IndyCar Switches to 100 Percent Ethanol

Saturday, February 24, 2007

According to a story on the EERE Web site:

Fuel from corn is now powering some of the highest-tech race cars in the world, as the IndyCar Series has switched its fuel to 100 percent ethanol. IndyCar had been using methanol fuel but started using 10 percent ethanol last year and committed to switch to 100 percent ethanol this year. In a recent "Open Test" at Daytona International Speedway, all 17 drivers and their teams had their first chance to try out the fuel, and they gave it their approval and support. "I really didn't notice any difference at all, which I think is the point," said 2005 IndyCar Series champion Dan Wheldon.

Biodiesel short course, April 2-4

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

The Consortium for Education in Renewable Energy Technology (CERET) is pleased to announce that Madison Area Technical College (MATC) is offering a new 1-credit short-course "Introduction to Biodiesel Fuel" on April, 2-4, 2007. This class may be applied towards the CERET Certificate in Renewable Energy Technology that is offered through the college.

Course details are included in the pdf file attached to this email, and are also available through MATC's online timetable:

For more information on the CERET Renewable Energy Certificates as well as our online course offerings for 2007 please visit the CERET website:, or contact Anne Scott at 608-246-6800.

Wisconsin Farmers Union sets renewable energy policy

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

The Dunn County News reports on resolutions adopted at the 76th annual state convention of the Wisconsin Farmers Union:

In the area of renewable energy, WFU members adopted policy that calls for renewable energy expansion, to include biodiesel and other renewable incentives, in addition to the existing market for ethanol.

“We’re moving toward becoming a self-sufficient bioeconomy,” said [WFU President Sue]Beitlich. “It’s no longer a question of the validity or viability of renewable energy sources, but of when biofuels will be the choice of the majority of Americans. It will happen, and we’d like to see it happen soon. We have the technology; we just need continued incentives to make it an attractive alternative to our current system of petroleum-based products.”

Peak oil monthly meeting March 8

Monday, February 19, 2007

The Madison Peak Oil Group will meet on March 8, not March 1, from 12:00 noon to 1:00 p.m. in the conference room of RENEW Wisconsin, 222 S. Hamilton Street.

Also mark your calendars for a timely presentation by Madison Peak Oil Group’s own David Knuti:

David Knuti, U.S. Commercial Service (retired)
Tuesday, March 13, 7:00 PM
UW Memorial Union

Russia is the world’s second largest oil exporter and largest natural gas exporter. Although only a minor supplier to the U.S., Russia plays a vital role in U.S. energy security by maintaining the precarious balance of world energy supplies without shortages or punishing price increases. No country other than the U.S. is such an important producer, refiner, long distance transporter, and consumer of energy. It also a key factor as a transit country for the oil and gas of other countries. For better or worse, world energy security depends on Russia’s future performance in these roles.

For more information on the briefings, contact Ed Blume, or 608.819.0748.

So much for the federal commitment to end oil addiction

Thursday, February 15, 2007

It would be funny if it weren't so pathetic!

Federal Staffing Shortage Holds Up World's First Cellulose Ethanol Plant
2/15/2007 6:25:00 AM
(C) 2007 Mclatchy-Tribune News Service.. All Rights Reserved

WASHINGTON - All that's standing between the United States and the world's first cellulose ethanol plant is an obscure Washington office staffed by one federal contractor.

The office in the U.S. Department of Energy opened last summer to provide federal loan guarantees for producing clean energy and innovative technologies.

However, its sole employee hasn't been able to do more than literally open the mail. More than 100 so-called pre-applications for loan guarantees have arrived, only to be shelved because the Department of Energy hasn't had the money to hire more staff to assess them.

Read the full story.

Wisconsin's largest solar electric system.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

The Urban Ecology Center in Milwaukee now boasts a 44 kW solar electric system, the largest in the state. Focus on Energy assisted with financing the installation.

Our insatiable appetite for coal

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Tom Content and Lee Bergquist cover Wisconsin's addiction to coal in an impressive series of articles in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. One story includes a terrific quote from the Sierra Club's Bruce Nilles: “We're at the forefront of going backwards."


Wisconsin generates greenhouse gases linked to global warming at a rate that is about one-third faster than the national average, a Journal Sentinel analysis found.

This trend will only escalate because the state's utilities are on the leading edge of a national building boom of coal-burning power plants, fueled by an ever-increasing appetite for electricity.

The Giant Sucking Sound, Revisited

Monday, February 12, 2007

Petroleum and Natural Gas Watch
by Michael Vickerman, RENEW Wisconsin
February 12, 2007, Vol. 6, Number 3

Remember the metaphorical “giant sucking sound” that Ross Perot invoked in the 1992 presidential debates? Perot employed that image to characterize the rapid exodus of jobs to Mexico that would surely result from ratifying the North American Free Trade Agreement. Fifteen years later, that vivid phrase could appropriately describe the increasingly desperate circumstances befalling Cantarell, Mexico’s largest oilfield, situated about 50 miles off the coast of the Yucatan Peninsula. The giant sucking sound you might hear at Cantarell is what happens when hundreds of oil wells begin drawing gas and water from the very reservoirs that used to yield copious quantities of petroleum. It’s the sound of an oilfield rolling over its peak.

To unknowing American ears, the name Cantarell evokes a casual, Southwestern feeling, more suggestive of a dude ranch than the world’s No. 2 oil field. By far the most productive oil reservoir in the Western Hemisphere, Cantarell was yielding more than two million barrels per day (bpd) as recently as 2005, outperforming all other fields save mighty Ghawar in Saudi Arabia. At $50 per barrel that level of production translated to $100 million a day. When a wealth generator of that magnitude starts to sputter and lose productivity, other oilfields must pick up the slack or else the Mexican economy is bound to take a hit.

Continue reading here.

Focus on Energy presentation, noon, Feb. 12

Friday, February 09, 2007

Noon to 1:00 p.m.
Room 400 SE, State Capitol

RENEW Wisconsin and the Madison Peak Oil Group invite legislators, aides, Capitol staff, lobbyists, agency staff, and the general public to a series brown-bag lunches on energy-related issues.

Without a doubt, this legislative session will see several bills and administrative rules on energy issues, and the brown-bag lunches will provide the background and context to help with a better understanding of the underlying issues. The briefings will be non-partisan and will not offer positions on any proposals pending at the time.

Focus on Energy: Status and Future, presented by Kathy Kuntz, Wisconsin Energy Conservation Corporation. Focus on Energy works with eligible Wisconsin residents and businesses to install cost effective energy efficiency and renewable energy projects. Focus information, resources and financial incentives help to implement projects that otherwise would not get completed, or to complete projects sooner than scheduled. Its efforts help Wisconsin residents and businesses manage rising energy costs, promote in-state economic development, protect our environment and control the state's growing demand for electricity and natural gas.

For more information contact Ed Blume.

Winter newsletter online

Thursday, February 08, 2007

This winter's edition of the Wisconsin Renewable Quarterly, now posted online, includes the following articles:

RENEW and Clean Wisconsin Defend Wind Power Project;
We Energies Cops National Honors;
Don Wichert: RENEW Founder and Tireless Advocate;
How I Fell in Love with My Solar Dryer;
PSC Approves WE Wind Project;
Doyle Sets Plans to Expand Renewables.

Merrill fitness club uses sunlight to warm pool

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

A story by Amy Olson in the Wausau Daily Herald reports on a solar water heating project supported in part by Focus on Energy:

As a child, Paul Kienitz and his family heated their house with wood and grew their own vegetables. Now, the owner of Riverside Athletic Club in Merrill is heating its pool by harvesting sunlight.

Kienitz opened his fitness club 25 years ago. In 2002, he added a pool and whirlpool.

He had long thought about ways to save energy after the addition was built. The 60-foot long pool alone holds 50,000 gallons of water, and the whirlpool holds 800 gallons, Kienitz said. Add in showers for the 250 to 300 people who use Riverside Athletic Club each day, and you get a hefty utility bill.

In March, he installed solar panels with the help of a grant from Focus on Energy, a program that works with Wisconsin business owners and residents to boost energy efficiency and support renewable energy projects.

Largest Wisconsin Solar Array to be Dedicated February 10

Monday, February 05, 2007

Milwaukee, WI – At a huge 44.4 kilowatts, the solar electric panels now covering the roof at the Urban Ecology Center are the largest such solar installation in the state of Wisconsin. The system, originally installed in 2003 by H&H Solar Energy Services of Madison, started out as a 48 module array. With the addition of 208 solar panels, the completed system now consists of 256 Kyocera solar panels mounted directly to the Center’s metal standing-seam roof. The Kyocera panels are expected to produce over 55,000 kilowatt-hours each year.

The Urban Ecology Center is a unique, neighborhood based, non-profit community and nature center located in Milwaukee's historic Riverside Park.

A dedication ceremony to announce the completion and activation of the system is planned for Saturday, February 10th, at 1:30 p.m. as part of the Urban Ecology Center’s public Winterfest event for families.

Chairman Daniel R. Ebert of the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin which oversees electricity, gas, and telecommunication issues in the state is expected to be on hand to help christen the new system.

Read more here.

Update on new energy law, Feb. 5

Friday, February 02, 2007

Brown-bag Lunch Series on Energy
Noon to 1:00 p.m.
Room 400 SE, State Capitol

RENEW Wisconsin and the Madison Peak Oil Group invite legislators, aides, Capitol staff, lobbyists, agency staff, and the general public to a series brown-bag lunches on energy-related issues.

Without a doubt, this legislative session will see several bills and administrative rules on energy issues, and the brown-bag lunches will provide the background and context to help with a better understanding of the underlying issues. The briefings will be non-partisan and will not offer positions on any proposals pending at the time.

The short briefing will allow ample time for questions and discussions.

February 5 – Wisconsin’s new Energy Efficiency and Renewables Law (Act 141), presented by Michael Vickerman, who served on the Governor’s Task Force on Energy Efficiency and Renewables. Vickerman will look at the background of the task force, its work, its recommendations, the final legislation, status of rule-making to implement the legislation, and what might come next.

Free showing of Who Killed the Electric Car?

Thursday, February 01, 2007

You’re invited to a free showing of the acclaimed documentary film, Who Killed the Electric Car? Come join us to learn more about the rise and fall of the electric car.

Two show time options:

Monday, February 5th, 7:00 p.m., RP’s Pasta (1133 E. Wilson St.) – yummy treats supplied by RP’s

Wednesday, February 7th, 7:00 p.m., UW Memorial Union, Great Hall

Sponsored by Community Car.

Bring friends and family to this event – there’s a special deal on joining Community Car for attendees to this event.