Economic development

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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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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Rep. Barca: Wind energy holds the key to rapid Wisconsin job growth

Posted on December 5, 2011. Filed under: Economic development, Energy Policy, Jobs, Wind | Tags: , , , |

A news release issued by State Rep. Peter Barca (D-Kenosha):

Last year Wisconsin made great progress on wind energy and there was bipartisan enthusiasm for advancements in this cutting-edge industry. A wind energy bill was approved last session with a two-thirds majority in both houses – including the leaders of both parties. Organizations such as the Wisconsin Energy Business Association praised Wisconsin’s potential for success in wind energy.

We fully expected the bill would be implemented early this year and Wisconsin would begin catching up with its neighbors. Currently Iowa gets nearly 20 percent of its energy from wind, while Wisconsin generates a mere two percent of its energy supply from this renewable, local source. Minnesota and Illinois each currently produce four times as much. Other states in our region are benefiting from cheap and clean energy, huge private investments, and countless high-tech energy and construction jobs.

Wind energy creates jobs. And Wisconsin needs jobs.

When Gov. Walker took office, it was estimated that Wisconsin’s wind industry contributed between 2,000 and 3,000 direct and indirect jobs. There are 171 wind-power supply chain businesses in Wisconsin. And we are home to more than 20 manufacturing facilities that make components for the wind industry. This represents tens of millions of investment in wind-specific manufacturing infrastructure and equipment.

Inexplicably, Gov. Walker and legislative Republicans have used the rules process to cripple wind energy production in Wisconsin, leading to the cancelation of several major wind projects, which RENEW Wisconsin estimated would have produced a thousand jobs and $1.2 billion in investment.

This will also cause Wisconsin to fall further behind our neighboring states.

Democrats pushed to allow the wind siting rules to go into effect – giving more certainty to developers and allowing major wind energy projects to go forward and would have certainly created hundreds, or possibly thousands, of jobs. But Republicans refused, despite the prior bipartisan agreement last session on this issue. (more…)

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Iowa farmers find profits blowing in the wind

Posted on December 2, 2011. Filed under: Economic development, Wind |

From an article by Jim Offner in The Courier:

WATERLOO, Iowa — Of the 480 acres Tim Hemphill owns and 1,200 he farms near Milford, he sets aside three for two wind-turbine towers.

In exchange for the small plot of land Hemphill would have devoted to his corn and soybean products, he collects $20,000 a year.

“It’s worth it, even with high grain prices,” Hemphill said. “When we put them up, corn was around $3 a bushel, and it has doubled since then, but it’s still worth it.”

“The check’s always good,” he said.

Hemphills’s towers have been up for two years, and the checks will flow in quarterly for the run of a 30-year contract, he said.

Hemphill said he is but one of an increasing number of Iowa farmers who have watched wind towers go up on their acreages.

“There’s quite a few farmers I know who have them,” he said. “My neighbor has six of them and another with seven.”

Hemphill said his motivation transcends finances, although he acknowledges the income certainly doesn’t hurt.

“I think we need more green energy,” he said. “People in California and the cities have brownouts. Besides, it’s a good revenue source.”

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State, UW researchers present biomass energy guidelines

Posted on November 30, 2011. Filed under: Biomass, Economic development | Tags: , |

From an article by Adrianna Viswanatha in The Badger Herald:

Several state agencies have unveiled guidelines created in congruence with University of Wisconsin researchers to promote the continued use of biomass energy in Wisconsin, despite the state’s current categorization as a leader in the field of biomass crop planting.

A statement released Tuesday by the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection and the Department of Natural Resources outlined a system of guidelines put in place to assist in the implementation of biomass energy.

The “Wisconsin Sustainable Planting and Harvesting Guidelines for Nonforest Biomass” document is the result of a two-year joint effort by the DATCP, DNR and a tech team at UW to establish the guidelines.

Sara Walling, DATCP bioenergy policy advisor, said Wisconsin is the first state that has looked at the process of creating guidelines for biomass crop planting.

“Wisconsin wanted to make sure that when markets developed for biomass crop planting, we had guidelines set up in voluntary fashion so that landowners can make informed decisions about when and how to plant these crops,” Walling said.

Walling said the guidelines are multi-disciplinary and are intended to provide guidance at the field level for farmers and landowners for not only how to plant the crops, but also on how to remove them.

Biomass crop harvesting involves growing crops that are not meant primarily for food.

“To have cheap biomass, which is a necessary catalyst, you have to have more yield per acre, and we can’t figure that out until we start planning it out,” said Troy Runge, assistant professor of biosystems engineering at UW.

Runge said increasing biomass crop harvesting brings many ecological benefits to the environment.

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Manitowoc wind factory to supply Caterpillar mining unit

Posted on November 23, 2011. Filed under: Economic development, Jobs, Wind |

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

Wind energy supply-chain factories in Manitowoc and Texas will start making equipment for mining equipment made by Caterpillar, Broadwind Energy Inc. said Tuesday.

The former Tower Tech factory in Manitowoc makes wind towers, including those recently erected in Columbia County for the We Energies Glacier Hills Wind Park.

“This collaboration fits well with our strategic initiatives to leverage our core competencies beyond the wind industry and diversify our revenue base. We believe this is the first step in expanding our relationship with Caterpillar as we continue to collaborate,” said Paul Smith, president of Broadwind Towers, in a statement.

Under the deal with Caterpillar, Broadwind will supply the former Bucyrus International Inc. of South Milwaukee with welded sub-assemblies for large draglines, crawlers and excavating equipment.

The move is expected to add 50 jobs, spread between Manitowoc and Abilene, Texas, Broadwind said in a statement.

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Twenty-four governors, not including Walker, ask Obama to extend tax credits for wind project investments

Posted on November 18, 2011. Filed under: Economic development, Energy Policy, Jobs, Wind | Tags: , , , |

From a news release on the Web site of the American Wind Energy Association:

Iowa, Aug. 24—A coalition of 24 governors from both major parties and each region of the country has asked the administration to take a series of steps to provide a more favorable business climate for the development of wind energy, starting with a seven-year extension of the Production Tax Credit (PTC) and the Investment Tax Credit (ITC) to provide stable, low tax rates for wind-generated electricity.

A letter from the governors, sent last month to the White House, has since been made public by the Governors Wind Energy Coalition. Signed by coalition chair Gov. Lincoln Chafee (I-RI), and vice chair Gov. Terry Branstad (R-IA), the letter says:

“Although tax credits for wind energy have long enjoyed bipartisan support, they are scheduled to expire next year. Wind-related manufacturing will slow if the credits are not extended, and some of the tax credits’ benefit will be lost if Congress pursues a last-minute extension. It is important to have consistency in policy to support the continued development of wind manufacturing in the United States. Extending the production tax credit and the investment tax credit, without a gap, is critical to the health of wind manufacturing in our nation. The wind manufacturing industry in the U.S. would benefit even greater if the extension of these credits would be for at least seven years.”

“Governors have always focused on jobs and economic development as their main responsibility. Now that Washington is following suit, it helps for these Governors to tell Washington what has been putting people to work in their states,” said AWEA CEO Denise Bode. “It is also helpful for them to support the removal of roadblocks that can occur in administrative agencies, so that deployment objectives are not unintentionally thwarted.”

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Most are supportive of new Michigan wind farm near Breckenridge

Posted on November 2, 2011. Filed under: Economic development, Jobs, Wind |

Unlike the small minority of anti-wind fearmongers in Wisconsin, residents near the Michigan wind farm unerstand the economic impact of turbines, according to an article by Lisa Satayut in the Midland Daily News:

Most Gratiot County residents who live near the turbines are optimistic about the state’s largest wind farm being in their hometown. Local businesses are even happier.

“They are very helpful to us,” Julie Turner, owner of the Anschutz Café in Breckenridge, said of the workers hired to install the turbines.

Turner does not have a turbine on her property but said she is excited about the project and what it can do for the county.

“The turbines are going to be great for Gratiot County,” she said.

Bethany Township resident Felix Ramirez said the project is going to be a “good deal” but was hoping it would offer jobs to the community.

“It didn’t bring any work for the local people,” he said.

As Ramirez pointed across the street to a local business, Katts Sales, he mentioned how a collection line would be installed under their property.

“They pay this guy to go under his property. I underground it’s here to clear across the railroad tracks,” he said of the line as he pointed to a small piece of land next to his house where it starts.

The owner of Katts Sales, Scott Katt, said he received $45,000 to have five collection lines run below his business. His brother, Dave, also owns the property and the payment was split.

Scott believes the majority of local residents don’t mind the wind turbines, given the revenue they will bring to the county and landowners. He also said some aren’t so happy.

“Some are against it, they don’t want to see these things. They want to sit on their back porch and look at a pine tree and not a windmill,” he said.

“It’s progress — my store’s benefiting from it,” he said.

“How else could my brother and I afford to go to the Detroit Lions game on Monday?” he said, laughing.

His brother Dave lives in Midland County, a few miles from the county border, and said he can see the turbines from his front window.

“When I look out my picture window I can see two of them. I’m not thrilled about looking at them. But, I understand the economic impact it’s going to have,” Dave said.

Scott said in about a year or so no one will even notice the turbines.

“It’s just going to be another part of the landscape,” he said.

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Wind energy driving down electric rates, posts big construction numbers

Posted on October 31, 2011. Filed under: Economic development, Utility rates, Wind | Tags: , , |

From an article in Wind Energy Weekly:

Wind energy is more affordable than ever, and new installations across the country are saving consumers money on their electric bills, as utilities rush to lock in long-term favorable rates, AWEA said in its third-quarter market report this week.

“This is what a successful business looks like with stable tax policy. Utilities are locking in a great deal for their electric customers while it’s available. We’re keeping rates down all across the U.S., even in the heart of the South,” said AWEA CEO Denise Bode, pointing to recent wind power purchases by the Southern Company in Alabama, Austin Energy in Texas, and Xcel Energy in Colorado as examples.

The U.S. wind industry installed just over 1,200 MW in the third quarter, and about 3,360 MW on the year so far—but has more than 8,400 MW under construction. That is more than in any quarter since 2008, as the federal Production Tax Credit has driven as much as $20 billion a year in private investment.

“This shows what we’re capable of: adding new, affordable electric generation,” said Bode. “Traditional tax incentives are working. There’s a lot of business right now, people are employed, and manufacturers are looking to expand here in the U.S.”

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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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