MG&E adds wind power, expands Green Power Tomorrow program

Friday, October 31, 2008

From a media release issued by MG&E:

Madison, Wis., Oct. 31, 2008—Madison Gas and Electric (MGE) increased wind power capacity by more than 12 times in 2008 as four new wind farms in Wisconsin and Iowa began production. The most recent addition to MGE's renewable energy portfolio is a 10-year agreement with Osceola Wind Power II, LLC, a subsidiary of FPL Energy, to purchase 50 megawatts of wind energy.

"With strong customer support, MGE increased wind capacity from 11 to 137 megawatts this year alone," said Gary J. Wolter, MGE chairman, president and CEO. "This exceeds the goal in our Energy 2015 plan, which set out to increase renewable energy up to ten fold."

The latest green power comes from FPL Energy's Endeavor II Wind Energy Center in northwest Iowa (Osceola and Dickinson counties), an area with some of the most robust wind resources in the Midwest. The new facility started operation this week.

Renewable energy is expected to account for more than 12% of MGE's total energy supply in 2009, up from 1.6% in 2007. The additional wind energy allows continued expansion of MGE's Green Power Tomorrow program. About 10% of MGE's residential customers participate in the program, the highest rate of all investor-owned utilities in the United States.

UW-Baraboo/Sauk Campus gets support for new green dorm

Thursday, October 30, 2008

From an article by Tim Damos in the Baraboo News Republic:
A commission lent its support Friday to a campus master plan expected to cost $30.25 million over the next decade.

University of Wisconsin-Baraboo/Sauk County officials hope to fund the first phase of the plan — a $15.5 million environmentally sound dorm and conference hall — through private donations and grants. But Sauk County and the City of Baraboo would be asked to share in the remaining costs, which include upgrades to facilities over the next 11 years.

The UW Campus Commission members present at Friday's meeting voted unanimously to support the plan, though the commission's president expressed caution in the face of today's slumping economy.

"I think you've got the support of the county and the city," said Phil Wedekind, campus commission president and city alderman. "But when they start hearing about the money, the support kind of dwindles a little bit."

The university will have to tap into the expertise of local marketing and environmental professionals to raise funds for the first phase, the Living and Learning Center, said Nicole Thompson, director of university relations. Fundraising efforts for the 96-bed green dorm and conference center will be aimed at a "target audience," she said.

That facility is slated to include state-of-the-art sustainable construction methods and will seek a green certification from a nonprofit group. The goal is to have zero annual net energy operations.

Council votes YES for renewable energy

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Madison Peak Oil Group asked for a yes vote on an ordinance making wind and solar installations permitted uses in the city of Madison. A media release issued by Satya Rhodes-Conway confirms a yes vote by the Council:

Yesterday, Madison's City Council passed an ordinance amendment, sponsored by Alders Satya Rhodes-Conway, Marsha Rummel and Brian Solomon, that makes solar and wind energy systems "permitted accessory uses" under Madison's Zoning Code. The change will also update City codes to reflect current technology and practices.

"Madison residents are really creative and dedicated when it comes to sustainability and preserving our environment," said Ald. Rhodes-Conway, the lead sponsor of the amendment. "This is a small, but important, change that will make it easier to install renewable energy systems."

Under this ordinance amendment, residents will be able to install solar and wind energy systems on their homes just like they can put in a storage shed or garage.

"Many Madisonians choose to install solar systems to lower their utility bills," said Ald. Rummel. "We want to encourage them to do so."

All solar and wind projects will still need to comply with existing City rules - for example, they will need building and other applicable permits. Projects incorporating solar or wind as one component of the project will still be subject to all the normal reviews.

"This is just one small way for the City to support renewable energy," said Ald. Solomon. "I hope that it will lead to more solar systems in Madison."

The ordinance includes restrictions on the height of wind turbines on
towers: They must be set back from lot lines at least as much as their height or have an easement from the adjoining property.
After the vote, RENEW's Michael Vickerman said:
The City Attorney's office started working on the amendments in May, drafts of which were then reviewed and revised over the summer by a host of city committees (Sustainable Design and Energy, Planning, Urban Design and Landmarks). Over the course of committee review, the definition of wind energy was changed to incorporate the recommended dimensions and setbacks in the Focus on Energy model ordinance for small wind systems. With last night's vote those recommendations became official in the City of Madison. So the passage of this ordinance amendment represents a real step forward for the Focus on Energy renewable energy program.

Cerainly this victory could not have happened but for the strong support of Mayor Cieslewicz. But there were a number of individuals who deserve credit for shaping this zoning amendment, shepherding it through the committee review process, and steering it through the shoals of the City Council, which, as last night's discussion and debate showed, can be treacherous waters. They include Jeanne Hoffman, Kitty Noonan, and Kay Schindel from the City, the sponsors on the City Council (Satya Rhodes-Conway, Marsha Rummel and Brian Solomon), and the Sustainable Design and Energy committee members who showed up last night to speak in support of this initiative (Sherrie Gruder, Pete Taglia and myself). Everyone's contribution counted.

Group asks for YES vote on allowing wind & solar in Madison

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Madison Peak Oil Group submitted the following statement to all members of the Madison City Council:

The Madison Peak Oil Group and its members ask all alders to vote YES on the renewable energy ordinance. The chart below clearly shows the reason: the inevitable decline of cheap, abundant petroleum products. We must act on the urgency of retooling our energy economy around non-depleting, locally available, and cleaner fuels.

Among energy analysts, the only point of contention is whether world production peaked in 2005 or whether it will peak at some future date in the not-to-distant future. The exact date amounts to a trivial detail. We must begin to prepare well before the date, if it hasn’t already passed.

Cost of oil raises asphalt concerns

Monday, October 27, 2008

From a story by Darryl Enriquez in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

In his 30 years as a Waukesha city planner and community developer, Steve Crandell says he has never seen the price of asphalt exceed the cost of concrete, a turn of events that forced the city to resort to extra borrowing this month.

Throughout the Milwaukee area, municipal officials are bracing for a continued upward swing in asphalt prices that threatens to create potholes in already tight road budgets.

Those soaring costs were blamed for adding about $1.4 million of the $2 million in unanticipated borrowing costs to complete roads and other work for the new Shoppes at Fox River, a shopping center project in western Waukesha, Crandell said.

Oil is a major ingredient in asphalt. Even though oil costs have come down recently, the price reduction has not trickled down to the asphalt industry, said Jim Purko, operations director for the Milwaukee Department of Public Works.

"The cost of raw materials and the cost of transportation are certainly driving up the cost of road projects here," Purko said.

Permaculture for Urban and Suburban Gardeners

Friday, October 24, 2008

From a post from Olbrich Gardens on the Sustain Dane listserve:

Permaculture for Urban and Suburban Gardeners
Tuesday, October 28, 6:30 - 8:30 p.m.
$11 Olbrich Botanical Society member / $13 public
Walk-ins are welcome. Please pay at the door.

Permaculture is about landscape designs based on the relationships between people, plants, animals, soil, and water. It emphasizes improving soil and optimizing water use, while incorporating food plants such as fruits, nuts, and perennial vegetables. It even means designing animal raising - such as chickens and other poultry - into the landscape! Join Permaculturist Kate Heiber-Cobb for a talk on sustainable permaculture philosophies for urban and suburban landscapes. Heiber-Cobb will address simple ways that gardeners can maximize natural ecological relationships.

Walk-ins are welcome. Please pay at the door. The cost of the class is $11 for Olbrich Botanical Society members and $13 for the general public. For more information please call 608-246-4550. Visit for more information about upcoming classes and workshops.

The workshop will be held at Olbrich Botanical Gardens, 3330 Atwood Avenue, Madison, WI 53704.

We Energies plans Columbia County wind farm

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

From a description of the project on the We Energies Web site:

The proposed Glacier Hills Wind Park is located in the towns of Randolph and Scott in Columbia County.

Project Size
The wind project is being designed to accommodate up to 90 wind turbines and is expected to generate between 100 and 200 megawatts (MW) of electricity. The final size and capacity of the project will depend on permit requirements, the turbine model installed and the configuration of the turbines. The project is anticipated to produce enough energy to power between 30,000 and 45,000 homes annually.

The Need
We are pursuing additional wind energy to meet customer demand and the state of Wisconsin’s Renewable Portfolio Standard. Our customers are demanding more renewable energy through our Energy for Tomorrow program, which allows customers – residential, commercial and industrial – to purchase all or a portion of their energy from renewable sources.

Additionally, the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard requires Wisconsin utilities to generate 10 percent of their energy from renewable sources by 2015. Currently, We Energies’ supply portfolio includes approximately 3 percent from renewable energy.

Approvals and Timeline
As a regulated utility, We Energies is required to obtain authorization from the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin to construct the project. We expect to file the necessary applications for regulatory permits later this year.

In addition, we work with the local communities and numerous other agencies including: Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Federal Aviation adinistration, Wisconsin Department of Transportation, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Federation, U.S. Army Corp of Engineers, Wisconsin State Historical Society and National Heritage Inventory.

Construction is anticipated to be completed within one year from the start of activities. Approximately six months will be needed for site preparation and the installation of turbine foundations and cabling. An additional six months is needed for turbine erection. If permitting moves along as expected, construction is anticipated to begin in late 2009 or 2010 with operation in 2011.

Homecoming features Big Ten’s first ‘carbon-neutral’ football game

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

From an article by Dennis Chaptman on the UW-Madison news site:

As part of a campuswide commitment to reducing our environmental footprint, the Badgers' Homecoming game against the University of Illinois on Saturday, Oct. 25, has been designated a "carbon-neutral" game.

The game, the first of its kind in the Big Ten and one of the first in the nation, will offer a chance to raise awareness of environmental issues, such as the damaging effects of carbon dioxide and the benefits of conservation and recycling. The event will also provide information on ways fans can take action in their daily lives to become more environmentally friendly.

The game is also a way to highlight the Athletic Department's plans to implement a recycling and sustainability plan during the next five years.

"We're hoping this game will stimulate more awareness of environmental issues on the part of Badger fans everywhere and demonstrate the many ways in which athletics and the rest of our campus are making meaningful commitments to sustainability," says Chancellor Carolyn "Biddy" Martin.

The project has two aims: to offset carbon dioxide emissions generated directly by activities surrounding the game, and to make a continuing investment in a healthy environment by planting trees.

The project will involve the planting of thousands of trees at the Arington Tree Farm near Cambridge, beginning at 2 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 16, when Bucky Badger, UW-Madison student-athletes and university officials will be on hand for the planting of the first seedlings.

The university's commitment also involves the purchase of carbon credits — made possible by an anonymous donor — to offset estimated game-day carbon dioxide emissions.

Towing firm uses electric vehicle for service calls

Monday, October 20, 2008

From a story by Barry Adams in the Wisconsin State Journal:

Bryan Biehl was eager to get his Pontiac Sunfire started, but he was also curious about Sparky, the quiet, small service truck that had arrived.

The electric vehicle, just put into service by Schmidt's Towing, turned heads as its driver, Mike Esser, made his way from the company's Beld Street shop to narrow Washburn Place just off of East Gorham Street on the Near East Side.

And because the vehicle is only about five feet wide and less than eight feet long, Esser had little trouble finding a place to park, something that's typically a challenge on the Isthmus.

"It's almost more visible than a flatbed truck," said Biehl. "I noticed it right away."

The $20,500 vehicle, which weighs about 1,200 pounds, is basically a souped-up golf cart, equipped with headlights, turn signals, a single windshield wiper and a heater.

It can't pull a car out of a ditch or tow a dead car to the shop, but Schmidt's Towing, which last year had almost 90,000 calls, is using the vehicle to save on gas and do minor service work like tire changes and refills, and jumping dead batteries in Madison's Downtown area. . . .

September 23, 2008: This year’s Earth Overshoot Day.

Friday, October 17, 2008

From Mpowering Madison:

September 23, 2008 marked this year’s Earth Overshoot Day. According to the Global Footprint Network (GFN) Earth Overshoot Day marks the day when humanity begins living beyond our ecological means. Globally, we now require the equivalent of 1.4 planets to support our lifestyles. But if everyone in the world lived like a resident of the United States we would need 5.4 Earths to sustain us! Who is behind these measurements? The GFN Advisory counsel includes David Suzuki, Wangari Maathai and Karl-Henrik Robèrt among many other respected and brilliant minds.

We are almost a month past this year’s overshoot day, yet we still have 2 month of consuming energy left in 2008. What are you doing to decrease your personal footprint? Start where you are! Change one more behavior this month. Think you already “do everything”? Take your efficiency knowledge to work or class and inspire others. Besides, October is Energy Awareness Month so don’t be afraid to repeat yourself!

Lead by example:

Replace the bulbs in desk lamps with Energy Star qualified compact fluorescent light bulbs. These light bulbs use about 75 percent less energy than incandescent bulbs and last up to 10 times longer. Energy Star qualified lamps and light fixtures also are available for even more energy savings.

Use a power strip as a central "turn off" point when you are done using office equipment to completely disconnect the power supply. Even when turned off, electronic and IT equipment often use a small amount of electricity when plugged in.

Remember to turn off your lights when leaving conference rooms, classrooms and your work space, especially at the end of the day.

Use Energy Star qualified battery chargers or power adapters which, on average, use 30-35 percent less energy than conventional models. Don't forget to unplug battery chargers or power adapters when equipment is fully charged or disconnected from the charger.

Download reminder cards for your office or classroom and find more info from Energy Star.

Diverse, green transportation can rev up economy

Thursday, October 16, 2008

From a story in The Capital Times:

Could a 21st Century transportation system save our national economy?

Madison Mayor Dave Cieslewicz and several environmental groups say it could.

They released a five-point plan from the Transportation for America Campaign on Wednesday that was touted as a way to create more than 6 million good, green jobs nationally while reducing dependence on oil.

"We need to look to the future" and get on the right track, the mayor said during a news conference at the old train depot on West Washington Avenue.

Ed Huck, executive director of the Wisconsin Alliance of Cities, added, "No business is going to locate in a state that doesn't provide a diversity of transportation options."

The report calls for investment in public transit; high-speed and intercity rail; neighborhoods that are less car-dependent, more walkable and more affordable; and restoration of the thousands of roads and bridges in failing condition across the United States.

"Families living in neighborhoods adjacent to rail transit spend just 9 percent of their household budget on transportation as compared to 25 percent for those in automobile dependent areas," the report said. "A person can achieve an average savings of $9,499 per year by taking public transportation instead of driving."

Specifically, the report suggests:

+ Modernizing and expanding rail and transit networks by connecting the metro regions that are engines of the modern economy to be able to catch up to and pass competitors in China and Europe
+ Investing in cleaner vehicles and new fuels
+ Fixing crumbling highways, bridges and transit systems, instead of concentrating on new roads
+ Re-evaluating projects currently in the pipeline to eliminate those with little economic return
+ Providing affordable and efficient travel and housing options and asking private real estate developers which would benefit from new rail stations and transit lines to contribute toward that service.
For more about the national campaign, go to Transportation for America.

Review rules and regulations to allow electric vehicles

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Ed Blume delivered the following statement at a hearing of the Department of Transportation hearing on where electric vehicles can travel, though he registered for information only without taking a position on the proposed regulation:

Statement by Ed Blume
on Peak Oil, Neighborhood Electric Vehicles, and DOT Rules
on behalf of the Madison Peak Oil Group
October 15, 2008

“When the production rate of oil reaches its geological limit and begins to decline, the world’s economies will be forced to live within a shrinking, not expanding, energy budget. The economic impact of peaking oil production is what concerns us, not the amount of oil yet to produce. We won’t “run out of oil” for another 100 years or more, but it will be produced at ever-declining rates.

This is an essential concept. Talking only about the number of barrels of oil that might exist somewhere, without also talking about the rate at which that oil can be produced, and when, entirely misses the target. -- Peak Oil Media Guide, Chris Nelder

The Madison Peak Oil Group and its members encourage the Department of Transportation to understand the inevitable world peak in oil production and its consequences for transportation in Wisconsin, including, but not limited to, a dramatic decrease in revenue, due to a decline in the total volume of purchases of motor fuels. In addition, we ask the Department to consider some of many, many implications:
• Less emphasis on road building;
• More emphasis on:
- Public transit; more routes and buses to serve more areas of our state and cities;
- Biking with more and wider bike paths; more bike racks;
- Walking;
- Electric vehicles, and rules that allow them to travel safely and freely and don’t discriminate them.
• Smaller and slower vehicles, with discounted licensing and encouragement of municipalities to allow “nose-in” parking in smaller spaces, similar to spaces reserved for motorcycles.

These are surely only a few implications. We encourage the Department to review its many programs, rules, and appropriations now in light of the coming decline in supply and resulting increase in cost of petroleum and all of its related products. We ask the Department to make the policy changes and recommend new statutes to transition to the post-peak-oil economy. Playing catch-up once the economy shifts will be much harder than anticipating and beginning the transition today.

UW-Madison program puts railroads back in spotlight

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

An Associated Press story posted in The Daily Reporter:

Madison (AP) — A train can move one ton of freight 400 miles on a gallon of fuel. But even with staggering fuel efficiency, the railroad industry shrank dramatically in the 1970s.

The University of Wisconsin at Madison is one of handful of universities seeking to change that with a continuing education program it began in 2001.

The courses help engineers design, build and maintain railroads that are safe, efficient and consumer-oriented.

Professor emeritus C. Allen Wortley said he believes the U.S. must increase its commitment to railroads as a way to reduce air pollution, save energy and meet future needs.

Examining UW-Madison campus sustainability

Monday, October 13, 2008

From an article by Logan Jaffe in The Badger Herald:

James Pawley is unimpressed with University of Wisconsin’s sustainability efforts. A UW zoology professor, he teaches a course called “Responding to Global Warming,” one of his many efforts to keep students active in going green.

“We have not brought glory to ourselves,” Pawley said. “In fact, it is miserable and appalling. Our entire sustainability system must be reevaluated.”

Pawley may be onto something. Based on a recent study by the National Wildlife Federation, UW only received an exemplary rating in green landscaping, one of the survey’s 18 categories. Other categories included conservation, renewable energy sources and recycling — none of which UW ranked highly in.

Inefficient Labs

“We’re a research university, and that by itself causes the buildings to consume more energy than other classrooms,” said Faramarz Vakili, president of We Conserve — an environmental organization working to reduce carbon emissions by 20 percent by 2010. According to a We Conserve report, electricity accounts for 46 percent of UW’s total energy costs, with more than half that amount used in research laboratories. Pawley said this is largely due to fume hoods and fans, which blow out hot air from inside the lab. This requires new air to be pumped back into the room and reheated.

There are a total of 3,600 fans on campus, each at 26,000 horsepower, equaling about 6,500 Prius engines.

“Potential for huge savings exist, but we bring in over nine million cubic feet of air to these buildings, and we are trying to use that as efficiently as possible,” Vakili said.

Pawley said these fume hoods are not designed to turn off. While We Conserve recently began to reduce fan sizes, Pawley offers his own solutions: turn the fans off when not in use and install heat exchangers so the air blown out can reheat the air being sucked in.

“Places like College Library are packed all the time, so it needs to keep up and running,” said Tony Uhl, chair of the Wisconsin Student Public Interest Research Group. “If there’s a lab not running after 5 p.m., what’s the point of keeping everything on?”

Will OPEC cut oil production at November meeting?

Friday, October 10, 2008

From an article titled "Behind OPEC's Novembr Meeting in Vienna" by Stanley Reed of Business Week as posted in the daily news of October 10 by the Association for the Study of Peak Oil & GAS – USA (ASPO-USA):

As the global economy cools precipitously, the oil producers are anxious to curb output to keep prices from falling further

Less than three weeks after an acrimonious Ramadan meeting in Vienna, OPEC has now called an emergency meeting for Nov. 18 in the Austrian capital. The reason is clear: The cartel is worried about the precipitous 40% fall in oil prices since they peaked at $147 per barrel in mid-July. The OPEC basket, a blend of OPEC crudes, dropped through the psychologically important $80-per-barrel level, to $77.38, on Oct. 9. OPEC countries typically receive less for their crude than the widely reported West Texas Intermediate (U.S.) crude, which is now trading at about $87 per barrel. "The organization is concerned about the deteriorating economic conditions with contagion risks," OPEC said in calling for the rushed confab. . . .

David Kirsch, an analyst at PFC Energy, a Washington consultant firm, thinks that with demand falling, OPEC is entering a phase of much more active management of the oil markets, including more frequent meetings. He says it's uncertain at this point whether there will be a production cut announced at the November emergency meeting, but with demand dropping off, OPEC "will not want to wait too long to cut, and they would probably rather meet and decide action isn't necessary than wait too long to do something."


Thursday, October 09, 2008

Michael Vickerman has been Mpowered to install a solar
hot water system on the lower roof behind him and a solar
electric system on the higher roof.

Mpowering Madison asks Madison residents to take a pledge
to help reduce 100,000 tons in citywide emissions of carbon
dioxide pollution by 2011.

Palin's Folly

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

by Michael Vickerman, RENEW Wisconsin
October 7, 2008

What three things do Saudi Arabia, Russia, Iran, Mexico, Nigeria and Venezuela have in common? The first commonality is that they are among the top 10 leading exporters of petroleum worldwide, which is another way of saying that they are the biggest accumulators of foreign cash on the planet.

Commonality No. 2: Gasoline prices in those nations are lower than they are in the United States. The swollen river of revenues that flows into their national treasuries enables these governments to subsidize the price of motor fuel sold to their citizens. In Iran, the portion of federal revenues spent on maintaining price caps on gasoline approaches an astonishing 40%. . . .

Considering the finite nature of their chief exports, these nations would do well to reinvest their windfalls into domestically developable sources of wind and solar energy, to name two energy sources that do not have decline curves associated with them. However, that brings up Commonality No. 3, which is their shared aversion to all energy sources that have the capacity to displace oil and natural gas in some capacity. Renewable energy sources like wind and solar certainly figure prominently in that category.

It is nothing short of amazing to watch these nations squander their colossal fortunes on ephemeral social control measures that only hasten the drawdown of their most economically valuable resource. Subsidizing gasoline is simply a wealth distribution scheme that discounts the future for the present. Its legacy will be to leave billions of people without the capital to invest in building up a sustainable energy future.

Under more enlightened regimes, these nations would be plowing their retained earnings into technologies that harvest locally available self-replenishing energy sources to serve future citizens. They would make it a point of emulating Germany, a nation bereft of native oil and gas reserves but certainly not lacking in foresight and political will. Cloudy skies and weak winds notwithstanding, Germany is deploying considerable amounts of social and financial capital to retool its energy infrastructure so that it can take full advantage of its modest solar ration.

In contrast to Germany, there is not a single commercial wind turbine operating in Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, Venezuela and Russia. While Mexico and Iran look like go-getters by comparison, their efforts to date amount to less than one-half of Wisconsin’s current wind generating capacity. Moreover, even at this late date, oil-exporting nations have invested only a piddling amount of their capital investments in solar energy.

To demonstrate the aversion that oil-exporting jurisdictions have towards renewable energy, consider the example of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin. According to Michael T. Klare, who covers defense and foreign policy for The Nation, Alaska is a “classic petrostate,” featuring a political system that is “geared toward the maximization of oil ‘rents’--royalties and other income derived from energy firms--to the neglect of other economic activities.”

Among the economic activities neglected is renewable energy development. Like Russia, with which Alaska shares a “narrow maritime border,” Alaska does not have a single utility-scale wind turbine in operation, a rather remarkable statistic given its sprawling size and a wind resource that in certain locations can be accurately described as “screaming.” But as long oil revenues are sufficient to allow Alaska to dispense with a state income tax, renewable energy development will remain in a deep freeze.

In a recent article, Klare recounts a talk Palin gave at a February 2008 meeting of the National Governors Association, where she said that “the conventional resources we have can fill the gap between now and when new technologies become economically competitive and don’t require subsidies.”

When asked to elaborate on that point, Palin’s antipathy towards renewable energy was revealed. “I just don’t want things to get out of hand with incentives for renewables, particularly since they imply subsidies, while ignoring the fuels we already have on hand,” Palin said.

Had those words been uttered by the Secretary General of OPEC, they would have been forgotten in a matter of seconds. Coming from someone who could become the next vice president, however, is cause for consternation, in that she is clearly recommending a course of action that would invariably lead to greater dependency on oil.

Certainly, the Palin prescription would reverse the decline in oil revenues propping up Alaska’s state government. But the amount of petroleum that could be extracted in 2020 from Alaska and the Outer Continental Shelf is trifling compared with current U.S. imports of Mexican crude. Even if a mini-surge of petroleum materialized as a result of a McCain-Palin energy policy that put Alaska’s wishes above the best interests of the other 49 states, it wouldn’t even compensate for the declining yields from such aging oilfields as Cantarell or Prudhoe Bay, let alone achieve the chimerical goal of energy independence.

Like the other petrostates of the world, Alaska has no Plan B to fall back on when its endowment of fossil fuels is no longer sufficient to support a state government in the style to which it is accustomed. Let us hope and pray that the voters of the other 49 states see the “drill, baby, drill” mantra for the folly it is, and reject it out of hand in favor of an energy policy that stresses energy security through conservation and renewable energy development.

Sources and complete article here.

Forward Wind Center open for public tour, Oct. 22

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Invenergy, the wind project developer, invites the public to the Forward Energy Center Open House.

When: October 22, 2008
Open House: 1-6 PM
Tours start on the half hour from 1:00 to 5:30 PM
Brownsville Community Club
871 Main St., Brownsville (on Hwy 49)

Come learn more about the Forward Energy Center and how wind power benefits Wisconsin.

Forward began operations in February 2008, becoming one of the first large-scale wind energy projects in Wisconsin. Forward is owned and operated by Chicago-based Invenergy, which is implementing one of the largest programs of wind development in the United States, Canada and Europe, and is committed to building strong relationships with landowners, communities and utility customers.

Please wear appropriate shoes for walking on uneven surfaces. Reservations are not required.

For more information, contact Susan Dennison at

Columbus launches energy task force

Monday, October 06, 2008

From an article by Paul Schraf in the Daily Citizen (Beaver Dam):

COLUMBUS - The Greater Columbus Energy Task Force held its first meeting Tuesday night with its goals laid out clearly.

"We are leaders in promoting energy sustainability and conservation," Mayor Nancy Osterhaus told the group.

The meeting consisted mostly of the task force looking at a list of recommendations made by city economic development/energy sustainability director Steve Sobiek.

The biggest project considered Tuesday night was converting all street lights in the city to light-emitting diode bulbs.

"I think that's really the wave of the future," Sobiek said. "Columbus is leading the way."

Google plans to power America with renewable energy

Friday, October 03, 2008

From an article by Verne Kopytoff and Andrew S. Ross in the San Francisco Chronicle:

Google Inc. is fleshing out its plan for a more environmentally friendly America with details of a proposal to curtail the use of oil and coal by 2030.

Everyone from Al Gore to T. Boone Pickens has a clean energy plan these days, so why not Google?

In short, the Mountain View Internet giant is calling for a big push in wind, solar and geothermal power to largely replace fossil fuels. Hybrid and electric cars would also get a major boost.

Eric Schmidt, Google's chief executive, spoke of his company's vision Wednesday night at the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco. Earlier this month, he gave a more high-level - as in less detailed - pitch at the Corporate EcoForum.

Here are some of the ideas:

Electricity: Google hopes to reduce the energy industry's reliance on coal (currently the source of 50 percent of electricity), natural gas (20 percent) and nuclear energy (20 percent). Instead, it wants renewables to largely keep America's lights on.

Wind power should grow from a relatively insignificant force today to 29 percent of U.S. electricity production. Geothermal should grow to 15 percent, while solar should increase to 12 percent. Natural gas, hydroelectric power and nuclear energy would account for the rest.

If the transformation takes place, and electricity consumption remains flat, fossil fuel use would be cut by 88 percent and carbon emissions would be reduced by 95 percent by 2030, Google projects.

Vehicles: Getting consumers to buy hybrid and electric cars is the central theme of the plan. Sales should ramp up from 100,000 in 2010 to 22 million in 2030.

If coupled with efforts to improve the energy efficiency of conventional vehicles, among other things, the United States would consume 38 percent less oil compared with the projections for 2008.

Businesses and residences open for solar tours, Oct. 3-4

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Dozens of Madison area homes and businesses will be open for public tours during the state-side solar tour, October 3-4.

The tour demonstrates that renewable energy is practical, reliable and a realistic choice for home and business owners. 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 Wisconsin Solar Tour, sites include all sorts of renewable energy technologies and other innovative features. On the Wisconsin 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!