Energy News Without the Spin
June/July 2016 
Trending: PACE Financing - Utility Refunds - Solar Investing - Wisconsin's Largest Solar Projects - WindFocus On Energy 
Even as the State of Wisconsin stands still on clean energy planning and policy awaiting the federal court decision on the Clean Power Plan, energy efficiency and renewable energy projects are being installed and new financing approaches rolled out. Creative initiatives are being undertaken by collaborating communities, businesses, tribes, schools, faith based organizations, NGOs, electric cooperatives and some investor owned utilities as reported on in Energy On Wisconsin news. Yet, Wisconsin ranks 29th nationally in clean tech activity according to the US Clean Tech Leadership Index. The unrealized job growth reflected in that standing is worth reflecting on. 

Employment in solar business alone grew twelve times faster than overall job creation in the US last year, surpassing jobs in oil, coal and natural gas extraction for the first time. The US is in the top three countries for renewable energy jobs globally, investing $56 billion in clean energy in 2015 (
Sustainable Energy Factbook infographic). While Wisconsin has nearly 25,000 clean energy jobs, according to Clean Jobs Midwest “…the state has the smallest clean energy workforce in the region as a percentage of the state’s workforce”.  State clean energy policy and programs are of equal import as federal policy in advancing clean energy (Bloomberg New Energy Finance). Neighboring Minnesota, Iowa and Illinois with enabling legislation have more than double Wisconsin's clean energy workforce. Wisconsin could grow clean energy jobs substantially with effective State energy policy and codes. The motivated marketplace and industry sector is here. 

Sherrie Gruder

Wisconsin Counties Pick up the PACE
Dunn and La Crosse County Boards joined Eau Claire County in approving a model ordinance on Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing. Chippewa and Iowa counties among others will consider adopting PACE as well. As reported in Energy On Wisconsin April news, PACE is a local economic development tool that funds the upfront costs of energy efficiency, renewable energy and water conservation upgrades by commercial and industrial sectors without taxpayer assistance.
Organizations including the Wisconsin Counties Association, League of Municipalities, Green Tier Legacy Communities and others are spearheading this initiative. They and participating municipalities have formed a PACE Commission, administered by a nonprofit organization, to create uniform standards statewide and minimize any administrative burdens to municipalities related to assessing charges, collecting payments, etc. The new PACE Commission will hold their first meeting in late July early August. For more information, click on this fact sheet. It provides contact information for questions or comments as well.

Wisconsin Utility Companies Ordered To Refund Millions To Customers
Utility companies across Wisconsin have been ordered to refund millions of dollars to their customers for overestimating costs last year. 
Utilities must estimate the cost of providing electricity to customers for permission to raise annual utility rates, Xcel Energy spokeswoman Chris Oulette said. Last year, those costs were $9.5 million lower than predicted and the state Public Service Commission ordered the money be paid back to customers.

Solar Group Buy Programs Proliferate
Affordable Solar, a solar advocacy group of the Chippewa Valley, is partnering with the Midwest Renewable Energy Association to facilitate a solar group buy in Eau Claire; and, RENEW Wisconsin, is working with Madison’s MadiSUN Group Purchase Program to help residents install solar electric systems affordably. Group buys reduce costs of materials and installation by coordinating and bundling the orders of many homeowners to get a bulk price on solar PV panels as well as on installation. The installer is selected through a competitive bid process relieving homeowners of much of the research and work. The partnering organization provides education and initial screening for solar access.

Further cost savings are available through Focus on Energy that provides up to $2,400 in incentives on solar installations and financing on 50 percent of a loan. In Madison, a Solar Energy Loan Program is being offered by the City partnering with Summit Credit Union and Focus on Energy to finance 100 percent of the cost of the solar system with a 15 year loan. 

Legacy Solar Co-op Enables Local Solar Investing in Wisconsin
Willy Street Co-op on the East side of Madison is offering the community the opportunity to buy solar bonds through Legacy Solar Co-op to support Willy Street Co-op’s energy efficiency and solar electricity project with a return on their investment. The store will add 20 kilowatts of rooftop solar and 214 LED lamps to replace fluorescents that are on 15 hours a day. Bond holders earn between 3-5 percent interest on the bonds that they can cash in after 7 years, hold as a legacy for 25 years, or donate to the nonprofit host site or other nonprofit. Annual projected savings from Willy Street’s project are 40,000 kilowatt hours and 33 metric tons of avoided carbon dioxide emissions. To learn more

Darlington Schools Showcase Solar
Darlington Community School District held a Ribbon Cutting for the largest solar energy system of any k-12 school district in Wisconsin on June 1, 2016. Energizing the elementary and middle school buildings, the 156 kW rooftop solar PV system generates 20-30 percent of the electricity used by each.

Darlington School District's goals were to provide hands on education to students and the community, promote clean energy and greenhouse gas reductions, and the wise use of natural, financial and social capital. They used innovative financing with co-ownership where a solar developer installed and operates the system for the first fifteen years, limiting the district’s up-front costs. A kiosk with real time energy production and savings read outs is at each school and linked on their website (see Photo below).

Biggest solar project in Wisconsin goes online at coal-ash landfill

The largest solar project built to date in Wisconsin is generating power, Alliant Energy Corp. said Friday. The project, installed atop a coal-ash landfill in the Town of Beloit, was built by Hanwha Q Cells for about $5 million. Alliant will buy electricity from the project for 10 years and has an option to purchase the solar system after that.

Highland wind farm gets state regulators' OK, for the second time
The Highland Wind Farm, a $250 million project that’s been in the works for five years in northwest Wisconsin’s St. Croix County, has won the final piece of regulatory approval Thursday — again.

...The wind farm will consist of 44 turbines, each 500 feet tall and able to produce 2.3 megawatts of power. They will be built across 6,200 acres with a total maximum capacity of 102.5 megawatts of electricity when wind conditions are optimal, enough for more than 35,000 homes.

2 Wind Power Projects Proposed in Wisconsin
Two new wind projects could give a substantial boost to the renewable energy supply in Wisconsin. Dairyland Power Cooperative, based in La Crosse, will buy power from a 98-megawatt wind farm to be built in southwest Wisconsin. WPPI Energy, Sun Prairie, wants to add 100 megawatts of electricity from wind power or another renewable resource.
Dairyland has signed an agreement with EDP Renewables North America, which will develop and operate the planned Quilt Block Wind Farm, 20 miles southeast of Platteville in Lafayette County.

Energy Work Plan Propels Madison into Future, Proponents Say
For over a year, the Sustainable Madison Committee has been developing an energy and carbon action plan with the goal of positioning Madison as a leader on energy innovation, racial and social equity and environmental health…

The energy work plan builds on previous sustainability goals adopted by the Council in 2011, which aim to reduce carbon by 80 percent, obtain 25 percent of electricity, heating and transportation energy from clean energy sources by 2025 and reduce overall energy consumption by 50 percent by 2030.

Focus on Energy Saves Wisconsin Millions
An independent evaluation report prepared byThe Cadmus Group has verified that Focus on Energy programs are cost-effectively delivering significant energy savings,  and achieving high customer satisfaction. Focus on Energy is Wisconsin utilities’ statewide program for energy efficiency and renewable energy and was established in 2001 to help utility customers save energy in their homes and businesses.

Good Vibrations: No Heat Needed for Ultrasonic Dryers
Scientists at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) in Tennessee are changing the way Americans do laundry—using vibrations instead of heat to dry their clothes. This new technology, called the ultrasonic clothes dryer, is expected to dry clothes in half the time and use 70% less energy than today’s products, saving American consumers money on their energy bills.

Solar Impulse 2 nails world’s first solar-powered flight across the Atlantic Ocean
The experimental solar-powered aircraft Solar Impulse 2 made history early this morning (June 23) when it touched down in Seville, Spain after a three-day nonstop flight from New York City. The landing marks the first-ever solar, electric, and zero-emission crossing of the Atlantic Ocean. 


NIFA: Sustainable Bioenergy and Bioproducts (SBEBP) Grant
In the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative of the National Institute of Food And Agriculture (NIFA), the Sustainable Bioenergy and Bioproducts (SBEBP) Challenge Area specific program areas are designed to achieve the long term outcome of reducing national dependence on foreign oil through the development and production of regionally-appropriate sustainable bioenergy systems that materially deliver advanced liquid transportation biofuels, biopower, and bioproducts.

The focus of the this grant round is Regional Bioenergy Coordinated Agricultural Projects (CAPs) that focus on the production and delivery of regionally-appropriate sustainable biomass feedstocks for bioenergy and bioproducts. A second focus is Investing in America’s Scientific Corps: Preparing a New Generation of Students, Faculty, and Workforce for Emerging Challenges in Bioenergy, Bioproducts, and the Bioeconomy

Request For Application letter of intent due July 14, 2016, 4:00 pm CST. Grant funding available ~  $21 million. For detailed information

US EPA Clean Energy Incentive Program

US EPA will present an overview of the Clean Energy Incentive Program (CEIP) Design Details Proposal for community and environmental justice groups on July 19, 12:00–1:00 PM (CST).

The CEIP, which was included in the final Clean Power Plan, was designed to help states meet their goals under the plan by encouraging early investments in zero-emitting renewable energy generation, and by removing barriers to investment in energy efficiency and solar measures in low-income communities. During the webinar, EPA will invite participants to ask questions.

No pre-registration required. Call in to listen.
Participant Dial-in Number:  (800) 309-5450
Conference ID#:  40999081 

URL to view the webinar:  meeting link

More information can be found on the Clean Power Plan website and on the Clean Energy Incentive Program page

DNR Clean Diesel Grant for Bus Fleets
The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is administering a $445,000 US EPA grant program to help finance aging school bus replacements for public and private school fleets in order to reduce diesel air emissions. Applications are due August 12, 2016. For more information and to apply

A snapshot of Darlington School District solar electricity generation and impact data as shown in real time on their website and kiosks. The more than 22,000 kilowatt hours of electricity generated from their solar system from one month, June 8 – July 8, was enough to power 91 houses for a week and earn approximately $2,217.
EPA Webcast: Just Add Water: Incorporating Water Efficiency to Take Energy Savings to the Next Level 
July 12, 2016: 12:00 pm- 1:00 pm

M-WERC Microgrids Conference
July 13, 2016: 8:00 am-2:00 pm (register by July 8)
Milwaukee, WI

American Solar Energy Society: Solar 2016
July 10-14, 2016
San Francisco, CA

ENERGY STAR Webcasts Series
July 19-21, 2016

M-WERC July Member Meeting
July 21, 2016: 8:00 am-11:00 am
Milwaukee, WI

DOE Webcast: Project Development for Long Term Tribal Energy 
July 27, 2016: 12:00 pm- 1:30 pm 

ENERGY STAR Webcast: Benchmarking Water/Wastewater Treatment Facilities in Portfolio Manager
July 28, 2016: 12:00 pm-1:00 pm

ENERGY STAR Lighting Webinar Series: Evaluating Color Quality
July 28, 2016
12:00 pm- 2:00 pm

Seventh Wave Webinar: Project Planning in Schools: A Systematic Approach
August 4, 2016: 1:00 pm-2:15 pm

Ride with RENEW 2016

October 2, 2016
Fond du Lac Area, WI

Solar Power PV Conference & Expo
November 9-10, 2016: Chicago, IL

Energy Efficiency in Separate Tenant Spaces- A Feasibility Study
This study by the US Department of Energy finds significant potential to improve energy efficiency during the design and construction of tenant spaces and describes several possible steps to encourage owners and tenants to improve the efficiency of those spaces.

Using the STAR Community Rating System to Integrate Sustainability into Community Planning Efforts
provides guidance on how to use STAR Community Rating System to integrate sustainability into comprehensive, strategic, and sustainability plans. 

How-to Guide to Help States Cut Their Emissions With Energy Efficiency
The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy's (ACEEE) white paper series is a "how-to" guide for states as they embark upon the path to meeting Clean Power Plan emission reduction targets.  Even with the Supreme Court stay, energy efficiency is a tool for creating jobs and keeping electricity affordable, and a strategy for reducing pollution.  
The first guide:
The second guide:

2016 US Clean Tech Leadership Index
Clean Edge tracks and ranks the clean-tech activities of all 50 states and the 50 largest metro areas in the U.S. – from EV (electric vehicles) and renewables adoption to policy, green building and investment activity. The Index is a tool for regional comparative research, a source for aggregated industry data, and a jumping-off point for deep, data-driven analysis of the U.S. clean-tech market. 

Get to know us:
Energy On Wisconsin
Sherrie Gruder, LEED APBD+C  
Sustainable Design Specialist
Energy Program Manager
(608) 262-0398

An EEO/Affirmative Action employer, the University of Wisconsin-Extension provides equal opportunities in employment and programming, including Title IX and ADA requirements.

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