Kenosha could obtain more than $900,000 in federal funds to improve energy efficiency, which the city hopes can complement other funding the city is seeking.
The U.S. Department of Energy announced last week that the state of Wisconsin and Wisconsin municipalities are eligible for $37.1 million in Energy Efficiency and Conservation block grants. The city of Kenosha is eligible for $902,500 as part of that funding.
These grants are intended for energy-efficiency strategies, conserving energy through transportation programs and material conservation programs, among other potential projects. Municipalities will need to submit an application to the Department of Energy for proposed projects to use these funds.
Kenosha Mayor Keith Bosman said the city proposed several projects to the state while seeking federal stimulus money that would fit under these energy guidelines. Those projects include a $4 million request to convert all of the city’s street lights to light-emitting diode (LED) technology in an effort to reduce energy use and costs. The city installed LED lights along 39th Avenue, between 60th and 67th streets, last fall.
Tuesday, March 31, 2009
Monday, March 30, 2009
Suppliers to the auto industry may want to shift their focus to wind components, given incentives for renewable energy included in the federal stimulus package.
Wisconsin has always been a supply-chain state, to the farm industry with implements, then to the auto industry with motors. But the effort to woo the wind-power industry to the state is centered north of Milwaukee, the former machine shop to the world.
The focus on wind is coming from The New North, the economic development initiative of northeastern Wisconsin, home to Tower Tech in Manitowoc, Badger Transport in Clintonville and dozens of other suppliers to the wind industry.
The wind industry had been growing at a record pace year after year until it was hit by the economic slowdown like other businesses, said Jeff Anthony of the American Wind Energy Association.
The wind industry's growth has been something to watch, said Al Johnson, president of Badger Transport, which ships the wind industry's oversized components.
"We do everything," he said. "We do the towers and the blades and the cells."
Johnson's company has been involved in the wind industry since 1997, and seen it grow from less than one-third of his company's sales to more than 90% today.
"I was involved in it when it was feast or famine for quite a number of years."
Across northeastern Wisconsin, 95 companies are supplying the wind industry, creating an economic cluster that the region seeks to capitalize on.
"When we focus on the wind industry, our message is not: 'Come to northeast Wisconsin and build your wind farm,' but rather: 'Come to northeast Wisconsin if you are involved with the supply-chain side of the wind industry,' " said Josh Morby, spokesman for The New North.
A federal carbon tax should be enacted but the money should be sent back to taxpayers, a leading climate scientist suggested Wednesday.
James Hansen, director of the Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York,who has been studying the buildup of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere for decades, said Wednesday that the U.S. government should enact a carbon fee-and-dividend that would persuade consumers to change how they use energy and reward those who reduce their carbon footprints.
"The person who does better than average in reducing carbon emissions will actually make money," he said.
In a keynote address to the Renewable Energy Summit in Milwaukee, Hansen said a national global warming policy is needed to thwart and reduce the buildup of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.
"We have reached a point where there is a crisis," he said. . . .
Under Hansen's proposal, a tax, equivalent to $1 per gallon of gas would raise $670 billion a year, which would result in $3,000 being sent back to every adult in the country, and $1,500 per child, capped at a maximum of $9,000 for a family of four or more.
Hansen urged President Barack Obama to "have a fireside chat" to discuss the need for a carbon fee and of the need for Americans to change their energy habits.
A tax would also be a step toward energy independence from imported oil, said Hansen, who said a representative of the government of Saudi Arabia bristled at the idea during a dinner conversation.
"They realize that if you did this, the next time gasoline is $4 a gallon, $2 or $3 would stay in the U.S. and just be distributed back to the citizens as a dividend rather than all $4 going to the Middle East," Hansen said.
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
Getting Serious About Solar Hot Water
Value Proposition to System Owner
+ Less expensive (on a life-cycle basis)
+ Predictable return
+ Negligible risk
Value Proposition to Society
+ Highly secure
SHW Potential in Wisconsin
+ Can offset between 2.6% to 4.1% of NG use
+ Avoiding 150 million therms/year
+ Saving $150 million annually (2006 prices)
+ Offsetting 820,000 metric ton of CO2
Economic Development Impacts of Renewable Energy
Economies of scale are achieved by shrinking the labor contribution relative to output, which explains why utility-scale energy is less expensive than do-it-yourself energy.
Distributing renewable energy through customer-sited systems increases job-hours per energy unit produced as well as promoting entrepreneurship and small business development. . . .
From Small Systems – Big Results in Germany:
+ Utilities are required to accept power from customer-sited RE systems through fixed, long-term buyback rates
+ 15% of Germany’s electricity now generated from renewables
+ In 2007 $14 billion invested in RE
+ Germany has half the world’s PV capacity
+ Payoff: 300,000 people employed in the RE sector.
And in Wisconsin:
+ 338 Focus on Energy-funded RE systems installed
+ 40% increase over 2007
+ $3.5MM incentives obligated
+ Full-service installers -- 35 PV; 24 biogas; 64 SHW; 21 wind; 15 biomass.
From another presentation at the Wisconsin Wind Energy Supply Chain Workshop:
Windpower in Wisconsin: Outlook for 2009 and Beyond
Why Promote Windpower?
Clean = Environmental
Non-depleting = Energy Security
Fixed Price = Risk Management
Creates Wealth = Economic Development
Scalable to Utilities = Practicality
The current Renewable Energy Standard (RES) will yield an additional ~4.2 billion kWh/yr of qualifying renewable electricity by 2015, assuming no load growth.
Assuming that windpower generates 90% of that quantity, about 1,600 MW of wind capacity must come on line between 2004 and 2015 to satisfy the RES.
Monday, March 23, 2009
State officials are seeking federal stimulus money to pay the full $519 million cost of a proposed 110-mph Milwaukee-to-Madison passenger train line, not just part of it, Gov. Jim Doyle says.
If the grant is approved, trains could be running as soon as late 2012 or early 2013, cutting the travel time between Wisconsin's two largest cities to 1 hour, 7 minutes, officials say. That's about 20 minutes faster than the same trip by automobile, depending on traffic.
Service would start with six daily round trips, connecting Milwaukee's downtown Amtrak-Greyhound station with a new station at Madison's Dane County Regional Airport, with additional stops in Brookfield, Oconomowoc and Watertown.
At the same time, service on Amtrak's Milwaukee-to-Chicago Hiawatha line would increase from the current seven daily round trips to 10, with all of the Madison-to-Milwaukee trains continuing to Chicago. If Chicago wins its bid for the 2016 Olympics, the trains would provide a link between the main Olympic sites and the cycling venues in Madison.
But even without the Olympics, authorities expect the Milwaukee-to-Madison trains to carry 1.08 million riders a year within a couple years after service starts, said Randy Wade, the state's passenger rail chief. Hiawatha ridership jumped 24% last year, to 766,167.
Friday, March 20, 2009
Dennis Erovick and his favorite toy might be arriving at the crossroad of phenomenon and fad.
The Cedarburg man purchased an electric car last year and persuaded city officials to allow the slow-moving, pint-sized vehicle on local roads.
But gasoline prices have since dropped from $4 a gallon to $2 a gallon, putting a damper on consumer demand for alternative modes of transportation.
Even the most ardent believers in electric cars are unsure whether this futuristic innovation has much of a future.
'It's very iffy right now,' said dealer Tim Thompson, whose Green Autos business in Janesville has not sold a single electric car since October.
'Do I think it's coming? Yes,' Thompson said. 'It just isn't there yet.'
But enthusiastic drivers such as Erovick remain enamored of their new cars, which are designed to protect the environment from emissions while reducing U.S. dependence on oil. A kindred spirit has emerged in President Barack Obama, who wants a million electric cars on American roads within six years.
Unlike hybrids, which combine electrical power with gasoline, the so-called neighborhood electric vehicle runs entirely on electricity. Once fully charged, it is generally good for about eight hours of driving.
Thursday, March 19, 2009
As Milwaukee gets assistance for its own downtown streetcar, a Kenosha transit official sees that proposal as a boost to regional transit plans and not a threat to interest in Kenosha’s railways.
Part of the $410 billion federal spending bill signed last week by President Obama included a provision to divide $91.5 million in transit aid between the city and county of Milwaukee.
The $91.5 million in funding was initially approved in 1991, but was held up when Milwaukee city and county officials were unable to decide how to divide the money. The city’s 60 percent share is planned for a downtown streetcar line, while Milwaukee County’s funds destined for the county bus system.
The concept of a downtown streetcar is nothing new to Kenosha. The city restarted its downtown streetcar rail line in 2000, and an estimated 65,000 people rode on Kenosha’s rails last year.
Kenosha Area Transit Director Len Brandrup said Milwaukee officials have taken a look at Kenosha’s streetcar setup in recent years.
“We have an excellent working relationship with the city of Milwaukee and have had them visit the streetcar system and showed them what it meant to the community,” Brandrup said.
But a Milwaukee streetcar system could have a significant connection for Kenosha beyond initial research.
Pete Beitzel, chairman of the Milwaukee Connector Transit Study and vice president of the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce, said Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett’s current plan for the streetcar line would create a three-mile loop through downtown Milwaukee. That line is expected to connect with the Amtrak train/Greyhound bus station.
That transit station is also the likely Milwaukee stop for a potential Kenosha-Racine-Milwaukee (KRM) commuter rail link.
“Having the KRM in the same place would connect the station to downtown Milwaukee,” Beitzel said. “Now, you either have to get a cab or have someone pick you up (from the station).”
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
(March 18, 2009) - In 2008 Focus on Energy, Wisconsin's energy efficiency and renewable energy initiative, awarded financial incentives totaling more than $2.5 million to help businesses statewide finance the installation of renewable energy systems. And in 2009, even more businesses will have the opportunity to become energy independent as Focus on Energy is offering special opportunity grants for up to $500,000 to support large renewable energy systems.
These grants, combined with the tax credits and other funding opportunities in the new American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which was signed into law Feb. 17, 2009, should help to make significant renewable energy projects a reality for hundreds of Wisconsin businesses.
"We believe there is an emerging demand for renewable energy systems at a larger level," said Don Wichert, renewable energy program director. "As concerns over the effects of fossil fuel based energy use, pollution and America's dependence on energy from overseas increase, it is our hope Wisconsin businesses will take advantage of these grants - and the new federal incentives - to take control over their energy use."
Eligible businesses must submit grant proposals to Focus on Energy by May 27, 2009. Funds will be awarded for the following technologies:
Solar energy can be converted directly to electricity with photovoltaic (PV) cells. As light strikes the PV cell, it creates an electrical potential that generates a current of electricity. To implement solar electricity, businesses can use this grant for the installation of solar electric systems larger than 50 kilowatts (kW). The grant will award a maximum of $250,000.
Solar Water Heating
The sun's energy can be used to heat water for commercial and industrial applications. Businesses interested in implementing solar water heating can use this grant for the installation of solar water heating systems that offset more than 15,000 therms per year. The grant will award a maximum of $250,000.
The energy present in wind can be converted into electricity with a wind turbine. Wind passing over the turbine creates a rotary motion that turns an electric generator and creates electricity. This grant will provide financial support for the installation of commercially available wind energy systems larger than 100 kW. This grant will award a maximum of $250,000.
This grant will provide financial support for the installation of industrial/municipal and farm anaerobic digestion, landfill gas, biomass combustion and hydroelectric projects that generally cost $2 million to $5 million. These systems can help supply space heating, process heating, cooling and electricity. The grant will award a maximum of $500,000.
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
MADISON, Wis. (March 17, 2009) - Focus on Energy, Wisconsin's energy efficiency and renewable energy initiative, announced new staffing grants today to help businesses, manufacturers, farms, schools and government facilities throughout the state complete energy efficiency projects.
"Businesses don't need to let staffing issues become a barrier to energy savings," said Ken Williams, Focus on Energy's Business Programs director. "Focus on Energy is committed to helping companies overcome barriers that prevent them from completing energy efficiency projects."
The grants will fund up to $80,000 for a full- or part-time employee or consultant to work on-site and manage energy efficiency projects that otherwise would not be completed due to a lack of human resources. Grant funding will go toward the salary and benefits of a project manager who will oversee and engineer energy savings projects.
The grant is designed to help businesses hire new staff or retain existing employees who might otherwise be at risk of lay-off. Partnering or neighboring companies are encouraged to submit a joint application and share an employee or consultant between businesses.
"Focus offered a similar program last year that was very popular and produced even more energy savings projects than expected," Williams explained. "We are pleased to offer an expanded version of the program for 2009."
Interested businesses should visit focusonenergy.com/competitive_incentives for more information. Applications must include a list of potential projects, as funding is based on the energy savings from those projects and is paid when projects are completed. Applications must be received by April 30, 2009. In addition, completed energy efficiency projects are also eligible for Focus on Energy financial incentives that can be found at focusonenergy.com/incentives/business.
Monday, March 16, 2009
Todd Nelson, owner of the Kalahari Resort, fires off in staccato fashion the belt-tightening measures taken at his Wisconsin Dells water park.
• Seventy employee cell phones eliminated. Saving: $4,500 a month.
• Wristbands for water park customers changed to a cheaper model. Saving: $60,000 a year.
• A new laundry water recycling system: $70,000 a year.
• Six company cars sold, saving thousands of dollars in fuel, insurance and maintenance.
• More than 100 employee e-mail addresses canceled. Saving: $8,000 annually in account fees.
• Employees attending trade shows now stay at cheaper hotels rather than the convention hotel.
"They can drive an extra three miles to a Comfort Inn," Nelson said.
For most companies, cost-cutting is key to surviving this recession. Layoffs and job reductions have been the most painful measures, but other less dramatic steps also can result in significant saving and can help a company's long-term health. . . .
Some companies have found huge savings through energy conservation.
The Kalahari installed a 103-panel solar hot water system that heats 60% of the water in the resort's laundry room.
Low-flow shower heads were installed in guest rooms, reducing water consumption by 2.46 million gallons per year.
The resort has a goal of cutting its electric bill by 30%, using dozens of measures such as motion-sensor lights in public areas.
Friday, March 13, 2009
Wisconsin Wind Energy Supply Chain Seminar
March 31, 2009
Wisconsin Wind Energy Supply Chain Seminar will focus on wind turbine manufacturing challenges and opportunities in the state of Wisconsin. Over 8,000 components and parts are used in the construction of utility-scale wind turbines, offering opportunities for a wide range of manufacturers and service providers in Wisconsin. The existing manufacturing and service industries, as well as academic and other institutions in Wisconsin makes it an ideal state to benefit from the growth of the wind energy industry.
Hear from The Honorable Jim Doyle Governor of Wisconsin
Tuesday, March 31, 1:30 PM – 2:00 PM
Governor Jim Doyle is focused on creating opportunity for all of Wisconsin’s people and is building upon current efforts to create jobs, make America energy independent, and address the global climate crisis.
Complete program. Register online.
Thursday, March 12, 2009
Jenny Heinzen, RENEW president and wind technology instrutor at Lakeshore Technical College, took this photo the V-17 wind turbine above the Mequon campus of the Milwaukee Area Technical College.
An article by Tom Kertscher in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported on the turbine when it became operational:
Mequon - The largest wind turbine on a technical college campus in Wisconsin has been erected at Milwaukee Area Technical College in Mequon, where officials hope that what's been dubbed "Blades of Freedom" will reduce campus energy costs and help train students for sustainable energy jobs of the future.Facebook subscirbers can see more photos in Jenny's photo album.
The turbine, which at 160 feet high and 56 feet wide easily is visible from Highland Road, also is aimed at raising awareness among the public about renewable sources of energy, said Michael Townsend, vice president of the Mequon campus.
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
A $25 million cash infusion from the federal stimulus package will delay - but not avert - a financial crisis at the Milwaukee County Transit System, county officials and outside experts agree.
Wisconsin's biggest bus system is in line to receive nearly one-third of the $81.6 million that the stimulus legislation will send to the state for transit. And County Executive Scott Walker, who has opposed other stimulus funding, says he will accept the bus money.
Milwaukee County's share of the dollars will go toward buying new buses and other equipment for the transit system. Walker said that will meet his criteria for accepting stimulus funds, because the county won't have to match part of the federal money with local tax dollars and won't be required to fund ongoing operations that weren't already planned.
Last year, the Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission and the Public Policy Forum warned that the transit system would be forced to slash service by 35% as early as 2010 unless it won new state or local funding.
The funding crisis stems largely from the way county officials used federal aid to avoid pumping more property tax dollars into the bus system. For years, Congress gave the county money to buy new buses, but the county legally spent the cash on major maintenance to keep old buses running longer. Those federal dollars are running out just as the transit system needs to start replacing about one-third of its aging fleet.
With the stimulus money, the county can buy some but not all of the 155 buses it needs, said planning commission Executive Director Ken Yunker.
That postpones the transit system's day of reckoning, but doesn't eliminate the need for a long-term solution, Public Policy Forum President Rob Henken said.
"Realistically, we're probably talking about buying at least a year," Walker said.
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
Q. What is an off-grid home, and how did you achieve that?
A. There’s no physical connection between the home’s electrical system and the utility. You have an on-site power generation system, so you are your own utility. In my case, the sources are both solar and wind electric.
You store that energy in a battery pack for immediate or later use. Generally, those are sized for about three days of no power input — and generally, in three days you’ll have some power input.
But there are times, like in November, December and March, when you’re not generating enough. So you have to back up the whole system with a gasoline generator.
Q. Are we talking about do-it-yourself or professionally installed solar projects?
A. Professionally installed. We train homeowners and DIY people, but now 60-70 percent of people who go through program are in the trades. The systems are also being manufactured in ways that speed up installation for electrical and plumbing shops that want to offer this work.
Q. Where can one install a useful solar system?
A. For solar electricity, you need no shading from at least 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. every day of the year, and the sun’s position changes. Sometimes a roof is a suitable place. Sometimes a backyard, on a pole or on the ground.
Solar hot water, on the other hand, is very forgiving. You can have a little shade throughout the day with little or no impact.
Q. What are the investment costs and payback times for solar electric?
A. Before you install anything, you have to address energy efficiency. A homeowner could reduce electrical loads by 30-50 percent with energy-efficient measures. For every dollar you spend on energy efficiency, you reduce system cost by $3-$5.
A 4-5 kilowatt photovoltaic system for an average home would cost about $40,000 today, complete. After doing energy-efficiency measures, it would cost about $28,000.
Using $40,000, Focus on Energy would give a 25 percent rebate. A federal tax credit would knock off another 30 percent, for a final cost of about $21,000.
You’re still looking at a long time to pay off this system. But you can assume that each year the cost of energy will rise and value of dollar will decline.
The $28,000 system would end up costing you $14,700.
Q. What about solar hot water costs?
A. About $7,000-10,000 for a system. After the rebate and tax credit, you might spend $4,725. It would connect to a traditional hot water heater but reduce the amount of energy needed to heat water. It would supply 50-75 percent of an average home’s water-heating needs, averaged over a whole year.
Monday, March 9, 2009
The stimulus bill and what it could mean for Wisconsin's energy future will be discussed at several forums during the Renewable Energy Summit on March 27 in Milwaukee.
Gov. Jim Doyle, U.S. Rep. Dave Obey (D-Wausau), a lead author of the Economic Recovery and Reinvestment and U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore (D-Milwaukee) are all scheduled to address the conference, organizers said. Gary Wolter, who heads MGE Energy Inc. and runs the state Office of Recovery and Reinvestment, has also been invited to speak.
The summit is planned for March 25-27 at the Midwest Airlines Center.
“I thought we were missing the boat if we didn’t focus on the stimulus bill and what’s going to happen,” said Art Harrington of Godfrey & Kahn, a conference coordinator. “We should focus one day on the opportunities created by the stimulus bill on renewable energy, and that morphed into the plenary session on Friday, March 27.”
Friday, March 6, 2009
Incentives to add solar panels on homes and small businesses are higher than they've ever been.
That stems both from a tax credit that Congress authorized last year as well as incentives from Focus on Energy and We Energies.
That doesn't make solar power cheap, but it's shortening the payback times for folks who are thinking about adding solar panels, said Michael Vickerman, executive director of Renew Wisconsin, a nonprofit group seeking to boost use of solar and wind power across the state.
We Energies of Milwaukee on Wednesday unveiled a new solar electric incentive after the old program basically sold out.
For more than two years, the utility's incentive permitted customers to sell all of the renewable power generated by their home or business back to the utility at a high electricity price of 22.5 cents a kilowatt-hour. That's nearly twice the amount We Energies charges to homeowners for electricity.
The new program amounts to an upfront payment to customers who install solar electric systems, said Carl Siegrist, senior renewable energy strategist at We Energies.
"It's great news," said Niels Wolter, who runs solar electric programs with the state Focus on Energy Initiative. "Probably the biggest thing is it helps people overcome that first cost, which is a big barrier, rather than paying people more over 10 years for the power."
Instead of paying money each month to customers who install solar panels, the new incentive is upfront and based on the amount of power a home's panels would generate during the first year.
The exact amount of the incentive is 75 cents per kilowatt-hour for all the kilowatt-hours generated by a solar system in a year.