Renewable Energy Installations in WI

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

RENEW influences decisions of Focus on Energy

RENEW Wisconsin will continue to advocate for Focus on Energy to spend the $10 million per year allocated for renewable incentives.

We intend to keep a close watch on how the Focus administrators spend the money, and we told them so. These funds are being collected from rate payers this year, so Focus should spend as much of the money this year as possible. Simple!

RENEW effectively advocated for Focus on Energy (Focus) to reinstate incentives for distributed renewables since the non-residential incentives were suspended in July of 2011. RENEW organized members and other stakeholders to communicate this message to the Public Service Commission and Focus. RENEW’s advocacy led Focus to roll out the renewable programs in July.

Additionally RENEW solicited input from the renewable community, met with the Focus administrators, and provided suggestions in early June on how the Focus funds should best be used. Focus accepted and incorporated the majority of these suggestions in the Focus renewable programs that were launched in early July.

RENEW continues to advocate on behalf of the renewable energy community with the Focus administrators. We asked Focus to drop the need for installers to be licensed plumbers and electricians; to reconfigure the need for a building permit before installation; to clear up whether solar systems could be ground mounted; and, to reduce the minimum incentive for solar and wind installations in the Business Program RFP. Once again, Focus administrators accepted the majority of these suggestions.

Focus also addressed the questions received from RENEW and others in a list of frequently asked questions for residential systems at Focus FAQs.

Be aware that Focus has limited funds for residential solar projects. Focus will provide weekly updates on the level of funds available through the renewable energy program Web pages at Focus funding updates.

Business renewable projects will be considered for funding after a submission due date of August 29, 2012. FAQs on this RFP were issued on July 23, 2012.

Please continue to provide your comments and suggestions to RENEW and to Focus on how the renewable program should be managed within the budget constraints outlined by the PSC.

By working together, we can have the best program possible. Please support RENEW with a membership or donation at Join Today!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Safe bet is to act now to reduce fossil fuel use. Go renewable says RENEW.

In a weekend editorial the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel quoted RENEW's executive director Don Wichert:  

While national leaders dither, local officials and families can start doing things to reduce human impact on climate change

It's possible that this summer is just a fluke; that the heat waves and drought that are wreaking havoc for farmers and others are an anomaly, and that the weather will return to "normal" next summer or maybe the summer after that. That it's just summer and it's hot, and that this really isn't part of a trend that climate scientists have been predicting.

But that's not the way to bet. . . .

"The extreme weather and heat waves are costing lives, hurting farmers and families, and inaction is wasting tax money," said Rep. Brett Hulsey (D-Madison), member of the Assembly Energy and Utilities Committee in a news release. "We need to take cost-effective steps to reduce greenhouse air pollution, create jobs and protect lives like my Jobs, Energy and Tax Savings Act (AB 117) to reduce energy costs at the 9,000 state facilities by 30% to 75% and cut the risk of extreme climate change."

"We know that using more renewable energy and more energy efficiency creates more jobs here and produces far less green house gases than the fossil fuels they replace," said Don Wichert, P.E., Executive Director of RENEW Wisconsin. "Access to renewable energy can be increased by reducing upfront costs through private ownership, by creating fair and consistent electricity policies, and by reinstating utility renewable energy commitments."

It's also the message being pushed by a retired Marine colonel and former strategic adviser to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who argues that sustainability and climate change are national security issues. Local leaders need to start the shift to more sustainable practices such as regenerative agriculture techniques and advanced manufacturing because "D.C. isn't going to do anything," Mark Mykleby, author of "A Natural Strategic Narrative," he told the Editorial Board Thursday.

The science says climate change is happening now, not just in computer models or overactive imaginations but in the real world. From rising sea levels to droughts to tornadoes and wildfires, there is a growing list of anomalous events that indicate climate change is already upon us. And the safe bet is to start acting now to mitigate the human effect on climate change at the international, national and local levels.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

State review contradicts anti-wind senator's assertions

From the above letter written by Kitty Rhoades, deputy secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Health Services:

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services has reviewed the scientific literature on the issue of wind turbines and health, and we will continue to do so as new studies are published. Our review of cunent scientific knowledge indicates that levels of noise, flicker and infrasound measured from wind turbines at current setback distances do not reach those that have been associated with objective physical health effects. The Department has considered previous requests to conduct formal epidemiologic studies in Wisconsin, and Division of Public Health staff have discussed this issue with colleagues at UW School of Medicine and Public Health, other state health departments, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. However, we have been unable to identify a study design or methodology that could provide a constructive conclusion to the individual concerns that have been raised. If such a study were performed, we would review its methodology and findings. [Emphasis added]

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Cashton Greens Community Wind Project Plows New Ground

Immediate release: July 18, 2012

More information:
Michael Vickerman Director, Program and Policy
608.255.4044, ext. 2,

 Two-turbine project sets a number of firsts for Wisconsin

 A vision of Wisconsin’s renewable energy future came to life with the dedication today of the two-turbine Cashton Greens Wind Farm, Wisconsin‘s first community wind development. This five megawatt project rises alongside Organic Valley Cooperative’s distribution center in this village 40 miles southeast of La Crosse.

Owned by La Farge-based Organic Valley Cooperative and Gunderson Lutheran Health System, La Crosse, Cashton Greens will generate enough electricity to offset the energy use for Organic Valley’s corporate headquarters and distribution center, as well as 5% of Gundersen Lutheran’s energy needs.

“This ground-breaking community wind project represents a number of firsts for Wisconsin,” said Michael Vickerman, director of programs and policies for RENEW Wisconsin, a renewable energy advocacy organization.

“Cashton Greens is both Wisconsin’s largest customer-owned renewable energy installation and the largest ever to receive a grant from Focus on Energy, the state’s energy efficiency and renewable energy program,” Vickerman said. It is also the first wind project permitted following the enactment of Wisconsin’s three-year-old wind siting law (2009 Act 40).The Village of Cashton approved the project in June 2010.

“RENEW and all of our members salute the team of Organic Valley, Gundersen Lutheran, and the village of Cashton for their audacious commitment to energy independence,” said Vickerman. “They are plowing ground that will result in new renewable energy systems supporting Wisconsin’s economic vitality while protecting its environmental health.”

“This project clearly shows that Wisconsin energy customers are eager to move forward to reduce their use of fossil fuels. Rather than wait for their utilities to act, many of them are now taking the initiative and installing systems to supply their own businesses and residences with clean renewable energy produced,” he said.

Organic Valley is America’s largest cooperative of organic farmers and one of the nation’s leading organic brands. Gundersen Health System provides health services to its patients at is hospital and clinics throughout west Wisconsin, southeast Minnesota, and northeast Iowa.


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

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Business group asks senator to end "unsubstantiated attacks on wind"

From a news release issued by the Wisconsin Energy Business Association:

Wisconsin Businesses Call on Sen. Lasee to End His War on Wind 
Unsubstantiated attacks on wind industry are preventing economic growth across Wisconsin 

In another attempt to hinder wind development and economic growth in Wisconsin, state Senator Frank Lasee (R-De Pere) is demanding that the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin revisit the state’s uniform wind siting rule, PSC 128—a rule that is the product of years of work by the Commission, a citizen advisory council, and industry experts. His most recent attacks are based on the demonstrably false claim that wind energy facilities cause adverse health impacts.

“Senator Lasee’s ongoing hostility towards Wisconsin’s wind industry is preventing real economic growth,” said Chris Kunkle of the Wisconsin Energy Business Association. “National companies looking to invest in Wisconsin’s economy see these unwarranted and baseless attacks and continue to stay out of Wisconsin.”

Medical professionals are unwavering in their repeated analysis that there is no discernible correlation between wind energy generation and negative health impacts. This was stated most recently in a report to the Massachusetts Dept. of Public Health that definitively concluded there is “no foundation for a set of symptoms that is called Wind Turbine Syndrome” and was also recently affirmed by Wisconsin’s Department of Health Services (DHS). . . .

Monday, July 16, 2012

RENEW responds to Sen. Lasee's latest, meaningless anti-wind joust

In his latest anti-wind publicity stunt, State Senator Frank Lassee (R-De Pere) brought a few of his constituents to Madison to ask the PSC for relief from the supposed impact of the Shirley Wind Farm on their lives.

In response to Lasee on Madison's WKOW-TV, RENEW's Michael Vickerman said:

"Sen. Lasee has been waging an ideological war against wind power for a long time," said Michael Vickerman of the green energy group Renew Wisconsin.

Vickerman believes that is what is really behind Sen. Lasee's crusade, adding that no credible studies have found what the people from Shirley are claiming.

"The one prepared for the Massachusetts Department of Public Health specifically says 'we cannot find any foundation for a set of symptoms that is called Wind Turbine Syndrome,'" said Vickerman.

Additionally, Vickerman made the following rebuttals during the entire interview:

1. The Shirley project was approved five years ago by the Glenmore Town Board. The PSC had nothing to do with that project. The PSC has no jurisdiction over this facility. The statewide siting rule took effect after the Shirley project was placed in service. This is political grandstanding, pure and simple.

2. Sen. Frank Lasee has been conducting an ideologically driven war against windpower for years. Supporters of his anti-wind crusade include the WI Realtors Association (WRA) and several wealthy landowners living in Brown and Calumet County.

3. The adverse health effects claimed by Sen. Lasee were scrutinized by a group of independent health experts under the aegis of the Massachusetts Dept. of Public Health. The experts concluded that there is no scientific basis for concluding that wind generation impairs public health.

4. There is absolutely zero evidence substantiating WRA’s contention that wind generation has reduced property values in Wisconsin.

5. Sen. Lasee has two other wind projects in his district, both in Kewaunee County. These two installations, placed in service in 1999 and totaling 31 turbines, are the oldest continuously operating windpower projects in the state. No one in Kewaunee County has reported any kind of health effects from these turbines. Yet Sen. Lasee refuses to acknowledge that fact. Nor does he acknowledge the degree of community acceptance there that has evolved over the projects' 13 year-lives.

6. I characterized the wind opposition as a small but vocal minority that either does not exist in neighboring states or is less well organized there.

7. Lasee’s tireless advocacy on behalf of forces opposed to windpower has caused nationally prominent wind developers to leave the state in search of greener pastures.

Friday, July 13, 2012

RENEW says renewable energy can reduce greenhouse gasses

From a presentation on July 11, 2012, at a Capitol news conference in the state Capitol:

Pathways to Increase Renewable Energy
1. Allow private companies to sell renewable energy to home and building occupants if the renewable system is on private property;
2. Allow fair and uniform net energy billing and interconnection policies;
3. Increase Focus on Energy funding for renewables;
4. Reinstate utility renewable energy commitments;
5. Increase renewable energy requirements.