Kohl's Department Stores piloting EV charging stations at 33 stores, none in WI

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

From a news release issued by Kohl's: Charging stations provide added shopper convenience, free of charge at select Kohl’s stores across eleven states

Kohl's Department Stores today announced that the company will pilot electric vehicle (EV) charging stations at 33 Kohl's stores nationwide. Each participating Kohl's store will have one to four parking spaces reserved for EV drivers to charge at no cost while they shop. Charging stations can be activated by EV drivers in various ways including radio frequency identification (RFID) cards available at Kohl's customer service desk and via phone numbers provided on the charging stations. To maximize the number of participating Kohl's stores, the company is partnering with ECOtality Inc. and Coulomb Technologies on the installation of these charging stations and as a participant in their respective EV infrastructure pilot programs funded partially through the U.S. Department of Energy.

"Kohl's pilot of electric vehicle charging stations demonstrates our commitment to advancing environmental solutions in a meaningful and tangible way for our customers," said John Worthington, Kohl's chief administrative officer. "Not only are these stations an added shopper convenience, they also encourage environmental responsibility among our shoppers. We will continue to explore additional locations to pilot charging stations at our stores nationwide."

'Secret' Environment Canada presentation warns of oilsands' impact on habitat

Friday, December 23, 2011

Thanks to Jim Rowen for highlighting this article on his blog The Political Enviroment. The article by Mike De Souza appeared in the Vancouver Sun:

Contamination of a major western Canadian river basin from oilsands operations is a "high-profile concern" for downstream communities and wildlife, says a newly-released "secret" presentation prepared last spring by Environment Canada that highlighted numerous warnings about the industry's growing footprint on land, air, water and the climate.

The warnings from the department contrast with recent claims made by Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Environment Minister Peter Kent that the industry is being unfairly targeted by environmentalists who exaggerate its impacts on nature and people.

The presentation noted figures from the Canadian Energy Research Institute, a collaboration among industry, government and academics, that estimate the oilsands sector is responsible for more than 100,000 direct and indirect jobs in Canada, and will contribute more than $1.7 trillion to the country's economy over the next 25 years.

But it warned that Alberta and other parts of Western Canada are facing a steep economic and ecological price tag for failing to crack down on the industry's collateral damage.

"Contamination of the Athabasca River is a high-profile concern," said the presentation, marked secret, but released to Postmedia News through access to information legislation.

"Recent studies suggest elevated levels of pollutants near mining sites including hydrocarbons and heavy metals . . . (It) raises questions about possible effects on health of wildlife and downstream communities. . . ."

"The oilsands are Canada's fastest growing source of GHGs," said the document.

It estimated that the industry's annual greenhouse gas emissions would rise by nearly 900 per cent from 1990 to 2020. By the end of that period, the oilsands — with an estimated annual footprint of 90 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent gases in 2020 — would exceed the carbon footprint of all cars and SUVs on Canadian roads from 2008, according to the Environment Canada document.

The document also warns of other rising air pollutants that could cause acid rain or other forms of acidification to damage lakes in Saskatchewan and Alberta, along with particulate matter that could be toxic to rivers, the landscape and wildlife.

Beyond Coal - Organizing around Renewables, January 13

Monday, December 05, 2011

The RENEW Energy Policy Summit, January 13, 2012, Madison, will feature Leslie Glustrom, a founding member of Clean Energy Action. She is trained as a biochemist and has spent over 30 years working at the interface of science and society in a variety of roles, including science writer, policy analyst, college instructor and research lab manager.

In February 2009 she authored an extensively referenced report on US coal supplies entitled, “Coal—Cheap and Abundant—Or Is It? Why Americans Should Stop Assuming that the US Has a 200-Year Supply of Coal.” The report is available for free download from www.cleanenergyaction.org.

Leslie has traveled extensively and now works with regulatory staff and citizen activists in many states to raise awareness about US coal supply and cost issues.

Leslie is the recent recipient of the Colorado Solar Energy Society President’s Award, the Boulder County Audubon Community Conservation Award, the PLAN Boulder County Gilbert White award and the Colorado Renewable Energy Society Larson-Notari award.

Register here for the Summit.

Suncor tar sands refinery leaks crude into South Platte River

Thursday, December 01, 2011

From a post on the blog of the National Defense Resource Council:

Colorado officials fear that vast amounts of petroleum have been leaking into the South Platte River from a broken pipeline at a refinery operated by tar sands producer Suncor. It is not yet clear how long oil has been leaking into the South Platte River, how much has been spilled or what substance was spilled. State officials are currently testing the water on the South Platte River, a major source of drinking water, wildlife habitat and agricultural water for Colorado and the Midwest. Meanwhile, levels of benzene and volatile organic compounds at the nearby Denver Metro Wastewater plant required a partial closure. Suncor is the oldest tar sands producers, up to 90% of its production comprised of tar sands bitumen. The company uses its Colorado refinery to process some of the heavy tar sands coming from the Express and Platte pipelines. At a time when companies like TransCanada and Enbridge are proposing to build tar sands infrastructure through our rivers and water resources---and some in Congress are trying to speed up the process by skipping environmental review---this spill provides another sad example of what can go wrong with these projects.

Madison needs a central transit hub

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

A letter to the editor in The Capital Times:

As a frequent visitor to your city, I have a message for Madison and UW-Madison leaders: The Memorial Union was never intended to be a bus terminal. The Tuesday before Thanksgiving there were eight buses in front of the Union at 1 p.m., clogging the street in addition to the city bus traffic that came by.

With the demise of both the Badger and Greyhound bus stations, and the cuts to air service at the airport, Madison should develop a Downtown transit hub for Metro and inter-city buses.

I am surprised UW-Madison tolerates letting the Memorial Union be a bus stop and station for non-students. Further, there is no room on Langdon Street for all these buses.

— Bill Malcolm, Indianapolis

RENEW Wisconsin hosts Renewable Energy Policy Summit, Jan. 13, 2012

Friday, November 25, 2011

REtaking Initiative - REframing Message REvitalizing Economy
8:30 am - 4:00 pm
Pyle Center, UW-Madison Campus
702 Langdon Street
Madison, WI 53703
Wisconsin's renewable energy marketplace is going through a tumultuous period. We need to chart a new course for 2012 to address the ongoing policy uncertainties and emerging marketplace realities.

RENEW WI invites stakeholders from around the state to join us in shaping the renewable energy community’s 2012 policy agenda.

If you want to build or buy any part of today's energy economy, this is a conversation you want to be part of. Join RENEW members, businesses, energy customers, and legislators to craft a robust policy platform for renewable energy in Wisconsin.

Breakout Groups will discuss strategies for:
Expanding Market Access for Customers and Generators;
Economics of Renewable Production;
Regulatory Environment for Renewable Production ;
How do we choose who we want to be customers of?

Summit Outcomes
Summit Statement for enacting an Energy Economy that works for Wisconsin, with RENEW Wisconsin facilitating working groups throughout 2012.

More information and registration at
RENEW Wisconsin Renewable Energy Policy Summit.

Time to derail fossil fuel train, energy agency warns

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

From an article by Stephen Leahy posted on the Inter Press Service: UXBRIDGE, Canada, Nov 10, 2011 (IPS) - Countries have chained themselves to a fossil fuel train that is headed straight off a cliff, warns the International Energy Agency (IEA). Without a bold change of policy direction, the world will lock itself into an insecure, inefficient and high-carbon energy system, the IEA said Wednesday in London on the release of the 2011 World Energy Outlook. Sounding very much like Greenpeace, the conservative IEA called for urgent action by governments to massively shift from fossil fuels to renewable energy and boost energy efficiency. Without a major shift in priorities in the next five years, there will be enough fossil fuel infrastructure in place to guarantee a two-degree C rise in temperatures, it warned. "Governments need to introduce stronger measures to drive investment in efficient and low-carbon technologies," said IEA Executive Director Maria van der Hoeven. "We cannot continue to rely on insecure and environmentally unsustainable uses of energy," van der Hoeven said in a release. "Delaying action is a false economy," the World Energy Outlook report emphasises. Every dollar of investment in cleaner technology before 2020 avoids the need to spend an additional 4.30 dollars after 2020 to compensate for the increased emissions, it said.

Gen. Wesley Clark on wind, veterans and energy security

Friday, November 11, 2011

Fossil Fuel Subsidies Six Times More Than Renewable Energy

Thursday, November 10, 2011

From an article by Bill Sills on Bloomberg.com:

Fossil-fuel consumers worldwide received about six times more government subsidies than were given to the renewable-energy industry, according to the chief adviser to oil-importing nations.

State spending to cut retail prices of gasoline, coal and natural gas rose 36 percent to $409 billion as global energy costs increased, the Paris-based International Energy Agency said today in its World Energy Outlook. Aid for biofuels, wind power and solar energy, rose 10 percent to $66 billion.

While fossil fuels meet about 80 percent of world energy demand, its subsidies are “creating market distortions that encourage wasteful consumption,” the agency said. “The costs of subsidies to fossil fuels generally outweigh the benefits.”

. . . While governments argue that fossil fuel subsidies are designed to help the poorest members of society, they generally fail to meet that goal, the IEA said. Just 8 percent of aid reached the poorest 20 percent of each country’s population last year.

“Fossil-fuel subsidies as presently constituted tend to be regressive, disproportionately benefiting higher income groups that can afford higher levels of fuel consumption,” the report said. “Social welfare programs are a more effective and less distortionary way of helping the poor than energy subsidies.”

Bluff collapse at power plant sends dirt, coal ash into lake

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

From an article by Meg Jones and Don Behm in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

Oak Creek - A large section of bluff collapsed Monday next to the We Energies Oak Creek Power Plant, sending dirt, coal ash and mud cascading into the shoreline next to Lake Michigan and dumping a pickup truck, dredging equipment, soil and other debris into the lake.

There were no injuries, and the incident did not affect power output from the plant.

When the section of bluff collapsed and slid from a terraced area at the top of a hill down to the lake, Oak Creek Acting Fire Chief Tom Rosandich said, it left behind a debris field that stretched 120 yards long and 50 to 80 yards wide at the bottom.

Aerial images show a trailer and storage units holding construction equipment tumbled like Tonka toy trucks and were swept along with the falling bluff in a river of dirt that ended in the water.

"This is definitely a freak accident," U.S. Coast Guard Lt. j.g. Brian Dykenssaid.

As a company hired by We Energies began cleanup in Lake Michigan, the utility confirmed that coal ash was part of the debris.

"Based on our land use records it is probable that some of the material that washed into the lake is coal ash," We Energies spokesman Barry McNulty said. "We believe that was something that was used to fill the ravine area in that site during the 1950s. That's a practice that was discontinued several decades ago."

The Environmental Protection Agency is in the process of developing stricter regulations of coal ash following a 2008 Tennessee coal ash pond washout that created a devastating environmental disaster.

Madison is paving itself into oblivion

Thursday, October 27, 2011

From a commentary by Michael Barrett on the Daily Page of Isthmus:

Over the last 11 years, the city of Madison has increased pavement spending at 11 times the rate of population growth plus inflation. So why have both reconstructions and highway expansions increased at far above the inflation and population growth rate? That depends on whom you ask.

Ask a progressive alder from an isthmus neighborhood why he or she votes for all the paving (and they all do), and the answer ranges from roads-as-public-works-savior to roads-as-bargaining-chip-for-park-benches. Never mind the illegality of such log rolling, or the good old fashioned sexism favoring "breadwinner"/manly road building over "women's work"/social services.

Ask a fiscally conservative alder, and you'll find out that they are actually closet socialists -- albeit a socialism for cars, not people.

The mushy-middle alders are easily cowed by the city engineers into believing that unless every street is in freshly steamrolled condition, they will be thrown out of office.

And so we pave. A lot.

Green Drinks, November 2, Great Dane at Doty and King streets

Our next opportunity to gather with other green-minded folks will soon be upon us. Come and network, simply shoot the breeze, or just enjoy a cold one in the good company of Madison Green Drinks.
One block from the Capitol.

Wednesday, November 2, 5:00 PM

Great Dane Brew Pub
123 East Doty Street
Corner of Doty and King Streets
Just one diagonal block from the Capitol Square

State urged to beef up clean energy policies to create jobs

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

From an article by Judy Newman in the Wisconsin State Journal:

Two reports show Wisconsin has a significant renewable power industry, but with a stronger state commitment, it could be saving more energy and creating more jobs.

Wisconsin has more than 300 businesses involved in wind or solar energy, providing more than 12,000 jobs, according to a study by the Environmental Law and Policy Center in Chicago.

It found 171 Wisconsin companies that either produce, sell or install wind power equipment or plan wind development.

Another 135 companies are part of the solar energy industry. For example, Cardinal Glass makes solar panels in Mazomanie; Helios recently opened a solar panel factory in Milwaukee.

"These are real jobs; these are real businesses. Many are existing businesses that are branching out into new product lines," said Howard Learner, the center's executive director.

Wisconsin slips five notches in energy efficiency ranking

Friday, October 21, 2011

From an article by Tom Content in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

Wisconsin's move to roll back funding increases for programs that help homeowners and businesses save on energy bills was criticized in a report Thursday by a national energy efficiency advocacy group.

The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy released a scorecard rating states' efforts in the area of energy efficiency.

Wisconsin was in the top 10 several years ago but ranks 16th in this year's scorecard. Massachusetts was the top state overall, and Michigan and Illinois were cited as among the most improved states.

"Clearly, 2011 has not been kind to our economy, but energy efficiency remains a growth sector that attracts investment and creates jobs," said Michael Sciortino, ACEEE senior policy analyst and the report's lead author.

"With even higher energy savings possible, we expect leading states to continue pushing the envelope next year and inspire those at the bottom of the rankings to embrace energy efficiency as a core strategy to gain a competitive advantage by generating cost-savings, promoting technological innovation, and stimulating growth," he said.

Wisconsin has lost some ground while other states have made significant pushes to set up initiatives that provide incentives to consumers and businesses to conduct energy-saving retrofits. Improvements by Michigan and Illinois pushed those states to rankings just behind Wisconsin.

The report saluted efforts in Arkansas, Rhode Island and Arizona, which "worked with utilities and adopted significant energy efficiency regulations," the report says.

"Despite significant progress, some states have slowed or stepped backward in the race to save energy. New Jersey and Wisconsin have both diminished investments in utility-sector energy efficiency and Arizona is considering a law that will reduce transportation efficiency in the state."

Metro Transit announces receipt of $5 million grant

Thursday, October 20, 2011

From a post on Madison Metro's Web site:

Metro Transit is excited to announce that it will receive $5 million dollars as part of a $920 million federal grant announced today by U.S. Transportation Secretary LaHood intended to put Americans back to work repairing, rebuilding and modernizing the nation's transit infrastructure. These federal funds were awarded to more than 300 public transportation projects in urban, suburban and rural areas.

Mayor Paul Soglin called Metro Transit officials today to inform staff of this major announcement.

"I am very pleased that Department of Transportation officials listened to the City of Madison as they awarded this $5 million dollar grant," Soglin said. "At a time when Madison Metro ridership is increasing and state funds are decreasing, this additional funding will mean a lot to the citizens of Madison and surrounding communities."

Soglin is currently on his second trip to Washington D.C. to meet with lawmakers and U.S. Department of Transportation officials to stress the importance of additional federal transit funding and its need in continuing the success of transit in the Madison area.

Metro Transit will use this money to add 14 new diesel buses to its fleet, upgrade aging farebox equipment on every bus, and to purchase 25 new transit shelters.

According to Metro Transit General Manager Chuck Kamp, this funding is especially important in order to continue Metro's yearly replacement of approximately 15 buses in its fleet.

"Over the past few years, there has been a dramatic decrease in federal capital funding," Kamp said. "Federal funding is not automatic for these capital purchases. This grant will allow us to continue with our yearly improvements to our fleet."

Free Electric Car Workshop, Middleton, Oct. 25

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

EnAct is hosting a with MG&E

MG&E’s Bob Stoffs and a Chevy Volt owner present about owning an electric car in Dane County and how you can make it work for you!

Learn how the EnAct program works and enter to win a FREE EnAct: Steps to Greener Living Book.

Tuesday, October 25th, 12-1pm
Middleton Public Library
7425 Hubbard Avenue, Middleton

For more information or to register for this program email mid@scls.lib.wi.us or call 608-827-7403.

Registration suggested but not required.

This program is open to all knowledge levels, light refreshments provided.

Gas tax doesn't cover cost of roads

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

From an article by Larry Sandler in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

The state gas tax would have to rise 50 cents - a 152% increase, to nearly 83 cents a gallon - to cover road costs that are now being paid through property taxes or other general tax revenue, a new study by University of Wisconsin-Madison researchers say.

The study, commissioned by the environmental group 1,000 Friends of Wisconsin, challenges some common claims about how transportation is funded in this state.

Highway advocates typically contend roads pay for themselves, through gas taxes and user fees. But that's only true of state-owned highways, which account for just 10% of all Wisconsin roads, the study says.

When local roads are included, property taxes and other general taxes cover 41% to 55% of road costs, says the study, "Who Pays for Roads in Wisconsin?" For local roads alone, property taxes paid 83% of costs, or $9.9 billion, over the five-year period that ended June 30, 2008, found the study, which is being released this week.

That comes out to 20% of the average property tax bill, said Steve Hiniker, executive director of 1,000 Friends of Wisconsin. If roads were fully funded by gas taxes and vehicle fees, local governments could afford to cut property taxes and increase services, instead of raising taxes and cutting services, the environmental group said.

"Taxpayers cover costs that should be borne by road users," says the study by UW-Madison's State Smart Transportation Initiative. By forcing local officials to choose between roads and other services, the study says, "Road subsidies push up tax rates, squeeze government services and skew the market for transportation."

Electric cars on a budget

From an article by Ken Paulman in Midwest Energy News:

A electric car for $6,000? Yes, but there's a catch...

Yesterday, we told you about an Ohio company that offers electric Mercedes SUV conversions for $75,000. That’s more than most people in the U.S. make in a year.

Even the compact EV options aren’t cheap. The 2012 Nissan Leaf starts at about $35,000. Tax credits and incentives can push that price down into the low-20s depending on where you live and assuming you make enough money to actually take advantage of the credit. But that’s still not going to be an option for a lot of people.

So what about used electric cars?

EVs are rare enough that you’re unlikely to spot one at your neighborhood car dealer. But there’s always the internet.

Ebay, for instance, allows you to search by “fuel type” and select “electric.” Just navigate to the Ebay cars-and-trucks page, and scroll down the left column to refine the search. As of this writing, there were 25 EVs for sale on the site.

Another source is the EV Tradin’ Post, which, despite its dated design is updated regularly and features another two dozen or so cars from around the country.

The offerings are limited, but diverse. There are a handful of modestly priced, ready-to-drive conversions, like a 1994 Prizm in California for $10,000 that has new batteries and promises a range of 35-40 miles. Or a 2003 S-10 in Ohio for $8,500.

If you’re handy, there are also some interesting “as-is” conversions that need some work. In Newton, Kansas, there’s a 1976 VW Beetle for $6,000 that runs but could use new batteries. Or this 1981 Ford Escort in Ohio that needs a new controller (bidding currently at $206.50).

Mpower Business ChaMpions: It's all about sustainability

Monday, October 17, 2011

Kathleen Falk: County shows Walker how to create green jobs

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

From a commentary by Kathleen Falk in The Capital Times:

We elect governors to solve problems, not create them.

Unfortunately, when it comes to energy and green jobs, Gov. Scott Walker is making things worse. Here’s how:

One of the big drags on our state’s economy is the amount of money we spend for energy. Right now we send $12.5 billion every year to out-of-state companies to power our businesses and homes and to fuel our vehicles.

Walker is making this problem even worse:

• Walker stopped construction of a new biomass power plant. This renewable energy plant would have produced power locally with the added benefit of buying biomass from local farmers or utilizing waste wood.

• Walker shelved the wind energy siting rules devised through years of negotiation. That cost about 1,100 Wisconsin jobs and dried up $600 million in investments by driving three wind farm companies out of state.

• Walker eliminated the state’s Office of Energy Independence and gutted programs that encourage companies to become energy efficient. He outsourced “Focus on Energy” money to a Louisiana-based company to run the program.

My work as Dane County executive shows what we can accomplish when we work together rather than working to gain personal power and tearing people apart.

I was a frugal county executive — not only does it come naturally since I’m German/Irish from Milwaukee, but the top executive must be careful with taxpayers’ money.

Over a decade ago, faced with the problem of highly polluting methane produced at the county landfill, I found a solution: We converted the methane to electricity and sold it to the local utility — enough to power 4,000 homes a year, eliminate burning 16,000 tons of coal, and earning over $3 million a year for taxpayers.

I also led the charge to retrofit old government facilities, producing energy and cost savings. Dane County boasts solar panels at the airport, zoo, park buildings and county offices. Underneath the new county nursing home is a geothermal system that cools and heats the buildings.

We brought green jobs to Dane County through Cow Power. Dairy is almost a billion-dollar part of the county’s economy. Helping the dairy industry grow and at the same time preventing pollution from hurting our lakes and streams makes real economic sense.

Working with farmers, a private Wisconsin company, the local utility and county government, our county built the first community manure digester in our state. It uses manure from 2,500 cows, produces green energy that fuels the equivalent of 2,500 homes, and keeps phosphorus out of county lakes. It’s so successful that we are now on to a second digester! The Environmental Protection Agency has us speaking to other states in the Midwest so they can do the same thing.

The governor ought to be working with farmers and private companies to replicate Cow Power around the state.

The governor ought to build the biomass plant.

Wisconsin cheese factory promotes renewable energy

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

From the newsletter of Crave Brothers Farmstead Cheese:

At Crave Brothers Farmstead Cheese we’re green as well as growing. We
have solidified our commitment to sustainability, and proudly display our
new green logo on our website and elsewhere. We know our customers
appreciate the fact that we use 100% green power, and practice water
conservation and recycling. Our commitment is evident in our land
management practices and in the way we care for our cows. We’re a carbon negative company, too, which means we produce more power with our bio
digester than we use for our dairy farm and cheese plant.

Crave Brothers Farmstead Classics cheeses not only
taste good, we hope they make you feel good
about your choice, too. When you choose Crave
Brothers Cheese, you are supporting locally owned
and operated family farms. Our cheese is made from
our farm-fresh milk, produced on a state-of-the-art
farm with sustainability practices that help
preserve the environment for future generations.

Soglin Transportation Plan Makes Step Towards New Tansit Master Plan

Monday, September 12, 2011

There's a Madison Metro bus stop on Northport Drive, across from Warner Park. The stop is popular with both north side residents and people attending events like Mallards baseball games.

But anyone attempting to cross Northport at that location does so at their own risk: There's no crosswalk to guide pedestrians safely across the busy four-lane thoroughfare.

"If we really want to do things like increase bus ridership, we need to make sure people can actually get to the stop," says Madison Ald. Satya Rhodes-Conway.

Those are the types of issues that might be addressed in a proposed "multi-modal" transportation plan for the city of Madison. (Multi-modal is a planning term referring to many different modes of transportation such as cars, bikes, walking or transit.)

Mayor Paul Soglin has included $500,000 in his new capital budget to hire a consultant for what's billed as the first comprehensive look at the link between transportation and land use in the city.

"Major goals for the Master Plan for a Livable City will be to make Madison a more walkable and bikeable city and to create more opportunities for bicycling and transit transportation. The planning process will include a review of land use plans and build on existing transportation plans for bicycling, pedestrians, transit and autos. Public outreach and participation will be a major component of the planning process," the mayor wrote in his budget announcement.

The city has scores of planning documents regarding neighborhoods, parkways, bicycle routes and roadways but nothing that puts all the pieces together, says Rhodes-Conway, who represents the Warner Park area.

"We have many plans but most of them are either so high-level, like the Comprehensive Plan, or are geographic and look at just one specific neighborhood," she says.

The effort being forwarded by the mayor still needs approval by the City Council as part of budget deliberations, but it could set the tone for more "infill development" -- or redevelopment within the existing urban setting.

"If we don't build up more areas within the existing city, you are moving toward more auto use," says mayoral aide Anne Monks.

If planning money is approved, the mayor would appoint a special committee for recommendations on what to include in the transportation plan. An independent consultant would then be hired to work with staff on drafting a final report.

"What I'd like to see are not specific recommendations for an area or a street but rather a thorough cross-check of existing plans, so we can see places they overlap or contradictions where they don't work well together," says Rhodes-Conway.

The plan will not focus on bicycling per se, although biking will be certainly be a part of any Madison transportation discussion, Monks says.

Soglin got off to a rocky start with Madison's rabid bicycling crowd, many of whom had been staunch supporters of former Mayor Dave Cieslewicz.

Some local "bikies" were still bristling over a blog post in 2007 in which Soglin derided those who insist on bicycle commuting during snowstorms. Then, shortly after winning the election, Soglin talked about canceling "Ride the Drive" because of complaints from downtown businesses and churches about closing off John Nolen Drive to traffic. The route has since been tweaked, with a fall "Ride the Drive" scheduled for Sunday Sept. 25.

But Monks notes that Soglin has been a bicyclist for years and as mayor previously was instrumental in developing many of the current routes.

"He still rides a lot," she says.

In fact, I remember seeing Soglin back in the 1980s wearing his wool shorts and pedaling a vintage 10-speed down to Paoli. That should earn him some street cred with a new generation of cyclists.

Speaking of bicycling, La Crosse last month became the first city in Wisconsin to adopt a "complete streets" ordinance which requires that bicycles and pedestrians be considered when reconstructing streets.

Read more: http://host.madison.com/ct/business/biz_beat/article_85fb1056-da5b-11e0-9c4e-001cc4c002e0.html#ixzz1Xkjy7rt6

Written by Mike Ivy

UW-Oshkosh Recieves Award for "Wasting" Everything

The University of Wisconsin Oshkosh recently received the 2011 Silver Waste-to-Energy Excellence Award from the Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA) for its innovative and successful efforts in solid waste management.

The award recognizes the University’s first-in-the-nation, commercial-scale dry fermentation anaerobic biodigester.

Load-in of the digester recently began, and energy production is expected to begin soon. The renewable energy facility includes heat and power generators, which initially will produce up to 5 percent of the campus’ electricity and heat.

The majority of the 8,000 tons of organic biowaste used in the biodigester will be provided by campus and community sources. At Blackhawk Commons, food scraps will be collected in separate dumpsters to help fuel the biodigester. At Reeve Union, food waste will initially be gathered in the kitchen and will eventually be collected from dining areas, said Marty Strand, assistant director for dining operations at UW Oshkosh.

“This is a true sustainability award for the campus, as the SWANA competition covers the technology, economics, community relations, worker safety, environmental advantages and aesthetics of the plant,” said Mike Lizotte, sustainability director at UW Oshkosh. “They looked at how UW Oshkosh balances financial, environmental and social concerns as we find new ways to create renewable energy and handle waste.”

Each year, SWANA’s Excellence Awards Program recognizes outstanding solid waste programs and facilities that advance the practice of environmentally and economically sound solid waste management. Programs also must demonstrate that they are fiscally and environmentally responsible through their compliance with all applicable federal, state and local regulations.

The award was accepted by UW Oshkosh representatives recently at a solid waste conference.

The dry fermentation anaerobic biodigester is the first digester for UW Oshkosh. Plans for a wet anaerobic biodigester/biogas production facility partnership at Rosendale Dairy, the state’s largest dairy farm in Pickett, were recently announced. With appropriate contracts, permits and financing arrangements in place, ground is projected to be broken on the facility in spring 2012, with a projected biodigester startup in 2013.

Article written by Amanda Wimmer

UW-Oshkosh continues to set the gold standard for UW campus sustainability

Friday, September 09, 2011

The University of Wisconsin Oshkosh recently received the 2011 Silver Waste-to-Energy Excellence Award from the Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA) for its innovative and successful efforts in solid waste management.

The award recognizes the University’s first-in-the-nation, commercial-scale dry fermentation anaerobic biodigester.

Load-in of the digester recently began, and energy production is expected to begin soon. The renewable energy facility includes heat and power generators, which initially will produce up to 5 percent of the campus’ electricity and heat.

The majority of the 8,000 tons of organic biowaste used in the biodigester will be provided by campus and community sources. At Blackhawk Commons, food scraps will be collected in separate dumpsters to help fuel the biodigester. At Reeve Union, food waste will initially be gathered in the kitchen and will eventually be collected from dining areas, said Marty Strand, assistant director for dining operations at UW Oshkosh.

“This is a true sustainability award for the campus, as the SWANA competition covers the technology, economics, community relations, worker safety, environmental advantages and aesthetics of the plant,” said Mike Lizotte, sustainability director at UW Oshkosh. “They looked at how UW Oshkosh balances financial, environmental and social concerns as we find new ways to create renewable energy and handle waste.”

Each year, SWANA’s Excellence Awards Program recognizes outstanding solid waste programs and facilities that advance the practice of environmentally and economically sound solid waste management. Programs also must demonstrate that they are fiscally and environmentally responsible through their compliance with all applicable federal, state and local regulations.

The award was accepted by UW Oshkosh representatives recently at a solid waste conference.

The dry fermentation anaerobic biodigester is the first digester for UW Oshkosh. Plans for a wet anaerobic biodigester/biogas production facility partnership at Rosendale Dairy, the state’s largest dairy farm in Pickett, were recently announced. With appropriate contracts, permits and financing arrangements in place, ground is projected to be broken on the facility in spring 2012, with a projected biodigester startup in 2013.

This story was reported by Amanda Wimmer

Bicyclists don’t need no stinkin’ tax breaks

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

From an article by Bill Berry in The Capital Times:

STEVENS POINT – As long as various groups are seeking relief from onerous and burdensome taxes, why don’t we have a tax break for bicycle commuters?

Many of us in this category have commuted to and from work for decades. OK, let’s be honest. We feel sorry for the poor souls trapped in motor vehicles. They look so forlorn and detached from the world around them. Bicycle commuters, on the other hand, have no choice but to be attuned and aware, with 2,000-pound monsters all around us.

Frankly, biking to and from work is the best part of the job. In a city like this one, a brisk morning ride through residential neighborhoods is a gift not to be underrated. There are birds and gardens and tidy lawns along the way. The bustling rail yards that bisect the city are full of sights and sounds. . . .

On second thought, forget it. We get enough benefits anyway. We’re not a bunch of fat-cat beggars looking to skirt our civic responsibilities. We’re doing our part, and we already know we’re getting a better deal by hopping on a two-wheeler. We already save money by biking. We arrive at work fit, awake and ready for the day’s tasks.

We don’t need no stinkin’ tax breaks. . . .

Did fracking cause the Virginia earthquake?

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

From an article by Dr. Stuart Jeanne Bramhall on OpEdNews.com:

Earthquakes in the nation's capitol are as rare as hen's teeth. The epicenter of Tuesday's quake was in Mineral, Virginia, which is located on three very quiet fault lines. The occurrence of yet another freak earthquake in an unusual location is leading many anti-fracking activists (including me -- they have just started fracking in Stratford, which is 40 minutes from New Plymouth) to wonder whether "fracking" in nearby West Virginia may be responsible.

Fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, is the process of initiating and subsequently propagating a fracture in a rock layer, employing the pressure of a fluid as the source of energy. The fracturing is done from a wellbore drilled into reservoir rock formations, in order to increase the extraction rates and ultimate recovery of oil and natural gas and coal seam gas.

How Fracking Causes Earthquakes
According to geologists, it isn't the fracking itself that is linked to earthquakes, but the re-injection of waste salt water (as much as 3 million gallons per well) deep into rock beds.

Braxton County West Virginia (160 miles from Mineral) has experienced a rash of freak earthquakes (eight in 2010) since fracking operations started there several years ago. According to geologists fracking also caused an outbreak of thousands of minor earthquakes in Arkansas (as many as two dozen in a single day). It's also linked to freak earthquakes in Texas, western New York, Oklahoma and Blackpool, England (which had never recorded an earthquake before).

Industry scientists deny the link to earthquakes, arguing that energy companies have been fracking for nearly sixty years. However it's only a dozen years ago that "slick-water fracks" were introduced. This form of fracking uses huge amounts of water mixed with sand and dozens of toxic chemicals like benzene, all of which is injected under extreme pressure to shatter the underground rock reservoir and release gas trapped in the rock pores. Not only does the practice utilize millions of gallons of freshwater per frack (taken from lakes, rivers, or municipal water supplies), the toxic chemicals mixed in the water to make it "slick" endanger groundwater aquifers and threaten to pollute nearby water-wells.

Horizontal drilling and multi-stage fracking (which extend fractures across several kilometres) were introduced in 2004.

The Research Evidence
I think it's really hard to deny there's a connection when the frequency of Arkansas earthquakes dropped by two-thirds when the Arkansas Oil and Gas Commission banned fracking (see http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/04/21/fracking-shutdown-earthquakes-arkansas_n_851930.html). Note that they didn't stop entirely, which suggests that fault disruption may persist even after fracking stops.

Braxton County West Virginia also experienced a marked reduction in their quakes after the West Virginia Oil and Gas Commission forced fracking companies to cut back on the pressure and rate of salt water injection into the bedrock (see http://www.hurherald.com/cgi-bin/db_scripts/articles?Action=user_view&db=hurheral_articles&id=43334).

According to a joint study by Southern Methodist University and University of Texas-Austin, earthquakes started in the Dallas/Fort Worth region after a fracking disposal well there began operating in 2008 and stopped when it was closed in 2009 (see http://www.watershedsentinel.ca/content/does-gas-fracking-cause-earthquakes).

Blackpool, England banned fracking immediately, without waiting to see if more earthquakes would occur.

RENEW asks PSC to stop We Energies' termination of renewable program

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

From the testimony of RENEW presented by Michael Vickerman, who draws attention to the fact that We Energies is trying to defund its $6 million/year renewable energy development program without any justification. In fact We Energies doesn't say anything about their actions. RENEW asks the PSC not to sanction this sleight of hand maneuver:

Q. What is the purpose of your testimony?
A. The purpose of my testimony is to discuss the May 2011 decision by We Energies to cancel a 10-year, $60 million commitment to support renewable energy development in its service territory. . . .

My testimony includes a recommendation to the Commission that it not allow We Energies to reallocate in 2012 the $6 million per year it had committed to spend on renewable energy development activities for other purposes. . . .

Q. What elements of We Energies’ Renewable Energy Development program do you consider to be particularly successful?
A. Several of We Energies’ customer incentives and tariffs were unique in the way they complemented Focus on Energy’s renewable energy program. For example, We Energies was the first utility to: (1) offer a solar energy-specific buyback rate; (2) increase the net energy billing capacity ceiling for small wind systems generators to 100 kW; and (3) support renewable energy-specific conferences and events such as Solar Decade held in Milwaukee. Perhaps the most innovative element in We Energies’ program, however, was its special incentive for nonprofit customers seeking to install renewable energy systems. Every three months, We Energies would solicit proposals from schools, religious institutions, local governments, nature centers and other nonprofit entities to co-fund new renewable energy systems on their premises. This We Energies incentive supplemented Focus on Energy grants and cash-back awards. It was designed to overcome the inability of these nonprofit entities to capture federal renewable energy tax credits to offset their own system acquisition costs. As a result of this unique incentive, there are more renewable energy systems serving nonprofit customers in We Energies territory than in any other utility territory. This initiative has an educational component to it as well; We Energies posts real-time production data from these systems on its web site.

MGE puts solar in schools

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Other Midwestern states get federal funds for trains

Friday, August 05, 2011

From an article by Candace Lombardi on Cnet News:

Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood on Wednesday announced his office is dispersing an additional $336.2 million in funds toward the massive U.S. high-speed rail public works project underway.

This time, the money is going for the trains themselves.

Including this latest release, $782 million has been dispersed for purchasing 33 locomotives and 120 bi-level train cars for California, Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, Missouri, and Washington.

The federal government has now allocated a total of $10.1 billion, set aside via the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act of 2009, for the introduction of high-speed rail as well as updates and extensions for urban and commuter rail systems throughout the U.S.

To ensure that the money stays in the U.S. and directly produces jobs, LaHood has made contracts open to foreign as well as domestic companies, but only on the condition that they employ U.S. workers and locate or expand their manufacture facilities within the U.S. to carry out the contracts, according to the Department of Transportation.

The massive public works project has been met with enthusiasm from the majority of U.S. states, happy to get federal funding that could have an immediate impact on jobs during a very dismal economic downturn. More than 39 states and the District of Columbia have submitted requests for funding for various legs of the high-speed railway.

The Daily Show's investigative look into a wind project in the Sunshine State

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Dane County Clean Air Coalition lanunches residential wood stove changeout program

Monday, August 01, 2011

From a news release issued by the Clean Air Coalition:

Today, the Dane County Clean Air Coalition launched the second phase of the 2011 Dane County Wood Stove Changeout Program, a voluntary pollution prevention program designed to help residents reduce harmful fine particle pollution and airborne toxics. From August 1st through September 30th, the Coalition is encouraging residents to get a jump on autumn’s cooler temperatures by offering a $750.00 cash rebate to eligible residents who voluntarily replace their old, inefficient wood stoves or fireplace inserts with healthier, more efficient and cleaner burning EPA-certified devices.

This clean air initiative is funded by a $50,000 grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region 5. Additional support has been provided by the Dane County Clean Air Coalition and the North Central Hearth, Patio and Barbecue Association.

“We’re happy the Dane County Clean Air Coalition is able to offer this great financial incentive to our residents who use wood stoves or fireplaces for heat,” said Dane County Executive Joe Parisi. “I urge Dane County residents to take advantage of the Wood Stove Changeout Program. They’ll be doing their part to protect their health and the air we all breathe, while reducing their wood heating costs and staying comfortable when cold temperatures return.”

Old wood stoves and fireplace inserts produce excessive wood smoke, which is made up of a mixture of gases and fine particle pollution that isn’t healthy to breathe indoors or out – especially for children, older adults and those with heart disease, asthma or other lung diseases. While fine particle pollution can occur year-round from vehicular, electric and industrial sources, activities such as wood burning that occur in the fall and winter months significantly increase fine particle levels and other pollutants in our air. EPA-certified stoves and inserts emit 70% less particle pollution and are approximately 50% more energy efficient than wood stoves manufactured before 1990.

The real reasons the GOP shuns trains

Friday, July 29, 2011

From a commentary by Dave Zweifel in The Capital Times:

Thanks to my now-retired colleague Ron McCrea, I’ve come across another attempt to explain this strange Republican anti-train phenomenon. An associate editor of the blog “AlterNet,” Sarah Jaffe, has five theories.

First, improved passenger rail requires big infrastructure and, hence, leaves a legacy. This legacy of a viable high-speed American rail system, of course, would belong to President Obama. And, heaven knows, Obama can’t be credited with anything.

Second, it would provide union jobs, which doesn’t fit at all with the Republican war against labor unions that is being waged so effectively by the party’s elected state governors, including our infamous Scott Walker.

Third, trains are viewed as promoting “socialism” because people riding together — as conservative columnist George Will put it —diminishes American individualism. People riding alone in their cars makes people resistant to government by experts who know what choices people should make, Will has written.

Fourth is the urban vs. rural issue, which is essentially Rowen’s theory. Jaffe quotes CNN’s Steven Harrod, who says that many critics of passenger rail emotionally identify it as an enabler of cultural values they fear.

“Urban vs. rural. People of color vs. white people. Public investment of any kind has been branded by the conservative movement as a way for the government to take away money from hardworking, independent (white) people and give handouts to freeloaders, usually seen as nonwhite people,” she writes.

And fifth, according to Jaffe, is the fear that high-speed rail will change our lifestyles — and, by golly, we like our lifestyles!

“Conservatives who fear changes brought about by high-speed rail aren’t wrong, of course, that transportation will change us,” Jaffe adds. “The shape of our cities and suburbs for the past 50 years or more has been largely because of transportation. Without cars, we’d never have had suburbs, let alone exurbs.”

If Obama succeeded in making decent passenger rail accessible to 80 percent of the U.S. in the next 25 years, it would become time to encourage urban density rather than suburban sprawl, which, in turn, would bring about a shift from cars regardless of economic class.

Right-wingers don’t like that notion at all because, in their view, that promotes environmental awareness, energy savings and other concerns normally associated with liberalism.

Milwaukee aldermen approve downtown streetcar line

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

From an article by Larry Sanders in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

Milwaukee aldermen voted 10-5 Tuesday to approve a modern streetcar line downtown.

In response to concerns raised by Comptroller W. Martin "Wally" Morics, aldermen agreed to limit spending to engineering for now, and to seek a review by the comptroller's office before releasing money for construction.

The measure now heads to Mayor Tom Barrett, the plan's chief advocate, for his signature.

Plans call for a 2.1-mile line, from the lower east side to the downtown Amtrak-Greyhound station, starting in 2014. Streetcars would run every 10 minutes on weekdays and every 15 minutes on weekends, late-night and early-morning hours.

The $64.6 million project would be funded by $54.9 million in long-idle federal transit aid and $9.7 million from a tax-incremental financing district, with fares, parking fees and advertising revenue covering the $2.65 million annual operating cost. The city is seeking additional federal aid for extensions that would add 1.5 miles to the line and boost the construction cost past $100 million.

Wind-powered car

Friday, July 22, 2011

Wisconsin turns inhospitable to green businesses

Thursday, July 21, 2011

From an article by Nathan J. Comp in The Isthmus:

A new report from the Brookings Institution sizing up the health of the nation's green economy shows Wisconsin ranks 13th in the number of green jobs, with Madison ranking fifth among cities.

Problem is that many of these jobs will likely disappear as a result of recent policy rollbacks and funding cuts that critics say have already begun to decimate the state's clean energy infrastructure.

"There is a concerted effort to drive out clean energy jobs," says state Rep. Brett Hulsey (D-Middleton). "Companies specializing in renewable energy are getting creamed right now."

Since taking office in January, Gov. Scott Walker's administration and the GOP-controlled Legislature have, among other things, suspended the wind turbine siting rule, cut millions of dollars from a statewide program that helps bring down costs of energy efficiency and renewable energy projects for companies and local governments, and enacted a law allowing utility companies to satisfy renewable energy requirements by importing hydroelectric power from Canada.

A pending bill would allow utilities to bank renewable energy credits in perpetuity, which would effectively extend the 2015 deadline for adding new sources of renewable energy indefinitely.

Walker's spokesman didn't respond to requests for comment.

Michael Vickerman of RENEW Wisconsin, a nonprofit devoted to clean energy strategies, says the industry's mood "varies from contractor to contractor, but it's pretty grim. We're the only state to drive out its renewable energy businesses."

Vickerman says that many companies have contracts that will sustain them through the end of the year, but with funding and policy support drying up, many will be forced to close their doors.

"We're going to document situations where there are layoffs or where companies relocate to states where their prospects are unchanged," he says. "Walker should be congratulated by governors of other states for pushing business into their greener pastures."

Trains unnecessarily cost Wisconsin taxpayers millions due to Walker's fund rejection

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

From an article by Larry Sandler and Jason Stein:

Wisconsin taxpayers could wind up paying more to keep existing passenger train service from Milwaukee to Chicago than they would have paid to run new high-speed rail service from Milwaukee to Madison, according to a Journal Sentinel analysis of state figures.

The Legislature's budget committee voted 12-2 Tuesday to spend $31.6 million in mostly borrowed state money on Amtrak's Milwaukee-to-Chicago Hiawatha line, costs that could have been paid largely by an $810 million federal grant that would have extended the Hiawatha to Madison.

But Tuesday's vote doesn't cover all the spending that will be needed to keep running the Hiawatha, a growing service that carried nearly 800,000 passengers last year.

State transportation officials have estimated they would need millions more for locomotives, signals and a new maintenance base, even without expanding service beyond the current seven daily round trips.

And, like the spending approved Tuesday, all or most of those new costs would have been covered by the federal grant spurned by Gov. Scott Walker last year. That's because the Milwaukee-to-Madison service would have operated as an extension of the Hiawatha, as part of a larger plan to connect Chicago to the Twin Cities and other Midwestern destinations with fast, frequent trains.

Taken together, state taxpayers' share of the Hiawatha capital costs that would have been covered by the federal grant could total as much as $99 million, significantly more than the $30 million they would have paid for 20 years of operating costs on the Milwaukee-to-Madison segment, as estimated by former Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle's administration.

Walker had cited those operating costs as his main reason for opposing the 110-mph extension. Federal money would have paid all of its capital costs. And that doesn't count the other potential benefits that high-speed rail supporters have cited from the Milwaukee-to-Madison line, such as jobs, economic development, expanded tax base and improved freight rail tracks.

Budget committee votes to spend $31.6 million on rail service

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

From an article by Jason Stein and Patrick Marley in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

Madison - The Legislature's budget committee voted 12-2 Tuesday to spend $31.6 million on the Milwaukee-to-Chicago passenger rail service, costs that could have largely been paid by a federal grant that would have extended passenger rail from Milwaukee to Madison.

The Joint Finance Committee voted unanimously to shift $33 million within the transportation fund to cover higher than expected winter maintenance costs.

Democrats backed the passenger rail measure. But they pointed to an estimate from the Legislature's nonpartisan budget office that found that at least $22.4 million of the additional costs stem from Republican Gov. Scott Walker's move to cancel an $810 million high-speed rail line connecting Madison to Milwaukee and Chicago.

All Republicans except Sen. Glenn Grothman (R-West Bend) and Sen. Joe Leibham (R-Sheboygan) also backed the measure but countered that the federal government could have still paid for part of the costs and that part of the bills also stem from a questionable contract entered into by Walker's predecessor, Democratic former Gov. Jim Doyle.

Sen. Lena Taylor (D-Milwaukee) called the canceled contract an example of "Walker math" that is costly for the state.

"We had an opportunity to take advantage of federal funding in one of the tightest budgets in years," Taylor said.

National Study Vindicates Wisconsin’s Clean Energy Policies

Monday, July 18, 2011

Immediate release
July 18, 2011

More information
Michael Vickerman
Executive Director

National Study Vindicates Wisconsin’s Clean Energy Policies

Nearly a decade of forward-looking strategies propelled investments in Wisconsin’s clean jobs economy above other Midwest states, according to an economic study issued by The Brookings Institution, a nonpartisan public policy organization in Washington, D.C.

Reviewing data gathered between 2003 and 2010, the Brookings analysis pegged the number of clean economy jobs in the state at 76,858, a net increase of nearly 4,000. Measured as a percentage, Wisconsin’s clean economy accounted for 2.7% of all jobs in the state, compared with 2.5% for Iowa, 2.1% for Minnesota, 1.9 % for both Indiana and Michigan, and 1.8% for Illinois. Overall, Wisconsin ranked 8th among all states and the District of Columbia in the relative size of its clean economy.

The report categorizes clean economy jobs as those in energy efficiency and renewable energy; sustainable forestry products; recycling and reuse; waste management and treatment; organic food and farming; energy efficient appliance and building manufacturing; and more.

“Clearly, Wisconsin’s commitment to clean energy has paid dividends, attracting new businesses and creating high-paying jobs that could have easily gone elsewhere,” said Michael Vickerman, executive director of RENEW Wisconsin, a statewide organization advocating for public policies and private initiatives that advance renewable energy.

These policies and initiatives include the establishment of Focus on Energy, the region’s first ratepayer-funded energy efficiency and renewable energy program, attractive buyback rates offered by utilities for renewable energy, and innovative incentives to encourage customer installation of renewables.

In addition, Wisconsin’s adoption of a 10% renewable energy standard back in 2006 spurred new utility-scale installations built by skilled tradesmen employed by local contractors. During the study period, the number of wind-related jobs in Wisconsin doubled from less than 450 to 900.

As documented in the Brookings report, the wages for these clean economy jobs run higher than the statewide average ($37,931 vs. $35,906).

“Unfortunately, Wisconsin’s clean economy is in danger of losing a good deal of its steam as a result of policy rollbacks and funding cutbacks in the renewable energy arena,” Vickerman said. “The short-sighted attacks we’ve seen in 2011 could throw the state’s clean economy into reverse next year.”

So far this year, the Legislature has reduced funding for Focus on Energy, suspended the statewide rule regulating the permitting of wind turbines, and weakened the state’s renewable energy standard by allowing utilities to count Canadian hydropower toward their requirements.

“On top of that, We Energies, the state’s largest utility, announced that it will discontinue what had been an effective renewable energy initiative,” Vickerman said. “Among other accomplishments, it was instrumental in enabling Helios USA to build a solar-electric manufacturing facility in Milwaukee’s Menomonee River Valley.” The plant now employs 50 workers.


RENEW Wisconsin is an independent, nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization that acts as a catalyst to advance a sustainable energy future through public policy and private sector initiatives. More information on RENEW’s Web site at www.renewwisconsin.org.

Good news: Walker creates clean energy jobs, Bad news: They are in Canada

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

A news release issued by Rep. Brett Hulsey (D-Madison):

Madison, WI— In another blow to jobs and clean energy efforts in Wisconsin, Republican Governor Scott Walker signed the “Clean Energy Jobs for Canada Act” SB 81 this week that allows a Wisconsin utility to import renewable energy from Canada rather than invest in Wisconsin jobs and clean energy.

“Sadly Governor Walker and the GOP outsource our energy jobs to other countries while Wisconsin citizens will have fewer jobs and higher energy costs,” said Rep. Brett Hulsey (D-Madison), member of the Assembly Energy and Utilities Committee.

A Canadian Broadcast Corporation headline read:

“Hydro deal to generate thousands of jobs

A $2-billion deal to export hydroelectric power to Wisconsin will require thousands of workers on several generating stations and transmission lines in Manitoba…”

“Walker and the GOP cut clean energy jobs here and outsource them to foreign countries. Democrats will continue to fight to keep jobs and produce clean energy in the state,” said Rep. Hulsey.

Walker and the GOP recently repealed a Public Service Commission requirement that would increase Wisconsin’s energy efficiency and renewable resources after GOP PSC Chair Phil Montgomery issued a press release touting the benefits of the Focus on Energy clean energy program saving Wisconsinites $380 million in 2010 alone. Walker and the GOP also want to create some of the strictest wind energy rules in the nation threatening more than 1,000 wind energy jobs, according to Renew Wisconsin, http://www.renewwisconsin.org.

Wisconsin’s Widening War on Renewable Energy

Monday, July 11, 2011

Dramatic Slowdown in Market Activity Anticipated
By Michael Vickerman
July 11, 2011

What started out as an opening salvo from the Walker Administration to shackle large-scale wind projects has in six months turned into a systematic campaign to dismantle the state policies that support renewable energy development. Joining the executive and legislative branches in pursuing policy rollbacks and/or funding cutbacks against renewables are various utilities and, surprisingly, Focus on Energy, Wisconsin’s ratepayer-funded energy efficiency and renewable programs.

Since January 1st, Wisconsin has seen a series of assaults against utility-scale projects and smaller renewable systems serving both residences and businesses. These include the following actions:
  • The Legislature suspended PSC 128, the statewide rule developed by the Public Service Commission last year in response to a law passed by the Legislature in 2009 ordering the agency to establish uniform standards for permitting wind energy systems. Since the March 1 suspension vote, wind development in Wisconsin has slowed to a standstill.
  • The Legislature adopted SB 81, a bill that RENEW Wisconsin describes as the “Outsource Renewable Energy to Canada Act.” SB 81 allows Wisconsin utilities to meet their renewable energy requirements beginning in 2015 with electricity generated from large hydropower plants in other states and Canada. By allowing Wisconsin utilities to become even more dependent on energy imports than they are today, SB 81 turns Wisconsin’s Renewable Energy Standard on its head. Importing large-scale hydropower exports the very dollars that could have been used to harness Wisconsin’s renewable energy resources. 
  • We Energies, the state’s largest electric utility, abruptly decided in May to walk away from an agreement with RENEW to dedicate $60 million over a 10-year period in support of renewable energy development in its territory. The decision came in the sixth year of this program. We Energies plans to reallocate the unspent dollars (totaling about $27 million) to general operations. 
  • Green Bay-based Wisconsin Public Service (WPS) instituted in April a new net energy policy designed to discourage new customer-sited renewable energy systems. Until recently WPS had been paying its customers the full retail rate for electricity that flows back on the wires, which is now about 12 cents/kWh. But under the new rate, WPS only pays three cents/kWh for electricity exported to the grid. Moreover, the utility calculates the net each month, which penalizes customers whose loads vary significantly depending on seasonal factors. Right now, the new policy only covers systems installed after March 2011, but WPS has said that it plans to apply that rate to older systems effective January 2013.
  • In its deliberations on the biennial state budget passed in June, the Legislature appended a rider to tie Focus on Energy’s annual budget to a percentage (1.2% of gross utility revenues). This action will mean a cut of $20 million in the program’s 2012 budget relative to this year’s allocation of $120 million. The Focus on Energy program provides grants and cash-back awards supporting customer investments in solar electric, solar thermal systems, small wind, biogas and biomass energy systems. 
  • Last, but certainly not least, as of July 1, Focus on Energy stopped accepting applications for business program incentives to help customers install renewable energy systems. These incentives, which average about $7 million per year, had been available since 2002 to businesses, farms, schools, local governments and other nonprofit customers. It is not clear when these incentives will be resumed and in what quantity. 

Let's get new RTA bill done

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

From an editorial in the Wisconsin State Journal:

The same Republicans who just killed the Dane County Regional Transit Authority say they're willing to allow RTAs in Wisconsin if they're more consistent and accountable.

OK, then let's get moving on just such a bill.

Dane County needs an RTA to encourage regional cooperation on transportation planning to avoid gridlock.

Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald, R-Horicon, and Rep. Robin Vos, R-Rochester, played key roles during the recent state budget process in nixing the legal status of several RTAs including Dane County's.

Yet they told the State Journal editorial board recently that they'll encourage more study and a compromise bill that can be approved as early as next year or by 2013.

We intend to hold them to that pledge.

Funding Hiatus Darkens Outlook for In-State Renewables

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Immediate release
July 5, 2011

More information
Michael Vickerman
Executive Director

Funding Hiatus Darkens Outlook for In-State Renewables

For the first time in its 11-year history, Focus on Energy is no longer accepting applications from Wisconsin businesses and nonprofit entities seeking to install renewable energy systems. This new policy took effect July 1.

According to Focus on Energy officials, this suspension of financial incentives is necessary to balance demand for renewable energy systems with available funds. In 2009, Focus on Energy allocated approximately $10 million to support customer-sited renewable energy systems. More than half of that allocation went to businesses, farmers, local governments, schools, and nonprofit organizations throughout the state.

“We recognize that Focus on Energy officials have a responsibility to ensure that outflows don’t exceed revenues. However, this suspension could not have occurred at a worse time for Wisconsin’s renewable energy contractors,” said Michael Vickerman, executive director of RENEW Wisconsin.

“Unfortunately, this move coincides with Milwaukee-based We Energies’ decision to walk away from an agreement with RENEW Wisconsin to commit $60 million over a 10-year period to develop renewable energy within its territory,” Vickerman said. ‘We Energies disclosed its unilateral action in May, barely more than halfway into honoring its commitment.”

“Given the adverse environment for renewable energy right now in Wisconsin, we hope that the interruption amounts to nothing more than a brief timeout,” said Vickerman.

“Unless funding is restored quickly, 2012 will turn out to be a very lean year for contractors and installers,” Vickerman warned.

As of this moment, the renewable energy marketplace is bristling with new installations. Installations to be completed this summer with incentives from Focus on Energy include:
• Two small wind turbines serving a Monroe County cranberry grower;
• A solar hot water system serving a new apartment building next to the Hilldale shopping complex in Madison;
• Side-by-side solar hot water and electric installations atop a new classroom building at the UW-Oshkosh;
• An engine generator fed with biogas derived from the City of Appleton’s wastewater treatment plant.

However, without a fresh supply of Focus-funded projects, Wisconsin’s renewable energy development pipeline will slow to a trickle, forcing contractors and installers to either seek work in other states or lay off employees.

Wisconsin has more than 2,500 customer-sited renewable energy installations, the vast majority of which received either financial incentives or facilitation services from Focus on Energy. In total, these installations have a generating capacity of about 20 megawatts.


Good roads are the backbone of any economy

Friday, July 01, 2011

An editorial in the La Crosse Tribune illustrates much of the current thinking about transportation, with no consideration of environmental issues or concern for future oil supplies:

There are lots of reasons why transportation is a crucial part of Wisconsin’s economy – 6.5 billion of them. That’s the dollars that are in the transportation budget over the next two years.

Here are some positive points about the transportation budget:
  • The raid on the transportation fund, which resulted in the siphoning of $1.3 billion to pay for other state programs under former Gov. Jim Doyle — is over. That money has been paid back.
  • Bonding for major projects continues but at a lower level. Borrowing has declined by $155 million.
  • There is no increase in gas taxes or vehicle registration fees.
  • More than $35 million in sales tax revenue will be put into the transportation fund, which represents 7.5 percent of the revenue from sales of vehicles and vehicle parts.
  • The $2.8 billion of spending in the state highway improvement program is the same as the previous budget. 
Transportation funding has been a challenge since the Legislature in 2005 stopped the annual gas tax increase. With more fuel-efficient cars and declining registration fees, many road projects were on the cut list because of declining revenue.

The budget also establishes the Transportation Finance and Policy Study Commission, which will investigate where future transportation funds should come from. We need some creative revenue options to keep our transportation system strong, unless we like the idea of toll roads, bad highways or failing bridges.

Good roads are the backbone of any economy, particularly a state like Wisconsin that relies heavily on transportation to support its manufacturing and agricultural base. The state has more than 112,000 miles of public roadway, which includes 11,753 miles (750 miles of interstate and 11,010 miles of state or U.S.-marked highways) in the State Trunk Highway System.

Small businesses hit hard by cuts and changes in Focus on Energy

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

From an article by Judy Newman in the Wisconsin State Journal:

Focus on Energy, a statewide program that promotes energy efficiency, is in the midst of big changes: new management by an out-of-state corporation, suspension of a popular rebate program, and sharp funding cuts in the pending state budget.

Nearly 20 people already have lost their jobs, mostly in Madison, as a result of the management change.

Meanwhile, dozens of small Wisconsin businesses that specialize in setting up solar panels and wind turbines fear for their futures because of the slashed allocation and rebate removal.

“It’s a lot of economic activity and jobs in Wisconsin. It’s a lot of energy efficiency, as well,” said Keith Reopelle, policy director for Clean Wisconsin.

Focus on Energy was created in 2001 to provide education, resources and cash incentives to Wisconsin residents and businesses to increase the use of energy-efficient products and systems, from furnaces to solar panels to vending machines.

In the past 10 years, more than 91,000 businesses and more than 1.7 million residents used the program and saved $2.20 for every dollar spent, according to Focus data. . . .

Since taking over Focus on Energy on May 9, one of Shaw’s first decisions, with PSC support, was to suspend payments to businesses that install renewable-energy systems, as of June 30.

Contractors like Seventh Generation Energy Systems were stunned.“It’s pretty devastating,” said James Yockey, chief executive officer. “It probably took out six to 10 projects that we were looking to close ... for work in the fall and the coming spring.”

Several of the projects were wind turbines for farmers. “I think the incentives are decisive in people saying yes,” Yockey said . . . .

Program supporters have appealed to Gov. Scott Walker to veto the Focus budget cut, including a letter signed by 124 Wisconsin businesses. As of Friday, there was no word on his response. Walker is scheduled to sign the budget today.

“Cutting Focus on Energy will result in higher electricity bills and fewer jobs,” Randy Johnson, president of U.S. Lamp, a Green Bay energy-efficient lighting design company, said in the letter.

Seventh Generation’s Yockey said he hopes to avoid laying off any of his 16 employees by aiming his business at other states, and that could mean moving the company. “We prefer to be located in Madison but the bottom line is: we’ll see where the business takes us,” he said.

Madison wind installer wins national award

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Immediate release: June 28, 2011
More info: Jim Yockey 608-770-9660

Wisconsin business wins National Small Wind Installer of the year

MADISON – Seventh Generation Systems Integration was awarded the National Installer of the Year honor at the 7th Annual Small Wind Conference in Stevens Point, WI on June 16th. This recognition of national scope is given to the company for their positive contribution to the growth of the distributed wind industry.

According to the American Wind Energy Association, small wind turbine installations grew 15% in 2009. Wisconsin is well suited for small wind, defined as turbines of 100 kilowatts or less, because of the rural landscape and economy. Until recently, state incentives helped grow the small wind industry through Focus on Energy, supported by a strong presence in the Midwest Renewable Energy Association.

The small wind industry has seen its share of challenges since Seventh Generation began in 2002. As an emerging industry, small wind manufacturers are always keeping up with industry standards and customers’ needs. The honor of receiving the Small Wind Installer of the Year comes as a result of working exceptionally well with manufacturers and state programs to serve the needs of rural Wisconsin.

Currently, Seventh Generation has installed more than 30 small wind turbines ranging in size from 10kW to 100kW, for a collective installed capacity of more than 1megwatt. Seventh Generation works primarily with farms, camps, schools, and businesses to match technology to the customer’s energy requirements. Along with the engineering and design of renewable energy systems, the company is recognized as a leader in resource monitoring and analysis. More about the organization can be found at www.sges.us.


State’s Hostility Toward Renewables Escalates; “Leaders” Lag Citizenry on Wind Support

Monday, June 27, 2011

Two articles from Catching Wind, a newsletter published by RENEW Wisconsin with funding from a grant from the U.S. Department of Energy:

State’s Hostility Toward Renewables Escalates
At the urging of Wisconsin utilities, several lawmakers have introduced a bill to allow a renewable energy credit (REC) to be banked indefinitely. If adopted, this measure (AB146) would constitute the most devastating legislative assault yet on the state’s renewable energy marketplace, which is already reeling from the suspension of the statewide wind siting rule this March and the loosening of renewable energy definitions to allow Wisconsin utilities to count electricity generated from large Canadian hydro projects toward their renewable energy requirements.

“Leaders” Lag Citizenry on Wind Support
Public support for wind energy development has held strong against the attacks launched by Governor Walker and the Legislature’s new Republican majority, according to a poll conducted between April 11 and April 18 by the St. Norbert College Survey Center for Wisconsin Public Radio.

Asked whether Wisconsin should "increase, decrease or continue with the same amount" of energy supply from various sources, 77% favored increasing wind power, the highest of any option (60% favored increasing hydropower, 54% biomass, 39% natural gas, 27% nuclear, and 19% coal).

120 businesses urge funding support for job creation through energy efficiency and renewable energy

Friday, June 24, 2011

From an article by Charles Davis in the Green Bay Press Gazette:

Thousands of future jobs are at stake if Gov. Scott Walker doesn't veto a provision in the state budget that limits funding for the Focus on Energy program, local business leaders said Wednesday.

"I see it being a real detriment to our business and our customers going forward if we don't have these funding increases," said Jeff Klonowski, regional manager of Kaukauna-based Energy Federation Inc., which supplies lighting fixtures, foam and weather-stripping materials to area contractors.

But supporters of the provision object to the amount of the funding increase, not the program.

"The Focus on Energy program certainly had a lot of benefits, but the huge increase in assessments that were put in place at the end of last year, we think, were too much, too soon," said Scott Manley, director of environmental and energy policy for Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce, the state's largest business lobby.

Walker received a letter Wednesday signed by more than 120 businesses asking that he veto that provision in the state budget bill. His office responded with a one-line statement: "We'll evaluate that provision and make any veto-related announcements once the decisions have been finalized."

The program
The statewide Focus on Energy program is funded by tax assessments on utility bills and provides grants to help homeowners and businesses pay for energy-efficient upgrades. It also helps pay for consultants to advise property owners on which type of upgrades would be practical and cost-effective. Each year, utility companies contribute 1.2 percent of revenue — about $100 million total — to the program.

The state Public Service Commission proposed in December raising the utility bill assessments from $94 million in 2010 to $256 million by 2014.

The proposal calls for utilities to increase their contributions to $120 million this year. That amount is fixed even if Walker does not veto the provision. However, assessments would drop to around $100 million in 2012, instead of the initial proposed increase of $160 million for that year.

Image by Clean Wisconsin

Energy program cuts called short-sighted

Thursday, June 23, 2011

From an article by Mike Ivey in The Capital Times:

Stanley Minnick runs a one-man consulting company in Madison called Third Power Energy Solutions.

Minnick founded the company earlier this year with the primary aim of helping businesses, non-profits and residents save money on their energy bills.

But just as Minnick is getting his business up and running, the state has cut funding for Focus on Energy, which provides grants to help pay for conservation efforts like solar power installations or high-efficiency lighting.

"The timing on all of this is just awful," says Minnick. "We're supposed to be growing the state economy and help new business get going. It just doesn't make any sense."

The new state budget cuts funding for the state Focus on Energy from $120 million to less than $100 million annually. It also rolls back annual increases approved in December 2010 by former Gov. Jim Doyle's Public Service Commission that would have upped funding to $256 million by 2014.

The monies come from a 1.2 percent tax on electric utility sales -- an arrangement the investor-owned utilties have begrudingly accepted though hardly embraced.

Minnick says those grants, which go to utility customers who make energy improvements, have provided stability to the conservation industry and helped businesses make investments they might not have pursued otherwise.

The cuts were approved last month by the Joint Finance Committee and included in the budget signed by Gov. Scott Walker last week.

"It's unfortunate this ended up mixed into the budget because I don't think a lot of Legislators had time to really look at it," says Keith Reopelle, senior policy director at Clean Wisconsin.

Clean energy advocates note that Wisconsin sends $17 billion of state annually to purchase coal, oil and natural gas. They say that every $1 invested in Focus on Energy reduces energy bills for consumers by at least $2.50. They also credit the program with creating 24,000 jobs in the state.

Southeastern Wisconsin leaders ask state to restore mass transit funding

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

From an article in BizTimes Daily:

A coalition of southeastern Wisconsin civic, educational and business leaders is asking the state Legislature to restore state funding for mass transit in the region.

The coalition sent a letter to state senators and Assembly members Monday, calling on legislators to refrain from making the cuts outlined in Gov. Scott Walker’s budget repair bill. The letter said mass transit is vital to the economic future of southeastern Wisconsin economy.

The letter was co-signed by Kenosha Mayor Keith Bosman; Cudahy Mayor Anthony Day; St. Francis Mayor Al Richards; South Milwaukee Mayor Tom Zepecki; Racine Mayor John Dickert; Oak Creek Mayor Richard Bolander; Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele; Greater Milwaukee Committee President Julia Taylor; Racine Area Chamber of Commerce President Michael Kobylka; South Suburban Chamber of Commerce President Barbara Wesener; KenoshaArea Business Alliance President Todd Battle; University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Chancellor Michael Lovell; University of Wisconsin-Parkside Chancellor Deborah Ford; Milwaukee Downtown Executive Director Beth Nicols; Devin Sutherland of Downtown Racine Corp. BID #1; Mike Fabishak of Associated General Contractors Greater Milwaukee; and Tom Rave of The Gateway to Milwaukee.

The letter stated:
“In the current economy, creating, maintaining, and connecting people to private sector jobs is a top priority. The state budget proposal to drastically reduce state funding for already severely strained transit systems in SE Wisconsin would threaten economic growth by making it harder or impossible for workers to get to jobs and discourage employers from locating or expanding in Wisconsin. . . .

Walker says ‘yes’ to roads we don’t need

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

From a column by Dave Zweifel in The Capital Times:

Whether it’s a result of recent bad winters or just the impact of more and more traffic, local roads and streets have taken a serious beating throughout Wisconsin.

Potholes, sunken manhole covers and deteriorating concrete and asphalt are taking their toll on cars and the nerves of the people who ride in them. Many communities and counties have fallen behind on road maintenance in recent years because of budget shortfalls.

But we’ll just have to learn to live with the disintegrating roads and streets thanks to yet another curious set of priorities on the part of the Scott Walker administration.

The new Wisconsin budget, which is headed full speed to implementation, includes massive cuts to Wisconsin schools, fewer dollars for the working poor, more tax breaks for big business and, yes, less money to help the state’s already-beleaguered municipalities fix streets and roads. (Madison is on the verge of losing $1 million.)

Instead, the budget that’s being fashioned by the Walkerite-dominated Joint Committee on Finance will effectively shift transportation dollars away from the locals and into the hands of the big road builders who gave so generously to get Walker elected.

While local road aid is headed for what looks like a $35 million cut, some $328 million more is being earmarked for new highway construction by shifting automobile sales tax revenue, which has historically gone to the general fund, into the transportation budget. Further, more dollars for big highways are being freed up by shifting public transit out of the transportation budget and into the general fund, where public transportation will be more vulnerable to indiscriminate budget cutting.

Peak Oil Meeting, June 9

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Please join us for the Madison Peak Oil Group (MPOG) monthly brown bag meeting this Thursday! (It was delayed one week this month.)

Time: 12:00 noon on Thursday, June 9th
Place: 222 South Hamilton Street, Madison
RENEW conference room on the lower level

Please renew your annual MPOG membership if you have not done so yet. Suggested level $15 – more if you can afford it. Make out your check to Madison Peak Oil Group and give it to Ed Blume in person…or mail to him at 222 South Hamilton Street, Madison WI 53703

(1) Introductions
(2) Financial Report
(3) Announcements, Upcoming Events

June 17-19: Midwest Renewable Energy Association Fair

June 24: Statewide Transit Advocates meeting
Best Western Inn on the Park, Madison
Exact time to be announced: most likely mid-day or afternoon
Contact Kerry Thomas to get on mailing list: kthomas@transitnow.org (262) 246-6151

July 8-10: EcoFair 360, Walworth County Fairgrounds

July 28: Wisconsin Association of Railroad Passengers summit, Wisconsin Dells
Contact Mike McCoy to get on mailing list: mccoymh@chorus.net
MPOG members are hereby encouraged to join ProRail/WisARP
http://www.prorail.com/about.html (Sorry but the website is kinda flakey)
Membership = $20/yr. Make out your check to ProRail and send to:
ProRail Membership, P.O. Box 5401, Madison, WI 53705-0401

(4) Reports, Summaries

June 1-4: Congress for the New Urbanism

(5) State Government Issues

Status of Renewable Energy – Mike Vickerman

Status of RTA and Transit

(6) Electrified Steel Interstate – Alan Drake concept
I recommend we make this a top priority for MPOG
Please review this before meeting: http://www.theoildrum.com/node/4301?nocomments

Summary of EXCELLENT meeting on June 2nd

Now online: Wisconsin Renewable Quarterly

Monday, June 06, 2011

The Wisconsin Renewable Quarterly, the newsletter of RENEW Wisconsin, features these article:

Siting Rule Suspension Rocks Wind Industry
In a move that sent shock waves through the wind industry in Wisconsin, a joint legislative panel voted on March 1 to suspend the wind siting rule promulgated by the Public Service Commission in December 2010.

Community Biogas Project Fires Up
Home to 400 dairy farms, Dane County recently dedicated a community-scale manure-to-methane generating system designed to reduce nutrient runoff into the Yahara Lakes.

Insty Prints: Mpower ChaMpion
But if I can help other businesses make some of the harder choices by being more vocal, then I’m willing to help.

Manitoba Hydro: A Washout?
On behalf of our members and the many businesses and individuals who support the continued expansion of Wisconsin’s renewable energy marketplace, RENEW Wisconsin is here to express opposition to AB 114 (and its companion SB 81), and urges the Legislature not to pass this bill.

Verona Firm Begins Work on “Epic” PV
With the commissioning of its 1,300-module solar electric canopy spanning its parking deck, Epic Systems joins an elite group of Wisconsin companies embracing on-site energy capture to reduce their dependence on fossil fuels. At 360 kilowatts (kW), Epic’s new photovoltaic system is the largest solar array in Dane County and the third largest in Wisconsin.

Calendar of Renewable and Energy Efficiency Events
June 17-19, 2001 The Energy Fair. Custer, WI. The nation’s premier sustainable energy education event. Three days of workshops, demonstrations, and exhibits highlighting renewable energy and sustainable living. For details see www.midwestrenew.org.

July 8-10, 2011 EcoFair360. Elkhorn, WI. Join hundreds of exhibitors and presenters and thousands of attendees who will Make Green Happen for three days of education, exploration and inspiration. For details see www.ecofair360.org.

July 16, 2011 Western Wisconsin Sustainability Fair. Menomonie, WI, Dunn County Fair Grounds. Exhibitors from business, government, and non-profi t groups, speakers, workshops, music, energy effi cient vehicles, a photo contest, and a tour of the Cedar Falls Dam. See http://sustainabledunn.org for more information.

July 30, 2011 8th Annual Kickapoo Country Fair. LaFarge, WI. The Midwest’s Largest Organic Food and Sustainability Festival. Food, music, bike and farm tours, cooking demonstrations, theater, kids’ activities, dancing. More information at www.kickappoocountryfair.org.

October 1, 2011 Solar Tour of Homes and Businesses. All across Wisconsin. Owners open their doors to let people see how renewable energy is practical, reliable, and affordable in today’s economy. The homes and businesses often include other energy efficiency and renewable technologies. For details see http://nationalsolartour.org.

October 26, 2011 Wisconsin’s Solar Decade Conference. Milwaukee, WI. Now in its seventh year, the Wisconsin
Solar Decade Conference is your opportunity to see fi rsthand the latest developments in the world of solar energy. For details see www.solardecade.com.