Friday, April 30, 2010
A proposal to generate energy for solid waste by-products of the Ridgeville landfill site will be the subject of a special meeting of the Monroe County Board of Supervisors at 6 p.m. Wednesday in Sparta.
Gail Frei, Monroe County solid waste manager, will present the proposal at the session to be held in the courthouise annex meeting room.
Frei outlined the plan to make electricity from biogas at a meeting of the Solid Waste Committee in February. At the time, the committee approved $14,000 to begin initial planning for the program. Frei, who was Vernon County’s solid waste manager for 18 years, said there was a ready market for the electricity produced and the process would extend the life of the landfill.
As outlined, The Monroe County Landfill Gas-to-Energy/Food Waste Diversion Project is an environmentally proactive landfill gas management project designed to reduce the amount of methane gas released to the environment by the landfill, process specific food waste outside the landfill to create biogas, and use those gas products for constructive purposes. Frei said the project would reduce landfill odors from decomposing food waste, extend the life of the landfill, and develop a new revenue source (sale of electricity) to pay a capital cost loan. After the loan is repaid, the revenue would be used to offset landfill costs, which means anyone using the landfill will share in the benefits.
Thursday, April 29, 2010
LA CROSSE, Wisconsin (WXOW) Dairyland Power serves a half a million households in their system.
Currently, more than 90 percent of their energy is produced from coal.
However, officials say Dairyland wants to have 25 percent of their power be produced by sustainable renewables, like wind and solar, by 2025.
Dairyland isn't the only one looking at making a transition away from coal.
Today, Secretary of State Building Commission David Helbach spoke at UW-L about how Wisconsin is trying to covert its state institutions from coal consumers.
There are 16 heating state plants that heat and cool institutions using some amount of coal.
These heating plants can be found at variety of places from government buildings to college campuses, including UW-La Crosse.
Secretary of State Building Commission David Helbach says, "Coal has about twice the pollutants as natural gas so just by changing the fuel you reduce your emissions by half."
The state wants to transition the biggest users of coal first, which are not university's like UW-L.
That means the university will be put on the back burner.
Helbach, "We'd like to do some of the other plants first so this plant may not be until the first round, maybe on the second or third round"
Since Dairlyand's transition can't happen over night either, it is taking steps to make coal burning more environmentally friendly, like recycling by it byproducts and installing a scrubber system and bag house to make air safer.
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
Matching funds boost total to $106,374
MADISON – Department of Workforce Development (DWD) Secretary Roberta Gassman today announced a Wisconsin Industry Partnership training grant of $53,105 to help meet the skilled workforce needs of an expanding food resource and agribusiness sector in western Wisconsin.
DWD's regional partner, the Western Wisconsin Workforce Development Board, and 20 employers in the Food Resource and Agribusiness Network (FRAN) will provide $53,269 in matching funds for a project total of $106,374.
"These resources demonstrate how by working together, we can meet the needs of employers and prepare workers for jobs of tomorrow, resulting in a stronger Wisconsin economy," DWD Secretary Roberta Gassman said. "One of the region's main economic strengths is its agriculture and food processing industry. It is one reason why Wisconsin is a leading state in organic farming. The grant will help the food and agribusiness sector grow and create more jobs."
One FRAN employer includes Organic Valley of La Farge, the largest organic farm cooperative in the country. For over two decades, the Midwest Organic & Sustainable Education Service has held its annual convention in La Crosse. Sales of organic products total nearly $133 million annually in Wisconsin.
Another FRAN partner is Kwik Trip, which is doubling the size of its bakery, a $30 million project expected to add more than 100 jobs. Last year, the western Wisconsin region's food resource and agribusiness sector had 3,374 jobs, and it is projected to add jobs in coming years.
Monday, April 26, 2010
On Thursday, April 8, a proposed community wind project meeting was held in the village of Cashton. The well attended meeting provided the general public and adjacent land owners with the opportunity to learn more about the proposed $9.7 million wind energy project, which calls for the construction of two wind turbines to be developed in the village of Cashton Green Industrial Park.
Through a joint venture with Organic Valley, Western Technical College, Gundersen Lutheran Health System and the village of Cashton, two wind turbines will be constructed in the Cashton Greens Park, located off State Highway 27, southeast of the village of Cashton, in Monroe County.
The renewable energy wind generation system would be located adjacent to Organic Valley’s Cashton Distribution Center. The two wind turbines would generate approximately 10.5 million kilowatt hours (kWh) annually or enough power to supply 7,000 average residential homes. Electricity produced by the turbines will travel to an existing electrical substation, owned by the village of Cashton, and be distributed from the substation.
Wes Slaymaker, of Wind Energy Systems Engineering, calculated that each turbine in the Cashton project will cost $3 million dollars, be 262 feet high, produce 1.8 megawatts of energy with three 150-foot blades. The wind farm development will help the village of Cashton reach its mandated Green Credit before the 2025 deadline and the entire project is expected to be paid off within 20 years, by LLC partners in the project, Organic Valley, Gundersen Lutheran and Western Technical College.
Friday, April 23, 2010
MADISON -- Hours ago, the democratically controlled state Legislature failed the people of Wisconsin when it adjourned before taking up the Clean Energy Jobs Act.
"It's ironic that on Earth Day, our Democrat-led state Legislature effectively killed a vital piece of clean energy legislation," says Keith Reopelle, senior policy director, Clean Wisconsin. "Senate Democratic leaders Jeff Plale and Russ Decker's refusal to schedule the bill for a vote guaranteed the bill's demise."
The Clean Energy Jobs Act would have created more than 15,000Â jobs for Wisconsinites. Just yesterday, Wave Wind, a wind energy service provider in Sun Prairie, sent an open letter to the state Legislature noting that the delayed passage of the bill forced the company to lay off 12 employees. Had the bill passed, Wave Wind would have created 100 new high-quality jobs.
"The world is transitioning to a clean energy economy, and Wisconsin is getting left behind," says Reopelle. "Wisconsin has now lost the manufacturing and design jobs that would have been created by the bill Â to China, California and Illinois."
The bill also would have lowered energy bills for homeowners and businesses with its renewable energy and energy efficiency provisions, allowing Wisconsin to make incremental but critically important steps toward reducing our greenhouse gas emissions and increasing our energy independence.
"It is a travesty that Wisconsin's Legislature missed the opportunity to take action on such an important bill for the health of our state's economy and environment," says Reopelle. "While today's inaction is definitely a setback, thanks to the hard work of our allies in the Legislature and coalition partners, we have laid the foundation for future clean energy legislation and remain hopeful that Wisconsin will soon return to its forward-thinking roots."
Clean Wisconsin, an environmental advocacy organization, protects Wisconsin's clean water and air and advocates for clean energy by being an effective voice in the state legislature and by holding elected officials and polluters accountable.
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
At Wave Wind LLC, we develop, construct and maintain small to mid-sized wind farms. We are a Wisconsin based company that hires Wisconsin employees to develop our projects. Unfortunately, we recently had to lay off 12 of our valued employees as a result of the delay in passing the Clean Energy Jobs Act.
By supporting the Clean Energy Jobs Act, you would not only allow us to hire back those employees, but you would also enable us to create over 100 additional high-quality jobs for Wisconsinites constructing new wind projects.
With the construction of three wind farms on hold, we recently had to lay off project managers, human resource specialists, vice presidents and marketing specialists until we can ensure a market for the power produced by
those farms. The Clean Energy Jobs Act helps to create that market that will allow our company to quickly rebuild and expand.
I hope that our employees serve as the face of the other 15,000 jobs you could create in Wisconsin by passing this bill.
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
The reaction to the Clean Energy Jobs Act by some agriculture groups is shortsighted and misinformed. I’ve reviewed the act with farmers, bioenergy leaders and economic development experts. It’s a win for farming and rural Wisconsin.
It has provisions to give direct support to farmers interested in supplying biomass markets. It expands the Focus on Energy program. Wind turbines will be built in rural areas where jobs will be created. Landowners will receive lease payments, and local tax bases will increase.
Addressing the energy crisis in rural areas will diversify farm landscapes and stabilize energy costs with energy independence. More of the $16 billion we send out of state every year will remain in ratepayer pockets and create green jobs here.
According to an analysis by the Public Service Commission, the Clean Energy Jobs Act will save Wisconsin citizens $1.4 billion over the next 15 years.
Maintaining our dependence on cheap (for now) fossil fuels puts Wisconsin on a path to nowhere. Check your facts and help make the Clean Energy Jobs Act law.
Monday, April 19, 2010
RENEW Wisconsin and dozens of other organizations have been working hard to pass the job-creating legislation.
Clean Wisconsin set up a Web site where you can easily send an email to your legislators to urge them to vote "yes" for the bill.
Contact them now, before the Assembly votes.
Let's make this happen!
Friday, April 16, 2010
Legislators recently announced a substitute amendment to the Clean Energy Jobs Act that will bring down consumer costs, create more than 16,000 jobs in the state and position Wisconsin to continue its leading role in clean energy production. Through the Clean Energy Jobs Act, we will create clean energy that works for Wisconsin and is made in Wisconsin. Our state does not pump a barrel of oil. We don’t have coal deposits or natural gas. Our energy costs n which amount to one out of every 10 dollars generated in Wisconsin n mean we send about $16 billion a year out of our state to pay for fuel and electricity.
Passing the Clean Energy Jobs Act is an enormous opportunity to reduce our dependence on foreign fuels and make sure Wisconsin doesn’t lose out on this chance to create clean energy jobs to countries like China. The world is moving rapidly in this direction, and Wisconsin is well-positioned to capture a significant share of the growing clean energy market.
Especially when it comes to agriculture.
A key component of the recently announced substitute amendment to the Clean Energy Jobs Act is incentives for the development of small-scale renewable energy projects, with a preference for manure digesters. Under the revised bill, $25 million in grants and loans will now be available per year for four years through an expanded Focus on Energy Program. That is a big step forward for rural Wisconsin.
Thursday, April 15, 2010
April 15, 2010
Statement of Michael Vickerman
Executive Director – RENEW Wisconsin
Legislators Fire Blanks at Clean Energy Jobs ActIn an April 13 statement, Reps. Mike Huebsch (R-West Salem), Phil Montgomery (R-Green Bay), and Scott Gunderson (R-Waterford) contend that the substitute amendment for the Clean Energy Jobs Act, released earlier this week, will drive up electric rates across Wisconsin. As ammunition for their argument, the representatives point to recent requests in Iowa to raise electric rates, which they attribute to the state’s renewable energy policy.
The argument advanced by these three lawmakers is truly absurd, given the facts of the situation. In the first place, Iowa’s Alternative Energy Production (AEP) law, which dates from 1983, requires the state’s two largest electric utilities to add a mere 105 megawatts (MW) of generating capacity between them. By 1997, both utilities had achieved full compliance with that law. That mandate has not been increased or modified since that time.
Fast forward to April 2010. Windpower capacity alone in Iowa now totals 3,670 MW, and the Hawkeye State is now the second largest producer of wind-generated electricity in the nation behind Texas. According to the Iowa Policy Project, windpower accounted for 14% of the state’s electric output in 2009. Additional information on windpower development in Iowa can be accessed here.
The vast majority of Iowa’s windpower capacity was built for reasons other than complying with the state’s renewable energy policy. Iowa utilities invested in windpower because it is the lowest cost generation option available to them. Here’s what MidAmerican Energy Company, Iowa’s largest investor-owned utility, says about its windpower assets.
MidAmerican began building wind turbines in 2004 and has made the investment without raising customers’ electric rates. The price of electricity per kilowatt-hour … for MidAmerican customers is lower today than it was in 1995, and the company has committed to not seek an electric rate increase to become effective until 2014, which is nearly 20 years without a rate increase.Given MidAmerican’s experience with windpower, it is clear that the allegation from Reps. Huebsch, Montgomery and Gunderson was spun without any apparent connection to reality. The proper place to file a claim this ludicrous is in a manure digester, where it can be broken down into usable energy.
It’s worth pointing out that a significant percentage of Iowa’s wind capacity serves Wisconsin utilities, among them Madison Gas & Electric (MGE), which owns the 30 MW Top of Iowa 3 installation and purchases additional supplies of wind-generated electricity from independently owned facilities there. These facilities were constructed after 2006, the year Wisconsin’s current renewable energy standard was enacted. Yet MGE’s residential ratepayers have seen annual rate increases of only 1.5% in the last four years. Compared with other expenses, such as college tuition, health insurance premiums, and vehicle registration fees, electricity cost increases have barely been noticeable.
Windpower’s rapid growth in the Upper Midwest has also contributed to the reduction of fossil fuel consumption, resulting in lower natural gas prices. That benefit is passed through directly to Wisconsin energy users in the form of lower heating bills. Indeed, over the last 12 months, overall energy costs declined measurably for most Wisconsin households and businesses, thanks to the prolonged slump in natural gas prices.
There is no surer way to control energy bills than to reduce the state’s reliance on imported fossil fuels through increased conservation and substituting renewable resources wherever practical. The choice before the Legislature is clear cut and momentous. Either it can embrace a 15-year commitment to invigorate the state’s economy through sustained investment in clean energy or it can decide to coast along on current energy policies until they lapse several years from now and lose their force and effect.
We at RENEW believe the Clean Energy Jobs Act will propel the clean energy marketplace into an economic powerhouse that will generate jobs and help Wisconsin businesses remain competitive. We strongly support the passage of the Clean Energy Jobs Act bill as amended.
RENEW Wisconsin is an independent, nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization that acts as a catalyst to advance a sustainable energy future through public policy and private sector initiatives. More information on RENEW’s Web site at www.renewwisconsin.org.
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
Proposed Wisconsin Legislation will Encourage Investment in On-Farm Renewable Energy Development
La Farge, Wis. - Commitment to renewable energy will help the economy grow, decrease dependence on fossil fuels, and create a healthier environment for future generations. Acknowledging the widespread benefit of renewable energy development to farmers and rural America, Organic Valley today pledges its support of the renewable energy provisions within the Clean Energy Jobs Act, currently being considered by the Wisconsin legislature. As a farmer-owned cooperative of 1,652 organic family farms, Organic Valley takes a strong interest in the health and sustainability of small-scale family farms and rural communities. The cooperative has embraced renewable energy as a clean, responsible way to provide farmers with a reliable, homegrown source of energy and a consistent source of income.
"Organic Valley farmers are conscientious," said Cecil Wright, vice president of sustainability and local operations for Organic Valley. "We care about what goes into our products and the impacts our agricultural practices have on our local environment. Legislation to encourage renewable energy development will provide more opportunities for our members to make their farms more productive and environmentally sound."
The Clean Energy Jobs Act includes an Enhanced Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS), which will allow Wisconsin residents to receive 25% of electricity from renewable energy by 2025, with at least 10% of electricity coming from renewable energy sources within the state. In addition, the bill includes provisions which encourage small-scale renewable energy generation, which would enable Wisconsin families considering energy projects such as manure digesters, small wind turbines and solar projects to move forward.
"Organic Valley promotes on-farm renewable energy projects through our Farmer Renewable Energy Program," said Wright. "Passage of this legislation will allow more members to participate in the program and offset some of their energy costs, creating even more sustainable farms."
Tuesday, April 13, 2010
A revised state clean energy and global warming bill unveiled Tuesday scales back the scope of the bill but retains a commitment to expand use of renewable energy and open the door to construction of nuclear reactors in Wisconsin.
The revisions, obtained by the Journal Sentinel, were drafted in response to concerns raised by business groups and politicians that the original bill was too unwieldy, too controversial and potentially too costly.
Jettisoned from the package were mandates concerning transportation fuels, including a requirement that Wisconsin require greater use of low-carbon transportation fuels such as biofuels.
To reduce the overall cost of the package, the bill allows energy efficiency gains to count toward a portion of a mandate that 25% of Wisconsin's electricity come from renewable power sources by 2025.
A combined energy efficiency and renewable energy standard is also part of federal legislation that passed in the U.S. House of Representatives last year.
The state bill would allow one-fifth of the mandate to come through energy savings, most likely from major energy saving initiatives by factories and other big energy users.
Another change responds to concerns raised by utilities concerning a mandate that had been in the earlier bill concerning small renewable energy projects around the state. The mandate has been replaced with expanded funding for small renewable energy projects. The new proposal states a preference that much of that money be allocated toward manure digesters on Wisconsin dairy farms.
The latest version also underscores the consequences of the weak economy and declining sentiment for taking action on global warming.
Doyle signed an executive order creating the task force in April 2007 - well before the collapse in the economy. In December 2009, after details were known, many business groups attacked it and said the recommendations would harm the energy-intensive manufacturing sector.
But some other industries and companies, notably Johnson Controls, the state's largest public company, said the bill would create jobs and align the state to take advantage of emerging trends in sustainability.
At the same time, the public appears less concerned about climate change. A national Gallup Poll in March showed that the percentage of respondents who believe the seriousness of global warming is "generally exaggerated" has increased from 35% to 48% in two years.
"As introduced, the Clean Energy Jobs Act would reduce greenhouse gas emissions, create jobs, and help keep rising energy bills in check," said Keith Reopelle, senior policy director at the environmental group Clean Wisconsin, said in a statement. "The substitute amendment represents a compromise that will still accomplish all of these goals, but to a lesser degree than the original bill."
Clean Wisconsin is still reviewing the details of the changes.
"As we understand them, the changes in the substitute amendment will result in even more jobs and lower energy bills in the next few years by increasing short-term commitments to energy efficiency," Reopelle said. "However, paring back the renewable energy standard will likely result in less rate relief in the long term, because renewable energy helps hedge against the rising cost of fossil fuels."
Monday, April 12, 2010
What do you do after a professional basketball career?
If you’re Will Allen, you found Growing Power Inc., a nonprofit urban farm and food system training center in Milwaukee.
The La Crosse Earth Week Coalition is bringing Allen to La Crosse for a free presentation at 7 p.m. Tuesday in the Graff Main Hall auditorium at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse. Earlier in the day, Allen will visit the Franklin Elementary School Garden with the after-school program.
He will have dinner at 5 p.m. at the Hillview Greenhouse Life Center.
After a short professional basketball career and a number of years in corporate marketing, Allen returned to his roots as a farmer to found Growing Power, a nonprofit that helps provide equal access to healthy, high-quality, safe and affordable food for people in all communities. . . .
The La Crosse Earth Week Coalition is a group of public, private and nonprofit organizations working together to improve the quality of the environment in the Upper Mississippi River Valley. For more information, go to www.greenlacrosse. com.
Wednesday, April 7, 2010
Want to take advantage of the state’s rebate program for energy-efficient appliances? Better buy no later than April 30, officials said.
About half of the money available in the State Energy Efficiency Appliance Rebate Program has been spent, officials said.
Focus on Energy officials also recommend appliance buyers have rebate applications postmarked by May 31 to better qualify.
The state rebate program started Jan. 1 with $5.4 million from the federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. It provides rebates for qualifying energy-efficient appliances, including $25 for a dishwasher, $50 for a freezer, $75 for a refrigerator, $100 for a clothes washer and up to $150 for a water heater.
Rebates are available as well for heating and cooling equipment, such as $200 for a furnace and $75 for a central air conditioner; and renewable energy rebates, such as $2,000 for a solar hot water system. Focus officials recommend consumers buy those items by May 15 and have their rebate application postmarked by June 15.
The date recommendations are based on current demand, but the rebate money could be exhausted sooner, said Bobbi Fey, Focus on Energy assistant director of residential programs.
“It’s really first-come, first-served,” Fey said.
Tuesday, April 6, 2010
(STATE CAPITOL) A key lawmaker says some compromises have been reached in the global warming bill now in the State Legislature. But he says more deal-making is ahead.
During the last couple of weeks, legislators have been working behind closed doors trying to agree on changes to the Clean Energy Jobs Act. At an energy forum in Milwaukee, Senate author Mark Miller said some agreements have been reached. The Madison-area Democrat says there are deals on idling of trucks, reducing carbon in transportation fuels, tariffs for utilities purchasing power from renewable sources, and whether to link Wisconsin car fuel efficiency standards to California's. He says the golden state plan is gone.
Miller says the plan to reduce carbon in fuels ran into a lot of opposition, and wasn’t a major part of the bill. The changes are good news to the Democrats leading candidate for governor, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett. Barrett says any new carbon in fuels standard would also have hurt the state.
Sen. Miller says lawmakers are also trying to accelerate job creation goals in the Clean Energy Jobs Act. He says he's hoping to announce final compromises next week.
Monday, April 5, 2010
A news release issued by Advocates for Renewable Energy:
The Union of Concerned Scientists has released a study on the 25% Renewable Portfolio Standard and Energy Efficiency provisions within the Clean Energy Jobs Act (CEJA), confirming the findings of the Public Service Commission that CEJA will result in lower electricity bills than under a business as usual approach.
With a 25% Renewable Portfolio Standard, consumer electricity bills will be $34 million lower in 2015 and $59 million lower in 2025, compared with a business as usual approach. CEJA will result in cumulative cost savings to electricity ratepayers of $140 million by 2025. The report concludes that the Clean Energy Jobs Act will protect consumers from rising energy prices by investing in local sources of energy with stable and predictable long-term costs.