2007: a banner year for biofuels

Thursday, December 27, 2007

From a press release issued by Brett Hulsey of Better Environmental Solutions:

Madison, Wisconsin — 2007 was a banner year for biofuels as state and national leaders passed initiatives to expand and invest in biofuels to reduce energy costs, dependence and air pollution. A new Better Environmental Solutions study, Ethanol: A Convenient Solution to an Inconvenient Truth, showed that ethanol is one of the best ways to cut greenhouse gases, save drivers money, reduce oil imports and air pollution.

“This Better Enviro study shows that ethanol is a convenient solution to the ‘Inconvenient Truth’ of global warming. Governor Doyle, Wisconsin and federal legislators should be commended for expanding biofuel usage and investment,” said Brett Hulsey MNS, president of Better Environmental Solutions and study author. “Ethanol is a homegrown fuel, costs less than gasoline, and moderate ethanol blends can be delivered with existing pumps and vehicles with no modification.”

The Convenient Solutions study shows that the 7 billion gallons of ethanol that U.S. drivers used in 2007 year will reduce CO2 emissions by 14 million tons, which is equivalent to taking 2.75 million cars off the road or not burning 1.45 billion gallons of gasoline.

“Ethanol lowers CO2 emissions by 20% compared to gasoline, making it one of our most effective greenhouse gas reduction programs currently in place,” said Hulsey. “The Convenient Solutions study gives us hope in this holiday season that we can tackle climate change in a cost-effective way.”

The Convenient Solutions report also found moderate ethanol blends:

· Can increase mileage to help immediately address soaring gasoline prices and our record 66% oil imports in 2006.

· Increase auto efficiency by 1-15%, saving drivers at least $4.35 billion annually and help increase our energy security.

· Help reduce smog and soot pollution that plagues many areas of the state and country.
A 2007 USEPA study shows that more ethanol use is one of the quickest and most effective ways to reduce CO2 emissions from transportation, the U.S.’s single largest and fastest growing emissions sector.

Road building gets lion's share; transit gets squat

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

From a column by James Rowen in The Capital Times:

John Norquist, transit advocate and former Milwaukee mayor for whom I worked from 1996 to 2004, used to joke that balanced transportation in Wisconsin meant "half asphalt, half concrete."

The line got a lot of laughs, but regrettably it's a true description of transportation spending in our state, and certainly in southeastern Wisconsin, where three current examples illustrate the primacy of road building to the detriment of transit services.

1. Waukesha and Milwaukee county governments have failed to come to a cost-sharing agreement to save Route 9, a Milwaukee County bus line that carries about 70 workers daily from Milwaukee to their jobs in Waukesha County. . . .

2. An upscale shopping mall is on the drawing board at the 1,500-acre planned community in western Waukesha County called Pabst Farms, at the outskirts of the city of Oconomowoc.

Someone forgot to pencil in an interchange off I-94 so shoppers could drive to the site, so in a matter of weeks this fall -- warp-speed for bureaucracies -- Waukesha County, the city of Oconomowoc, the state Transportation Department and the mall developer all pledged money toward the interchange's $25 million price tag. . . .

3. Transit also gets the complete brushoff in a massive, seven-county regional freeway system rebuilding and expansion that includes Milwaukee and Waukesha counties. . . .

Integrys Energy Services turning trash into electricity

Sunday, December 23, 2007

From a press release issued by Integrys, parent company of Gree Bay utility Wisconsin Public Service Corporation:

Rockford, IL -- Integrys Energy Services announced that all four units at its recently completed Winnebago Energy Center, a landfill gas-to-electricity plant located in Rockford, are now operational and actively supplying electric power to the grid.

The 6.4 megawatt plant uses methane gas produced by decomposing trash to power four Caterpillar engines which generate electric power that flows back to the grid. Using the methane produced by decomposing trash to create electricity means this greenhouse gas is beneficially used and not flared or emitted to the atmosphere. The renewable energy is sold in the PJM market.

The 6.4 megawatts of green power generated at the Winnebago Energy Center is annually equivalent to taking 56,000 cars off the road; or planting 76,000 acres of trees; or powering 5,000 homes. The facility is an important energy resource because methane generation from the landfill is fairly constant, unlike other renewable sources that are dependent on local wind or solar resources. The plant has potential for expansion up to 8 megawatts.

Energy Center of Wisconsin launches daylighting newsletter

Friday, December 21, 2007

From the Energy Center of Wisconsin:

Enlighten, Volume 1, Issue 1
The bimonthly newsletter of the Daylighting Collaborative

Winter solstice, 2007
Welcome to the first issue of Enlighten the newsletter of the Daylighting Collaborative. The winter solstice marks the return of the sun as our daylight hours begin to lengthen over the next months. It is an appropriate occasion to invite you to learn how to light your buildings using the sky. The Daylighting Collaborative is your window on the world of daylighting design. Our bimonthly newsletter will highlight new developments in daylighting technologies, present research results and connect you with a community of daylighting practitioners.

The Daylighting Collaborative is a program initiated by the Energy Center of Wisconsin and supported by our sponsors. We work collaboratively with other companies, organizations, and individuals to promote the practice of using daylighting in buildings. We’re promoting daylighting because good daylighting creates beautiful, appropriately lit spaces while saving energy. Good daylighting design is an essential strategy for reducing energy use in buildings and meeting the 2030 Challenge.

The Daylighting Collaborative delivers information through our portal. There you will find direct links to other sources of information, citations of current research and annotated references to printed resources to help you successfully daylight your buildings.

Our newsletter is a snapshot of what’s new in the world of daylighting. It will notify you of new information posted on the website, including technical and design updates. In the future, the newsletter will include articles by experts in the daylighting design and construction community providing insight on projects, new technology developments or even random thoughts on the world of daylighting.

We look forward to working with you to light every building using the sky!

Energy Center of Wisconsin launches daylighting newsletter

From the Energy Center of Wisconsin:

Enlighten, Volume 1, Issue 1
The bimonthly newsletter of the Daylighting Collaborative

Winter solstice, 2007
Welcome to the first issue of Enlighten the newsletter of the Daylighting Collaborative. The winter solstice marks the return of the sun as our daylight hours begin to lengthen over the next months. It is an appropriate occasion to invite you to learn how to light your buildings using the sky. The Daylighting Collaborative is your window on the world of daylighting design. Our bimonthly newsletter will highlight new developments in daylighting technologies, present research results and connect you with a community of daylighting practitioners.

The Daylighting Collaborative is a program initiated by the Energy Center of Wisconsin and supported by our sponsors. We work collaboratively with other companies, organizations, and individuals to promote the practice of using daylighting in buildings. We’re promoting daylighting because good daylighting creates beautiful, appropriately lit spaces while saving energy. Good daylighting design is an essential strategy for reducing energy use in buildings and meeting the 2030 Challenge.

The Daylighting Collaborative delivers information through our portal. There you will find direct links to other sources of information, citations of current research and annotated references to printed resources to help you successfully daylight your buildings.

Our newsletter is a snapshot of what’s new in the world of daylighting. It will notify you of new information posted on the website, including technical and design updates. In the future, the newsletter will include articles by experts in the daylighting design and construction community providing insight on projects, new technology developments or even random thoughts on the world of daylighting.

We look forward to working with you to light every building using the sky!

Renewables course catalog posted for 2008 workshops

Thursday, December 20, 2007

From the Midwest Renewable Energy Association's Web site:

MREA offers workshops that cover a variety of topics in renewable energy. Come learn from experts in the field about subjects including:

- wind systems
- PV-photovoltaics (solar electric)
- solar thermal systems for domestic hot water and space heating
- photovoltaic, wind and solar thermal site assessor training and certification.
- women only workshops
- biodiesel and veggie oil for diesel vehicles and space heating
- window quilts
- masonry heaters
- energy efficient and alternative construction; women's construction. straw bale, superinsulation techniques, passive solar design, timber framing...
Access all of the courses and registration material here.

Rep. Black's survey shows support for fuel efficiency and rail

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

From a press release issued by State Rep. Spencer Black:

Wisconsin should adopt higher fuel efficiency standards for new cars and should support development of a high speed rail system, according to the overwhelming majority of constituents responding to Representative Spencer Black’s annual legislative survey. Black released the results of his annual legislative survey of the 77th Assembly District.

“The holiday travel season is upon us and people want more energy efficient ways to
travel,” Black said. “My constituents would like to see a high speed rail system linking Wisconsin’s major cities with each other and with Chicago and Minneapolis. Our country is the only industrialized nation in the world that does not have fast trains between our major metropolitan areas.”

Seventy-seven percent (77%) of survey respondents supported a high speed rail system
and only nine percent (9%) were opposed. The remainder was undecided. However, support for a commuter rail system within Dane County was far less strong with only a slight majority of 51% in support.

Black’s survey also found strong support for Wisconsin adopting tougher mile per gallon standards for new cars. Thirteen states have already adopted the tougher standards. “The federal government has not updated the mileage standards since 1977 despite increased gas prices and the threat of global warming. States are taking action because of the failure of leadership at the national level,” Black noted.

Poll shows support for transit plan

Monday, December 17, 2007

A story from The Capital Times:

Edgewood College poll: While some Dane County communities have weighed in against a regional transit authority that would have the ability to set up a sales tax district to help pay for commuter rail, road and bus transit in the county, a recent survey shows popular support.

An Edgewood College survey of 262 likely Dane County voters on a variety of issues, conducted the second week of November, showed that 65 percent of the respondents supported the taxing authority, with 35 percent opposed. In Madison, residents supported the taxing authority by a 68 percent to 32 percent margin. Voters outside the city supported the taxing authority at a 61 to 39 percent margin.

The margin of error of the survey was 5.5 to 6 percent.

Asking for peace

Friday, December 14, 2007

Tonight I was pedaling home (to Oregon) from a wonderful Bicycle Federation of Wisconsin listening session in the Memorial Union. As I rolled into the north end of town I noticed quite a few cars and pickups parked outside a sports bar there. The thought flashed through my mind, "I could stop and ask the people inside whether they would give up driving to the bar if that is what it took to stop the war in Iraq."

As usual, I was terrified of doing such a thing. But for once I didn't do the usual thing - i.e. NOT do it and then brood and fume about what a chicken I am. I went inside and saw 7 or 8 younger guys sitting at a table, none of whom I had ever met. They looked up at me in a friendly way and several said "Hi". I said "Hi" and then asked them the question I was scared to ask.

One guy immediately yelled, "Hell yes!" He is a veteran of the current war in Iraq. I shook his hand, thanked him for serving his country, and then opined that I believe his country and his President have treated him disgracefully. He did not disagree - he related how much his views have changed since he volunteered a few years ago.

Then I spoke to the other guys. I told them that I want peace on Earth, but we are not going to buy that peace at Kwik Trip. I told them that I have no idea how to change how we live in Oregon. I said some other stuff and several of us talked a bit - I don't recall exactly what because by then my stomach was all butterflies. I couldn't believe I had done it.

I don't say this stuff to you to brag. I say it because I believe that if we are ever going to have a peaceful, sustainable world, we must speak it into existence.

I also know that tonight I truly lived. I want all of you to live.


Hans Noeldner

Biosolids: A case of waste not, want not?

Thursday, December 13, 2007

From an article by Deb Fitzgerald posted on WISinfo.com:

Bus tours carry people to Forestville from far flung places like Argentina and Brazil so visitors may witness the successful business practices of S&S Ag Enterprises, LLC.

Owned by Adrian and Kay Schmidt, in partnership with their son and daughter-in-law, Randy and Dena, the limited liability corporation is the largest heifer-raising farm in Wisconsin.

The custom operation is like a bovine daycare for 13 different dairy farms in northeast Wisconsin, boarding some 4,000 heifers, or young females that haven’t calved yet. . . .

The Schmidts’ heifers don’t produce calves or milk, but they do produce 14 million gallons of dung per year, which eventually fertilizes the Schmidts’ 5,000 acres of corn, wheat, alfalfa and soybeans.

With a $250,000 seed grant from Focus on Energy, the Schmidts will, beginning next year, first feed all that organic waste to a $1.8 million anaerobic digester that’s built into the ground like a 210-foot long, 72-foot wide, 166-foot deep septic tank.

By next fall, the busloads of visitors will have another reason to tour the southern Door County operation: a renewable energy system that’s connected to the utility grid, converting heifer waste into enough electricity to power 400 homes.

Tar sands bring environmental doomsday?

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

From an article by Nicholas Kohler posted on McCleans.CA:

Left unfettered, Alberta's energy sector will, by the end of this century, transform the southern part of the province into a desert and its north into a treeless, toxic swamp. Driven both by global warming and oil and gas developments, temperatures in Alberta will soar by as much as eight degrees. The Athabasca River will slow to a trickle, parching the remainder of the province's forests and encouraging them to burst into flame, generating vast quantities of CO2. "They're going to be the architects of their own destruction," says journalist William Marsden, whose new book outlines the environmental threats posed by Alberta's energy industry.

Even now, fish pulled from the Athabasca downstream of the oil sands taste of gasoline and smell of burning galoshes in the fry pan. The landscape is perforated by more than 300,000 oil and gas wells. Water in some areas to the south can be set alight with a match, likely due to coal-bed methane developments. Doctors administering to Aboriginal communities not far from the oil sands report high rates of thyroid conditions and rare diseases such as cancer of the bile duct. Some from those communities have been employed at the oil sands raking in the carcasses of ducks floating on vast pools of rotten water, the by-product of the sands' oil-extraction methods.

Such are the claims contained in Marsden's upcoming Stupid to the Last Drop: How Alberta is Bringing Environmental Armageddon to Canada (And Doesn't Seem to Care), which presents a scenario almost too frightening to contemplate and suggests Alberta may already be too far gone for redemption -- indeed, that it is environmentally doomed.

Money talks

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

From an entry by Hans Noeldner, a local peak oil activist, on The Oil Drum:

Somewhere along the way, we-the-people seem to have reached a consensus that when it comes to allocating natural resources, money should do the talking. In fact many true believers contend money is the only legitimate communicator.

“How much oil should I be able to burn? Every barrel I can afford.”

“How big a house – how many houses – should I be able to buy? Just as many as I can afford.”

“How much CO2 should I be able to emit? Not one damned molecule less than I can afford.”

“And if I want to burn and buy and emit more, then acquiring more money naturally gives me the right to do so.”

If our economy fails to charge us the “true cost” of denying future generations the fossil energy they might need to feed themselves 50 years hence; if our economy suffocates vast swathes of bio-productive land beneath highways and parking lots for our Happy Motoring convenience, if our economy fails to extract “flood money” from us to recompense millions of coastal dwellers for the loss of their ancestral homelands beneath rising oceans; well…perhaps the solution is to internalize those costs somehow.

Tellingly, the specific methods politicians might use to sneak such price-boosting tariffs past hyper-vigilant business interests and an unsupportive consuming public are seldom explained. But in any case it is deemed essential that we remember the distribution of natural resources is not – and cannot be – a “moral” issue.

Misplaced values

Monday, December 10, 2007

Landmark energy bill stalls in the Senate

Friday, December 07, 2007

A news summary on grist.com:

Today [Dec. 7], Senate Republicans blocked efforts to push through the landmark energy bill that was passed by the House yesterday. To cut off debate on the bill and avoid a filibuster, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) needed 60 votes; he got only 53. Republican leaders in the Senate now hope to strip out two key provisions of the bill: a Renewable Portfolio Standard mandating that utilities produce 15 percent of their energy from renewables by 2020, and a provision that would cut tax breaks and subsidies for oil companies. President Bush wants those components out of the bill too, and has said he would veto the bill if they're not removed. If the Senate does change the bill, it will need to return to the House for another vote, where advocates for clean energy won't be happy with a watered-down version.

Bali blog from Union of Concerned Scientists

Thursday, December 06, 2007

For the next two weeks, Kevin Knobloch, president of the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), will report from the United Nations global warming conference in Bali, Indonesia.

An e-mail from Knobloch explains the significance of the conference:

In 1992, countries from around the world, including the United States, signed the United Nation’s Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)—an international treaty addressing the issue of global warming. To date, 192 nations have ratified the treaty.

In 1997, at a meeting in Kyoto, Japan, the UNFCCC was strengthened by an amendment that set legally binding targets and timelines for reducing global warming pollution from developed nations. The “Kyoto Protocol” entered into force in 2005 and has been ratified by all industrialized countries—except the United States.

The Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012. Therefore, a new framework of deeper emission reductions needs to be developed and approved. Countries hope to leave Indonesia with a “Bali Roadmap” that will lay out this new framework and, for the first time, include guidelines for developing as well as developed countries.
You can follow Knobloch's daily reports on the USC's Bali blog.

Have you truly asked?

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

From Hans Noeldner:

Last night I asked the Village of Oregon Board for a Christmas
present – a promise from Board members to walk or bicycle to at least half of Board meetings next year. I pointed out that minimizing their own "absolute reliance on the automobile*" on the way to such meetings is a very good way for Board members to put themselves into the proper frame of mind to lead the rest of us towards this goal as well. Then I held up the gas pump nozzle I bought on eBay, observed
that these devices are the real voting machines in America, and shared my dream to see cobwebs on most of the gas pump nozzles in Oregon.

Thus far one of the trustees has indicated he "believes" he will give me this gift.


Because the other day it struck me quite out of the blue that I have not been asking, truly ASKING, other people for the gift of a sustainable world. I am suddenly filled with the spirit of asking! I am not going to be too afraid or too proud to ask any more!

So I will ask for this Christmas gift from you: please imagine what would happen if dozens - HUNDREDS - of us asked for similar gifts from our municipal mepresentatives...and families...and friends... and co-workers. Then please follow your heart.

May God bless you this Christmas - whether you are a Christian or

Hans Noeldner
Oregon, WI

** I don't know about you, but I am thoroughly sick of the politically correct secularism that has suffocated the Christian spirit of Christmas even as it turns a blind eye to the heathen orgy of consumptive excesses (commencing with Black Friday) that has now comprises our "Happy Holidays". I dream that someday people of all
faiths - and of no "official" faith at all - will share the generous spirit of their own celebrations with everyone too. How could anyone in his right mind take offense?

Lego tourney sends robots on renewable energy missions

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

From a story in the Appleton Post-Crescent:

APPLETON — Appleton East High School will host the Wisconsin State Championship First Lego League Tournament from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Sunday.

The event will feature 400 children ages 9 through 14. A total of 48 teams have qualified for state through regional events.

State team project presentations will run from 8:30 a.m. to noon, with opening ceremonies at 12:15 p.m. and robot competitions from 12:45 to 4:30 p.m. The competition is free and open to the public.

Fox Valley area children are among 100,000 students around the world who are taking part in the 2007 First Lego League Power Puzzle Challenge. To successfully complete the challenge, teams must build and program a Lego Mindstorms robot to complete "missions" involving solar panels, wind turbines, hydro-dams and tree planting.

Trade I-94 lanes for rail lines

Monday, December 03, 2007

From an article by Sean Ryan in The Daily Reporter:

Milwaukee Alderman Robert Bauman wants to rebuild Interstate 94 without additional lanes, and use the $200 million in savings for public rail projects.

Bauman pointed out the opposition to creating new car-rental or sales taxes to pay for the Kenosha-Racine-Milwaukee commuter rail line, but said he saw little reaction to the state’s plan to spend $1.9 billion rebuilding and expanding I-94 between Milwaukee and the state line.

His metaphor was that highway projects feast atop a high altar, and transit projects for rail and buses scurry on the ground below, picking up scraps.

“I’m just trying to get the debate going,” Bauman said. “Highways are like they’re in a sacred place. You never question it. You never consider it in conjunction with other projects.”

Bauman’s proposal is to spend $1.7 billion rebuilding I-94 with six lanes and safety improvements. The savings generated by not widening the highway to eight lanes could be invested in the KRM rail project or to run high-speed trains between Chicago, Milwaukee and Madison. The city’s Public Works Committee, which Bauman chairs, will consider the proposal on Wednesday.

Through his spokesman Phillip Walzak, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett said it is an interesting proposal worthy of investigation, and that the community needs to improve its investment in public and mass transit.

Energy efficiency fails to cut consumption: study

Friday, November 30, 2007

From a Reuters story by Sharon Ho and Frank McGurty posted on EEN.com:

TORONTO (Reuters) - American consumers are driving bigger gas-guzzling cars and buying more air conditioners and refrigerators as the overall energy efficiency of such products improves, a report released on Tuesday found.

In what the study calls "the efficiency paradox," consumers have taken money saved from greater energy efficiency and spent it on more and bigger appliances and vehicles, consuming even more energy in the process.

This irony isn't just restricted to the United States, though. "The paradox is true for every developed country," said Benjamin Tal, senior economist at CIBC World Markets, which conducted the study.

The study concludes that stricter energy efficiency regulations aren't the answer to concerns over climate change and the depletion of oil supplies because consumers treat greater energy efficiencies as a tax cut. "Because you get a 'tax cut,' you drive more," Tal said.

Going Green? Easy Doesn't Do It

Thursday, November 29, 2007

A commentary by Michael Maniates in the Washington Post seems to ring true for many people concerned about energy issues. Here's a excerpt from his column:

The hard facts are these: If we sum up the easy, cost-effective, eco-efficiency measures we should all embrace, the best we get is a slowing of the growth of environmental damage. That's hardly enough: Avoiding the worst risks of climate change, for instance, may require reducing U.S. carbon emissions by 80 percent in the next 30 years while invoking the moral authority such reductions would confer to persuade China, India and other booming nations to embrace similar restraint. Obsessing over recycling and installing a few special light bulbs won't cut it. We need to be looking at fundamental change in our energy, transportation and agricultural systems rather than technological tweaking on the margins, and this means changes and costs that our current and would-be leaders seem afraid to discuss. Which is a pity, since Americans are at their best when they're struggling together, and sometimes with one another, toward difficult goals.

Upcoming energy events at UW-Madison

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Parameterization of Wind Turbines: Effects on Local Meteorology

Tuesday, November 27
Technology Innovation in the Electric Power Industry

Thursday, November 29
Commuter Rail

Tuesday, December 4
The Case for Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicles

Wednesday, December 5
Squeezing More Financial and Mechanical Power From Motors

Charter Street plant required to reduce coal burning

Monday, November 26, 2007

From a story by Kevin Murphy in The Capital Times:

An agreement finalized today requires the University of Wisconsin's Charter Street heating plant to reduce its coal burning to 85 percent of past levels and eventually be replaced.

In addition, the consent decree reached between the Sierra Club and Department of Administration, which manages the aging Charter Street plant, will be used as a blueprint for reducing sulphur dioxide and mercury emissions not only at the Charter Street and Capitol Heating plants, but at all state-owned coal burning plants around Wisconsin.

The settlement approved today by District Judge John Shabaz follows his ruling in October that UW was operating the Charter Street plant in violation of the Clean Air Act after making major modifications to the plant's coal boilers without seeking pollution permits.

The settlement calls for the annual reduction of 25,000 to 30,000 tons of coal burned at the Charter Street plant, equal to 225 railcars. It also requires a comprehensive study of how to bring the Charter Street and Capitol Heating plants into federal air quality standards by July 31, 2008, and requires the state to open its emission records for 16 coal fired power plants around the state for possible clean-up actions.

"This is really a statewide solution to bringing the state into the 21st century with how it powers its power plants," said Bruce Nilles, a Sierra Club attorney.

Rep. Bartlett explains why oil and gas are so expensive

Friday, November 23, 2007

Congressman Roscoe Bartlett, the leader of the House peak oil caucus, explains why oil and gas are SO expensive and why energy is the biggest challenge of the 21st century in this one-hour Special Order speech to Congress recorded on November 1, 2007.

Rep. Bartlett reviews the history of energy and its connections to human civilization. In particular, he discusses the contributions of fossil fuels, coal, oil and natural gas and their link to population growth and quality of life. He reviews the rate of oil discoveries and production and consumption and finite and renewable alternatives to oil to explain why energy is the most important challenge of the 21st century.

From military might to wind power

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

From an article by Avrum D. Lank in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

Manitowoc - A mammoth building that once produced deadly machines of war is now being used to make peaceful machines of conservation.

Doors that sent submarines off to sink the ships of America's enemies now admit sheets of steel to be fabricated into towers to hold the electric windmills dotting America's countryside.

The activity is part of Tower Tech Holdings Inc., a young Wisconsin company poised to cash in on the green energy boom. The increasing price of oil and concern over global warming provided the initial impetus for the wind power boom, and tax credits have provided additional fuel.

To the approximately 20,000 turbines in use in the U.S. at the start of the year, 2,500 more are being added in 2007, and at least that many again next year, according to estimates from the American Wind Energy Association in Washington. The turbines are poised on towers such as those being made in Manitowoc.

Wisconsin is well positioned to profit by all the activity, said Jerry Murphy, executive director of The New North, the regional development agency for northeastern Wisconsin based in De Pere.

Conservation, not coal

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

A letter to the editor of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

Gov. Jim Doyle supports carbon capture and sequestration at coal plants to help alleviate global warming (Doyle backs clean coal plant in Illinois, Nov. 14). It sounds easy, but is it?

The process, never tried, is extremely expensive in money and energy, and far from being "clean," it emits more of other kinds of air pollution and perpetuates the same old dirty, earth-destroying, thirsty process of coal strip mining, robbing neighboring farms and ranches and wild areas of much-needed water.

The article neglected to point out that coal miners in Appalachia are blowing up mountains and tossing the earth into streams, thus poisoning the drinking water of both local people and flora and fauna and leaving behind what look like huge expanses of desert. The carbon capture and sequestration idea simply comes too late. Global warming is happening much too fast for this new process to be useful.

Our best hope is conservation. Through good conservation planning, including smart growth, mass transit, building efficiency and a carbon tax in place of the income tax, we can make a national effort to significantly lower our carbon dioxide emissions. The average Western European produces half as much carbon dioxide as the average American. I think Americans can do even better. Let's try.

Anne Epstein

Global warming task force proposals now online

Saturday, November 17, 2007

From Mike Neuman, author of "Conserve, NOW!: Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Other Environmental Costs by Offering Financial Incentives that Reward Less Driving, Flying and Home Energy Use", November 1, 2000

The public has an opportunity to review and comment on Draft Policy Templates prepared by work groups of the Governor's Task Force on Global Warming on: Transportation; Conservation and Energy Efficiency; Industry; Electric Generation and Supply; and Carbon Tax/Cap and Trade. The draft templates are now posted and available on the DNR's web site.

Each Task Force work group prepared a series of templates containing various policy options which the DNR says "may" reduce greenhouse gas emissions from Wisconsin.

Comments on the templates are due to the corresponding work group contact by either November 27th, December 1st, December 6th or December 8th, depending on which policy templates you are submitting comments on.

The DNR site says the Work Groups will revise their policies after considering comments they received from the public. They are to submit their final policy templates to the Governor's Task Force "around the end of the year", according to the DNR.

Governors sign energy pact to cut use, build new resources

Thursday, November 15, 2007

From an Associated Press story by Emily Fedrix in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

MILWAUKEE (AP) -- The region's governors signed an agreement Thursday to work together to reduce energy consumption, focus more on renewable energy and limit greenhouse gas emissions.

The noon signing was part of a regional summit on energy and climate change hosted by the Midwestern Governors Association.

The office of Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle, chairman of the 12-member group, said the Midwest can lead the nation in renewable energy.

"Our strong manufacturing base and rich agricultural industries, along with the wealth of resources in our vast northern forests and our world-leading research universities, position the Midwest to become the Saudi Arabia of renewable energy," he said in a statement released by his office.

Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, co-host of the summit, said the agreement could serve as a national model.

"We're a little bit smaller and more nimble than the federal government," Pawlenty said.

The plan calls for a reduction in carbon emissions of between 60 percent and 80 percent. The group will work together to determine limits for each state, Canter said. . . .

The agreement calls for a number of other changes by 2015, including:

- Reducing energy consumption by 2 percent, with a 2 percent reduction each year after that.

- Offering the ethanol-based gasoline known as E-85 at 15 percent of gas stations, up from the current 3 percent.

- Generating 10 percent of the region's electricity from renewable resources. By 2030, that portion should be 30 percent.

Doyle calls for less reliance on Middle East

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

An Associated Press article in the Wausau Daily Herald:

MILWAUKEE (AP) — Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle says Americans should depend more on the Midwest than the Middle East for their energy.

Doyle spoke Wednesday at the opening of a two-day summit with governors from throughout the region on energy and climate change.

Doyle says with the region’s farms, manufacturing base and research institutes, it can become the Saudi Arabia of renewable energy.

Governors from throughout the region and Canada are expected to sign an agreement Thursday pledging cooperation in developing renewable energy and addressing climate change. Goals will include reducing energy consumption and finding ways to store carbon dioxide.

Doyle says these efforts will not only help the environment but create new businesses and jobs.

Liquid coal: Don't buy it!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

From the Natural Resources Defence Council:

The coal industry is touting a plan to transform millions of tons of coal into diesel and other liquid fuels - an expensive, inefficient process that releases large quantities of carbon dioxide, the worst global warming pollutant, into the air. Instead of offering viable answers to the critical problem of global warming, this senseless industry "solution" would exacerbate the problem: Relying on coal-derived liquid as an alternative to oil-based fuels could nearly double global warming pollution for every gallon of transportation fuel that is produced and used.
A cartoon humorously highlights the faults of liquid coal.

Evansville biodiesel plant put on hold

From a story by Marv Balousek in the Wisconsin State Journal:
High soybean oil prices have halted construction of the North Prairie Productions biodiesel plant in Evansville, making the end product too expensive compared with the pump price for regular diesel.

The going rate for soybean oil, the raw material for biodiesel, is about 45 cents a pound or $3.60 a gallon, more than double the price when the plant was proposed, said John Sheehy of Sun Prairie, board chairman of North Prairie Productions.

He said biodiesel would have to sell for $4.50 a gallon to justify the current price of soybean oil. Regular diesel fuel was selling for $3.49 a gallon Monday in the Madison area, according to MadisonGasPrices.com. A gallon of soybean oil makes a gallon of biodiesel, Sheehy said.

The $42 million plant would have been the largest in the state, producing an estimated 45 million gallons of biodiesel a year. Biodiesel is a substitute for diesel fuel used by farm tractors and some trucks and cars.

Sheehy said if soybean oil prices go down or diesel fuel prices look like they're going up for an extended period, construction could resume, possibly as early as next spring.

Dealers report Madison area hotbed for hybrid vehicles

Friday, November 09, 2007

From a report on WISC-TV, Channel 3, Madison:

The sales of hybrid vehicles are higher here in Madison than anywhere else in the Midwest.

At one local dealership, hybrid sales make up nearly 28 percent of all new vehicle sales, including trucks and nearly 45 percent of car sales. Compare that figure to 114 Toyota dealers in the Upper Midwest region, which includes Wisconsin, Illinois, Minnesota, Indiana and Michigan, whose hybrid sales make up less than 15 percent of total new vehicle sales, according to Smart Motors.

But why are the hybrids becoming such a popular choice in Madison? Many said it has to do with the city's history of environmentalism.

Judge: UW coal plant is illegal

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

From a story by Ron Seely in the Wisconsin State Journal:

The state is in violation of federal clean air laws for failing to install modern pollution controls on the coal-burning Charter Street power plant on the UW-Madison campus, U.S. District Court Judge John Shabaz ruled Wednesday in Madison.

The ruling was in response to a lawsuit filed in May by the Sierra Club against UW-Madison and the state Department of Administration in which the environmental organization accused the state of violating clean air laws by not installing pollution controls after several major construction projects at the facility between 1999 and 2004.

In his ruling, Shabaz said the changes at the plant were so substantial that the university will have to apply for a new operating permit from the state Department of Natural Resources and install modern pollution control equipment, which could cost millions of dollars.

Pollutants generated by the burning coal that heats the plant's boilers include nitrogen oxide and sulfur dioxide. Both contribute to ozone pollution, which can worsen respiratory illnesses.

We must reconfigure

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

A few comments and observations from Hans Noeldner:

From "Running on Fumes", an excellent article in the New Yorker by Elizabeth Kolbert:

"Were China and India to increase their rates of car ownership to the point where per-capita oil consumption reached just half of American levels, the two countries would burn through a hundred million additional barrels a day. (Currently, total global oil use is eighty-six million barrels a day.) Were they to match U.S. consumption levels, they would require an extra two hundred million barrels a day. It’s difficult to imagine how such enormous quantities of oil could be found, but, if they could, the result would be catastrophe."

Several things are obvious:

(1) We must reconfigure our spatial arrangements in these United States so that far less motorized motion is necessary.

(2) Thus we must redirect our behaviors and municipal redevelopment toward proximity, access, and higher levels of local interdependence.

(3) Where cars are still necessary and useful (and they will continue to be an essential transportation mode for many people), we must deploy vehicles appropriately scaled for the job at hand. Right now we very often use multi-ton, fifteen- to twenty-foot-long behemoths as single- and double-occupancy passenger vehicles. Continuing to do so is insane and unconscionable.

(4) If the human animal is to choose these things proactively, we must VERY QUICKLY learn to separate our sense of identity, power, virility, and self-worth from our motor vehicles.

(5) Then we will have earned the right to suggest how China, India, and other developing nations might do their "fair share" to fight global warming and help wean civilization off fossil fuels.

(6) But of course we-the-people don't HAVE to reconfigure our way of life to accomplish any of these things. We can choose to ignore the problems or delay or do nothing substantial instead (merely issuing noble proclamations, for example). Then resource scarcities plus the desire of 6.2 billion other human beings for a more equitable distribution of wealth will do the reconfiguring for us.

The fuel of the future? Say 'cheese'

Monday, November 05, 2007

From a story in the Oshkosh Northwestern:

STRATFORD — What will the fuel of the future look like and where will it come from?

Prepare for a variety of fuels from many sources, says Wisconsin entrepreneur Joe Van Groll whose start-up renewable energy company produces both ethanol and bio-diesel without a single corn kernel or soybean in sight.

The Grand Meadow Energy LLC near Stratford trucks in waste from surrounding cheese plants and raw canola oil from a nearby farm.

"There is no one silver bullet," Van Groll said in a press release. "The silver bullets are already out there — taking waste streams and turning them into profit centers."

Van Groll bought the Grand Meadow Coop cheese plant when it closed more than three years ago, converted it and with $29,000 from the state's Agricultural Development and Diversification grant program, began testing what is now a trade secret. Today, customers buy a license to use the yeast-based technology he developed with help from the grant.

As concerns about the environmental and societal impact of corn-based ethanol rise, he lists the advantages of his method.

"I don't use energy; I put it back on the grid. I don't slurp up water; I purify and recycle it. I don't push up food costs; I dispose of waste," he said.

Van Groll is a 13-year veteran of the state's cheese industry, and his process focuses on permeate, a by-product of cheese making. But Van Groll says the technology can be used on a variety of waste streams and he sees no end in sight to its application.

Step It Up rallies pressures for change at UW coal plant

Sunday, November 04, 2007

From Step It Up:

Last night [November 2] Bill [McKibben] was in town, and spoke at a film festival and got the troops rallied up.

Over 100 people rallied outside of this ugly little eye sore of a coal plant, conveniently located in the heart of the University campus. People wrote a whole lot of postcards to the board of regents, the Chancellor, and the Governor, urging them to take action (this plant is currently the subject of a lawsuit by the Sierra Club, so some urging is needed).

Longer daylight time may save energy -- but stats are stale

Saturday, November 03, 2007

From a story by Carl Bialik in the Wall Street Journal:

Americans are turning their clocks back this Sunday -- one week later than last year. With the earlier start this past March, that translates into four extra weeks of daylight-saving time.

The extra hour of primetime daylight is supposed to save energy, but the decision to make the extension was based on some questionable numbers. And any subsequent statistical support is a long way off. "The jury is still out on the potential national energy savings," says U.S. energy department spokeswoman Megan Barnett.

Congressional sponsors of the bill in 2005 argued that starting daylight time the second Sunday in March and ending it the first Sunday in November would cut electricity usage. Natural light would substitute for electric lights and people would participate in electricity-free outdoor activities instead of heading home to use appliances and watch television.

When Edward Markey, a Massachusetts Democrat, and Fred Upton, a Michigan Republican, introduced the bill, they said the extension could save Americans the equivalent of 100,000 barrels of oil a day -- an estimate repeated frequently in the media. But that statistic relied on figures from 1974, when President Nixon sprung clocks forward early, in January, during an energy crisis.

Wind project photo gallery

Friday, November 02, 2007

Fond du Lac Reporter photographer Patrick Flood documents progress on the Forward Wind Energy Project in a gallery posted on the paper's Web site.

One of the photo captions highlights the short-term economics of renewable energy for Wisconsin:

Rodney Borkenhagen of Appleton, a union iron worker for White Construction, checks over the very tip of one of the blades of a wind turbine about to be raised near Leroy Wisconsin Thursday afternoon. The wind tower os one of 66 locations in Dodge and Fond du Lac counties being built by Michels corporation of Brownsville as part of the Forward Wind Energy Project. The towers will be 262 feet high, with 122 foot blades, each blade weighing 14,000 lbs.

Some energy alternatives too expensive to produce

Thursday, November 01, 2007

A letter to the editor from the Appleton Post-Crescent:
Kurt Williamsen is at it again. In a letter published Oct. 19, he claims that wind and solar aren't practical because there is a whole array of vast, untapped energy alternatives available.

The resources he mentions are untapped for a very good reason: they are all difficult and expensive to produce.

For example, recently the capital cost to set up one barrel per day of production from tar sands has risen well in excess of $130,000, causing many producers to scale back or cancel projects.

As for shale, Shell Oil recently scaled back its experimental shale oil production project due to — you guessed it — rapidly escalating costs.

Despite the mind-boggling potential size of the reserves Mr. Williamsen trots out, it's not the size of the resource that matters. What matters is the rate at which it can be produced and whether or not the energy produced exceeds the energy expended to extract it. Most unconventional natural gas sources suffer from both to these problems.

As for methane hydrates, don't hold your breath. The history of energy production is littered with schemes that looked good on paper but failed to ever reach meaningful levels of production. And besides, do we truly need yet another method to pump carbon dioxide into our atmosphere?

Both wind and solar are proven energy sources that can be developed in meaningful scales in the relatively near future.

Joe Gregg,

Hayward will get new $6 Million wood pellet plant

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

From a report by Julie Pearce on KBJR-TV:

The Sawyer County Development Corporation has finalized a deal the Great Lakes Renewable Energy to locate a $6 million wood pellet plant four miles south of Hayward.

"From an asthetic standpoint, it is a good fit, it is a good location."

"It is also centrally located to the raw material supply that we'll be using."
The plant will output 36,000 tons of wood pellets each year.

"The primary function of the pellets is to be burned, and when you burn it it generates heat, so it's primary use is for a heating source."

The operations and plant manager Herb Seeger says the plant will employ 21 local workers, 12 loggers, and another 50 temporary construction jobs. . . .

Because the plant's only emissions will be water vapors, it is considered an environmentally friendly project.

"A renewable energy source, that will only compliment wind, solar, type powers as we go into the future."

You vote at the pump

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Hans Noeldner, an active member of the Madison Peak Oil Group, cruised the Farmers' Market to alert people that they vote every time they pump gas, while Beth Campbell and Ed Blume staffed a table.

Recycle, reuse, and use methane from landfill and wind

Monday, October 29, 2007

From a guest editorial by Stan Zdrojowy in The Tomah Journal:

We are now in the midst of another controversy on the Monroe County level. As I see it, our current landfill is almost full ... is that correct?

. . .since landfills generate methane gas, cannot we devise methods to capture that gas for commercial use. This would make landfills a valuable resource, and we would be scrambling to create them for their commercial value. It is unfortunate that this was not an option before the City of Tomah spent a million dollars or so to dig up the landfill on Noth Avenue several years ago to haul it to another landfill. Could we not have tapped that valuable resource of methane gas somehow and made that landfill a positive rather than a negative? An added complication ... in order to dig up that landfill to move the garbage, a whole forest of trees was eliminated (were they hauled to the landfill?). Was that good for the environment to cut down those trees?

. . .And as long as I am on the subject of alternative energy, can I put in a plug for wind generation?

Berkeley will pay for residents' up-front solar costs

Saturday, October 27, 2007

From a story by Carolyn Jones in the San Francisco Chronicle:

Berkeley is set to become the first city in the nation to help thousands of its residents generate solar power without having to put money up front - attempting to surmount one of the biggest hurdles for people who don't have enough cash to go green.

The City Council will vote Nov. 6 on a plan for the city to finance the cost of solar panels for property owners who agree to pay it back with a 20-year assessment on their property. Over two decades, the taxes would be the same or less than what property owners would save on their electric bills, officials say.

"This plan could be our most important contribution to fighting global warming," Mayor Tom Bates said Thursday. "We've already seen interest from all over the U.S. People really think this plan can go."

The idea is sparking interest from city and state leaders who are mindful of California's goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent by 2020. Officials in San Francisco, Santa Cruz, Santa Monica and several state agencies have contacted Berkeley about the details of its plan.

Lust for oil will only create hell for our kids

Friday, October 26, 2007

Hans Noeldner explains the marco-economics of oil in a letter-to-the-editor of The Capital Times:

Dear Editor: Hooray! The petro-dollar recycling racket that was set up in the 1970s is still working!

Bloomberg online notes: "The biggest quarterly rally for U.S. government securities in five years is getting an extraordinary boost from the burgeoning reinvestment of petro-dollars by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries. ... Petroleum exporters are adding to holdings of U.S. debt three times faster than other foreign investors."

No, our nation's invasion of Iraq, massive occupation of the Mideast-Central Asian "axis of oil," and pending bombing of Iran aren't just about supplying Americans with our next petro fix. Nor are they occurring for the sole reason that our government has been hijacked by neocons who have subverted our national interests to the projects of Zionism and worldwide U.S. hegemony.

America's continuing imperialistic enterprise is also about arm-twisting other nations to eat our debt. If we can't borrow money to keep on buying gas-guzzling Chevy Tahoes, what will GM Janesville employees do for work? And if we don't go on purchasing McMansions we can't afford -- if we can't keep the sprawl-building-bubble afloat -- how will our paving machine operators and sheet-rockers make minimum payments on their credit cards, adjustable rate mortgages, and the three-ton Tonka trucks they drive to the Main Street Tap?

The real elephant in the room is that many -- perhaps most -- Americans now have unsustainable jobs. We've automated and outsourced ourselves out of honest, useful work, and today our economy and employment are driven by conspicuous resource-gobbling consumption. The longer this goes on, the more devastating will be our fall, and the worse the hell our children will inherit from us.

Hans Noeldner, Oregon

The dangers of autobesity

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

From a commentary by Steve Hiniker published in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
Face it. We have a driving problem, and it's killing us.

We are addicted to driving, and we are in denial about it. We lash out at those who bring it to our attention and label them as "anti-car." Unfortunately, that is about as constructive as labeling a doctor as "anti-food" if that doctor recommends a diet.

The signs of autobesity are everywhere. If miles were calories, we would be in intensive care. Last year, Wisconsinites racked up an unbelievable 60 billion miles behind the wheel. Each one of us drove, on average, twice as many miles as drivers 25 years ago. We spend, on average, $7,000 a year per car on our addiction - plus parking costs.

Our driving addiction is costing us lives, dollars and destroyed communities every day. In Wisconsin, there is a motor vehicle crash once every five minutes, an injury every 14 minutes and a fatality every 11 hours. We use euphemisms to rationalize the horrible side effects of driving. Though we refer to car crashes as "accidents," almost all car crashes are avoidable events.
Steve Hiniker is executive director of 1000 Friends of Wisconsin, an environmental group.

WPPI seeks proposals on GreenMax Homes

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

From the Web site of WPPI (Wisconsin Public Power, Inc.):

. . . WPPI is soliciting competitive proposals for grants that will help fund the construction of up to three net zero energy homes in WPPI member utility service areas. 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.

“As customer-owned utilities, WPPI and its members are uniquely positioned to encourage energy conservation and efficiency, as well as to educate customers on the benefits of renewable energy,” said WPPI President and CEO Roy Thilly. “We are pleased to present this opportunity for creating reliable, sustainable 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 house. New construction projects as well as existing homes are eligible. Applications are available to download through a link here. Grantees will be announced by December 21, 2007

Solar hot water conference scheduled, Dec. 13, Wisconsin Dells

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Focus on Energy will host a one-day conference to help businesses tap into this growing market.

The Wisconsin Solar Hot Water Conference will help plumbing, heating, or solar businesses move into the market or expand if they're already installing residential or commercial solar hot water systems.

Register here.

Focus on Energy facts sheets explain the basics of solar hot water.

Green Building award goes to Aldo Leopold Foundation

Saturday, October 20, 2007

From a story by Tim Damos in the Portage Daily Register:

Sauk County now is home to what is being called a wonder of green building design, thanks to the vision of the folks at the Aldo Leopold Foundation.

"This building does things that people are dreaming about," said Rick Fedrizzi, president of the U.S. Green Building Council. "There are people out there saying, 'Somehow, somewhere a building will be able to do that.' This building is doing it today."

The USGBC is a nonprofit organization that encourages sustainable construction and building design. It certifies green building projects and ranks them using a point system that measures energy efficiency and sustainability.

The new $4 million Aldo Leopold Legacy Center, northeast of Baraboo near the Wisconsin River, received 61 of a possible 69 points, the highest point total recorded by the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design rating system, which is used by the USGBC.

It's the first "net zero energy" building in Wisconsin, and the first carbon-neutral building certified by LEED. During the first few months of operation, the building sold energy back to the local power utility and made $650, according to the Leopold Foundation.

Ann Arbor, Mich., declares itself first U.S. city to use LEDs in all streetlights

Friday, October 19, 2007

From a story posted on Grist:

Ann Arbor, Mich., home to the main campus of the University of Michigan, announced that it intends to become the first U.S. city to convert all of its downtown streetlights to LEDs (light-emitting diodes). The energy-saving lights use half the energy and are expected to last five times as long. In two years, when the city of 113,000 completes the conversion of all 1,046 streetlights, they'll cut CO2 emissions by about 2,425 tons a year. Ann Arbor has already converted all its traffic lights to LEDs.

Mpower Campaign Launched to reduce CO2 emissions by 100,000 tons

From a press release issued by Mayor Dave Cieslewicz:

Madison - Mpower partners have set an aggressive goal for reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the Madison area. Under the cooperative private-public-not-for-profit "100K Clean Energy Challenge," the City of Madison and its initial partners - Madison Gas and Electric (MGE), University of Wisconsin, Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies, Dane County United, Citizens Utility Board, RENEW Wisconsin, Clean Wisconsin, Sierra Club, Madison Area Clean Energy Coalition, and Sustain Dane - will seek to reduce citywide emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) by 100,000 tons by 2011.

The campaign was launched this week and includes a web site www.mpoweringmadison.com. Business and residents can go to this web site and sign-up and commit to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

"Global climate change affects all of us, and it is up to all of us to do our part to address this issue," said Mayor Cieslewicz. "This partnership will help make Madison a leader in showing how local communities can lead the way forward in protecting our environment for future generations."

The City of Madison component of the 100K Clean Energy Challenge calls for city government to reduce its CO2 "footprint" by 25% by 2011, to eliminate 15,000 tons of CO2, through the following strategies:

· Increase the energy efficiency of city facilities, reducing natural gas and electricity consumption. The city is actively implementing green building and energy efficiency practices, and recently created a new Facilities and Sustainability position to focus solely on this issue.

· Purchase more energy from renewable sources such as wind and solar and install renewable energy systems on city properties.

· Increase fuel efficiency and biofuels in the city's fleet of vehicles. The city is already pursuing this goal through establishing fuel-efficiency standards, the use of hybrid diesel-electric buses, as well as experimentation with biodiesel fuels.

Alternative energy key to economic development

Thursday, October 18, 2007

From a story by Steve Cahalan in the La Crosse Tribune:

Alternative energy sources such as solar, wind, ethanol and biodiesel will play a key role in economic development, officials said Wednesday at an economic forum at the Radisson Hotel.

About 130 people attended the event, held by the La Crosse Area Development Corp. and the La Crosse Area Chamber of Commerce.

Gundersen Lutheran plans to use renewable energy sources and energy efficiency improvements as part of its new Envision initiative, said Jerry Arndt, the health care company’s senior vice president of business services.

Energy management, recycling, and waste management and control are the three primary elements of Envision, the company’s plan for energy and environmental stewardship.

Arndt said solar panels will provide the electricity needed to power lighting, ventilation and elevator operation for the underground parking structure that will be completed in 2008 next to Gundersen Lutheran’s main clinic. And starting next year, solar energy will be used for at least some of the hot water for Gundersen Lutheran’s laundry operations.

Rock towns eye wind project restrictions

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

From a story by Marie Ann Ames in the Janesville Gazette:

You can't rope the wind.

But you can wrap red tape around wind turbines.

One town at a time, rural Rock County is sitting up and paying attention to wind farms.

The town of Beloit Planning Commission has its first wind farm discussion on an upcoming agenda. No one has approached the town with a plan for a "farm" that uses wind to create energy, but they want to stay ahead of the curve, said town Administrator Bob Museus.

"After seeing what's going on in Magnolia, we may be interested in writing an ordinance before they even try to get here," Museus said.

A New Focus, November 13, Madison

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The Wisconsin Chapter of the Association of Energy Services Professionals invites you to a social hour, November 13.

Meet the new team at the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin who will be leading the Focus On Energy program:

- Carol Stemrich, Asst. Administrator-Gas Division
- Jolene Sheil, Focus Program Manager
- Preston Schutt, Business Program Manager
- Allison Schill, Residential and Renewables Program Manager
- Greg Laubmeier, Budget and Policy Analyst
Hear a brief history and update on the Focus On Energy program in Wisconsin, then get to know the new leadership team, followed by a question-and-answer session.

Time: Tuesday, November 13, 4:30 to 5:30

Place: WECC Office, 431 Charmany Drive, Madison, WI

Social hour from 5:30 to 6:30. Food and drink will be provided.
(Subs, cheese, veggies and other good Wisconsin food)

Not able to get to Madison? You can join us via teleconference and/or Web link.

Cost: 20$ AESP members

30$ Non-members

10$ Non-profit organizations

Free Students/Unemployed

RSVP to Johna at j.r@tds.net before November 6.
(Checks should be made out to AESP-WI and brought to the social)

If you are not a current AESP member, register on time and you will be eligible to win a free one-year membership in AESP!

Business case for sustainability, Oct. 17

Monday, October 15, 2007

Raising Our Game: Future of Sustainable Business
Wed, October 17, 2007
4:30PM - 5:30PM
Grainger Hall
975 University Ave, Madison, WI
See Today in Grainger for room number
Sponsored by CIBER, WAGE, Nelson Institute

Companies view themselves increasingly as “corporate citizens,” characterized by a growing focus on social and environmental issues as part of their business strategy. Linked to these changes in the business world, sustainability is also becoming a bigger part of business school curricula. What is the business case for organizations to re-define their bottom line and what is the competitive advantage of corporate citizenship in an increasingly global economy? What are some future scenarios that might play out across industries? How can the trends toward entrepreneurship and innovation serve as leapfrog solutions? How can the business school curriculum address corporate social responsibility and what are some career opportunities for business school students interested in this area?

Contact Person
Name: Suzanne Dove
Phone: 608-265-4938
Email: asdove@bus.wisc.edu
URL: www.bus.wisc.edu/ciber/home

Governors to hold energy summit, Milwaukee, Nov. 14-15

Sunday, October 14, 2007

From the Web site of the Midwestern Governors Association:

The 2007 MGA Energy Summit is the culmination of Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle's 2007 Chairman's agenda and will be held in Milwaukee on Nov. 14 and 15. The two-day meeting will encourage Governors to explore key energy strategies and polices for the region.

Gov. Doyle, and Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, will be hosting the summit.

At the summit issues such as energy efficiency, renewable electricity, advanced coal and carbon capture, biofuels development and climate stewardship will be addressed. The summit audience will include regional policy leaders from business, government, and non-profit arenas.
Click here to access agenda and registration.

Lung Association Praises Doyle for Energy Summit

Friday, October 12, 2007

From the Wisconsin chapter of the American Lung Association:

Milwaukee--The American Lung Association of the Wisconsin (ALA-WI) thanked Governor Jim Doyle, chair of the Midwestern Governors Association (MGA), for hosting the Midwestern Governors Association Energy Security and Climate Change Summit on November 14-15, 2007. At the Summit, Governors and citizens from across the Midwest will pursue new regional initiatives to increase production and use of renewable energy, promote energy efficiency, and ensure a reliable electrical grid.

“We thank the Governor for his efforts and leadership on renewable energy, biofuels, and cleaner air,” said Dona Wininsky, Director of Public Policy and Communications for the ALA-WI. “This summit can highlight that energy security and global warming efforts like biofuels can reduce asthma and other respiratory diseases that threaten our health.”

Biofuels like ethanol and biodiesel reduce carbon emissions, increase energy security, and reduce soot particulate matter pollution that causes asthma and heart attacks.

“We hope this conference can show us how to save lives, energy, and keep jobs here in Wisconsin and the Midwest,” said Wininsky.

The Summit will be co-hosted by Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, immediate past chair of the MGA and current chair of the National Governors Association.

“Minnesota offers many programs we can learn from in Wisconsin like requiring more biofuels and investing in more clean, renewable energy,” said Wininsky. “Now is the time for the Legislature to pass measures to promote biofuels like the $30 million for the bioeconomy and money for biofuel pumps.”

Regional policy leaders from business, government, and non-profit arenas are invited to attend the Summit. To register or for more information visit the MGA website.

The Energy Security and Climate Stewardship Summit was organized by the Midwestern Governors Association. Working groups of public and private stakeholders, staffed by the Great Plains Institute, developed the agreements for the Summit.

Straw house offers energy independence

Thursday, October 11, 2007

From a story by Adam Bissen in the the Onalaska Community Life:
Marilyn Pedretti is eager to get settled into her new straw-built and solar-powered home in the town of Holland, but she’s not confining the housewarming celebration to only her friends and family.

Pedretti has included her just-about-finished house in the Midwest Renewable Energy Association’s Wisconsin Solar Tour [Oct. 5-6] as a way to spread the good word about alternative energy and green construction techniques to anyone who is interested.

The walls of Pedretti’s house are 18 inches thick, constructed of straw and clay and conserve three times more heat than the typical wood-built home. It’s designed to be heated from the sun, but also has radiant heat in the floors, a fireplace in the living room and a furnace that can run off 12 solar-charged batteries. A tall solar panel in the front yard collects all the energy for the home.

Sparta ethanol controversy settled

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

From a story by Steve Cahalan in the La Crosse Tribune:

SPARTA, Wis. — Coulee Area Renewable Energy still plans to build an ethanol plant in the region, but it won’t be next to Century Foods International’s main plant in Sparta.

In a brief joint press release Tuesday, CARE and Century Foods said they have reached a tentative settlement on all claims related to CARE’s effort to build an ethanol refinery at that site. The rest of the terms of the settlement are confidential, the press release said.

Since February, Century Foods and many nearby residents have fought the ethanol plant project at Sparta City Planning Commission and Sparta City Council meetings, and by filing lawsuits.

Century Foods representatives argued emissions from the ethanol plant would contaminate its milk-based products, while some residents were concerned about potential odor problems. The farmers and other investors in CARE disputed those claims.

“I give credit to both sides for coming to an agreement,” state Sen. Dan Kapanke, R-La Crosse, said after hearing of the settlement. “Negotiation is always better than litigation.”

Government sanctioned bombing of Appalachia

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

From a story by Antrim Caskey on AlterNet:

Thanks to Bush, Big Coal uses 3 million pounds of explosives each day in West Virginia to fuel our addiction to dirty energy.
On a calm, clear morning in the forested mountains of southern West Virginia, 12-year-old Chrystal Gunnoe played outdoors in the green mountain valley where her family has lived for hundreds of years. It was Veteran's Day and a school holiday. Chrystal's mother, Maria Gunnoe, 38, was inside when she heard her daughter yell for help.

Gunnoe rushed outside to find Chrystal coming towards her. Chrystal was coughing and struggling to breath, running from a strange-looking cloud that was moving down the valley and headed towards their house. Gunnoe would later learn the strange cloud came from something known as a "slow burning blast" -- an explosion set at the coal mine above her home that failed to ignite and instead burned slowly, releasing a wet toxic cloud of nitrogen oxide and carbon dioxide.

Gunnoe lives in Bob White, W.Va., where coal companies have become increasingly unfriendly neighbors. Her home is surrounded by thousands of acres where a radically destructive type of coal mining is practiced -- mountaintop removal/valley fill (MTR) coal mining -- and it's turning Maria Gunnoe's life upside down.

Confronting the triple crisis: climate change, peak oil and global resource depletion

Monday, October 08, 2007

From Earth Watch Ohio, as published on EnergyBulletin.net:

A Washington D.C. teach-in on climate change, peak oil and global resource depletion included a presentation from an Ohio nonprofit organization on how to curtail energy use in housing, transportation and food production. The teach-in, entitled Confronting the Global Triple Crisis—The Problems and The Solutions, featured some 60 speakers from 16 countries and attracted close to 900 people to George Washington University over three days in mid September.

Megan Quinn Bachman, outreach director for The Community Solution in Yellow Springs, Ohio, detailed her nonprofit’s efforts to deal with “converging calamities,” including the coming peak and decline in worldwide oil production which will result in oil shortages and skyrocketing prices. “Community is a vision of the future where we conserve and share scarce local resources rather than deplete, destroy and battle over seemingly abundant distance resources,” Bachman said. “It is a vision where we consume far fewer resources, but have a better life, filled with valued relationships rather than valued possessions.”

Mid-state tech school investigates new renewable programs

Sunday, October 07, 2007

From an article in the Stevens Point Journal:

The Mid-State Technical College Board of Directors is urging the college to pursue programming opportunities in renewable energy. MSTC is exploring the development of five renewable energy associate degree programs including biorefinery technology, renewable energy specialist, renewable electricity technician, renewable thermal energy technician and energy conservation technician.

Pending workforce investigation and approval from the Wisconsin Technical College System Board, MSTC may begin to offer three of the programs in 2008 and the remaining two in 2009 at the Wisconsin Rapids campus.

Grand Chute warms up to solar

Friday, October 05, 2007

From a story by Ed Lowe in the Appleton Post-Crescent:

GRAND CHUTE — The Plan Commission won't try to stop Donna Kuether from erecting a solar collector in her backyard, but she might have to wait a bit.

The commission endorsed an ordinance Tuesday to allow town residents to erect state-law-compliant solar- or wind-powered generators.

It also endorsed a six-month moratorium on their installation to allow the town time to investigate whether individual projects present health, welfare or safety problems. The dual measures will go to the Town Board for final approval Oct. 16

The proposed town ordinance was drafted in response to Kuether, the first party to seek town authority to plant a solar collector in her backyard.

Tour Wisconsin solar (and renewable) homes, Oct. 5-6

Thursday, October 04, 2007

The tour demonstrates that renewable energy is practical, reliable and affordable in today's economy. Tour sites are owned, lived in, and worked in by ordinary people. They are helping others open the door to renewable energy. Although it is officially called the Solar Tour, sites include all sorts of renewable energy technologies and other innovative features. On the WI Solar Tour you can see:

Wind and solar (PV) electric systems
Solar thermal and solar water heating systems
Green building construction and passive solar design
Energy efficient heating technologies
Energy efficient appliances
Environmentally friendly landscaping
And more!

Find homes open in your area of Wisconsin.

Papermakers turn green, study says

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

From an article by Joel Dresang in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

Saying that papermaking is "one of our planet's most significant environmental challenges," a coalition of environmental groups on Tuesday released a report citing progress by the paper industry and pushing for more improvements.

The report is the first from the Environmental Paper Network to monitor several indicators suggesting the impact of paper consumption and paper manufacturing on the environment. The industry plays an essential role in Wisconsin, which has led the nation in paper production since 1953.

Among the findings is evidence of increased reuse of paper, scrutinized forestry practices and cleaner manufacturing processes. . . .

For instance, papermakers have been struggling with the escalating cost of energy.

"It drove the previous owners out," said Bill Johnson Jr., government affairs director at Flambeau River Papers, which last year took over the closed Smart Papers mill in Park Falls.

Flambeau River has been developing alternative fuel systems that are saving expenses and the environment, reducing daily coal consumption on one boiler to 10 tons from 55, with plans to phase out coal in the next three months.

Green approval can be incentive but shouldn't be the only reward

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

From a column by Whitney Gould in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

Its critics liken it variously to a death march or a colonoscopy. At best, it's a long, costly slog through red tape.

So why would anyone want to go through the headache of getting a "green" imprimatur for a new building?

Well, there's the satisfaction of doing the right thing for the environment, when your building is recognized for using natural light, energy-efficient mechanical systems, recycled materials, storm water-runoff controls and other resource-saving devices. And there's the prestige of that LEED sticker, for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, bestowed by the U.S. Green Building Council. That can be a great marketing tool.

But even some environmentally conscious architects and building owners think the process of getting that sticker is not worth the hassle. Ken Leinbach, executive director of the Urban Ecology Center in Milwaukee's Riverside Park, is one. Hiring consultants and doing the paperwork to get the LEED stamp of approval for his already very green building would have added an estimated $75,000 to the $3.4 million cost, so Leinbach skipped the process.

"It just didn't make any sense. We decided we'd rather put the money into actual green features," such as a vegetative roof and solar panels, he said. The LEED-free building has won national admiration as a model for green building and saves as much as $15,000 a year on energy costs.

Eco forum stresses support; more help will speed process

Monday, October 01, 2007

From an article by Jason G. Zencka in the Stevens Point Journal:

Proponents of ecological sustainability in snacking would have been pleased with the spread at Tuesday’s League of Women Voters forum on ecomunicipalities, where locally-grown beets with goat cheese were served on compostable plates made from a sugar cane byproduct. Even the cups boasted a corn starch lining instead of plastic; napkins were made of 100 percent recycled paper.

For those attendees interested in turning Stevens Point into an ecomunicipality, however, forum leaders stressed progress would be much more hard-won.

“It is a democratic process,” said Fifth District Alderperson Amy Heart of the process of writing and passing an resolution to make Stevens Point Wisconsin’s 12th ecomunicipality, “which means it’s very difficult.”

Months after mayor Andrew Halverson formed an Ecomunicipality Task Force, task force members now are asking the community for ideas on how Stevens Point might become a city that prizes sustainable development.

“It’s all about having as many people involved as possible,” Heart said.

Among the many cities across the globe that have adopted ecomunicipality charters, emphasis has been placed on actions such as using alternative fuel sources, environmentally friendly cleaning and painting materials, and creating safe zones for pedestrian traffic.

For the task force members, however, the challenge is to glean from the community ideas of how the city might become more sustainable months before offering a resolution to the city council this spring.

EPA standards fuel rethinking

Sunday, September 30, 2007

From an article by Rick Barrett in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

Tougher environmental regulations are continuing to drive changes in the small-engine industry, similar to what's happened with car and truck manufacturers.

For the small-engine makers, represented in Wisconsin by Briggs & Stratton Corp., Kohler Co., Generac Power Systems, Mercury Marine Inc. and BRP International, the total estimated costs will rise to $620 million by 2037, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

What's more, the makers of outdoor lawn-and-garden equipment, such as Ariens Co. and John Deere, are affected by what happens with the engine manufacturers.

"Things are in a huge state of flux," said Gregory Weekes, a John Deere product marketing manager. . . .

Kohler Co. is spending $11 million on research to develop cleaner engines. The company wants to meet EPA requirements without the use of catalytic converters or other bolt-on devices, said Richard Koehl, director of marketing and quality.

Paul Hawken, Environmentalist, Entrepreneur, Journalist, Author -- Lawrence University, Nov. 6

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Paul Hawken
Environmentalist, Entrepreneur, Journalist, Author
Tuesday, November 6, 2007, 11:10 a.m.
Lwrence University Chapel

Since the age of 20, Paul Hawken has dedicated his life to sustainability and changing the relationship between business and the environment. He has written extensively about the impact of commerce on living systems, served as a consultant to governments and corporations on economic development, industrial ecology, and environmental policy, and has founded and run several ecological businesses.

Hawken has written seven books, which collectively have been published in more than 50 countries in 27 languages and have sold more than 2 million copies. Among them are *Growing a Business,* which became the basis of a 17-part PBS series that Hawken hosted and produced, and *The Ecology of Commerce, *which was voted the no. 1 college text on business and the environment in 1998 by professors in more than 60 business schools. His 1999 book, *Natural Capitalism: Creating the Next Industrial Revolution,*was hailed by President Bill Clinton as one of the five most important books in the world today. Hawken's latest book, *Blessed Unrest,* released in the spring of 2007, examines the history of the environmental and social justice movement in which he estimates as many as two million organizations worldwide have participated.

In addition to his writing, Hawken has founded and run numerous ecological businesses, including Smith & Hawken, the popular garden and catalog retailer, as well as several of the country's first natural food companies that relied solely on sustainable agricultural methods.

Hawken has served on the board of many environmental organizations, among them Friends of the Earth and the National Audubon Society, and been honored with numerous awards, including the Green Cross Millennium Award for Individual Environmental Leadership presented by Mikhail Gorbachev in 2003.

*Utne Reader* magazine named Hawken one of its "One Hundred Visionaries who could Change our Lives" in 1995.

ASPO conference confirms a peak in global oil production by 2012

Thursday, September 27, 2007

From an analysis by Douglas Low on EnergyBulletin.net:

A conference held in Cork, Ireland by the Association for the Study of Peak oil and Gas (ASPO) last week heard representatives from industry forecast that the best data available data pointed to reserves of 250 billion barrels of yet-to-find global conventional oil, and as a result oil production would plateau at less than 100 million barrels per day before 2020.

This was followed up by a range of speakers who stated that current trends in bringing new projects onstream indicate that global oil production would peak on or before 2012, a forecast that coincides with the latest announcement from International Energy Agency that an oil crunch will occur by 2012

Petroleum pipeline violations alleged

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

From a story by Barry Adams in the Wisconsin State Journal about construction of a pipeline to carry oil from Canadian tar sands to refineries in the Chicago area:

A Texas company installing two pipelines from Superior to Delavan was asked this month to stop construction on the 321-mile project following alleged multiple violations of its state-issued permit.

The state Department of Natural Resources has issued a "notice of violation " to Enbridge Energy for failure to follow the guidelines of a dredging, grading and bridge permit. The DNR is also reviewing a letter of response from Enbridge to determine if its plans will correct the problems and if further enforcement action is required.

The DNR does not have the authority to halt the project but could refer the case to the state Department of Justice, which could go to court. Fines could reach up to $5,000 a day.
In addition to the environmental issues raised by other groups, RENEW previously questioned the value of the pipeline in a letter to the DNR:
1) How much petroleum can be extracted from the tar sands;
2) how much natural gas will be available for the extraction process;
3) how much the refined petroleum will help U.S. gasoline supplies compared to ethanol production; and
4) how much of the refined product will even reach Wisconsin.

Neenah brands go carbon neutral

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

From a story on Environmental Leader:

Neenah Paper says that six of its brands, Classic Crest, Classic Linen, Classic Laid, Classic Columns, Classic Cotton, and Starwhite brands, are now manufactured carbon neutral.

Neenah says it has reduced its net reductions in greenhouse gas emissions by buying Green-e certified renewable energy and other renewable energy sources, and by making energy saving upgrades - the company says it has reengineered its process water treatment system at its Neenah, Wis., mill to operate at significantly reduced noise levels and increased treatment efficiency while at the same time consuming less energy.

Neenah first purchased over 10 million kWh of Green-e certified renewable energy from Wisconsin’s We Energies in August 2006, and has more than quadrupled its commitment to 48.7 million kWh. Neenah joined the Chicago Climate Exchange in May.

Interview with Richard Heinberg

Monday, September 24, 2007

The Financial Sense Newshour broadcasts several interviews on peak oil, including a recent interview with Richard Heinberg.

The Financial Sense Newshour's site has a little on Heinberg, as an introduction to the interview:

Richard Heinberg is one of the world's foremost Peak Oil (oil depletion) educators and is a Research Fellow of Post Carbon Institute. He is the award-winning author of seven books including Powerdown, The Party's Over: Oil, War and the Fate of Industrial Societies; Powerdown: Options and Actions for a Post-Carbon World; and The Oil Depletion Protocol: A Plan to Avert Oil Wars, Terrorism, and Economic Collapse.

Mr. Heinberg is a journalist, educator, lecturer, and a Core Faculty member of New College of California, where he teaches a program on "Culture, Ecology and Sustainable Community." His monthly MuseLetter has been published since 1992 and his essays and articles have appeared widely and in many languages. He was featured prominently in the documentary film The End of Suburbia, he has been quoted in Time magazine, and his work has been discussed in articles syndicated by Reuters and the Associated Press. Since 2002, he has given over two hundred lectures on oil depletion to a wide variety of audiences – from insurance executives to peace activists, from local and national elected officials to Jesuit volunteers. He and his wife Janet Barocco live in Santa Rosa, California, in an energy-efficient home. He is also an avid amateur violinist.
Heinberg's newsest book is titled Peak Everything.

Waupun Utilities goes green

Sunday, September 23, 2007

From a story in the Beaver Dam Daily Citizen:

WAUPUN — Two new photovoltaic solar panels are up and operational at the Waupun Utilities headquarters, providing 9,000 kilowatt hours of emission-free electricity each year, or enough to power three energy-conscious homes.

"The new solar panels demonstrates our commitment to the use of clean, renewable energy," said Zachary Bloom, general manager. "It is our objective to be a model for cost-effective conservation initiatives and the efficient use of energy."

The solar panels, which recently became operational, are equipped with sunlight-tracking technology so they can move and tilt with the sun's path across the sky, increasing the system's efficiency by as much as 30 percent.

"They will be in operation in the winter also," said Bloom.

Finding the green, green home

Friday, September 21, 2007

From a story by Linda Falkenstein on the Daily Page of Isthmus:
While new construction often has a green-built component and Energy Star labels on appliances, someone looking to buy an older home in an established neighborhood, especially one that's had environmentally conscious upgrades — added insulation, better windows, energy-efficient appliances or maybe even solar panels — will find it difficult to find that information with a quick search of the Multiple Listing Service. While you can search for price, neighborhoods, numbers of bedrooms and bathrooms, or lakefront property, you can't search for an energy-efficient property. And where there's a need, there's soon a service to fill it.

There are a number of real estate agents in the Madison area who are interested in helping clients find homes that fit their criteria for environmental soundness — and they're also committed to raising the consciousness of homeowners overall about the efficiency of their homes.

Live Lightly Tour comes to Milwaukee, Sept. 24

Thursday, September 20, 2007

From the Web site of the Live Lightly Tour:

We love living small…we love living sustainably…and we love teaching others how to do it for themselves. So…we’re hitting the road to spread the love! On September 17, we will launch[ed] our tour and travel the U.S. in an RV powered by straight vegetable oil.
The RV will pull into Outpost Natural Foods (Capitol location, 100 E. Capitol Dr.) at 3:00 p.m. on September 24, 2007.

The RV's specs:

+Fleetwood Flair
+32′ long, 8′ wide
+Diesel “Pusher” (engine is located in the rear, under the bed)
+GMC 6.5 liter V8 Engine
+Veggie Oil Conversion: Golden Fuel Systems Custom Installation
+90 gallon veggie oil tank/18 gallon diesel tank
+Onboard gathering and filtration system
+Grease passes through a pre-filter, and three 8 micron filters before hitting the injectors
+Rated to -20 degrees F
+Roof-top solar panels provide partial solar power
+Flexsteel couch/seating
+King bed in rear/Dinette and Couch both convert to beds
+3 burner gas stove with oven (and it fits my stoneware muffin pan! hooray!)
+6 cubic sq. ft fridge/freezer (new)
+TV in front and rear for watching DVD’s…equipped with DirectTV (not activated)
+Cabin air conditioner/Roof-top air in front and rear
+Large enclosed roof-top luggage carrier