Renewable Energy Installations in WI

Friday, October 29, 2010

Top 10 things a Wisconsin voter should know for Election Day

From a news release issued by the Government Accountability Board:

MADISON, WI – The Government Accountability Board today released its list of the top 10 things a Wisconsin voter should know for Election Day, Tuesday, November 2.

The number one thing voters should know is that they can register at the polling place on Election Day.

“Election Day registration ensures that everyone who is qualified to vote will get to vote,” said Kevin Kennedy, director and general counsel of the G.A.B. “Unlike many other states, Wisconsin has registration at the polls, so very few voters will likely be forced to vote on a provisional ballot.”

To register on Election Day, Wisconsin voters must provide proof of residence, which includes a current utility bill, lease, university ID card or other official document showing the voter’s name and current address. Voters who have a valid Wisconsin driver’s license or state ID card will be required to use their license number to complete the registration form. Otherwise, they may use the last four digits of their Social Security number.

Number two on the list is that voters can check their registration status with their municipal clerk, or on the state’s Voter Public Access website:

Monday, October 25, 2010

Governor Doyle breaks ground on coal plant conversion to biomass

From a news release issued by Governor Doyle:

MADISON – Governor Jim Doyle today broke ground on the Charter Street Biomass Heating Plant project. The $251 million project is one of the largest biomass projects in the nation and will create construction and clean energy jobs. The project follows Governor Doyle’s 2008 announcement that Wisconsin would stop burning coal at state-owned heating plants on Madison’s Isthmus.

“In 2008, I announced plans to stop burning coal at state-owned heating plants on Madison’s Isthmus,” Governor Doyle said. “Today, we are breaking ground on the Charter Street biomass plant and taking a major step forward to make this goal a reality. The Charter Street plant will turn a waste stream into clean energy, it will keep energy dollars in our communities, and it will help clean our air and water. This project will create great jobs in Wisconsin and will develop a new biomass market from our great fields and farms.”

The Governor’s 2009-2011 capital budget included $251 million for the Charter Street project and $25 million to convert the Capitol Heat and Power Plant to natural gas. The Charter Street plant will support local biomass providers and eliminate over 108,000 tons of coal burned every year. In March, the state stopped burning coal at the Capitol Heat and Power Plant – eliminating 4,500 tons of coal burned by the state each year. When the Charter Street project is completed in 2013, the Doyle Administration will have reduced State of Wisconsin coal use by 65 percent.

The Charter Street project is a joint effort between AMEC and Boldt Construction. The plant’s coal boilers will first be replaced by natural gas and biomass fuel. The plant will run completely on biomass by late 2013, with the capacity to burn wood chips, corn stalks and switch grass pellets and power 300 local buildings.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

International peak oil expert Nicole Foss in Madison Wednesday & Thursday

As some of you already know, Nicole Foss – the woman who did the “Century of Challenges” presentation in Madison last month – will be back in the Madison Tuesday afternoon thru Friday morning this week. So we have another great opportunity to meet with her! This came up at the last moment; I’ve taken on organizing her schedule; we want to make it work for as many of you as possible.

We are hosting a pot-luck gathering with Nicole in the Village of Oregon on Thursday evening – and y’all are most welcome! Bring food if you can; skip it if you don’t have time – the important thing is conversation, not mastication.
Time: 6:30 PM, Thursday October 21
Place: Village Hall Community Room, 117 Spring Street, Oregon, WI

I would appreciate any ideas and HELP you could offer. Especially with media contacts: WPR (please, let’s open that door!), WORT, Isthmus, Cap Times, State Journal, etc. Just give them a call – the more people they hear from, the better. If you get a “yes”, let me know so we can schedule a time: 608-444-6190

Here is the schedule right now. If you want to organize a small gathering for any of the “open” times, let me know: 608-444-6190
Tue afternoon – arrive, maybe time for coffee or something
Tuesday @ 7:00 PM – “Fuels Paradise” presentation
Wednesday AM – open
Wednesday @ noon thru ~2:00 – Madison Peak Oil Group special meeting (222 South Hamilton Street)
Wednesday afternoon – open
Wednesday evening – small gathering – tentative
Thursday AM – open
Thursday @ ~1:00 PM – video shoot
Thursday afternoon ~3:00 thru ~6:00 PM – open
Thursday @ 6:30 – pot-luck in V Oregon
Fri AM – open

Will keep you posted.

Hans Noeldner, Facilitator
Madison Peak Oil Group

Friday, October 15, 2010

WPS sister company invests heavily in solar electricity

From a blog post by Tom Content on JSonline:

Wisconsin-based Integrys Energy Services will invest $90 million in new solar power projects around the country under an agreement through a partnership with Duke Energy of North Carolina and Smart Energy Capital of New York.

Under the partnership, Duke and Integrys said they will each invest $90 million over the next two years in distributed solar projects, which will be operated and maintained by the two energy companies.

Smart Energy Capital, a finance and investment company focused exclusively on the North American solar electric industry, will develop the projects and arrange financing under the partnership.

Integrys has been actively pursuing solar projects since 2008.

“We have invested more than $65 million in 20 different distributed generation solar projects across the U.S. with a combined capacity of more than 10 megawatts,” said Joel Jansen, managing director at Integrys Energy Services, in a statement.

Duke and Integrys said they believe most growth in the solar market over the next several years will involve commercial-scale applications on building roofs and ground-mounted systems. . . .

Integrys Energy Services is based south of Green Bay and is a national energy company that markets natural gas as well as electricity in states like Illinois that have opened up their power markets to competition. It is a sister company of Wisconsin Public Service Corp., the electric and natural gas utility serving northeastern Wisconsin.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Wisconsin's green economy offers 15,100 jobs

From a report published by the Wisconsin Sustainable Business Council, The Green Tier Porgram at the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, and the Wisconsin School of Business:

By 2007, 68,203 businesses in the United States had generated more than 770,000 jobs in the green economy (Pew Charitable Trust, 2009). Every state has a piece of America’s green economy. The leading states include Oregon, Maine,California, Colorado, Massachusetts and Minnesota. Wisconsin is not currently among the leading states:

SOURCE: PEW Charitable Trusts, 2009, based on the National Establishment Time Series 2007 Database; analysis by Pew Center on the Statesand Collaborative Economics

Green job growth in Wisconsin through the 2001 recession (where WI lost 100,000 manufacturing jobs that were never recovered) was anemic. Wisconsin has lost an additional 70,000 manufacturing jobs (through July, 2010) because of the recession of 2008 (Center on Wisconsin Strategy, 2010).

While Wisconsin ranks either first or second in the nation in manufacturing jobs per capita, there is still a great deal of idle capacity in Wisconsin.

In 2007, jobs associated with the green economy accounted for 0.49 percent of all jobs nationally. WI was slightly below the national average with 3,150,000 total jobs and 0.48 percent of them being green.

A closer look at the data reveals that Wisconsin ranks as a top ten state in energy efficiency jobs. Energy efficiency is one of the five types of green jobs identified in the Pew report. Wisconisn ranked sixth in energy efficiency with 2,801 jobs. Midwestern states generally did well in all sectors, with Minnesota, Michigan, and Illinois appearing among the top 10 states in multiple sectors.

In 2007, jobs associated with the green economy accounted for 0.49 percent of all jobs nationally. WI was slightly below the national average with 3,150,000 total jobs and 0.48 percent of them being green.

A closer look at the data reveals that Wisconsin ranks as a 2,801 jobs. Midwestern states generally did well in all sectors, with Minnesota, Michigan, and Illinois appearing amongthe top 10 states in multiple sectors.

The report concludes:

The United States, and Wisconsin, will be focused on job creation over the next five to ten years. Creating green jobs has to be a part of the future if we hope to maintain our roleas a manufacturing state. Green jobs will gravitate towards states that are the most attractive, or to states that actively increase their attractiveness relative to competing states. The states that actively recruit green businesses will prosper in the longer run.

Wisconsin has a long history of manufacturing strength, and we are increasingly attracting manufacturing companies that are creating green jobs. But we can do more. We have only to look at our neighboring states of Iowa or Minnesota to see the benefit of establsihing Wisconsin as a hotbed of green expertise.

New green businesses can create jobs, generate revenues, and help Wisconsin re-emerge as a bell-weather state in the heartland of America.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Jimmy Carter redeemed: White House to tap sun for heating water and some electricity

From an Associated Press article by Dina Cappiello in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Solar power is coming to President Barack Obama's house.

The most famous residence in America, which has already boosted its green credentials by planting a garden, plans to install solar panels atop the White House's living quarters. The solar panels are to be installed by spring 2011, and will heat water for the first family and supply some electricity.

Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced the plans Tuesday in Washington at a conference of local, state, academic and nonprofit leaders aimed at identifying how the federal government can improve its environmental performance.

Former Presidents Jimmy Carter and George W. Bush both tapped the sun during their days in the White House. Carter in the late 1970s spent $30,000 on a solar water-heating system for West Wing offices. Bush's solar systems powered a maintenance building and some of the mansion, and heated water for the pool.

Obama, who has championed renewable energy, has been under increasing pressure by the solar industry and environmental activists to lead by example by installing solar at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, something White House officials said has been under consideration since he first took office.

The decision perhaps has more import now after legislation to reduce global warming pollution died in the Senate, despite the White House's support. Obama has vowed to try again on a smaller scale.

Last month, global warming activists with carried one of Carter's solar panels - which were removed in 1986 - from Unity College in Maine to Washington to urge Obama to put solar panels on his roof. It was part of a global campaign to persuade world leaders to install solar on their homes. After a meeting with White House officials, they left Washington without a commitment.

Bill McKibben, the founder of the group, said Tuesday the administration did the right thing.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

State says power supplies will be plentiful through 2016

From an article by in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

Construction of new power plants plus a recession that wiped out surging demand for electricity have brought on a power glut, with Wisconsin having more than enough power to meet its needs through 2016, a report released Tuesday says.

The state Public Service Commission's Strategic Energy Assessment, conducted every two years, is a planning document aimed at providing information about where the state stands in meeting its energy needs.

The assessment notes that the average price paid for electricity by Wisconsin businesses and residents has been rising and now stands above the Midwest average for residential, commercial and industrial customers.

Comparisons with other states can be difficult, the report notes, because of the different types of energy regulation that exist in different states. Nearby states such as Illinois and Michigan have opened up their power markets to competition.

Thanks to new power plants, such as the We Energies coal-fired power plant in Oak Creek, Wisconsin will have at least 24% more electricity available than it needs to meet projected demand, the report says.

"Excess reserves may increase the opportunity for Wisconsin utilities to export power in the regional market," the report says. "While this market is still evolving, the opportunity exists for excess generation sales to benefit ratepayers."

At the same time, the commission is investigating whether the power glut gives the state an opportunity to mothball or retire some of the state's aging coal-fired power plants.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Solar power proves steady investment for Janesville man

From an article by Frank Schultz in the Janesville Press Gazette:

JANESVILLE — So you want to invest.

Stock? Too wobbly.

Interest at the banks? Scant.

A rural Janesville man has found an investment that appears to work in any economy: the sun.

The sun, which is not expected to burn out for billions of years, spills massive amounts of energy onto the Earth every day. It also puts cash into Chuck Niles’ pocket.

Niles, a retired General Motors worker, said he’s been thinking about solar power for 25 years. He got serious about it three years ago when he learned that improvements in solar technology have reduced the cost per watt considerably.

Then he heard about government programs that provide huge discounts in startup costs.

Here’s how Niles does the math:

The 90 panels on the roof of Niles’ pole barn and nearby shed on Murray Road south of Janesville cost $130,410, installation included.

A federal program known as Section 1603 of the Recovery Act paid him $39,600. The state Focus on Energy program paid him $32,603.

Niles uses about $35 worth of electricity a month in the barn. The rest goes to Alliant Energy, which pays him monthly. The checks vary with sunshine, but Niles estimates conservatively that the checks will average around $440 a month.

In the meantime, Niles is also getting a federal income-tax break from the depreciation on his investment.

When all the costs and benefits are accounted for, Niles figures his payback period is just five years. He figures his return on investment is about 12 percent.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Meet Butler Ridge, Wisconsin’s Newest Wind Project

By Michael Vickerman
September 30, 2010

On September 23, Alex DePillis and I hopped on board a tour bus filled with natural resource professionals and gave an overview of wind development in Wisconsin as we headed to the 54 MW Butler Ridge Wind Facility. The project is located in the Town of Herman in southeast Dodge County, a few miles west of State Highway 175. Most of the project’s 36 turbines are located south of State Highway 33.

The project was developed by Midwest Wind, which also developed the Cedar Ridge project owned by Alliant Energy. The project was sold to Babcock & Brown’s U.S. division, which then constructed the facility. The general contractor for that project was RES Americas. Butler Ridge was placed in commercial operation in March 2009. Right now, it is the newest utility-scale wind project in Wisconsin, but that distinction will only late this year, when Shirley Wind comes on-line.

In December 2009, NextEra Energy (formerly FPL Energy) bought Butler Ridge from Babcock and Brown. NextEra is also the owner of the Montfort project in Iowa County.

It turned out to be an excellent day to see wind generation in action. Thanks to a strengthening low pressure system to the west, there was a steady southerly air flow sweeping over southern Wisconsin that morning. Every flag we saw that morning was stiff as could be and pointing due north. Wind speeds at hub height ranged between 20 and 25 mph. The GE turbines were producing at about 75% of their rated capacity.

We stopped at Butler Ridge’s operations and maintenance center on Illinois Road. From the vantage point of the facility, we could see wind turbines in every direction. The closest turbine, at about 1,100 feet away, was audible but barely so.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Take action! U.S. senators introduce stand-alone RES

Urge Your Senators to Support the Renewable Electricity Promotion Act

Take action!

[Tuesday] afternoon, Senators Bingaman (D-NM), Brownback (R-KS), Dorgan (D-ND), Collins (R-ME), Udall (D-NM), and Udall (D-CO) introduced a 15% by 2021 renewable electricity standard (RES) bill, The Renewable Electricity Promotion Act. This opens the door for us to move a national RES into law this year. For this RES-only bill to move forward, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid will need to allow this bill to come up for a floor vote, and at least 60 Senators will need to vote in favor of it. Please call or e-mail your two U.S. Senators and ask them to co-sponsor and support The Renewable Electricity Promotion Act.

Congress has an extremely narrow window of opportunity to pass a national RES this year. Your efforts to express the urgency of passing this policy to your Senators are greatly appreciated.