Interested in showcasing your new renewable energy installation at your home or business? Sign-up for the Wisconsin Solar Tour, October 3 & 4, 2008. Open your doors, and help others learn about renewable energy, green building and sustainable practices. Fill out the online application.
Thursday, July 31, 2008
From the Midwest Renewable Energy Association:
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
An editorial from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
Former Vice President Al Gore’s recent call for the nation to produce all electricity from wind, solar and other renewable sources within 10 years appears unattainable, energy wonks have been quick to note.
And we appear to be part of that naysaying pack.
In the editorial above, we commend Gov. Jim Doyle’s Task Force on Global Warming for setting goals of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 22% by 2022 and a 75% reduction by 2050. That’s not zero in 10 years.
We commend those Wisconsin goals because they are “realistic,” as in doable, but that doesn’t mean that we oppose speeding things up.
We put those quotation marks around the word because we also realize that citing “realism” often has been just another way of slowing progress.
So, here’s the real utility in Gore’s call for speedier progress: It recognizes that deeper commitment can produce speedier results.
Too costly to move quicker? Those costs have to be weighed against those already levied by our reliance on fossil fuels. And the time allowed to break this addiction to oil has to be weighed against how every minute, every hour, every day of carbon emissions brings the world closer to that tipping point that spells global catastrophe.
Monday, July 28, 2008
From the preliminary agenda for the Solar Decade Conference posted on the conference Web site:
9:15 Opening Keynote Addresses: Solar Electric and Solar Thermal Experts
10:30 Breakout Sessions
Residential Solar Case Studies, Moderator TBD
The Future of the Solar Electric Market, Speaker TBD
Introduction to Solar Thermal Systems, Speaker TBD
Starting a Solar Business Panel, Moderator Michael Allen, Energy Law Wisconsin
12:15 Lunch with presentations by
University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee's Solar Decathlon Team
Solar Market Expert
1:30 Breakout Sessions
Solar Green Building Case Studies, Moderator Sue Loomans, WGBA
Introduction to Solar Electric Systems, Speaker Clay Sterling, MREA
Solar Thermal - Technical Details, Bob Ramlow, Speaker Artha Sustainable Living Center
Growing Wisconsin's Solar Businesses Panel, Moderator Niels Wolter, Focus on Energy
3:15 Breakout Sessions
Solar Communities, Moderator Tehri Parker, MREA
The Economics of Solar Power, Speaker Niels Wolter Focus on Energy
Market Status of Solar Thermal, Speaker TBD
Marketing: Changing the Solar Dialog, Moderator/Speaker Kelly Lang, Focus on Energy
4:45 End of Conference
Friday, July 25, 2008
From an article by David Doege in The Business Journal of Milwaukee:
Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker plans to seek $50 million in federal funds for two bus rapid transit lines that could help break the long-running stalemate over upgrades to the Milwaukee area’s transit system.
The funds would be in addition to the $91.5 million in federal funds allocated to the Milwaukee area in the early 1990s that has gone unspent because Walker and Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett cannot agree on a revised mass transit plan. Business and community leaders have been pushing hard in recent months for an upgraded transit system to help the area’s economic development efforts and business climate.
Walker said this week that he will meet in the next few days with officials from the Federal Transit Administration to begin the application process for funding he believes would support one north-south line beginning at Bay Shore Town Center in Glendale and an east-west line beginning on the Milwaukee County Grounds in Wauwatosa.
A bus rapid transit line would use new buses that would operate in a dedicated lane at higher speeds with fewer stops than traditional urban bus systems.
“This would probably be something that we could put in the 2010 budget,” he said.
The funding Walker intends to seek is available under an federal program called Very Small Starts. According to an agency fact sheet, the program targets “simple, low-risk (transit) projects” and features a “highly simplified project evaluation rating process.”
To win approval, projects must be on corridors with more than 3,000 riders daily, offer service at least 14 hours per day, utilize vehicles with signal priority and feature on-peak service every 10 minutes and off-peak service every 15 minutes, among other criteria.
Local governments must provide at least 20 percent of the total cost for approved projects. Walker said that some of that would have to be built into the budget, but that part of it could come through “in kind” design services provided by county personnel who would participate in designing and establishing the system.
“We would have time to work with the County Board to set this up,” Walker said. “There would have to be an appropriation in the budget, but it would not involve a tax increase.”
Thursday, July 24, 2008
A meeting of the Advisory Committee of the Midwestern Greenhouse Gas Reduction Accord will meet in Milwaukee, July 29, 2008, 12:30- 4:30PM.
According to the meeting Web site, during the breakout sessions:
According to the meeting Web site, during the breakout sessions:
. . . a subgroup member will give a short presentation regarding the composition and work of the subgroup. There will also be time allotted where the presenter will solicit questions and comments from the audience.The Web site also explains the accord:
Last November, nine Midwestern states and a Canadian premier signed the Midwestern Greenhouse Gas Accord at a summit of governors in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Realizing the unique and major impact that the Midwestern states play in the emissions of carbon, these governors wanted to institute Midwestern practicality in the debate on global warming. While the Midwest has intensive manufacturing and agriculture sectors, making it the most coal-dependent region in North America, it also has world-class renewable energy resources and opportunities to allow it to take a lead role in solving the effects of climate change. The geographical location and ideological-centered beliefs of the Midwestern region provide its leaders with an ability to push the federal policy debate in a productive direction. Through the Accord, these governors agreed to establish a Midwestern greenhouse gas reduction program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in their states, as well as a working group to provide recommendations regarding the implementation of the Accord.
Monday, July 21, 2008
From a media release issued by Johnson Controls:
MILWAUKEE, July 21 /PRNewswire/ -- The American Society for Healthcare Engineering (ASHE) and Johnson Controls, a global leader in creating smart and sustainable environments, announced new research on energy efficiency in healthcare. The results give the healthcare industry reason to celebrate. Not only do healthcare executives place a higher priority on energy efficiency than executives in
other industries, they are more likely to expect to make improvements over the coming year. . . .
Healthcare executives place greater importance on energy efficiency than others. Only 57 percent of respondents to the multi-industry study called energy efficiency "extremely important" or "very important," compared with 65 percent of healthcare respondents. Healthcare organizations are consequently more likely than companies in other industries to invest in energy efficiency. Two thirds (67 percent) of healthcare organizations reported plans to spend capital on energy efficiency this year, compared to 56 percent in the multi-industry survey. Moreover, healthcare organizations will tolerate a longer payback period (4.2 years) on energy efficiency projects than other industries (3.6 years).
Skyrocketing Energy Prices Motivate Investment in Energy Efficiency
Survey respondents project energy price increases of 11 percent this year. On average, healthcare organizations will spend eight percent of their capital budgets and six percent of their operating budgets to conserve energy over the coming year. Their drive toward energy efficiency is motivated primarily by cost, with 59 percent of respondents saying that the need to control costs is a greater motivator than environmental responsibility.
"We live in an age of rising energy prices and growing environmental consciousness," said Clay Nesler, vice president of global energy and sustainability, Johnson Controls. "All industries are investing more aggressively to control energy costs and improve their sustainability. We believe this is a long term trend. . . ."
Interest in Renewable Energy Grows
Healthcare has not adopted renewable energy technology to the same degree as other industries. More than two thirds (68 percent) of respondents to the multi-industry study have invested in renewable technologies or have actively considered investing. Only 38 percent of healthcare organizations reported similar interest in renewable energy. Included in this number, 25 percent of healthcare organizations have looked actively at solar energy, and significant numbers have shown interest in other technologies such as biomass, geothermal and wind.
"Finding sites for energy generating equipment like solar panels and wind turbines can be a challenge for compact urban hospitals, but it is a challenge that can be overcome," notes Don Albinger, vice present of renewable energy, Johnson Controls. "Our job is to educate healthcare leaders about new, creative and cost effective techniques for incorporating renewable energy in space constrained settings."
Thursday, July 17, 2008
From an article by Tom Content in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
Alliant Energy Corp. has proposed to build an inefficient, more polluting kind of coal-fired power plant at a time when concerns are rising about emissions from such plants, a key opponent of the project said Wednesday.
Alliant has proposed a $1.1 billion to $1.3 billion coal plant in Cassville in southwestern Wisconsin to help it meet rising demand for power. The utility is seeking state approval for the project, which is the third new, coal-fired power plant proposed in the state this decade.
But Clean Wisconsin staff scientist Peter Taglia called on Alliant to follow the lead of other utilities, such as Minneapolis-based Xcel Energy Corp., that have committed not to build new coal plants because of their emissions of greenhouse gases and rising construction costs.
“Anyone right now would think GM (General Motors) would be crazy to build a new Suburban plant,” he said.
“Five years ago, GM was saying fuel prices are going to remain low and everything’s going to be fine. The difference here is that this is a 50-year plant,” he said. “We are entering an era of high fuel prices and climate issues that are unprecedented, and this is the exact worst time to be building something that’s fraught with so many environmental and economic uncertainties.”
Alliant has said it delayed proposing a coal plant in recent years as it worked aggressively to expand in areas such as energy efficiency, renewable power and natural gas-fired power plants.
The utility announced last month that it would step up its investment in renewable energy and energy efficiency, increasing the funding for its efficiency program by 50%.
Alliant says it chose a less-efficient type of technology because that system is more conducive to burning switchgrass, corn stalks and other biomass. The plant will burn 20% biomass and 80% coal.
The utility also said last month that the cost of the project had risen to $1.1 billion to $1.3 billion from earlier projections of $850 million to $950 million.
“When you look at our resource plan as a whole, it’s a plan built around balance,” said Alliant spokesman Rob Crain. “And this plant certainly fits into that balanced plan.”
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
Monday, July 14, 2008
From an article by Tom Content in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
Glendale - Tapping the sun's rays for electricity has remained a small niche in the alternative energy arena.
But with industry forecasts showing the market tripling or more over the next decade, Wisconsin's largest company wants to help shift perceptions so that energy from the sun is cast in a new, and more mainstream, light.
Johnson Controls Inc. is rolling out new solar kits designed to make it easy for a school district or other customer to add some solar to their energy mix.
"This is our attempt just to take the mystery out of it" for customers, said Don Albinger, director of renewable energy programs for Johnson Controls. "It's meant to give them their first taste" of solar and their first chance to see their utility electric meter spinning in reverse, he said.
The kits will target colleges, school districts and local governments that are looking to showcase their renewable energy efforts.
The company is also looking to highlight renewable power at its revamped headquarters campus in Glendale and possibly at its downtown Milwaukee office.
The headquarters expansion is part of a broader drive by Johnson Controls to tap demand for energy-saving technologies in buildings and vehicles. The company is forecasting it will add 60,000 jobs worldwide over the next five years - and expand its local work force by 16%, or 450 jobs.
Friday, July 11, 2008
From a demonstration project grant announcement by Focus on Energy:
This Demonstration Grant provides financial support for the installation of commercially available transpired solar wall collector systems, which are most commonly used in facilities needing large volumes of make-up air. Focus on Energy seeks applicants with an ideal site to install, assess and promote the use of this little-utilized solar technology. This special Demonstration Grant will give priority to highly visible installations at building sites of organizations with an educational mission. Public facilities with high levels of foot traffic and a means of raising awareness about the technology are encouraged to apply. Examples of highly visible locations include municipal buildings, nature centers, schools, colleges, and museums. Grant applicants are expected to prepare a visual presentation about the system and utilize displays, brochures or on-site kiosks to provide educational information about this solar technology. The project lead or the installation contractor should be prepared to present this material at a Focus-on-Energy-sponsored renewable energy event. Focus on Energy will need access to monitor the system’s energy performance, or we can assist the grant recipient in monitoring, if preferable.
A project’s funding level is based on the size and expected energy savings of the transpired solar wall collector. The maximum reward level is $45,000 and the grant will cover a maximum of 35% of the system’s installed cost for nonprofit or publicly owned facilities and a maximum of 25% for other private facilities. Demonstration Grants of up to 65% or $5,000 will also be granted for the preparation or purchase of visual materials. It is expected that up to three grants will be awarded for this special request for transpired solar wall demonstration. This grant will be funded on a competitive basis with preference given to nonprofit or publicly owned facilities. Funding may be less than the level requested by the applicant.
Focus on Energy’s policy limits awards to no more than $500,000 for any individual or business during each fiscal year. This includes projects contracted between July 1, 2007 and December 31, 2008. There is no restriction on the number of contracts an individual or business can receive within the $500,000 fiscal-year limit.
Thursday, July 10, 2008
From the Vote Solar Initiative:
We are looking for a few volunteers to help out with a fun project.
Vote Solar will be the "headlining" non-profit on Maroon 5's summer U.S. tour (you can check out their music at www.maroon5.com). There will be Vote Solar banners up around the auditoriums, and the band is going to make a pitch for folks in the audience to check out the Vote Solar booth in the lobby. The purpose of the booth is to get their fans excited about solar energy, and get them signed-up as Vote Solarian activists.
That's where you come in!Wisconsin Show:
August 23, 2008 - Saturday
We need a few lively, outgoing folks to staff this concert for Vote Solar.
Basically the deal is this: in exchange for free entrance for you and one friend, you need to 1) participate in a conference call prior to the show so we can verse you on a simple pitch; 2) show up at the concert 45 mins. early (we will have a contact person for you to call once you get to the show); 3) talk to fans that come by the booth about the great work Vote Solar is doing across the states and encourage them to sign up as Vote Solar online activists (we will provide you all the materials you will need for this pitch).
When things are slow at the booth, you are welcome to check out the show.
If you are interested in this chance to check out Maroon 5 and promote solar advocacy please let Annie Carmichael know. She can be reached at annie@votesolar.
The Vote Solar Team
The Vote Solar Initiative
300 Brannan Street, Suite 609
San Francisco, CA 94107
Wednesday, July 9, 2008
From a request for proposals issued for Habitat for Humanity homes:
Habitat for Humanity, Focus on Energy, the Midwest Renewable Energy Association and We Energies are accepting proposals for a market provider to perform the following work:
Installation of up to three (3) systems on new Habitat for Humanity homes in Milwaukee. There will be six (6) total installations completed; two of the installations will be installed flush with the roof line on North/South running roofs. One will be installed flush with the roof line on East/West running roofs and three will be installed on tilted frames on East/West running roofs (these are suggestions – there is room for recommendations). We are also requesting that two of the systems be installed as drain-back systems – where if you apply to install three (3) systems you must include one drain-back system installation (please see the chart for additional details). Homes will be built “solar ready” with appropriately sized joists and interior plumbing runs. . . .
Proposals should be sent to:
Attn: Jessica Thibodo-Johnson
231 W Michigan St – P318
Milwaukee, WI 53202
Or electronically to: Jessica.firstname.lastname@example.org
Tuesday, July 8, 2008
From Focus on Energy's Information Center:
Focus on Energy's Information Center is your ultimate resource for energy efficiency and renewable energy tips and information. Enjoy free access to a library of product and equipment data, fact sheets, case studies, technology updates, industry best practices and more.
Let Focus on Energy give you the information you need to make more informed energy efficiency and renewable energy decisions.
Monday, July 7, 2008
From an article by Tom Content in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
Consumers should expect energy price sticker shock to continue well past the summer driving season, as pain at the pump is poised to give way to furnace frustration next winter.
The price of gasoline, above $4 for the past month, is on people’s minds — and it’s visible at nearly every major intersection. But another energy jolt may be coming as the price of natural gas, the primary fuel used to heat Wisconsin homes, is at historic highs for this time of year.
Natural gas futures have jumped 82% since the start of the year. Heating oil and propane prices are also soaring.
The increased natural gas prices already have resulted in electricity bills jumping twice since March for customers of Milwaukee-based We Energies and Green Bay-based Wisconsin Public Service Corp. Including increases authorized for three other state utilities, customers of the state’s five investor-owned utilities have seen rates rise by $210 million since the start of the year.
Spokesmen for the state’s large natural gas utilities said it’s too early to predict what customers may pay this winter. The futures price of natural gas, which finished last week at its highest point in more than 2 1/2 years, could still fall below its current, abnormal high, they said.
“Prices right now are in the scary range,” said Kerry Spees, spokesman for Wisconsin Public Service, an electric and natural gas utility. “It makes you look toward the winter with a little trepidation.”
Thursday, July 3, 2008
From an article by Steve Kokette, email@example.com, creator of the "Buy Products From Renewable Energy" bumper sticker and author of Money Saving Conservation Products and Projects for the Homeowner.
Recently Governor Doyle suggested Wisconsin could become the Saudi Arabia of renewable energy. Doing so would be extremely beneficial for the state in many ways, even if you're not a believer in global warming. Seventy percent of the U.S. economy is consumer driven, and if consumers started consciously spending their money on the thousands of products made with renewable energy, it could help clean the air, and the water.
It feels strange living in an era when life often seems to be regressing in the very places it started. When I was young, the DNR did not recommend limiting your intake of Wisconsin caught fish. Then in the late 60s, a short stretch of the Fox River polluted by paper mills was so polluted the DNR recommended people eat a limited number of fish from these waters. Since the late 60s the number of Wisconsin waters with DNR fish consumption limitations slowly grew over the years, until a few years ago the DNR recommended fish consumption limitations for fish caught in all Wisconsin lakes, rivers, ponds, and streams. This is not progress.
If you want to reduce acid rain, when you buy products, try to buy products made from renewable energy. If you want to reduce mercury pollution, buy products made from renewables. If you want to reduce particulate matter in the air, buy products made from renewables. If you want to help those with respiratory problems, which might include yourself and/or people you know, buy products made from renewables.
Every person who renews a membership or joins RENEW will get a free bumper sticker!
Wednesday, July 2, 2008
From a media release issued by Focus on Energy:
On Dec. 31, 2007 Focus on Energy, Wisconsin's energy efficiency and renewable energy initiative, launched a contest to find a Milwaukee area family with a home in need of energy efficient improvements. The contest, named Home Energy Makeover, was sponsored by Focus on Energy in partnership with WITI-TV FOX 6 and awarded one lucky winner with energy efficient improvements for their home, including insulation and air sealing, ENERGY STAR® qualified appliances and a new furnace, air conditioner and tankless water heater. . . .
John and Corinne Kangas of Waukesha, Wis., were named the winners of the contest, valued at approximately $20,000, on Feb. 3, 2008 during halftime of the Super Bowl telecast. It wasn't long after the announcement that the Kangas home began its energy transformation.
"We found out we had won the contest when we saw the TV commercial announcing the winner during the Super Bowl. My family was jumping up and down - we were so excited," said Corinne Kangas. "Our home is older, so knowing we won't have to worry about things like the furnace or the air conditioner gives us great peace of mind. Plus, we couldn't wait to learn about the process of making our home more energy efficient."
For several weeks, FOX 6 joined the homeowners on their journey to energy efficiency, covering such details as the energy evaluation of the home, the advantages of ENERGY STAR qualified appliances and the installation of a tankless water heater. Through each step, FOX 6 viewers learned how they could benefit from the same improvements to their homes.
"By identifying what the home needed and then making the necessary improvements, the Kangas family can expect to save approximately 30 percent on their energy bills," said Rich Marshall, Focus on Energy Project Manager. "More importantly, if other homeowners made just a few of the improvements the Kangas family received they could save significantly too."
Tuesday, July 1, 2008
From an article in The Business Journal:
Ball Corp. said Monday it intends to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 16 percent in the next four years.
The Broomfield, Colo.-based manufacturer of beverage cans and bottles (NYSE: BLL) said the goal for cutting emissions is based on a 2002 baseline and will occur through improved energy efficiencies. The firm operates metal beverage and metal food packaging plants in Milwaukee.
Ball disclosed the goal for 2012 in a report titled "Toward a Sustainable Future," which identifies areas where the company is trying to reduce its environmental impact.
Ball said its primary focus is to make lightweight, recyclable packaging when feasible. Using lighter cans means less material is needed, fewer greenhouse gases are produced and less energy is needed for shipping.
Ball said the weight of its products has been reduced substantially through the years. Aluminum cans are 40 percent lighter than they were in 1969, and the steel cans are 50 percent lighter than in 1970.
By turning more to recycled materials, Ball said it can cut 95 percent of the energy used to make aluminum cans from virgin material and 74 percent of the energy required to make steel cans.
The company also is working with the metal industry to determine the carbon footprint of its metal cans. . . .
The company's Ball Metal Beverage Container has a contract with Miller Brewing Co. to serve as the sole supplier of cans for the Milwaukee brewer through 2015.