MREA hosts Harvest Fest fundraiser

Posted on August 30, 2007. Filed under: Uncategorized |

From the Midwest Renewable Energy Association (MREA):

Harvest Fest will be held September 29, from 4:00 pm to midnight at the ReNew the Earth Institute. Proceeds from the fundraiser will be used to build Aldo Leopold benches for the site. The benches will provide visitors with comfortable places to rest and reflect during the Fair and other events.

Harvest Fest activities will include: cider pressing, horse shoes, site tours, a vegetarian chili feed, folk music, and a bonfire. All events will take place outdoors, under the “big top” tent, so dress for the weather. A $25 donation is requested for each adult. Children under 13 may attend for free. Each $25 donor will have his or her name placed on a completed bench.

Harvest Fest is sponsored by: Central Waters Brewery, Amherst, WI; Flying Cat Fields, Amherst, WI; Harrison Hollow Vineyards, Viroqua, WI; Organic Valley, LaFarge, WI.

More information on the MREA Web site.

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Posted on April 13, 2007. Filed under: Uncategorized |

RENEW, 14 school districts, and other organizations sent the following memo to the Joint Committee on Finance to express support for a provision that would allow the districts to use Clean Renewable Energy Bonds (CREBs) at zero percent interest to build small-scale wind generation facilities as part of their environmental education curriculum and as a source of revenue:

We urge you to support the Governor’s budget bill request to grant authority for Wisconsin school districts to participate in small-scale wind generation facilities.

In the recent Energy Policy Act, Congress appropriated funds to allow for the financing of Clean Renewable Energy Bonds (CREBs) at zero percent interest. Among the limited number of entities eligible for such financing are school districts. Fourteen Wisconsin school districts (Abbotsford, Barron, Bloomer, Cornell, Cumberland, Edgar, Gilman, Lake Holcombe, Mondovi, Mount Horeb, Osseo, Phillips, Superior, and Winter ) applied for and were approved for this financing, in the amount of approximately $12,056,000. One other school district, Eau Claire, may also apply this spring in the second round of CREBs financing. In their applications the districts proposed to build small-scale wind generation facilities as part of their environmental education curriculum and as a source of revenue.

Minnesota has faced and resolved a similar situation. Several Minnesota school districts also applied for and were approved for CREBs funding. However, the Minnesota Attorney General had previously opined that, without a specific statutory authorization, Minnesota school districts did not have the authority to own or operate a wind farm, even though this might also fulfill an educational purpose. Minnesota then promptly enacted a law providing this authority to school districts. Minnesota will thus be able to take advantage of this favorable CREBs funding.

Wisconsin also follows the general school-law principle that school districts have only those powers given to them by statute and such other powers as necessarily implied. So it is appropriate to add a specific provision to Wis. Stat. § 120.13 providing for this authority. There are already thirty-seven such specific authorizations in this statute.

The Governor’s proposal provides school districts with a potential source of revenue, advances our state’s goals towards increased reliance on Wisconsin-based renewable energy, and provides educational opportunities for our state’s students.

We urge your support.


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Doyle seeks more renewables, global warming solutions

Posted on January 29, 2007. Filed under: Uncategorized |

Doyle will announce in his “state of the state” address Tuesday night that he will appoint a global warming task force and create an energy independence office to coordinate the state’s effort to dramatically expand the use of renewable energy by 2025.

The governor will propose grants, loans and tax credits for projects to help the state rely less on fossil fuels and curb emissions linked to global warming at a time when energy costs and concerns about climate change are rising.

“You can’t just sit and pretend this isn’t happening anymore,” Doyle said.

Read the full story by Tom Content and Lee Berquist in JS online.

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Build new home to be solar ready

Posted on December 21, 2006. Filed under: Uncategorized |

Foucs on Energy, Wisconsin’s energy efficiency and renewable energy program, offers a fact sheet on making a new home “solar ready.”

Rising energy costs and concern for energy security and the environment are driving forces in a growing trend to incorporate renewable energy technology into residential housing. Focus on Energy and the Wisconsin ENERGY STAR®Homes Program recognize this as an opportunity for builders [and homeowners}.

The fact sheet includes a checklist of building details for construction of new homes that are built “ready” for future renewable energy installations.

Click here to read the fact sheet.

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Editorial: A good wind blowing

Posted on April 21, 2006. Filed under: Uncategorized |

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel editorialized in support of a wind turbine on the Mequon campus of the Milwaukee Area Technical College:

At a time when the price of fuel is rapidly increasing, questions about alternative energy sources have become much more urgent.

A partial but encouraging answer to some of these questions has been supplied by Milwaukee Area Technical College, in the form of a wind turbine it proposes to build at its campus in Mequon.

Let’s hope officials in Mequon recognize this good thing for what it is.


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Cheesemaker may produce ethanol from whey

Posted on April 20, 2006. Filed under: Uncategorized |

Liz Welter reports on Nasonville Dairy in the Marshfield News-Herald:

Nasonville Dairy, one of the area’s largest cheese producers, might build a facility to make an alternative to conventional gasoline.

The alternative is ethanol made from a byproduct of the cheesemaking process — cheese permeate.

Currently, most gasoline sold at the pump already contains some ethanol. But the availability of E85 gasoline — 85 percent ethanol — is growing, as is the number of vehicles being produced that are powered by either E85 or gasoline. The Store, a gas station and convenience store now being built on North Lincoln Avenue in Marshfield, would be the first in the city to sell E85.


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World”s First Commercial Cellulosic Ethanol Plant

Posted on February 10, 2006. Filed under: Uncategorized |

The Dow Jones News Service carries a story on a cellulosic ethanal, which could be of interest to Wisconsin given the abudance of forest products and forest product wastes in the state:

CENTRAL CITY, Neb. (Dow Jones)–Opening of the world’s first commercial cellulosic ethanol plant is slated for this fall in northern Spain, even though costs of producing alcohol fuel via the emerging technology are still estimated to be about 50%-100% higher than that for plants which use grain as a feedstock.

The Ontario-based SunOpta BioProcess Group (formerly Stake Technology), a division of SunOpta Inc. (STKL), announced last week that plans for start-up of a wheat straw-to-ethanol plant near Salamanca, Spain, are proceeding on schedule. . . .

“Most viewers see present cost of cellulose ethanol as around $3.50 per gallon – double cost from carbohydrate,” said Harrison Cooper president of the Bountiful Applied Research Corporation in Bountiful, Utah. “There has been mention (that) cellulose enzyme/fermentation costs might be (reduced) to as low as $1.30, but this is based on hopeful conjecture.”

Murray Burke, vice president and general manager of SunOpta’s BioProcess Group, disagrees with those figures, estimating that modern grain alcohol plants being built today may have a breakeven as low as 90-95 cents per gallon, compared to a cost-of-production which likely ranges from $1.40-$1.60 per gallon for a commercial-scale cellulosic facility, such as the Spanish plant. . . .

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Natural Gas: Big Worry This Winter

Posted on November 15, 2005. Filed under: Uncategorized |

A story by Simon Romero from the New York Times:

HOUSTON, Nov. 14 – Unexpectedly warm weather has bathed much of the United States in recent weeks, but fears persist that a classic energy shock may be unfolding as the nation heads into winter.

This time, though, the coming squeeze is in natural gas rather than oil.

Executives at companies that consume large amounts of natural gas are warning – almost screaming – about the costs they expect to face over the coming months.

“Our monthly natural gas bill has doubled since August, from $700,000 to $1.4 million,” said Fletcher Steele, president of Pine Hall Brick in Winston-Salem, N.C. Mr. Steele said he planned to shut half of his production in January, when natural gas prices are expected to resume climbing again because of cold weather.

It is a problem that has been building for several years.


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County Farmers Take Interest In Crop You Can’t Eat — Or See

Posted on October 21, 2005. Filed under: Uncategorized |

From the Capital Times of Wednesday, October 19, 2005:

Some area dairy farmers are looking into a crop that, while abundant in Dane County, is not commonly harvested here.

Mary and Stan Hellenbrand and Thomas and Marlene Helt are looking to build a small crop of wind turbines on their properties off Kickaboo Road near U.S. 12.

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Oil from Tar Sands Will Deplete Natural Gas and Water Supplies, Accelerate Global Warming

Posted on October 19, 2005. Filed under: Uncategorized |

Jeff Riggert, who holds an M.S. Land Resources with Certificate in Energy Analysis & Policy, circulated the following article via e-mail and it’s worth posting to a broader audience:

Tar sand, also referred to as oil sand or bituminous sand, is a combination of clay, sand, water and bitumen. Tar sands are mined for the oil-rich bitumen which is refined into oil. Conventional oil is extracted by drilling traditional wells into the ground whereas tar sand deposits are (to date) mined using strip mining techniques.


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