Win a solar electric system! Tour businesses with solar!

Friday, April 29, 2011

MadiSUN solar program has two exciting opportunities for you! First, MadiSUN and our partners are giving away a free solar PV array valued at $25,000 that will offset $625 worth of annual electricity costs for the winner. Second, we are offering a free guided tour to get a first-hand look at several premier commercial solar systems installed on Madison businesses.

If your company has a solar installation, your , read below to see how yourcompany can participate.

MadiSUN Commercial Solar Tour
Join business owners, building operators, developers and others interested in commercial solar PV and solar hot water systems for a free guided solar tour. Site visits will include a variety of solar technologies and building types. Badger Bus private transportation, lunch, beverages, and coffee provided. Experts, systems owners and installers will be on-site to answer your questions. For more information visit

Tuesday, May 24
Begins @ 9am and concludes @ 1:30pm
RSVP to by Thursday, May 19
No cost to participate but spots are limited.

Win a FREE Solar PV System
The City of Madison's MadiSUN solar program and its partners are challenging building owners and business tenants to showcase their energy efficiency by participating in the MadiSUN Solar Giveaway Contest.

It's easy - all you have to do is complete and send in a contest entry form by July 31, 2011. The winning company will receive a 3 to 4 kW solar PV system and installation services provided by our project partners and valued at over $25,000. This system can produce enough renewable energy to offset approximately $625 worth of annual electricity costs.

Only for-profit business properties located in the City of Madison are eligible to participate. Businesses that do not own their building are encouraged to work with the building owner to complete the contest entry form.

For compete contest information, entry form and rules visit:

Solar Giveaway Partners: Johnson Controls Inc., Madison Gas and Electric, Ingeteam, Helios Solar Works, Focus on Energy and IBEW.

Poll finds strong support for wind energy in Wisconsin

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

From an article in the Chicago Tribune:

MADISON, Wis.— A poll of Wisconsin residents finds strong support for increasing the use of wind energy, even if doing so would raise electricity bills several dollars per month.

The Wisconsin Public Radio poll was released Friday. It shows that 77 percent of respondents want to see the state invest more in wind energy. Reasons included decreasing the nation's reliance on foreign oil and helping the environment.

A majority, 69 percent, wouldn't mind eight to 10 wind-energy machines being placed closed to where they live, and 79 percent favor placing the machines offshore in Lake Michigan.

Click here for poll results.

Southeastern Minn. could become hotbed for 'frac sand'

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

From a story on WEAU-TV, Eau Claire:

RED WING, Minn. (AP) -- Under the forested bluffs of southeastern Minnesota lies an increasingly sought-after resource. It's called "frac sand." And it's prized by the energy industry, which uses it to extract gas and oil from underground rock in a process called hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.

Minnesota Public Radio reports an increasing number of companies are eying Minnesota for the sand, prized for its perfectly round, hard and chemically inert grains. One energy company recently purchased land near Red Wing for sand mining, sparking opposition from residents and environmentalists.

From an article in the Star Tribune, Minneapolis-St. Paul:

The fracking process pumps a mixture of frac sand, water and chemicals into underground rock formations to break up the stone and release oil and natural gas. It allows affordable access to fossil fuel supplies that once were too expensive to tap.

But it's been a contentious issue in some states that have fracking operations. Critics argue that chemicals used in fracking may be contaminating water supplies.

Natural gas well blowout raises safety concerns of fracking

Monday, April 25, 2011

From a Reuters article by Edward McAllister:

(Reuters) - A blowout at a Pennsylvania natural gas well late Tuesday could heighten concerns about the safety of a controversial process to extract gas from shale rock.

The accident comes at a sensitive time for energy drillers, exactly one year after an explosion that led to the massive BP Gulf of Mexico oil spill, and just as regulators mull whether to allow the technique in New York state.

The well in Bradford County, operated by Chesapeake Energy, spewed thousands of gallons of drilling fluid used in hydraulic fracturing, county emergency management officials said.

The process, also called fracking, releases natural gas from shale rock by blasting it with water, sand and chemicals.

Local residents were evacuated from Leroy Township, about 25 miles from the New York border, though Chesapeake said no one was hurt.

"An equipment failure occurred during well-completion activities, allowing the release of completion fluids," Chesapeake said in a statement.

The fluid initially spilled into a nearby waterway but tests found no adverse affects on aquatic life as yet, said a spokeswoman for the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.

Environmentalists and residents have complained that fracking can pollute water supplies. That has raised calls for increased regulation on the use of the process to produce natural gas, which is a cornerstone fuel of the Obama Administration's energy policy.

Advances in drilling technology such as fracking have revolutionized U.S. energy markets, opening up the potential of vast reserves of natural gas in shale deposits. Surging production from these areas have pushed natural gas prices down, making it relatively cheap compared to oil.

Gas drilling in Pennsylvania, and in particular in the Marcellus Shale, has drawn the attention of major energy companies due to estimates that the region holds enough gas to meet total U.S. needs for a decade or more.

The blowout, which happens when a driller loses control of a well, could stoke the fierce debate about whether fracking should be allowed to continue unabated in the United States.

The timing is particularly problematic for the industry. On April 20, 2010, a blowout of a BP Plc well in the Gulf of Mexico led to an explosion that killed 11 workers and released nearly 5 million barrels of oil that fouled the shorelines of four Gulf Coast states.

Walker road plan driving him crazy

Friday, April 22, 2011

From a commentary by Steve Hiniker, executive director of 1000 Friends of Wisconsin, in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

Gov. Scott Walker's proposed budget has more than enough pain to go around. Schools get hit with more than $800 million in cuts over the next two years. Recycling programs are not funded. Health care for seniors and the poor are slashed. Local road aids are cut. Some transit systems may not survive the proposed reductions. State revenue sharing is going down, putting more pressure at the local level to cover the costs of cuts to state aids - and without raising property taxes.

It's called austerity.

Unless you happen to be a road builder.

Then this budget is called a bonanza.

While other programs are cut, highway expansion projects totaling more than $400 million get the green light. Highway expansion raids the general fund of more than $140 million, crushing any arguments that "highway users pay for the costs of roads." In fact, the general fund and property taxes will pay about half of roadway costs in the future. So-called user fees are soon to be eclipsed by decidedly nonuser fees.

When you look at the increase in highway spending, it is also important to pay attention to where the money goes. Local road aids are cut, meaning that even though there is more money going for major highway expansion, there is less money for local units of government to fix those bone-jarring potholes that crop up every spring. Maintenance dollars for highways are down as well.

Walker has said that the highway expansion is needed for our economic recovery. The governor is putting a lot of faith - and capital - in having superhighways be the cornerstone of the state's economic recovery. After all, he could have put the money in building better communities with better schools as a basis of economic development.

All of this seems bizarre when you consider that we are driving less than ever. We are in the fifth year of a steady decline in miles driven by each Wisconsin resident. The numbers of miles driven will likely decline even more as the cost of gas continues to climb above $4 a gallon. In fact, it is because we are driving less that the governor is proposing to raid the general fund for highways.

As people drive fewer miles with more fuel-efficient vehicles, they use less gas and the amount collected in gas taxes decreases. So in order to expand highways, non-transportation fund dollars need to be raised. This is why Walker is pushing transit aids out of the transportation fund and is raiding everything from general fund dollars to the environmental fund to pay for bigger roads.

But if people are driving less, why expand highways?

How coal stacks up against wind

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Madison Peak Oil Group listserve subscribers are debating coal vs. wind. To join the debate, drop an email to

Masood Akhtar's work demands a lot of energy

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

From a Q&A article by Judy Newman in the Wisconsin State Journal:

If you ask for a business card from Masood Akhtar, be prepared to get a handful.

Akhtar wears many hats. He is currently:

• Chief executive officer and founder of BioPulping International, Madison.

• Co-founder and managing director of operations for Central Signal, Madison.

• President and founder of CleanTech Partners, Middleton.

• President and co-founder of the Bioenergy Deployment Consortium, Middleton.

• Chairman of the U.S. Forest Research Advisory Council.

Akhtar also is working on a joint energy project between the U.S. and India and a student exchange program between UW-Madison and several universities in India.

A native of India, Akhtar has lived in the U.S. for about 25 years, mostly in Madison, and is a U.S. citizen, "which I'm proud of," he says. . . .

Q: Most of your endeavors are related to energy. Do they share a common goal?

A: Energy efficiency and renewable energy. We talk about efforts to make our country less dependent on foreign oil - promoting efficiency is the cheapest, easiest, cleanest way to accomplish that.

When I came to the U.S., I was involved in research related to increasing crop yield. But I thought about energy and realized it would become a big issue. I wanted to find out where I could help.

All of my efforts are energy-related except for Central Signal, which develops technologies for railroad signals and constructs them.

'You do what you have to do' to when it comes to gas prices

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

From an article by Catherine Izerda on Janesville's

Local residents and travelers say the price of gas is changing their habits, but they also say there is not much they can do. Work, school and family obligations won’t lessen because gas prices go up.

Fuel prices started their steady climb in August 2010, when the state average was $2.72 a gallon. By Jan. 1, 2011, the price was $3.12. From there, prices took off, rocketing rapidly upward.

On Sunday, Rosemauri Katz stopped at the Lions Quick Mart on Milton Avenue to fill up. Katz was traveling from her home in Duluth, Minn., to visit family in Indianapolis.

“It does have an impact on your day-to-day life, but you do what you have to do,” Katz said.

It usually costs her about $65 in gas to make the trip to Indianapolis. She expects this trip to cost about $150.

“I know politicians are dealing with a lot of economic issues,” Katz said. “But this affects the economy, too.”

Katz said she and her husband hope to sell their home in Duluth and move to be closer to her family, eliminating the expense and time involved in such trips.

Angela Werle said her family members are changing their driving habits.

“My husband works in Milwaukee,” she said as she filled up. “He’s been driving our kids’ car. It’s an old Toyota and gets better gas mileage than his truck.”

He is also tuning up his motorcycle—an even more fuel-efficient vehicle—so he can ride that to work when it’s warmer.

Werle wishes she could ride her bike to work. She lives near Craig High School and works in Milton.

“Highway 26 is just too busy; it’s too dangerous,” Werle said as she finished putting $51.50 worth of gas into her car.

While rising gas prices are causing middle class pain, some low-income people have been immobilized by them.

Susana Hernandez is a math teacher and coordinator for Project AHEAD at UW-Rock County.

Hernandez works with students from high-risk populations. Some have criminal histories, have limited educations or only GEDs and face other struggles.

“It’s funny you should ask about gas prices,” Hernandez said. “I’ve given out $354 worth of bus tickets to students.”

The tickets are for the Beloit-Janesville Express.

Last year, her bus tickets “stash” carried her through the whole year and then some.

The solution isn’t to INCREASE subsidies for rush-hour drivers and freight trucking!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Fellow Rail & Transit Advocates:

The following is a transcript of my comments before the Wisconsin Joint Finance Committee budget hearing in West Allis on 11 April 2011. Feel free to share, plagiarize, etc.!

Hans Noeldner
Oregon, Wisconsin

We don’t have worsening congestion on Wisconsin’s roads because of people who van-pool and ride transit to work.

And our interstate highways are not crumbling because of freight that is being moved on railroads.

No, our highway funding system is broke because rush-hour motorists aren’t paying the real costs for all the capacity they demand. And freight truckers don’t begin to pay for all the damages they cause.

Meanwhile, Wisconsin’s counties and municipalities are digging deeper and deeper into property owners’ pockets because motorists aren’t paying the real costs of local roads and streets…and all the plowing, patching, policing, and EMS services motorists demand.

We have very serious budget problems in this state. The solution isn’t to INCREASE subsidies for rush-hour drivers and freight trucking!

No, we need to do everything possible to REDUCE the costs of moving freight and people. Wisconsin should work closely with rail companies to shift interstate freight from highways to rail. And we need to EXPAND transit, not cripple it.

But budgets aren’t just about money – they are about people.

If you are a person who is accustomed to driving whenever, wherever, and as much as you want, you have no idea what life is like for people who cannot drive…people who SHOULD not drive…families which can’t afford a car…people who would rather not depend on a car for everything.

These people deserve your representation no less than people who are like you.

I will close by challenging you to experience life on the other side of the windshield.

Walk to your grocery store a few times a month.

Pedal your bicycle to your place of worship.

Ride the bus when you go out for drinks on Friday night.

There is no better way for you to learn what you need to know – as servants of the people – than to walk in the other guy’s shoes.

Movie showings: "King Corn" and "Big River"

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Green Tuesdays Films & Lectures series presents:
"King Corn" and "Big River"
Oregon Public Library
256 Brook St.
6:30 pm.

In "King Corn," Cheney and Ellis, best friends from college on the east coast, moved to the heartland to learn where food came from. With the help of friendly neighbors, genetically modified seeds, nitrogen fertilizers, and powerful herbicides, they planted and grew a bumper crop of America's most productive, most subsidized grain on one acre of Iowa soil. But when they tried to follow their harvest into the food system, what they found raised troubling questions about what we subsidize, and how we eat.

In "Big River," the filmmakers return to Iowa with a new mission: to investigate the environmental impact their acre of corn has had on the people and places downstream. In a journey that spans from the heartland to the Gulf of Mexico, the two friends trade their combine for a canoe and set out to see the big world their little acre of corn has touched. Half of Iowa's topsoil, they learn, has been washed out to sea. Fertilizer runoff has spawned a hypoxic "dead zone" in the Gulf. And back at their acre, the herbicides they used are blamed for a cancer cluster that reaches all too close to home.

Can't make it to Oregon? Catch these films in Mt. Horeb on April 28, and Cross Plains on May 3. Calendar here.

Green Tuesdays: Creating awareness, sparking conversation, empowering

Green Tuesdays Films & Lectures is a free series of films, resentations,and conversations that helps us become more aware of the resources we rely on and the actions we can take to better our world. In Oregon, sessions are on the third Tuesday of the month, September through May. All are welcome.

You can also enjoy Green Tuesdays (and Thursdays!) with our partners in Monona, Mt. Horeb, Cross Plains, Madison, and Middleton. To see the calendar for all Green Tuesday and Thursday dates, go here.

Green Tuesdays is sponsored by The Natural Step Monona in collaboration with Oregon Working to Live Sustainably (OWLS), Mount Horeb Area Sustainability Network, RGPL Green Tuesdays (Cross Plains), the City of Middleton Sustainability Committee, Edgewood College, and the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies, and is supported by the Dane County Environmental Council.

Rising Diesel Prices Fuel Higher Electric Rates

Friday, April 15, 2011

For immediate release
April 15, 2011

More information
RENEW Wisconsin
Michael Vickerman

We Energies Customers Will Pay the Higher Cost of Hauling Coal

We Energies’ electricity customers can look forward to coughing up an additional $25 million in 2011 due to the Public Service Commission’s approval yesterday [April14] of a rate increase to cover the escalating cost of transporting coal to Wisconsin power plants.

Milwaukee-based We Energies, Wisconsin’s largest electric utility, imports coal from such distant locations as Wyoming and Pennsylvania to generate electricity. Transportation now accounts for two-thirds of the delivered cost of coal to Wisconsin.

Diesel fuel costs have jumped to approximately $4.00 a gallon this year, propelled by political unrest in the Middle East, declining petroleum output from Mexico, a weakening dollar, and other factors. We Energies’ request predated the ongoing civil war in Libya.

“While we cannot control any of those price drivers, we can more effectively cushion their effects by diversifying our energy generation mix with locally produced wind, solar, small hydro, and biogas electricity,” said Michael Vickerman, executive director of RENEW Wisconsin, a statewide organization advocating for public policies and private initiatives that advance renewable energy.

“The coal mines aren’t getting any closer to Wisconsin. Therefore we have to be serious about reducing our dependence on fossil fuels that are tied to the global oil supply picture. Now is not the time to skimp on investments in conservation and renewable energy that will help stabilize the utility bills of businesses and residents,” Vickerman said.

“Do we have the will to pursue energy policies that take us off of the fossil fuel price escalator? Doing nothing will bake these rate increases into our future without any corresponding boost to Wisconsin’s job market and sustainable energy economy.”

Madison Peak Oil Group testifies on Governor's budget

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Testimony on the Proposed 2012 Wisconsin State Budget
To the Hearing of Joint Legislative Finance Committee

Transportation Issues Positions
From the Madison Peak Oil Group

Overall Perspective
The Madison Peak Oil Group (MPOG) was founded 2006 under the leadership of RENEW Wisconsin, an organization promoting renewable energy, to broaden the community discussion of our challenging energy future. MPOG members closely follow of the research of the Association for the Study of Peak Oil and Gas-USA (ASPO), which maintains an authoritative dialogue on the emerging energy situation.

It is clear that world oil supply and demand are precariously balanced at present; that even a minor supply disruption has driven prices well over $100 a barrel, five times the level of a decade ago. A large body of data and research leads us to believe that there are deep problems with petroleum supply, particularly the slow-down of new discoveries and accelerated depletion of existing fields, coupled with ever-growing demand from Asia. These factors are worsening with time, and may converge within the next five to ten years to produce a long term price/supply crisis. Authoritative sources such as the International Energy Agency predict this possibility, and the financial market speculators appear to share this opinion and are driving oil futures prices ever upwards. (We have attached our case statement expanding on the factual basis for this judgment.)

In response, there is a vital need to progressively restructure our car- and truck-dominated economy by strengthening alternatives that are less dependent on low cost petroleum. We can not allow the current majority preferences for car travel and never-ending demands for highway improvements—as compelling as these are--to blind us to impending dangers and prevent us from taking action. Responsible officials must bear in mind that we risk painful dislocations when gas and liquid fuel shortages eventually become severe—as they did during the oil shocks of the 1970s and 2008—if we do not concurrently build up our alternative transit, freight and passenger rail, and personal transportation systems.

High-speed rail money vanishes in budget deal

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

From an article by John Gramlisch on

Congress on Tuesday (April 12) revealed the details of the federal budget deal reached by Democrats and Republicans late last week, and a clear loser is high-speed rail.

Funding for the program, a priority for President Obama, was slashed dramatically in the agreement announced by the administration and GOP House Speaker John Boehner. Not only does the deal eliminate all financing for high-speed rail this year, it takes back $400 million of the $2.5 billion that Congress authorized for it last year, The New York Times reports.

"The cuts will not bring the rail program to a halt, as there is still unspent rail money that can be used on new projects. But they leave the future of high-speed rail in the United States unclear, to say the least," The Times says. "Roughly $10 billion has been approved for high-speed rail so far, but that money has been spread to dozens of projects around the country. If Congress does not approve more money, it is possible that the net result of all that spending will be better regular train service in many areas, and a small down payment on one bullet train, in California."

High-speed rail has been a favorite target for congressional and state-level Republicans who see it as a waste of money.

New technology helps Dane County power trucks with trash

Monday, April 11, 2011

From a news release issued by County Executive Kathleen Falk:

While prices at the pump continue to climb, Dane County is using new technology to fill-up some of its vehicles for around 20-cents a gallon.

County Executive Kathleen Falk announced today the county is the first place in the state that’s running vehicles on landfill gas.

The county, in partnership with several private companies that specialize in turning trash into bio-gas, have installed technology at the Dane County landfill that turns landfill gas into compressed natural gas (CNG). Over the next several weeks, a number of Dane County parks and public works trucks will be converting over to using this cleaner burning, less expensive bio-fuel.

At Thursday’s event, Falk demonstrated how the new filling station works.

“Filling up has never been this cheap in my lifetime,” Falk said as she noted gas hasn’t been as low as 20 cents a gallon since the 1930s. “Through innovation, we’re saving tax dollars, cleaning up our air and turning an environmental problem into a green energy opportunity,” Falk said.

Falk added the pursuit of these alternative fuels is especially important given continued volatility of prices at the pumps (gas is currently $3.75 at many area filling stations).

A few years ago, the county started converting methane gas given off by decomposing landfill trash into electricity that now earns taxpayers over $4.3-million a year. Turning a percentage of landfill methane into compressed natural gas for county cars and trucks won’t affect the amount of electricity generated.

While the methane gas given off by the landfill is essentially free, it does cost around the equivalent of 20-cents a gallon of gasoline to convert that methane into fuel that can be used by vehicles. This new compressed natural gas gets the same fuel efficiency (miles per gallon) as the regular unleaded gas that people buy at gas stations.

This new landfill gas station makes about 100 gallons of CNG each day and was developed through a partnership between Dane County, Cornerstone Environmental Group LLC, Unison Solutions Inc., Madison College, Alliant Energy, and ANGI Energy Systems, a Milton-based manufacturer and global supplier of natural gas compression equipment.

Walker should reconsider his stance on setbacks for wind farms

Friday, April 08, 2011

From an editorial in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

Wind farms in Wisconsin can lessen the state's reliance on coal-fired power plants at the same time that they add jobs to the economy. But instead of moving forward on this economic development tool, Gov. Scott Walker's administration is taking a step back. That's a mistake and something Walker should rethink.

What the governor and the Legislature have done is change the rules under which wind farms are sited, seeking to put greater distance between homes and wind farms. As a result, at least two firms have announced they are canceling or suspending plans to build wind farms in Wisconsin - and that means a loss of potential jobs.

Here's what happened: Two years ago, the Legislature called on the state Public Service Commission to establish a uniform standard for wind projects across the state. The idea was that a statewide standard was better than the patchwork of local rules and moratoriums that were in place. It was a good idea, and the PSC came up with a rule.

One of its elements was a 1,250-foot setback from a neighbor's property line; it also would have provided decibel and shadow flicker requirements for wind farm turbines.

The setback wasn't enough for Walker and wind farm opponents; in January, the governor introduced a bill with a 1,800-foot setback, although he said this week that his administration remains open to wind energy. Last week, a legislative committee sent the PSC's new rule back to the PSC for more work. The concern is that wind farms will hurt property values of neighboring residents.

That's resulted in enough uncertainty over the future of wind farms in Wisconsin that Invenergy of Chicago canceled plans to develop a wind farm near Green Bay and Midwest Wind Energy suspended development of two wind farms.

A statewide standard still needs to be set by the PSC. And the legitimate concerns of neighbors of wind farms need to be taken into account without giving too much credence to fears that are unfounded and overstated. But the standard should not be so restrictive that wind farms become impractical in Wisconsin. That takes Wisconsin out of the clean energy economy - a bad bet.

Shortsighted energy plans just won't cut it; renewables needed

Thursday, April 07, 2011

From an editorial in the Sheboygan Press:

President Barack Obama has twice in the last year called for the nation to reduce its dependence of foreign oil by embarking on a multi-faceted plan on energy.

Obama's first call for energy independence was followed less than a month later by the Deep Water Horizon oil rig disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.

We hope that the president's latest energy initiative is followed not by a disaster, but by a commitment from Congress to develop a national energy policy. A commitment from the American people to be receptive of alternative energy sources would be nice, too. . . .

Until recently, we thought Wisconsin was poised to become a leader in helping the nation reach that goal.

Wind power was one area where Wisconsin was setting the pace.

The state had sensible rules on where wind turbines could be located in relation to residential properties and the state was on its way toward making progress on using this renewable energy resource. But those rules are on hold and are likely to be changed to the point where it will be impractical for companies interested in locating wind farms to do business in Wisconsin.

This is not only shortsighted in development of renewable energy sources, it is also a job-killer because the companies that now make wind turbines in Wisconsin are already talking about relocating to states where wind power is welcomed.

The easy thing to do is to keep relying on oil and coal to power our cars and heat our homes. The wise thing is to develop a long-range plan that relies on renewable energy.

Parisi makes commitment to clean energy projects as county exec

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

From an article by in The Capital Times

Most people assumed Rep. Joe Parisi would win the race to be the next Dane County executive.

The real question was by how much.

Parisi ended up defeating Dane County supervisor Eileen Bruskewitz by some 70,000 votes, earning 120,255 (70 percent) compared to her 51,143 votes.

Parisi now faces the daunting task of maintaining county services and pro-environment policies at a time when the Republican-led Legislature and governor's office are pushing to privatize programs in an attempt to scale back a $3.6 billion structural deficit for the fiscal year that begins July 1. . . .

His campaign promise to promote economic and environmental sustainability will include a commitment to extend several environmentally friendly projects started by outgoing Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk.

This includes a project that captures methane gas from landfills and turns it into electricity. The electricity is then sold back to power companies, generating $3 million a year for the county. Parisi also cites Falk's support of the solar hot water heater at the county jail. The heater will save the county roughly $640,000 in expenses over its lifetime.

"That is real money and real savings," Parisi said. "But those are the types of evidence-based programs and innovative projects we need to continue to find. The work ahead of us is tough. It is going to be challenging."

Open letter from former supporter rips anti-wind group

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

A Fox Valley person provided a copy of the following letter to RENEW Wisconsin:

People of Glenmore Township:

Dear Fellow Townspeople,

Two months ago, I was a supporter of the BCCRWE [Brown County Citizens for Responsible Wind Energy]. I was actively opposing the wind turbines coming into any of the townships in our area, including Glenmore.

But then something happened.

As the March 7th meeting drew closer, I heard disturbing things from members of the BCCRWE. Things that scared me. Even before the meeting took place, there were threats being made towards our town board members if the vote did not go in the favor of the BCCRWE. There were “agendas” being planned, and conspiracies being formed, not only against the project, but against individual people.

On March 7th, I sat quietly through the meeting listening to barbaric accusations, foul language, curses and threats hurled at our town board. Members of the BCCRWE shouted inappropriate and belittling comments and became unruly and disruptive to the point that law enforcement needed to be called. Later, I read accounts of that same meeting, written by the BCCRWE, that were horribly distorted and inaccurate. Actually, they were straight out lies!

On March 16th, I sat through another meeting and watched the same unruly group, once again, disrespect our town leaders. As the members of the BCCRWE were chanting “Shame on you” to the town board, I was the one that was ashamed to have ever been a part of that group.

On April 5th, you have an opportunity to elect new town board members. Many of the candidates are the same people who threatened and disrespected our current board members for following the law. One candidate admitted, her only goal was to terminate wind turbines in the town and then she wants out. Is that the chairperson you want running the entire township? Even for one term?

The recent events of oil spills in the gulf and nuclear plant failures in Japan should make all of us take a second look at wind energy. I realized after the two meetings in March, that the only reason I didn’t want turbines, was because I couldn’t have on of my own. So, I’m a NIMBY.

It’s important, that we have “responsible” leaders in our township. The mob I witnessed at the last two meetings, did not fit that definition. It would be a disaster to have those people who demonstrated irrational, biased and disorderly behavior, become our new leaders. I was embarrassed to have ever been a part of that group.

Since I have seen how threatening and dangerous this group can be, I prefer to sign only as,

A Concerned Townsperson

Madison Metro general manager expresses concern over state budget changes

Monday, April 04, 2011

Dane County's manure digester ready to provide electricity

Friday, April 01, 2011

From an article by Ron Seely in the Wisconsin State Journal:

WAUNAKEE - Sure, the cows on the farm run by Chuck Ripp and his brothers near here generate a lot of manure — about 7 million gallons a year.

But now they also generate electricity.

Call it cow power.

Thursday, Dane County officials were joined by farmers and utility officials and others to flip a ceremonial switch and power up the state's first cooperative manure digester. Spearheaded by Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk, the $12 million project has been more than six years in the making.

When it is in full operation, the digester plant with its three huge tanks will process manure from three adjacent farms and a total of 2,500 cows. It will remove about 60 percent of weed-growing phosphorus from the manure. The digester will produce methane and that methane will be used to power generators that will churn out $2 million a year in electricity, enough to allow Alliant Energy to power 2,500 homes.

And, according to Dick Pieper, with Clear Horizons, the company that will run the plant, the entire operation can be run with an iPod.

"The efficiency of this plant is exceptional," said Pieper. "It's world class."

Falk said the plant represents an important milestone in green energy production and in manure management in Wisconsin. Many digesters don't remove phosphorus, which clogs lakes with weeds and toxic blue-green algae during warm months. But the Dane County plant was designed specifically to remove the nutrient.