Renewable Energy Installations in WI

Monday, September 29, 2008

ACEEE research staff opportunity in Madison

From the ACEEE:

The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) is currently looking to fill a new staff position in our Utilities program, at the Research Assistant level (Master’s degree or Bachelor’s plus at least two years work experience in the energy area). The position will afford excellent exposure to the energy efficiency field, and an opportunity to work on some of the leading energy efficiency research and policy projects in the nation. The new staff member will be responsible for quantitative analysis and report writing regarding energy efficiency programs and policies in the utility sector (electric and natural gas).

We seek staff who show strong interest in public policy research, excellent analytical (e.g. Excel) and written and verbal communications skills, and the ability to balance multiple tasks and priorities. Some quantitative background in natural science, social science or equivalent is required. Excellent critical thinking capability is fundamental to success at ACEEE. We tend to be “pragmatic idealists.” Applicants should share ACEEE’s core values, including a strong interest and commitment to energy efficiency as a path to environmental protection and economic prosperity. Some work experience related to the utility energy efficiency field would be highly preferable. For information on ACEEE see:

We are looking to fill this position by October 2008. The work location for this position is expected to be Madison, Wisconsin---out of a home-based office. Please contact Dan York, 608-243-1123 or if interested.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Rate-hike requests go under the radar

From an article by Richard Ryman in the Green Bay Press Gazette:

In all of Wisconsin, four people showed up Thursday at public hearings for electric and natural gas rate hikes requested by Wisconsin Public Service Corp.

Two testified.

Hearings were videocast simultaneously from Green Bay, Wausau and Madison twice on Thursday.

They were regarding a 2009-2010 two-year rate hike request by the Green Bay-based utility. This is the first year in many that the state Public Service Commission is considering a two-year request.

The state commission is considering whether to approve an 11.78 percent electric and 2.9 percent natural gas increase, those percentages being based on the utility's rates as of January. It received some interim electric increases this year and those are included in the overall hike.

Wisconsin Public Service is asking the commission to approve a "decoupled" rate structure, which means the utility will receive a set amount of revenue regardless of electricity or natural gas usage. It won't make more money when usage is high, but it won't make less when it is low.

The decoupling request is part of an agreement between WPS and Citizen's Utility Board for the utility to actively support energy conservation through modified rate structures and other programs. The modified rate structures will be tested in a four-year pilot program in three mid-sized communities to be decided later.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

PSC approves $12.7 million refund for WP&L customers

From a media release issued by the Public Service Commission:

MADISON – Today the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (PSC) approved a $12.7 million refund for electric customers of Wisconsin Power and Light (WP&L)

“This is good news for ratepayers during a very challenging time,” said PSC Chairperson EricCallisto.

“Last year, when we set the 2007 electric rates for WP&L, natural gas prices were skyrocketing. The protections we have in place make sure that customers see much needed refunds when fuel prices drop.”

The PSC performs monthly fuel cost audits and monitors how much the utility is collecting from customers. The PSC determined that because of lower fuel costs, WP&L customers were due a $12.7 million refund. The average WP&L customer can expect to see a refund of approximately $7.12 on their electric bills.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Senate passes tax break bill, extends renewable credits

From an article by Jim Abrams in the Washington Post:

WASHINGTON -- The Senate passed a giant tax package Tuesday that saves more than 20 million taxpayers from the bite of the alternative minimum tax.

At a cost of more than $100 billion, the bill also nudges the nation toward greater use of alternative energy resources, renews popular tax breaks for businesses and individuals, and extends relief to disaster victims. . . .

The first segment of the three-part tax bill was a $17 billion measure to spur investment and create jobs in the renewable energy industry. The energy legislation extends for eight years, through 2016, investment tax credits for the solar power industry and for homeowners who install solar and wind equipment.

Taxpayers can claim a credit of up to $7,500 for purchasing plug-in electric cars, and production credits are extended to wind, biomass and marine _ waves and tide _ facilities. There are incentives to use smart meters for more efficient home energy use.

A study commissioned by the Solar Energy Industries Association found that the eight-year extension would more than triple investment during that period, to $325 billion, and almost triple employment in the industry, to 440,000 in 2016.

Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., who helped put the energy package together, said the solar industry investment would provide power for more than 7 million people.

The measure drew opposition from the National Wildlife Federation, which objected to incentives for oil shale, tar sands and coal-to-liquid production it said was harmful to the environment. . . .

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

RENEW Wisconsin's summer/fall newsletter online

RENEW Wisconsin's summer/fall edition of Wisconsin Renewable Quarterly is now online, including the following articles:

Peak Oil Spices Meeting with Cong. Baldwin
Countdown to Solar Tour
Solar H2O on Madison Fire Stations
Global Warming Task Force Report
Wisconsin’s Newest Wind Projects
PHEV+Wind=Clean Air
Small Wind Conference Wrap-up

Monday, September 22, 2008

WPPI wants to fund zero energy homes

From a media release from Wisconsin Public Power, Incorporated:

Homeowners looking to build or remodel in communities served by WPPI member utilities have an opportunity to reduce their carbon footprint through WPPI’s GreenMax Home program. WPPI is now soliciting competitive proposals for grants to help fund the construction of up to three net zero energy homes within WPPI member utility service areas.

As part of WPPI’s overall efforts to encourage public and community support for renewable energy, energy conservation and energy efficiency, the GreenMax Home program will help customers build highly efficient, environmentally friendly homes. Grants will be awarded to cover part of the incremental cost of designing and building a GreenMax Home over the cost of constructing a conventional Upper Midwest house. Incremental costs will include the design elements and technologies directly related to reducing energy use or producing energy through renewable resources.

“We are pleased to present another opportunity for homeowners in WPPI member communities to build and live in homes with net zero energy use,” said Senior Vice President of Customer Services and Administration Tom Paque. “The GreenMax Home program allows homeowners to take advantage of renewable energy technologies and demonstrate practical approaches to the efficient use of energy.”

WPPI’s GreenMax Home program supports the design and lifestyle choices that move a home from “highly efficient” to “net zero.” Net zero homes combine state-of-the-art green and environmentally friendly technologies and practices with renewable energy technology to ensure that the homes produce as much energy as they consume. To the greatest extent possible, the energy consumption (heating, cooling and electrical) of the homes will be provided by renewable energy sources.
WPPI's member utilities are
Alger Delta, MI
Baraga, MI
Black River Falls
Cuba City
Eagle River
Gladstone, MI
Independence, IA
L'Anse, MI
Lake Mills
Maquoketa, IA
Mount Horeb
Negaunee, MI
New Glarus
New Holstein
New London
New Richmond
Norway, MI
Oconto Falls
Prairie du Sac
Richland Center
River Falls
Sturgeon Bay
Sun Prairie
Two Rivers

Thursday, September 18, 2008

There’s No Such Thing As A Free Ride(r)

The Wisconsin Chapter of the
Association of Energy Services Professionals
Invites you to Attend

There’s No Such Thing As A Free Ride(r)

This panel discussion will kick-off with the recap of two papers from the 2008 ACEEE Summer Study. The first paper is from Gay Cook, Summit Blue Consulting, and it gives an overview of the different evaluation methods being used for estimating free ridership. The second paper is from Jane Peters, Research Into Action. Jane explains why she thinks the current popular method for counting free riders will be the death of DSM programs within four years if we don’t make some changes.

Panel members (TBD) will add their thoughts to these ideas.

The Importance of Net Savings Estimates: Why Knowing FR Is Essential Stephen Heins, Orion Energy Systems

The Implementer’s Point-of-View: What Does A Real Live FR Look Like? Nick Hall, TecMarket Works

The Space-Time Continuum: Counting FR At Different Times and Places

One hour of presentation will be followed by one hour of open floor discussion.

Don’t miss your chance to get in on this lively, informal and important debate!

Time: Wednesday, November 5, 6:00 to 8:00
Place: WECC Office, 431 Charmany Drive, Madison, WI
Social hour from 5:00 to 6:00. Food and drink will be provided.
(Good food from Willy St. Coop and some home brews, too.)

$15 AESP members and Non-Profit Organizations
$25 Non-members
$5 Students/Unemployed

RSVP to Johna before November 3.
(Checks should be made out to: AESP-WI)

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

PSC Wisconsin issues strategic energy assessment

From a media release issued by the Public Service Commission:

The PSC prepares a strategic energy assessment every two years to evaluate the state’s current and future energy demands, how those demands will be met and the reliability of the electrical system over the next seven years. The report is based on data and information collected in 2007 and 2008 from Wisconsin utilities and power cooperatives.

The PSC is looking for the public and energy stakeholders to comment on the draft report before December 11, 2008. Comments will be included in the final Energy 2014 which will be issued early 2009. Comments can be provided in the following ways:
• At the public hearing to be held in late fall of 2008;
• Electronically at the PSC website ( by clicking on the “Strategic Energy Assessment” button on the left side of the webpage; or
• By letter addressed to Docket # 5-ES-104, Public Service Commission of Wisconsin, P.O. Box 7854, Madison, Wisconsin 53707-7854.

Among several other conclusions found in the SEA are:
• New electricity generation will reduce Wisconsin’s reliance on the currently congested transmission grid connections to Illinois, while maintaining a robust planning reserve margin through 2014.
• Significant approved new generation coming online is expected to keep planning reserve margins near or above 19 percent through 2012. As of right now, based on already approved construction, the planning reserve margin for 2014 is expected to be nearly 12 percent. This number is expected to increase as more energy efficiency is implemented and new generation is proposed.
• Transmission planning may show that more extra high voltage lines are needed to bring wind generation to Wisconsin.
• That energy efficiency, conservation, and load control will play an important role reducing Wisconsin’s energy costs and environmental impacts.

Monday, September 15, 2008

2009 Request for Proposals Issued – Environmental & Economic Research

From Focus on Energy:

Wisconsin's Focus on Energy Environmental and Economic Research and Development Program (EERD) is pleased to announce $750,000 in grant funding available for 2009 research projects that study the environmental and economic impacts of electricity and natural gas use in Wisconsin. EERD is looking for projects that study the environmental or economic impacts of:

- Renewable energy or energy efficiency initiatives;
- Biomass energy production and use to offset electric generation and/or natural gas;
- Climate change in Wisconsin due to electricity or natural gas use.

Any researcher or research organization with a project relevant to Wisconsin can apply for a grant. The EERD Research Forum will evaluate proposals and make funding recommendations. We expect to announce funded projects in January 2009.

Prospective applicants must submit an Intent to Propose form by October 23, 2008 and those invited to submit a full proposal must send it electronically by 12 p.m. on November 13, 2008. The 2007-2008 Request for Proposals and other forms can be found on the Focus on Energy website.

Friday, September 12, 2008

UWSP to host first climate-change forum

From an article by Patrick Thornton in the Wausau Daily Herald:

STEVENS POINT -- Some of the smartest minds in Wisconsin will be at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point in December to craft a response to the threat of global climate change.

Lt. Gov. Barbara Lawton organized the forum as part of the state's Green Economy Agenda and said it's the first of its kind in the country. Elected officials, researchers, business professionals, environmentalists, educators and others are invited to share what currently is being done to combat climate change and to formulate a long-term strategy for Wisconsin, Lawton said.

She envisions different regions in the state forming their own action plans.

"The challenges (of global climate change) vary throughout the state," she said. "It's a different ballgame in Superior than in Kenosha."

Education on climate change will be the first component of the conference. Terry Tamminen, an author and former adviser on environmental issues to the governor of California, and Doug Scott, the director of the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency, will provide keynote addresses. In addition, the group will tour green buildings and businesses that use sustainable energy in the Stevens Point area.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Power plant proposal wins coalition backing

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

Madison - A coalition of union, farm and environmental groups threw their support behind Alliant Energy Corp.'s proposed coal-fired power plant during a rally Wednesday.

Building the power plant on the Mississippi River in Cassville would generate hundreds of construction jobs and up to 40 full-time jobs at a time when the state’s unemployment rate is climbing, union leaders said.

“Haven’t we seen enough unemployment? Support biofuels, new jobs and a better economy,” said Phil Neuenfeldt of the Wisconsin AFL-CIO. Nearly 200 people attended the rally, and the speakers were flanked by large tractor-trailers loaded with bales of switchgrass that could be burned in the new power plant.

“Wisconsin’s farmers are working to produce the next generation of biofuels, grown right here in Wisconsin, Alliant’s proposal keeps our money right here in our communities,” said Matt Krumenauer, director of government relations at the Wisconsin Federation of Cooperatives.

Alliant has proposed that up to 20% of the coal plant’s power be generated from wood and non-food crops such as switchgrass and corn stalks.

The rally came as a response to opposition to the plant voiced by environmental and customer groups, as well as criticism of the proposal from the staff of the state Public Service Commission.

The groups are raising questions about the escalating cost of the plant as well as concerns about Wisconsin adding another coal plant to its power supply mix at a time of increasing concern about global warming.

The rally came one day after Alliant disclosed to securities regulators that the cost of the project has escalated again. The plant is now projected to cost $1.2 billion to $1.3 billion.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

AESP posts career opportunities

The AESP posts job opportunities on its Web site. Here are some current listings:

- Mechanical Engineers, The Cadmus Group
- Senior Mechanical Engineer, The Cadmus Group
- Building Sciences/Green Building Professionals, The Cadmus Group
- Product Manager-Consumer Products (Appliances and Electronics),PECI
- Energy Consulting, FSC Group
- Field Energy Consultant-So California, PECI
- Project Manager and Analyst Opportunities, Energy Market Innovations
- Energy Engineer, Cadmus
- Vice President, Utility & Energy Solutions, Ecos Consulting
- Senior Analyst/Economist, Itron
- Principal and Senior Energy Consultants, Itron

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Solar working in Wisconsin

From a story last fall on Fox 6 News:

WITI-TV, MILWAUKEE -- You'd expect solar powered water heaters to be a big deal in Arizona or Texas, but now is becoming a big deal in Wisconsin. FOX 6's Gus Gnorski shows you why it might be a good decision for your house.
The 2008 Solar Decade Conference, where the story was taped, will be October 23-24, also at the Midwest Airline Center.

Monday, September 8, 2008

An article by from Ellyn Ferguson, Gannett News Service, published in The [Oshkosh] Northwestern:

WASHINGTON - Wisconsin is among nine states selected to design policies and regulations to increase energy efficiency and boost utilities' energy production from renewable fuels, the U.S. Energy Department announced Monday.

Wisconsin will receive a $400,000 grant to review the state's 25 oldest coal-fired boilers that generate 85 megawatts or less in electricity. The goal will be to convert, if feasible, the boilers to wood-fired boilers. The state also will devise a low-interest loan program for renewable fuels projects.

Friday, September 5, 2008

PSC lowers planning reserve margin

From Katie Nekola, Energy Program Director of Clean Wisconsin:

. . .today [September 4]the PSC lowered the planning reserve margin from 18% to 14.5%. They chose Alternative 5 in the attached briefing memo. This is great news for those of us who are not fans of utility overbuilding. RENEW, CUB, and Clean Wisconsin submitted comments in this docket advocating for this outcome.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Urge Congress to extend credit for renewable energy

An editorial from the Wisconsin State Journal:

America's effort to develop cleaner, more sustainable energy sources is threatened by the looming expiration of federal tax credits that boost renewable energy production and use.

Congress should respond this month by extending and enhancing the credits, which encourage investment in solar, wind, biomass and other renewable power sources.

A significant risk exists that at the end of this year Congress will let credits worth $500 million a year lapse, as it did three previous times. In those cases, investment in renewables fell dramatically before Congress revived the credits. Investment in wind power production, for example, fell 93 percent following the expiration of tax credits in 2000.

This year the vast majority in Congress supports extending the credits, available to homeowners, businesses and investors for buying equipment to use or produce renewable energy. But legislation extending and improving the credits is stalled by a dispute over what to do about the impact on the federal budget deficit.

The credits are part of a larger package of tax breaks scheduled to expire at the end of the year. Extending the breaks would cost the treasury $50 billion over 10 years.

Plans call for Congress to offset the lost revenue by raising fees or taxes or by cutting other programs.

Many senators and representatives are balking at the offsets.

Congress deserves praise for making sure the credits do not exacerbate the already-enormous budget deficits. But its members should also recognize the value the renewable energy tax credits have to an economy weighed down by the high cost of fossil fuels and to an environment threatened by pollution from burning fossil fuels.

With Congress scheduled to adjourn for the year at the end of this month, it's time for its members to compromise on a package of tax credits that can be offset with reasonable fee or tax increases and program cuts.

Wisconsin has much at stake. The state has great potential to become a national leader in renewable energy.

Tax credits spur the industry by making it more cost-effective to invest in equipment to use renewable energy in homes or businesses. The credits also make it more cost-effective to invest in starting or expanding renewable energy production plants.

Allowing the credits to expire would be a setback with costly consequences.

Wisconsin's congressional delegation should help engineer a resolution that extends the credits without enlarging the budget deficit.

The American Wind Energy Association makes it easy to contact your U.S. representatives and senators, through a page dedicated to urging members of Congress to act.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

WPS and CUB propose innovative utility pilot programs

From an article on Market Watch:

GREEN BAY, Wis. and MADISON, Wis., Sept 02, 2008 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ -- The Citizens Utility Board (CUB) has filed a stipulation it agreed to with Wisconsin Public Service Corporation (WPS), a subsidiary of Integrys Energy Group, at the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin. In the stipulation, CUB and WPS agreed to several initiatives that will help WPS customers conserve energy. The proposal is subject to Commission approval.

In a four-year pilot, WPS will reduce its fixed customer charges, increase its annual contribution to Focus on Energy (the organization that promotes energy conservation statewide) in each of the four years, and conduct innovative rate offerings in three communities to increase customer awareness and ability to use energy more efficiently. In addition, WPS will support the Governor's Task Force recommendations regarding new or improved state building codes and new or improved standards for appliances.

To balance the potential for reduced revenues due to decreased energy use by its customers, WPS is proposing a revenue stabilization mechanism to begin in 2009 for most of its customers. With revenue stabilization, WPS will be assured a certain level of revenue for its natural gas and electric deliveries regardless of weather and other conditions. Under the mechanism, WPS's revenue level will be "trued up" annually. If WPS's revenues are higher than expected, customers will receive refunds. If WPS's revenues are lower than expected, WPS will recover the difference over the next year.

More from an article by Richard Ryman in the Green Bay Press-Gazette.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Riggert talks peak oil at Farmers' Market

Jeff Riggert (center), an active member of the Madison Peak Oil Group and president of the Wisconsin chapter of the AESP, talks about peak oil with shoppers at the Farmers' Market on the Capitol Square.

Riggert has his home ready for the end of abundant, inexpensive petroleum. Energy efficiency practices cut his energy usage, and solar systems on his home's roof provide hot water and electricity.

The public can view Riggert's installations during the Solar Parade of Homes on Saturday, October 4.