Conference of Cassandras?

Monday, January 31, 2011

Jack Kisslinger, Hans Noeldner, and David Knuti attended the 2010 ASPO Annual Meeting, Washington, D.C., Oct. 7-9, 2010.

The 2010 Annual Meeting of the
Association for the Study of Peak Oil (ASPO)
Washington D.C., October 7-9, 2010

David E. Knuti
Madison Peak Oil Group

2010 Conference Proceedings, Association for the Study of Peak Oil & Gas (ASPO), at Speaker Videos and Conference Notes from presentations to the 2010 ASPO Convention at Washington, D.C., October 7-9, 2010.

The Impending World Energy Mess: What it is and what it means to you. By Robert Hirsch, Roger Bezdek, and Robert Wendling. Forward by James Schlesinger. 2010. Apogee Prime/Griffen Media. 251 pp, $30.00.

ASPO — An Association with a Mission
Last fall Hans Noeldner, Jack Kisslinger and I traveled via Amtrak to Washington, DC to attend the 2010 conference of the Association for the Study of Peak Oil & Gas-USA (ASPO), October 9-11. We attended as members of RENEW Wisconsin and our Madison Peak Oil Group. About 60 elite authorities presented their current findings about the dynamics of world energy flows with particular concern for the risk that supplies will soon hit limits that could have profound effects on our lives in the coming decade. These are important to share broadly. (For details go to the presentation notes from the conference at

The Association for the Study of Peak Oil (ASPO) is a volunteer organization dedicated to independently study the future availability of energy resources (primarily oil) and pursue "energy action for a healthy economy and clean environment." A group of American senior petroleum geologists, energy economists and financiers organized it in 1992, and there are now affiliated ASPOs across Europe and Australia, and an informal network of local Peak Oil Groups.

ASPO's founders feared that industry and government authorities were dangerously exaggerating the future flow of oil resources. They took heed of insights of Shell petroleum geologist M. King Hubbert about the pattern of production from a finite natural resource base. He asserted that it does not follow a continuously rising or smooth path to exhaustion, but instead, follows a bell-shaped curve, rising exponentially to a peak about half way through the total resource, and then falling inexorably from the production peak. To the astonishment of the U.S. oil industry, Hubbert identified the peak of U.S. oil production in 1970. ASPO is dedicated to identifying the factors which will determine the world oil production peak (which many fear is now uncomfortably close to zero to ten years away), its consequences, and what to do to prepare for them. This analysis decisively turns the debate from the ultimate size the resource available and various potential technological innovations, to the factors which determine the actual pace at which resources can be supplied to the market to for our oil dependent economy. As one conference speaker exclaimed, "It about the rate, stupid!"

The mood at the 2010 conference was highly charged, because ASPO people feel a sense of triumph in their command of the issues and an obligation to share their important insights. They are also are deeply frustrated by their inability to communicate with the political leadership and a public which purposely ignores the situation and might even figuratively "shoot the messengers" if pressed too openly. As keynote speaker, former Secretary of Energy and Defense James Schlesinger proclaimed, "The peak oil debate can be considered over, but we should not gloat because political acceptance is unlikely in the foreseeable future."

The ASPO leadership showed its determination to expand exposure for its viewpoint, first by bringing the conference to Washington and scheduling associated Congressional and press briefings. ASPO also announced that it was projecting itself into the national debate by moving its headquarters from Denver to Washington and raising funds to hire a full staff. (Recently it hired an Executive Director, Jan Mueller, who is an experienced participant in the energy policy debate and is determined to "mainstream" the peak oil message.) In a rousing speech to the group, Ralph Nader called for ASPO to get moving from analysis into action and pursue his new approach of "finding a sympathetic billionaire" to fuel the cause.

Coalition discredits realtors’ wind assessment

Friday, January 28, 2011

A news release issued by the Wisconsin Energy Business Association:

A group of over 60 Wisconsin energy businesses and organizations distributed a memorandum to legislators today to respond to the factual inaccuracies and misrepresentations in a memorandum distributed by the Wisconsin Realtors Association last week, including the following points:
1. There is no credible evidence that existing wind development in Wisconsin has depressed property values in Kewaunee County.
2. There is no credible evidence that existing wind development in Wisconsin has depressed property values statewide.
3. The property value study cited by WRA contains several methodological errors and weaknesses that greatly reduce its value.
4. WRA’s discussion of windpower’s impacts on commercial and residential construction is wholly one-sided and overlooks the benefits from building energy-producing systems on rural land.
5. WRA’s characterization of the rule’s promulgation is inflammatory and untrue.
6. A longer setback distance is not necessary given PSC 128’s strict regulation of sound and shadow.

Free pizza! Peak oil!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Illinois wind advocates advise Wisconsin's renewable energy developers to 'Escape to Illinois'

Monday, January 24, 2011

From a news release issued by The Illinois Wind Energy Association:

(CHICAGO) -- Today the Illinois Wind Energy Association (IWEA) invited wind power developers working in Wisconsin to focus their efforts on Illinois, where Governor Pat Quinn and the Illinois General Assembly have worked to streamline regulations for the wind energy business.

Wind developers have been apprehensive about investing in Wisconsin since Governor Scott Walker proposed legislation that would effectively ban wind development from the Badger State. With these new job-destroying regulations on the table, IWEA is happy to highlight the much more business-friendly climate just to the south.

Recently introduced in the Wisconsin legislature, the War on Wind Initiative would dramatically extend setback distances from wind turbines in the state. If adopted, the bill would mandate a minimum setback requirement of 1,800 feet from neighboring property lines, far exceeding the setback distance from occupied dwellings specified in a rule issued by the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin.

"Even the strictest county setbacks in Illinois are nowhere near as extreme as what Wisconsin would have if this bill passes," said IWEA Executive Director Kevin Borgia. "Illinois has no statewide minimum setbacks."

As Denise Bode, CEO of the American Wind Energy Association, said to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel last week, "it is one of the most onerous regulations we have ever seen."

"In light of Wisconsin's War on Wind, IWEA invites developers to focus their resources on Illinois," Borgia said. "Businesses with wind farm proposals in both states are likely to focus their efforts on locations with the most beneficial regulatory climate. If the legislation is adopted, that location will not be Wisconsin."

Nicole Foss: We Need Freedom of Action To Confront Peak Oil

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Nicole Foss recently spoke in Madison.

State cancels plans for UW biomass plant

Friday, January 21, 2011

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

The Walker administration has canceled plans to build a biomass power plant at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

The power plant, a priority of former Gov. Jim Doyle, will burn natural gas instead.

The state can expect to save about $75 million to $80 million as a result of the decision, said Jeff Plale, Walker's new director of state facilities and former Democratic state senator from Milwaukee County.

The state will save $100 million by not pursuing biomass but will have to spend $20 million to $25 million to add another natural gas boiler to the plant, he said.

"It was a decision based on cost. The capital cost of that project was roughly $100 million, and it was the belief of the agency and the governor that that price tag was just way too high," Plale said.

Construction of the $251 million UW power plant project began last fall and represents nearly one-fifth of the state's 2009-'11 capital budget. The project was being built in phases, with the natural gas portion being built first and the biomass to come later.

Instead of picking the cheapest option - burning coal - state and UW officials opted for a combination of natural gas and biomass from local tree trimmings and crops.

The move is the latest in a series of steps reversing energy and related policies supported by the Doyle administration, including cancellation of the high-speed train proposed to link Milwaukee and Madison and legislation unveiled last week that could slow development of wind power projects in the state.

UW-Madison conservation goals heeded and exceeded

Thursday, January 20, 2011

From a news release issued by the UW-Madison:

We Conserve, an environmental stewardship program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, pledged in 2006 to reduce campus energy use and environmental footprint by 20 percent by 2010. Program director Faramarz Vakili announced this week that the program exceeded this goal, achieving a 25 percent annual energy reduction relative to 2006 levels.

When the program launched in April 2006, the resolution was met with skepticism, Vakili says. After all, the university had just completed a five-year, $29 million investment to install numerous energy-saving measures to improve the efficiency of lights, motors, and other "low-hanging fruit."

We Conserve tackled larger projects, including updates in heating and cooling systems — by far the single largest energy consumer on campus — and lighting upgrades in buildings and parking ramps. Many of the gains were achieved through major retro-commissioning of older buildings including Engineering Hall, Chamberlin Hall and the Chemistry Building.

The reductions and savings achieved by We Conserve include:

•energy use: 1.2 trillion BTUs annually
•carbon dioxide emissions: 125,000 metric tons annually
•water use: 178,000,000 gallons annually
•diesel fuel: 10,000 gallons annually
•utility costs: $13 million annually

Don't blow back on wind power

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

From an editorial in the Wisconsin State Journal:

More government regulation and tighter restrictions?

That's the wrong path for Wisconsin to take on promising wind energy projects.

Gov. Scott Walker and the Legislature should instead stick with the reasonable and uniform rules that the state Public Service Commission has approved.

Wisconsin is already falling behind its neighbors in the push to use wind as a clean, renewable energy source. At the same time, Wisconsin imports a huge portion of its power from out of state.

That's why the PSC was smart to adopt standard rules for siting smaller wind operations as well as bigger wind farms. The PSC, after listening to public testimony, health experts and industry officials, wisely streamlined and replaced a hodgepodge of local restrictions.

The PSC standards now protect public health and safety while permitting well-designed wind farms on appropriate sites. Besides more home-grown energy, Wisconsin gains jobs related to the manufacturing of parts for turbines. Farmers also benefit from the additional income they receive for allowing turbines of varying size on their land.

Walker's welcome mantra since his election last fall has been that Wisconsin is "open for business." But Walker's proposal for more regulation and restrictions on wind projects runs counter to that promise.

Walker's wind ban proposal is jobs killer

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

From a commentary by by Keith Reopelle, Senior Policy Director of Clean Wisconsin:

MADISON -- A special session bill recently proposed by Governor Scott Walker includes many provisions that could hurt Wisconsin’s economy and environment, but one of the most perplexing proposals in this package is a new regulation that would effectively ban wind energy projects in Wisconsin.

The regulatory reform bill proposed by Gov. Walker would close Wisconsin’s doors to clean, renewable wind power and cost our state thousands of jobs. Our state legislators – who were elected on the promise of real job creation and economic recovery – should reject Gov. Walker’s bill.

The proposed bill creates regulations that effectively prohibit wind energy developers from constructing a wind turbine within 1,800 feet of the nearest property line. If approved, this law will make siting a wind farm so difficult that no wind developer will even bother trying; especially when Illinois and Iowa are waiting with open arms, having no setback provision at all.

The bill will immediately jeopardize 11 proposed wind projects that are set to create hundreds of jobs and undoubtedly many others in the planning stages.

Beyond killing current projects, this law would ensure that no new wind development companies or wind turbine manufacturers locate in Wisconsin, and result in the loss of thousands more jobs constructing and maintaining wind turbines.

Wind energy production is one of the world’s fastest growing industries. In 2010, the industry employed over 85,000 people nationally. In Wisconsin, the wind industry supports thousands of jobs at businesses like Tower Tech in Manitowoc and Renewegy in Oshkosh. Both companies produce parts for wind turbines. Tower Tech produced its first turbine in 2005 and now employs over 250 people at its plant where it offers competitive wages and good benefits.

By effectively banning wind energy construction in the state, this law would leave manufacturing companies like Tower Tech with far less incentive to develop in Wisconsin.

These more restrictive regulations would replace rules that the Wisconsin Public Service Commission (PSC) recently approved after two years of study, six rounds of public comments, and input from all major stakeholder groups.

Win a home energy check-up from MG&E

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Walker proposal would torpedo $1.8 billion in new wind power investments

Friday, January 14, 2011

From a news release issued by RENEW Wisconsin:

The window on new wind power developments is likely to slammed completely shut by the end of 2011 under a proposal released by Governor Scott Walker, according to RENEW Wisconsin, a statewide renewable energy advocacy organization.

“As part of a larger proposal ostensibly to create jobs, Governor Walker unveiled new restrictions on wind energy development that, if adopted by the Legislature, would drive development activity worth $1.8 billion out of state,” said Michael Vickerman, executive director of RENEW Wisconsin.

Governor Walker’s proposal would mandate minimum setbacks of 1,800 feet between a wind turbine and the nearest property line, a dramatic increase from the setback distance of 1,250 feet from a neighboring residence approved by the Public Service Commission in a rule that would otherwise take effect on March 1.

“There are very few locations in the entire Badger State that are windy and large enough, and located near transmission lines, to overcome such extreme constraints,” said Vickerman.

This setback requirement, which would be more stringent than any other statewide regulation in the nation, would also apply to permitted projects that have not begun construction, such as the two-turbine project in a Village of Cashton industrial park that was ready to begin construction this spring. A 99-megawatt project near Darlington in Lafayette County would also be blocked, said Vickerman.

“Because construction has commenced, We Energies’ 90-turbine Glacier Hills Wind Park in Columbia County will avoid these extreme restrictions,” said Vickerman. “Adoption of Walker’s proposal will draw the curtain on projects that would follow Glacier Hills, which will be able to power up to 45,000 homes.”

RTA approves plan for expanded bus service outside Madison

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Fronm an article by Devin Rose in the Wisconsin State Journal:

The county's Regional Transit Authority Board is seeking public comment on a proposed plan they approved Wednesday that would improve and extend bus services to areas outside Madison — but the plan's full implementation is contingent on approval of a transit sales tax.

Among the proposed improvements — which could be funded by up to a half cent sales tax for people within the boundaries of the RTA — are regional express bus service, expanded service to other Dane County communities, additional park and ride lots and improved services for the elderly and disabled. The RTA board would have to vote on whether to place an advisory referendum for the tax on the April 5 election ballot before Feb. 22.

RTA Chairman Dick Wagner said the next step for the board is to listen to people's opinions about the plan, which will be released in full next week. The plan includes about $9.7 million to $13 million in new and improved services. Wagner said Tuesday he has heard little or no support for a half cent sales tax, but there is some backing for one-fourth of a cent, which would yield $15 million to $17 million annually.

Letter asks Walker to leave new wind siting rules alone

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

January 11, 2011

Governor Scott Walker
Senator Scott Fitzgerald
Representative Jeff Fitzgerald

Re: Support for Wisconsin’s Wind Siting Rule, PSC 128

Governor Walker, Senator Fitzgerald, and Representative Fitzgerald:

As businesses involved in the manufacturing, production, installation, and maintenance of wind energy systems, we urge you to allow the state’s new wind siting rule to go into effect. The wind siting rule is a fair balance of different interests and will spur investment, job creation, and economic growth in our state if given an opportunity to do so.

We are aware that the Special Session on Jobs will include a bill related to the authority of state agencies to promulgate administrative rules, with yet unspecified changes to the wind siting rule. While the text of the bill has not yet been released, we would like to take this opportunity to urge you not to alter or weaken the wind siting rule. The rule already contains some of the strongest protections in the United States for homeowners, including strict provisions related to shadow and sound criteria, as part of a balanced package that assures the safe and responsible siting of wind energy systems.

The wind siting bill had strong bipartisan support when it passed the legislature last session. The wind siting council was comprised of a variety of stakeholders representing a broad selection of interests. The council met regularly for five months, listening to multiple experts, scholars, and health professionals. The rulemaking process was open, balanced, and fair, and the rule will allow wind developers to site wind energy systems efficiently while protecting Wisconsin residents.

Weakening the rule with an overly burdensome setback larger than those specified in the rule could represent a death sentence to many wind projects in Wisconsin. Given the strong shadow and sound protections, further setback requirements are not necessary and will have the practical effect of rendering useless many of the best turbine locations in the state, where landowners have voluntarily entered into lease agreements for wind energy systems.

The entities that will be harmed most by such legislation are Wisconsin-based manufacturers, equipment suppliers, contractors, and consultants. States all around us have already realized that renewable energy generation represents an opportunity for major economic growth in their state. In fact, the wind industry has shown strong growth despite significant challenges throughout the current economic environment.

Repealing or modifying the wind siting law will send a message to manufacturers, developers, and investors that Wisconsin is not open for this particular business, which can be a key contributor to Wisconsin’s manufacturing renaissance.

We appreciate your consideration,

Energy Composites Corporation, Wisconsin Rapids, WI

Michels Wind Energy, Brownsville, WI

American Wind Energy Association, Washington, D.C.

Renewegy Systems, LLC, Oshkosh, WI

Wind Capital Group, Madison, WI

Wind on the Wires, St. Paul, MN

Midwest Wind Energy, Chicago, IL

Bonestroo Engineering, Green Bay, WI

Emerging Energies of Wisconsin, LLC, Hubertus, WI

Iberdrola Renewables, Minneapolis, MN

Nordex USA, Chicago, IL

WES Engineering LLC, Madison, WI

Seventh Generation Energy Systems, Madison, WI

Uriel Wind Inc., Mequon, WI

Wind Wisconsin, Middleton, WI

Lake Michigan Wind and Sun, Sturgeon Bay, WI

SUN & Daughters Renewable Energy, Sugar Camp, WI

Walker proposal would halt new wind energy projects, send jobs to other states

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

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

A coalition of 15 wind power developers and manufacturers of wind components says a proposal by the Walker administration could make it more difficult to build wind farms in the state.

In his first executive order since taking office, Gov. Scott Walker included “requirements for wind energy systems” as one of several regulatory reform proposals being developed by the administration. Details of the administration’s proposal are pending.

The wind siting rule, developed in response to a bill that called for uniformity in wind standards across the state, was completed in December after nearly a year of work by the Public Service Commission and a wind siting advisory council. It calls for wind turbines to be built at least 1,250 feet from nearby residences, or 3.1 times the height of a wind tower.

The wind firms said Tuesday proposals that would make wind siting more restrictive could send wind developers, and the construction and manufacturing jobs linked to wind power, out of state.

“Repealing or modifying the wind siting law will send a message to manufacturers, developers, and investors that Wisconsin is not open for this particular business, which can which can be a key contributor to Wisconsin’s manufacturing renaissance,” the group of businesses, including both developers, turbine manufacturers and other firms, said in a letter Tuesday to Walker and legislative leaders.

The thorny issue of how close wind turbines should be built to nearby homes has dogged the state’s energy policy for several years. The Legislature wrestled with the issue before deciding to forward the matter for the Public Service Commission and an advisory council to debate.

Before developing the siting standards for small wind farms, the PSC had applied less restrictive standard to utility wind projects.

In its Blue Sky Green Field wind farm in Fond du Lac County, We Energies was required to build turbines at least 1,000 feet from nearby homes.

More recently, the PSC tightened the standard for We Energies’ latest wind farm, Glacier Hills, northeast of Madison. No turbine can be within 1,250 feet of nearby homes in that project, which is now under construction, the PSC said.

The Story of Coal from SunRunHome

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Madison plant will recycle coating from solar panels

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

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

5N Plus Corp. of Montreal will open a manufacturing and recycling center for metal coatings used in the production of thin-film solar panels.

The $4.3 million facility, which was supported by a $500,000 low-interest loan from the state of Wisconsin, is expected to be fully operational by March or April, plant manager John Schuster said.

5N Plus, which supplies metals used to coat the thin-film solar panels, has a contract to supply Abound Solar, a Loveland, Colo., company that plans to open solar panel factories in Indiana and expand a factory in Colorado that already makes thin-film solar panels.

Last month, Abound received a $400 million loan guarantee from the U.S. Department of Energy to support the expansion. Abound also announced a private equity investment of $110 million to support its growth.

The company plans to open a solar panel factory inside an 800,000-square-foot building in Tipton, Ind., that was once intended to build transmissions for Chrysler cars.

5N Plus chose the DeForest area for a new facility because of its central location and proximity to the Cardinal Glass plant in Portage, where the glass can be recycled, Schuster said.

Cardinal Glass' Solar Technologies division supplies glass and other products for thin-film solar panels, with work taking place at factories in Mazomanie and Portage.

Cardinal and 5N Plus are among suppliers in four states that are expected to employ 1,600 people as a result of the Abound Solar manufacturing expansions in Colorado and Indiana, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

Green Drinks, Jan. 5, Great Dane downtown

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Our next opportunity to gather with other green-minded folks is here.

Come and network, shoot the breeze, or enjoy a brew or two in the good company of Madison Green Drinks.

Wednesday, January 5th, 5:PM

Great Dane Brew Pub
123 East Doty Street
Corner of Doty and King streets

Workshop: How to implement green changes

Monday, January 03, 2011

Mpower Public Workshop

Want to implement green changes, but are struggling with next steps?
Ready to learn from successful, sustainable businesses?
Mpower ChaMpions Business Program may be for you.

Tuesday, January 11th, 2011
7:30 am — 9:30 am
Goodman Atwood Community Center, 149 Waubesa Street, Madison

• Welcome by Mayor Dave Cieslewicz, one of the first mayors in America to sign on to the U.S. Mayors Climate Protection Agreement to reduce Madison's greenhouse gas emissions.
• Update on Madison's new Sustainability Plan Draft by Sherrie Gruder, UW-Extension/ SHWEC and Chair of Madison Sustainable Design & Energy Committee.
• Mpower ChaMpion Panel sharing first-hand results of 2010 Mpower Champions that are collectively saving $300,000 and reducing their CO2 emissions by 10 million lbs annually: Union Cab Coop of Madison, Palmer Johnson Power Systems, Monsanto Company - Agracetus Campus, Mental Health Center of Dane County, Lakeview Veterinary Clinic, Insty Prints on the Square, Covance, and Associated Housewrights.
• Resources to Mpower You, learn about participating in Mpower Champions 2011, free resources from Focus On Energy, Rideshare etc., EnAct and more.
• Know your Opportunities, receive an estimated carbon footprint calculation for your company.

This event is free and includes fair trade coffee and tea, and a light morning snack, but registration is required.