Renewable Energy Installations in WI

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Wisconsin Energy sees rise in electricity demand

An article from BizTimes Daily:

Wisconsin Energy Corp. today reported second quarter net income of $88.7 million, or 75 cents per share, up from $63.7 million, or 54 cents per share, in the same period a year ago.

The Milwaukee-based parent company of We Energies reported quarterly operating revenues of $890 million, up from $835.7 million a year earlier.
Wisconsin Energy's second quarter performance was helped by a return to more normal weather and additional income from the company's Power the Future plan. Reported income from the Power the Future assets increased by 11 cents a share, driven by a $1.2 billion investment in the new Oak Creek generating unit. The unit began commercial service in February 2010.

Residential electricity use rose by 1.7 percent from the second quarter a year ago. Consumption of electricity by large commercial and industrial customers grew by 14.3 percent, while use of electricity by small commercial and industrial customers increased by 4.7 percent.

"We're clearly seeing growth in the region, and over the past three months, stronger economic activity has been evident across virtually every sector of our customer base," said Gale Klappa, Wisconsin Energy's chairman, president and chief executive officer. "Our Power the Future investments - adding modern, efficient capacity to our generating fleet - are providing real benefits to our customers and our stockholders. Our revised earnings guidance for 2010 is in the range of $3.70 to $3.75 a share from continuing operations.”

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Hoosiers may bear $16B cost of transporation for wind energy

From an article by Ted Evanoff in the Indianapolis Star:

The rural Midwest is booming with wind turbines these days -- but guess who's going to pay the $16 billion it will cost to move all that clean electricity to the cities that need it?

Probably you.

Officials are trying to figure out how much wind developers should pay to build the transmission lines to get their energy to market. But because other regions have shifted the entire cost to utility rate payers, the Midwest officials likely will feel pressure to do the same.

If they don't, industry analysts say, it could hurt the development of green energy in the region.

The Midwest -- with its heavy reliance on coal-fired power plants -- can ill-afford that, as federal regulations clamp down on carbon emissions.
Over the next few years, the development of wind energy could cost Indiana households more than $40 million per year, adding at least $2 per month on average to the typical bill for the state's 1.5 million homes.

The new cash would help pay for about $16 billion worth of new transmission lines that wind developers say are needed. The lines would move wind energy into the electric grid -- the interlaced power lines that tie utilities into a massive network.

Paying for the new lines raises an issue of fairness because households in, say, Indianapolis could subsidize electricity made by North Dakota wind turbines and used in cities such as Milwaukee, Chicago or Fort Wayne, experts say.

That could happen because the electric grid that covers Indiana is monitored by a Carmel-based nonprofit organization whose territory includes a wide swath from Ohio to the Dakotas.

Monday, July 12, 2010

The Oil Spill and You

From a commentary by Michael Vickerman:

by Michael Vickerman, RENEW Wisconsin
July 12, 2010

About 100 people gathered in downtown Madison in early July to take part in “Hands Across the Sands,” an internationally organized protest against continued oil drilling in and along the world’s coastal waters. Against the backdrop of the weed-choked waters of Lake Monona, they joined hands for 15 minutes to express their fervent desire to see a cleaner, less destructive energy future emerge from the liquid melanoma spreading across the Gulf of Mexico.

No doubt the protestors would like to do more, much more, than simply engage in ritualized protest in front of a few camera crews. But we live in a society that is organized around the expectation of a limitless supply of nonrenewable hydrocarbons feeding concentrated energy into our economic bloodstream. Most of us have not bothered to comprehend the yawning gulf that lies between our best intentions and our abject dependence on the wealth-producing properties of petroleum. Nor how this addiction fills us with delusions of godlike mastery over our environment while blinding us to the reality that we humans have grossly overshot our planet’s carrying capacity.

For those who read and still remember the science fiction classic Dune, the “spice” on Arrakis remains the quintessential literary analogy to the reality of Earth’s oil. Like our oil, the spice held a special place in that world as the ultimate prize worth waging wars and plundering hostile environments for. . . .

Need I mention that once you begin to appreciate the finitude of the Earth’s endowment of petroleum, there’s nothing to stop you from taking immediate steps to curb your personal consumption of this irreplaceable fuel. Whatever you do to lessen your dependence on petroleum will turn out to be a much more satisfying and meaningful response to our energy predicament than any canned protest promoted through Facebook.

As for myself, I made two resolutions since the Macondo well erupted. The first is to go through this summer without activating the household air-conditioner. So far, so good, I can report. (Luckily, we were spared the triple-digit temperature swelterfest that gripped the East Coast last week). It wasn’t that long ago that life without air-conditioning was the norm rather than the exception. If we all resolved not to turn on air-conditioners, we could force the retirement of two to three coal-fired plants in this state.

The other change was to ratchet up my reliance on my bicycle and make it the default vehicle for all my local travels, irrespective of weather conditions. I have been a fair-weather bicycle commuter for many years, but after watching everyone on TV blame someone else for the catastrophe, I felt the need to push myself a little harder. My objective here is to regard my car as a luxury that one day I might do without.

Though the extra perspiration and the occasional dodging of raindrops may take some getting used to, you are going to sleep better at night. Trust me on this.

If the oil spill has prompted a similar response from you, feel free to describe them and send them to the moderator of our Peak Oil blog or post them in a response.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Wind stakeholders cite uniformity as key to more projects

From a news release issued by RENEW Wisconsin:

Collectively drawing upon the individual roadblocks that developers experienced in permitting wind energy projects in Wisconsin, a group of renewable energy stakeholders urged the Public Service Commission to adopt standards that can’t be undermined by additional restrictions imposed by local governments.

The comments, submitted on behalf of 38 signatories, addressed the draft siting rule published by the Commission in mid-May. The draft rule proposed standards applicable to all wind energy systems -- large and small -- erected in Wisconsin. In the next phase of this proceeding, the Commission will review the public comments before issuing a final rule in August.

The rule will specify, among other things, setback distances from neighbors, sound limits, shadow flicker durations, procedures for decommissioning inoperable turbines, and mitigating electronic signal interference.

Noting that local governments would have discretionary authority going beyond the legislation’s intentions, renewable energy supporters recommended specific changes to give developers a greater sense of certainty in the permitting process.

“We are willing to work collaboratively and cooperatively with political subdivisions to establish mutually agreeable provisions beyond the requirements of the rules,” the stakeholders said in their joint comments. “However, we cannot develop wind projects in Wisconsin if current uncertainty regarding political subdivision requirements continues.”

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Will we create a grid smart enough for the 21st century?

As daylight fades, Manhattan continues to gorge on power. New York City is tied to fuels like natural gas, with less than one percent of its electricity coming from wind or solar.

From an article by Joel Achenbach in National Geographic, with photos by Joe McNally

Can we fix the infrastructure that powers our lives?

We are creatures of the grid. We are embedded in it and empowered by it. The sun used to govern our lives, but now, thanks to the grid, darkness falls at our con­venience. During the Depression, when power lines first electrified rural America, a farmer in Tennessee rose in church one Sunday and said—power companies love this story—"The greatest thing on earth is to have the love of God in your heart, and the next greatest thing is to have electricity in your house." He was talking about a few lightbulbs and maybe a radio. He had no idea.

Juice from the grid now penetrates every corner of our lives, and we pay no more attention to it than to the oxygen in the air. Until something goes wrong, that is, and we're suddenly in the dark, fumbling for flashlights and candles, worrying about the frozen food in what used to be called (in pre-grid days) the icebox. Or until the batteries run dry in our laptops or smart phones, and we find ourselves scouring the dusty corners of airports for an outlet, desperate for the magical power of electrons.

The grid is wondrous. And yet—in part because we've paid so little attention to it, engineers tell us—it's not the grid we need for the 21st century. It's too old. It's reliable but not reliable enough, especially in the United States, especially for our mushrooming population of finicky digital devices. Blackouts, brownouts, and other power outs cost Americans an estimated $80 billion a year. And at the same time that it needs to become more reliable, the grid needs dramatic upgrading to handle a different kind of power, a greener kind. That means, among other things, more transmission lines to carry wind power and solar power from remote places to big cities.

Most important, the grid must get smarter. . . .

CUB sues PSC regarding subsidies for industrial customers

From a news release issued by the Citizens Utility Board (CUB):

MADISON – The Citizens Utility Board filed a lawsuit on Friday, July 2 against the Public Service Commission for its decision to allow Wisconsin Power & Light to give discounts to industrial customers that will likely be subsidized by residential customers and others.

Wisconsin Power and Light, a utility subsidiary of Alliant Energy, applied with the PSC on November 13, 2009 for permission to offer an “economic development rate” that would provide certain large industrial customers with discounts on electricity service. The PSC issued an order approving this rate on June 4, 2010.

CUB has long been opposed to rates with discounts, because they usually force other customers to pay for the discount. The laws that regulate utility service in Wisconsin prohibit utilities from charging rates that provide discounts to one customer that are subsidized by other customers. CUB noted many of these concerns in correspondence to the PSC dated February 17 and March 16, 2010, and in its lawsuit filed last Friday.

Although PSC Chairperson Eric Callisto and Commissioner Mark Meyer approved the discounted rates, Commissioner Lauren Azar voted against them, noting that subsidies for certain industrial customers may cause higher rates for residential and commercial customers. Ms. Azar also issued a dissenting opinion on June 25, 2010, in which she called the rate “essentially a giveaway to businesses.”

“CUB filed this lawsuit to protect residential customers from subsidizing large, politically powerful companies,” said CUB executive director Charlie Higley. “The job of the PSC is to set electric rates that are fair, just, and reasonable, and the economic development rate approved by the PSC violates these legal principles.”

Friday, July 2, 2010

Ten Wisconsin communities reaching energy independence

From a news release issued by Governor Jim Doyle on the success of the ten communities in Energy Independent (EI) Pilot -- Brown County; Chequamegon Bay (including the cities of Ashland, Bayfield and Washburn, the towns of Bayfield and La Pointe, the counties of Ashland and Bayfield, the Red Cliff tribe and the Bay Area Regional Transit authority); Columbus; Evansville; Fairfield; Marshfield; Oconomowoc; Osceola, including the school district; Platteville and Lancaster; Spring Green, including the school district:

MADISON – Governor Jim Doyle today announced ten Energy Independent (EI) Pilot Communities are well on their way toward achieving “25 x 25” – getting 25 percent of their electricity and 25 percent of their transportation fuels from renewable sources by 2025.

“Through the EI Pilot program communities have found ways to reduce their overall 2025 fossil fuel-based energy consumption by 30 percent,” said Governor Doyle. “This is significant considering we spend $16 billion on fossil fuel energy every year in Wisconsin, and all those dollars go outside of our state. We are finding ways to reduce our dependence
and generate jobs in Wisconsin.”

Two independent reports released by the Office of Energy Independence revealed how the ten EI Pilot Communities were able to accomplish 98 percent of their collective 25 x 25 goal.

The communities reduced their overall 2025 fossil fuel-based energy consumption by 30 percent and reduced their 2025 carbon dioxide emissions by 40 percent.

The information gathered by the EI Pilot Communities will assist Wisconsin local units of government including the 140 EI Communities to decide which strategies will work best with their unique assets and capitalize on the diversity of their resources.

The reports were conducted by two non-partisan research and policy organizations: the Local Government Institute and the Energy Center of Wisconsin.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Xcel Energy and co-sponsors release Phase One of Transmission Study for transporting wind energy across Upper Midwest

From an news release issued by Excel Energy:

MINNEAPOLIS – Phase One of a comprehensive study released today by a coalition of energy leaders, identifies future transmission needs in the Upper Midwest to support renewable energy development and to transport that energy to population and electricity load centers. Xcel Energy is co-sponsoring the study with Electric Transmission America – a joint venture between subsidiaries of American Electric Power and MidAmerican Energy Holdings Company, American Transmission Company, Exelon Corp., NorthWestern Energy and MidAmerican Energy Company.

The Strategic Midwest Area Transmission Study (SMARTransmission) sponsors retained Quanta Technology LLC to evaluate extra-high voltage transmission alternatives for new transmission development in the Upper Midwest. In phase one, Quanta evaluated eight transmission alternatives designed to support the integration of significant new wind generation within the study area, including North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, Nebraska, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Ohio. The plans would accommodate the integration of up to 56.8 gigawatts of wind generation. This translates into enough energy to power over 15 million households. If it is determined that less wind energy is needed, transmission recommendations would be adjusted accordingly.

The study’s Phase One results recommend three alternatives for further study based on a rigorous reliability assessment and stakeholder input. One of the alternatives is primarily 765-kilovolt extra-high voltage transmission, another includes 765 kilovolt combined with limited use of high-voltage direct current transmission lines, while the third constitutes a combination of both 345-kilovolt and 765-kilovolt transmission lines. The three alternatives will be evaluated further during the second phase of the study, scheduled for completion during the third quarter of 2010. The Phase One report can be downloaded at