Renewable Energy Installations in WI

Thursday, January 29, 2009

RENEW's winter newsletter goes on-line

The Wisconsin Renewable Quarterly, RENEW Wisconsin's newsletter, features these articles:

+ Rest in Peace: Cassville Generation Plant
+ Mississippi River Bird and Bat Study
+ Osceola School Heats Pools with Solar
+ Bob Ramlow: Solar Pioneer
+ Focus on Energy Issues Biogas Profiles
+ Focus on Energy Earns National Honor
+ State Plugs into Renewable Energy

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Find business opportunities in the wind industry, March 31, Appleton

Businesses with possible products or services for the wind industry could find new opportunities by attending the Wisconsin Wind Energy Supply Chain Seminar, March 31, 2009, Appleton, WI, produced by the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA):

The wind energy industry is experiencing unprecedented growth, which is bringing major supply chain challenges to the industry while it aggressively “ramps up” domestic manufacturing of wind turbines and their components. As a result, there is significant opportunity for state and local governments, manufacturers and component suppliers across all industries to help feed the supply chain and grow their business.

This state-level seminar will focus on supply chain challenges and opportunities in the state of Wisconsin for companies looking to get involved in the supply of components and services to the wind energy industry. This state-level event is designed to focus on specific aspects for Wisconsin-based companies and to enable their entrance into the wind industry.

AWEA is presenting this workshop with the support of The New North, RENEW Wisconsin, We Energies, State of Wisconsin-Office of Energy Independence, Wisconsin Department of Commerce.
More details here.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

WPL customers to get one-time $18 million credit

From a news release issued by the Public Service Commission:

MADISON – Made possible by a steep drop in fuel costs, today the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (PSC) approved an $18 million refund for electric customers of Wisconsin Power and Light (WP&L).

“Lower than projected fuel costs are the main drivers behind the commission approving this refund today,” said Chairperson Eric Callisto. “The protections we have in place make sure that customers see refunds when fuel prices drop. It is important that the PSC continue to work diligently to make sure that when fuel costs do dip, the ratepayers can see the benefit as quickly as possible.”

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 $18 million refund. In the next couple months, the average WP&L customer can expect to see a onetime refund of approximately $14.00 on an upcoming electric bill.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Report shows Wisconsin electric providers meeting or exceeding renewable energy standards

From a news release issued by the Public Service Commssion:

MADISON – The Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (PSC) today [Jan. 22] announced that all 118 Wisconsin electric providers have met their renewable portfolio standards for 2007, 111 providers have exceeded the requirements for the year, and most are well on their way to meeting their increased obligations.

One key provision in 2005 Wisconsin Act 141 was an increase in the renewable portfolio standard, requiring Wisconsin retail electric providers to produce 10% of their electricity from renewable resources by the year 2015. For the years leading to 2015, Wisconsin utilities are required to report their progress in meeting the renewable milestones to the PSC. In 2007, Wisconsin utilities generated 114% of the 2007 requirement and as a result have excess renewable energy credits to use in the future.

“Although there are many challenges ahead, this report shows that Wisconsin is staying on a steady course to reaching Governor Doyle’s renewable energy goals,” said Chairperson Eric Callisto. “I commend the state’s electric utilities for their commitment to meeting Act 141 requirements, especially the nine utilities who have already met 2010 standards. I encourage utilities to continue their efforts and look forward to reviewing more proposed renewable projects in the future.”

“This report is good news for Wisconsin as it shows the significant progress Wisconsin utilities have made in increasing the use of renewable energy resources,” said Commissioner Mark Meyer. “Wisconsin continues to be a leader, and adopting M-RETS, a renewable energy generation tracking system, which helps electric providers keep track of their renewable energy credits in complying with Act 141, has proven itself to be a very effective tool.”

Currently, Wisconsin utilities generate about four percent of the state’s electricity from renewable resources – just under half of the requirements for the year 2015. In the past year, the PSC has approved several projects which will significantly increase renewable generation in the state, leading Wisconsin down the path of energy independence.

Friday, January 23, 2009

State stumbles toward 2025 energy goal

From an article by Paul Snyder in The Daily Reporter:
Wisconsin still has 16 years to meet its 2025 alternative energy development goals, yet business and utility groups say the state had better pick up the pace.

Charlie Higley, executive director of the Citizens Utility Board of Wisconsin, said the state is producing less than 5 percent of its energy from renewable resources.

“Wisconsin is still losing out big to places like Iowa when it comes to wind power manufacturers,” he said. “And I think there’s still focusing to do when it comes to (establishing a direction for) energy independence.”

The state charted its course toward independence last year when it adopted the Clean Energy Wisconsin report, which set 2025 as the year by which the state derives 25 percent of its energy from renewable sources. Yet local and state governments remain at an impasse over control of wind farm placement, and, after a fast start, ethanol and biomass plant development slowed to a crawl in the last year.

“Yes, we’re behind, and yes, it’s disappointing,” said state Rep. Phil Garthwaite, the Dickeyville Democrat who serves on the Assembly Committee on Renewable Energy and Rural Affairs. “You’d like to be further along, and 16 years seems short. But I think there’s still a lot of work we can do. It’s just going to be a longer process due to economics and public psychology.”

Thursday, January 22, 2009

WPL (Alliant) may raise rates

From an article by Judy Newman in the Wisconsin State Journal:
If you're a Wisconsin Power & Light customer, you may soon pay more for electricity.

WPL is expected to file an emergency request with state regulators for permission to raise rates. Just last month, the Madison utility company agreed to hold electric rates steady for 2009 and reduce natural-gas rates by $4 million.

The reason: the recession.

WPL is losing millions of dollars in revenues that had been pouring in when business was booming and factories were busy. Now, the General Motors plant in Janesville is down to a few dozen workers and the Domtar paper mill at Port Edwards is closed. Both were among WPL's top 10 power users.

Throughout southern Wisconsin, untold numbers of businesses are paring production and staff. That means less electricity is being used and WPL is collecting less money.

"We are sharing the pain being felt across our service territory," Bill Harvey, chairman and chief executive of WPL's parent company, Alliant Energy, told a conference call with analysts in December.

WPL won't say how much electricity GM and Domtar had been using but said that together, the price they paid for power amounted to 1 percent of the utility's revenues.

Harvey projected WPL's sales this year will be 6.4 percent, or $30 million, lower than those anticipated in the recent rate settlement, which was based on 2007 figures. "Because of this significant downward shift in forecasts, we will likely file an emergency rate case," he told analysts. . . .

Madison Gas & Electric and Milwaukee-based We Energies said they have no plans to seek a rate boost based on recession-impaired revenues. But both of those utilities have discussed the possibility of seeking increases to help meet pension costs.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

$6M in grants available to reach 20% wind energy goal

The DOE this week said it is making up to $6 million available over the next two fiscal years for projects that address the technical challenges of wind development and market acceptance barriers that were outlined in a report, "20 Percent Wind Energy by 2030," that was released last year. The funding will be available for projects in six different topic areas that include turbine research, development and testing, distributed wind technologies, market acceptance efforts, environmental research and sitting strategies, transmission analysis, planning and assessments as well as workforce development. The May 2008 report says the U.S. possesses affordable wind energy resources far in excess of those needed to enable a 20-percent scenario. However, DOE also identified major challenges that need to be overcome and require action to meet the 20 percent by 2030 goal:

+ Major investments in transmission so that power generated in Midwest locations can be delivered urban centers at great distance

+ Larger electric load balancing areas, in tandem with better regional planning and use of complementary generation and storage, so that grid operators can better integrate wind generation into the electric utility grid

+ Continued reduction in wind turbine capital costs through technology advancement and improved manufacturing capabilities

+ Improved wind turbine performance and reduction of operating and maintenance costs through improved reliability

+ Addressing concerns about local siting, wildlife, and environmental issues within the context of electricity generation

+ Develop an abundant and skilled workforce to supply the growing renewable energy industry.

The full report can be read and downloaded at

Full grant details here.

Completed funding applications are due by March 3. DOE anticipates notifying applicants selected for award by the end of April 2009 and making awards by the end of September 2009

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

PSC opens invetigation of potential utility development of solar generation

From an announcement issued by the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin:
This is an investigation to assess the potential for the development of utility investments in solar energy resources to cost-effectively contribute to Wisconsin's electric supply. The Sierra Club submitted testimony discussing solar energy resources in Commission dockets 6680-UR-116 and 6690-UR-119, the Wisconsin Power and Light Company and Wisconsin Public Service Corporation rate cases recently before the Commission. At its open meeting on December 18,2008, under the authority of Wis. Stat. 5 196.02, the Commission directed Commission staff to prepare a notice to open a docket to investigate utility investments in solar energy resources.

The Commission intends to work with stakeholders to:
(1) identify and assess the current financial and business models available for utility investment in solar energy resources;
(2) identify and assess the costs of utility investments in solar energy resources;
(3) identify and assess the benefits of utility investments in solar energy resources, including benefits to:
(a) peak and intermediate load operations,
(b) the utility as a business,
(c) policy objectives, including meeting the state's renewable portfolio standards and reducing greenhouse gases in preparation for proposed federal legislation, and
(d) utility risk management;
(4) identify and assess technical, market and policy issues that may affect the potential for utility investment in solar energy resources; and (5) establish short-term and long-term recommendations regarding
program design and implementation of utility investments in solar energy resources. Other issues may also be identified and investigated.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Focus on Energy wins national award for renewable energy program

From a media release issued by Focus on Energy:

WASHINGTON D.C. (Jan. 14, 2009) - Focus on Energy has been recognized as a national leader in the promotion and practice of renewable energy by the Clean Energy States Alliance (CESA). On Jan. 13, 2009, the CESA presented Focus on Energy, and four other states, with the "2009 State Leadership in Clean Energy Award" during a press conference in Washington, D.C. The award was established to recognize state programs that are most effectively accelerating adoption of clean energy technologies and advancing clean energy markets.

"National recognition for what Focus on Energy is doing in Wisconsin to develop clean energy projects which help the state's economy and its environment is rewarding," said Don Wichert, program director for Focus on Energy's Renewable Energy Program.

Focus on Energy's Biogas Digestion Program was specifically recognized. Because of the information, education, technical assistance and financing this program provides, Wisconsin leads the nation in the number of farm-based anaerobic biogas digesters. Biogas digester systems enable farmers to produce electricity, heat and pipeline-quality gas and distribute energy for a reasonable return on investment while controlling dairy manure odors, pathogens and flies.

Monday, January 12, 2009

National Energy Services Conference & Expo, San Diego, Jan. 26-29

From the conference highlights from the AESP:

AESP's National Energy Services Conference & Expo (NESC) is the premier energy industry conference that unites renowned energy experts, stimulating educational sessions, and valuable networking opportunities into one convenient location. You will discover new ideas for your marketing and energy efficiency programs; learn about emerging market trends and technologies; and meet with colleagues to share experiences.

+ Transformational keynote speaker
+ Over 70 relevant presentations (many not found anywhere else)
+ Thought-provoking panel discussions
+ Networking events
+ Practical pre-conference workshops
+ Innovative products and services featured in sold-out expo hall

Content-rich sessions are designed for all experience levels, including:
+ IOU, Municipal and Cooperative Utility Professionals (including those involved in energy efficiency; demand response; demand-side management; demand response; distributed resources; market research and evaluation; pricing; program planning and implementation, marketing and communications; technology; public/environmental benefits; renewable energy, energy policy, etc.)
+ Energy Marketers
+ Government Policy Makers and Regulators
+ Public Benefits Organizations
+ Industry Advisors including Consultants, Marketing Communications Firms, Market Researchers, Technology Firms and others.

Friday, January 9, 2009

We Energies wants okay to study wind in Lake Michigan

From an article by Pete Millard in The Business Journal:
Wisconsin Electric Power Co. [d/b/a We Energies], the state’s largest public energy utility, is seeking Public Service Commission approval to spend $3 million to study the feasibility of harnessing the Great Lakes’ wind power.

With more than a half-dozen wind farms sprouting up in corn and soybean fields from Montfort in southwest Wisconsin to Portage, Eden and Kewaunee on the banks of Lake Michigan in northeast Wisconsin, the real potential for wind power exists on the Great Lakes. That’s according to a November 2008 PSC report.

While no one doubts the potential for wind power on the Great Lakes, there are environmental, construction, transmission and maintenance issues that need examination before wind turbines and towers begin rising in the depths of Lake Michigan and Lake Superior.

“What we’re proposing is taking the next step forward from the PSC report,” said Roman Draba, WEPCO’s vice president of regulatory affairs and policy.

The PSC’s own Great Lakes wind power study summarizes the various state, federal and tribal statutes, rules and regulations that may have to be changed before any proposal to build an off-shore wind project can move ahead, but these are not insurmountable obstacles, said Carl Siegrist, WEPCO’s senior renewable energy strategist.

Less known is whether the technology exists to economically transmit the wind power from off-shore turbines to on-shore transmission lines. Also unknown is the cost to build and maintain the turbines and towers, especially in winter, Siegrist said.

“A big part of the study will also monitor exactly what the wind patterns are and how productive they may be,” said Draba.

The WEPCO Lake Michigan study also will look at the potential environmental impact the towers and turbines would have on bats and migratory birds.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Will Minnesota ban out-of-state coal-generated electricity?

From a story by Bob Geiger on Finance and Commerce:
The Minnesota Legislature’s passage of clean energy legislation in 2007 could create difficulties for Maple Grove-based Great River Energy, which fires up its third North Dakota coal-fired power plant in 2010.

At issue is whether power generated by the 99-megawatt Spiritwood Station can legally be used by Minnesota customers of Great River Energy (GRE).

Minnesota’s Next Generation Energy Act prohibits increased emissions from large power plants that generate greenhouse gases.

Language in the bill states that after Aug. 1, 2009, no person shall “import or commit to import from outside the state from a new large energy facility that would contribute to statewide power sector carbon dioxide emissions.”

The language reflects a move by national and state governments to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide, to help combat global warming.

GRE, which sells power to 28 electricity cooperatives in Minnesota, says the measure doesn’t apply in this case, because energy generated from Spiritwood will be sold to the Midwest Independent Operator System, or MISO, not directly to Minnesota power co-ops.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Are we nearing peak coal? Part 1

From a post on Climate Progress, a project of the Center for American Progress Action Fund, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization:

The imminent reality of peak oil production should be clear to all by now (see “Normally staid IEA says oil will peak in 2020“).

Now some very serious people are suggesting that there is a lot less accessible coal out there than most folks believe. If we are nearing peak coal (and peak oil), then we would need to embrace the rapid transition to a clean energy economy almost as urgently as we need to embrace it to avoid destroying the climate.
The post continues with an analysis of various reports on coal reserves.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

WPS will uncouple profits, energy sales

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

In a move expected to be followed by at least one other state utility, Wisconsin Public Service Corp. of Green Bay will no longer see profits dip when sales of electricity slide.

That may seem like a profit plan many businesses wish they could use during slowing economic times, but it's all part of a growing movement around the country to help customers save on rising home energy costs.

The northeastern Wisconsin utility won state approval this week for a plan that would break the link between profits and electricity sales. It also would boost spending to encourage customers to reduce their use of energy.

"It should be a very good thing for the environment and for energy conservation because it allows us to take our focus off the bottom line and put it into education and helping our customers use less energy," utility spokesman Kerry Spees said. . . .

WPS will develop pilot projects in several communities designed to boost energy efficiency. The exact nature of the community-based pilots won't be developed for several months, Spees said.

Those pilots could serve as models for other initiatives around the state, said Charlie Higley, executive director of the Wisconsin Citizens' Utility Board.

"These community pilots will test other ways of marketing energy efficiency so more consumers can participate and enjoy the savings, and then those can be replicated with other utilities," Higley said.

The Citizens' Utility Board has been in contact with other state utilities, including We Energies of Milwaukee, to explore similar moves. To date, only Madison-based Wisconsin Power & Light Co. has expressed interest.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Japanese company buys 50% share in Wisconsin generation plant from GE

From an article by Shigeru Sato on

Jan. 5 (Bloomberg) -- Itochu Corp., a Japanese trading company, said its North American unit bought a 50 percent stake in a natural gas-fired power producer in Wisconsin from GE Energy Financial Services.

Itochu's subsidiary Tyr Energy Inc. acquired the stake in Fox Energy Company LLC. for an undisclosed amount, the company said in a statement on its Web site today. The power plant, located in Kaukauna city, is capable of generating 593 megawatts of electricity.

The deal is the sixth power-plant acquisition for Tyr Energy, taking the company's total generating capacity in the U.S. to 661 megawatts, according to the statement. Fox Energy has a contract to sell as much as 500 megawatts of electricity to Wisconsin Public Service Corp., a regional utility, it said.