a new center on rural community development.
* Be available as a remote classroom and laboratory for UW Oshkosh microbiology, biology, environmental studies and chemistry classes. Revenues from the production and sale of energy will further fund the enhancement and growth of laboratories throughout the institution, including the University’s Environmental Research and Innovation Center. The ERIC is home to the institution’s collaborative, student-and-faculty aquatic and sustainability research initiatives.
* Fund a new student scholarship program under development by the UW Oshkosh Foundation.

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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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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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Now online: Wisconsin Renewable Quarterly

Posted on June 6, 2011. Filed under: Biomass, Digesters, Energy independence, Energy Policy, Solar, Wind |

The Wisconsin Renewable Quarterly, the newsletter of RENEW Wisconsin, features these article:

Siting Rule Suspension Rocks Wind Industry
In a move that sent shock waves through the wind industry in Wisconsin, a joint legislative panel voted on March 1 to suspend the wind siting rule promulgated by the Public Service Commission in December 2010.

Community Biogas Project Fires Up
Home to 400 dairy farms, Dane County recently dedicated a community-scale manure-to-methane generating system designed to reduce nutrient runoff into the Yahara Lakes.

Insty Prints: Mpower ChaMpion
But if I can help other businesses make some of the harder choices by being more vocal, then I’m willing to help.

Manitoba Hydro: A Washout?
On behalf of our members and the many businesses and individuals who support the continued expansion of Wisconsin’s renewable energy marketplace, RENEW Wisconsin is here to express opposition to AB 114 (and its companion SB 81), and urges the Legislature not to pass this bill.

Verona Firm Begins Work on “Epic” PV
With the commissioning of its 1,300-module solar electric canopy spanning its parking deck, Epic Systems joins an elite group of Wisconsin companies embracing on-site energy capture to reduce their dependence on fossil fuels. At 360 kilowatts (kW), Epic’s new photovoltaic system is the largest solar array in Dane County and the third largest in Wisconsin.

Calendar of Renewable and Energy Efficiency Events
June 17-19, 2001 The Energy Fair. Custer, WI. The nation’s premier sustainable energy education event. Three days of workshops, demonstrations, and exhibits highlighting renewable energy and sustainable living. For details see http://www.midwestrenew.org.

July 8-10, 2011 EcoFair360. Elkhorn, WI. Join hundreds of exhibitors and presenters and thousands of attendees who will Make Green Happen for three days of education, exploration and inspiration. For details see http://www.ecofair360.org.

July 16, 2011 Western Wisconsin Sustainability Fair. Menomonie, WI, Dunn County Fair Grounds. Exhibitors from business, government, and non-profi t groups, speakers, workshops, music, energy effi cient vehicles, a photo contest, and a tour of the Cedar Falls Dam. See http://sustainabledunn.org for more information.

July 30, 2011 8th Annual Kickapoo Country Fair. LaFarge, WI. The Midwest’s Largest Organic Food and Sustainability Festival. Food, music, bike and farm tours, cooking demonstrations, theater, kids’ activities, dancing. More information at http://www.kickappoocountryfair.org.

October 1, 2011 Solar Tour of Homes and Businesses. All across Wisconsin. Owners open their doors to let people see how renewable energy is practical, reliable, and affordable in today’s economy. The homes and businesses often include other energy efficiency and renewable technologies. For details see http://nationalsolartour.org.

October 26, 2011 Wisconsin’s Solar Decade Conference. Milwaukee, WI. Now in its seventh year, the Wisconsin
Solar Decade Conference is your opportunity to see fi rsthand the latest developments in the world of solar energy. For details see http://www.solardecade.com.

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Fresh attack on Wisconsin voters’ desire for a renewable energy standard would kill wind projects and sap state’s economy

Posted on May 26, 2011. Filed under: Biomass, Digesters, Economic development, Energy independence, Energy Policy, Hydroelectric, Jobs, Solar, Wind | Tags: , , , , , |

From statements issued by three groups in opposition to Assembly Bill 146:

“Clearly, this bill is a drastic step in the wrong direction for our state. The Wisconsin Energy Business Association therefore opposes this attack on renewable energy in our state.” – Wisconsin Energy Business Association. Full statement.

We strongly recommend that this bill not be approved as it solves no known problem in Wisconsin and seeks only to roll-back policies on renewable energy that have served the state well and are otherwise benefitting Wisconsin residents with cleaner air and lower prices for electricity. – Wind on the Wires. Full statement.

Fresh attack on Wisconsin voters’ desire for a renewable energy standard would kill wind projects and sap state’s economy, say wind energy advocates – American Wind Energy Association. Full statement.

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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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Wisconsin utilities continue progress toward renewable energy standar

Posted on December 22, 2010. Filed under: Digesters, Energy Policy, Renewable energy - generally, Solar, Wind | Tags: , , , |

From a news release issued by the Public Service Commissiion of Wisconsin:

MADISON – Two reports released today by the Public Service commission of Wisconsin (PSC) indicate that Wisconsin’s electric utilities and cooperatives continue to make steady progress in adding renewable energy to the state’s energy supplies. All of the electric providers meet or exceed state requirements and many offer incentives to customers who want to generate their own renewable electricity.

Renewable Portfolio Standard Compliance

Wisconsiin’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) law requires retail electric providers to produce 66 percent of the state’s eelectricity from renewable resources by the year 2010, and 110 percent by 2015. each year, Wisconsin utilities and cooperatives are required to report to the PSC their progress in meeting thee renewable milestones.  Today the PSC released the 2009 RPS compliance Report which indicates:

+  All 118 Wisconsin electric providers met their RPS requirement for 2009;
+ 113 providers exceeded their requirements for the year, creating excess renewable resource credits that can be banked and used for compliance in future years; and,
+ In 2009, 6.29 percent of the electricity sold by the state’s utilities and cooperatives was generated from renewable resources, up from 4.90 percent in 2008.

Distributed Renewable Generation

PSC also released a status report on its investigation into “advanced a term renewable tariffs,” a term used to describe long-term contracts whereby utilities and cooperatives offer to purchase electricity at premium prices from customers who generate electricity from small, renewable systems such as solar panels.  Highlights of the status report include:

+ More than 300 of Wisconssin’s electric providers, representing about 90% of the state’ s electricity market, have voluntarily offered this kind of incentive;
+ Customers have responded by installing more than 10 MW of small, distributed capacity utilizing biogas (from manure digesters on farms), solar panels, and wind turbines; and,
+ An additional 8.2 MW off generation capacity, mostly from biogas projects, is under construction and will soon be generating electricity.

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Grant program passed, thousands of renewable energy jobs saved

Posted on December 21, 2010. Filed under: Biomass, Digesters, Economic development, Energy Policy, Solar, Wind | Tags: , , , |

From an article in Renewable Energy World:

Washington, D.C. — In typical fashion, the U.S. Congress passed a suite of last-minute tax laws last night, including an extension of the Treasury Grant Program (TGP) for renewable energy project developers.

Trade groups in Washington have been pushing hard for an extension of the program, which provides a cash payment of up to 30% of equipment costs in place of the Investment Tax Credit. The grant program was responsible for a large portion of the renewable energy projects built throughout the U.S. in 2010. Originally passed as part of the 2009 stimulus package, the TGP was supposed to expire at the end of December.

Because there are still a limited number of financial institutions able to finance projects by taking advantage of tax credits, the TGP has opened up new sources of capital for project developers. According to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), the grant program spurred over 1,100 solar projects and $18 billion dollars of investment in 2010.

“This program has successfully created thousands of jobs and opportunity in all 50 states for construction workers, electricians, plumbers, contractors that have struggled in this harsh economic climate,” said SEIA President Rhone Resch in a statement.

While the wind industry saw a significant drop in installations compared to 2009, the grant program helped keep thousands of MW on the table for 2010 and 2011. American Wind Energy Association CEO Denise Bode projected a loss of tens of thousands of wind jobs in 2011 without an extension of the TGP.

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