Energy News Without the Spin

November 2017
Trending: Wind - Community Solar Partnership -  Carbon Neutral - Solar on the Farm - Solar Group Buys- Solar Resilience - Commercial Energy Savings
For clean-energy jobs, sky’s the limit was the headline of an article the Wisconsin State Journal picked up from the Minneapolis Star Tribune on November 27. The article describes the burgeoning jobs market in solar and wind that supports salaries north of $50,000. Madison Area Technical College’s renewable energy certificate program is cited as having more solar employers coming to them than graduates.

Nationally, solar generation employs 374,000 and wind 101,700 reported US DOE at the beginning of this year. And, as examined in my September Director’s Update, clean energy jobs in renewable energy, energy efficiency and electric cars grew almost five times faster than other jobs in the Midwest 12-state region employing over 599,775 people reports 2017 Solar Jobs Midwest. Given the rapid positive trajectory of this success story nationally and regionally, there are several impending federal government actions that could impact this progress to varying degrees. A few include the tax overhaul, repeal of the Clean Power Plan and the President’s impending decision on solar tariffs on imported solar.  
The US House of Representatives version of the tax reform bill includes the elimination of the last two years of the wind energy investment tax credit along with a reduction to the production tax credit (PTC) from 2.3 cents to 1.5 cents, while leaving the solar ITC relatively untouched.  A lower corporate tax rate could impact business solar investment by decreasing the value of depreciating solar assets according to PV-magazine. The tax bill includes elimination of the $7,500 tax credit to consumers for electric vehicle purchase. US EPA is holding public hearings on repeal of the Clean Power Plan. And, the US International Trade Commission recommended tariffs, quotas and other restrictions on the import of cheaply priced solar panels and crystalline silicon PV solar cells from some countries in the Section 201 case on the grounds that they were causing serious injury to American industry. The President may or may not adopt those remedies in his decision due before January 12, 2018.
It is too early to tell how this combination of changes will impact the momentum of the clean energy industry and its notable contribution to the jobs market.

Sherrie Gruder

New Wind Farm in Southwest Wisconsin
Dairyland Power Cooperative has a 20-year agreement to purchase all of the power from EDP Renewables (EDPR) 98 MW Quilt Block Wind Farm just completed in Lafayette County. This project encompasses 49 two megawatt turbines that will produce enough energy to power approximately 25,000 homes. Landowners hosting the turbines will receive $23 million over the life of the project and Seymour Township and Lafayette County will receive hundreds of thousands of dollars in annual payments through a revenue sharing agreement with EDPR as well. NPR Windpower

Organic Valley Launches Community Solar Partnership
Organic Valley, America's largest cooperative of organic farmers and a leading organic brand, announced a first-of-its-kind community partnership that will enable Organic Valley to become the largest food company in the world to source 100 percent of its electricity from renewable sources. In doing so, Organic Valley is embarking on an aggressive path to become carbon neutral…

Global leadership, word-class partners, and regional impact Organic Valley is collaborating with the Upper Midwest Municipal Energy Group (UMMEG) and OneEnergy Renewables to create the new community solar partnership. Together, the partners will initiate over 12 megawatts (MW) of solar installations in Wisconsin.

The electricity created by this partnership will not only enable Organic Valley to cover 100 percent of its electric energy needs from renewable sources by 2019, but also increase overall solar energy use in Wisconsin by 15 percent. Beyond the 12 MW project portfolio, an additional 17-plus MW expected to be constructed as well, resulting in nearly 30 MW of new solar in the region…

Case study: Sustainable Wisconsin farm naturally transitions to solar
Jeff Lutsey, chief engineer and farm administrator for his family’s farm—Waseda Farms in Bailey’s Harbor, Wisconsin—met Jordan Kaiser, design consultant and installer at North Wind Renewable Energy, at a sustainability fair in Wisconsin a few years ago. Lutsey’s family had been thinking about adding solar to their farm for some time and, after speaking with Kaiser, decided they wouldn’t delay any longer. They added a 50-kW ground-mount system...

Largest Rooftop Solar Array in State Completed at American Family Insurance

Photo Courtesy of American Family Insurance

American Family Insurance powered up Wisconsin’s largest rooftop solar array November 2017 at its national headquarters in Madison, WI. The 1.03 megawatt solar system contains 4,488 panels that will supply 7% of the electricity needed to power the corporate campus. The system is projected to yield $191,000 in annual energy savings, with a $5.6 million 30-year return on investment. SunPeak was the solar developer.

Solar Group Buy Programs Soar
Solar Group Buy programs continued to proliferate in 2017. Solar group purchasing encourages individuals to install solar by aggregating them into a purchasing pool to obtain a reduced rate for solar systems and installation and alleviating them of much of the research and work. The Solar Central Wisconsin group buy was this year's record-breaker with 335 kW of generation to be installed. Although final numbers are not yet complete, contracts have been signed for 152 individual systems and close to 1 MW (988 kW) of distributed solar as detailed in the table:
Program Administrator Co-Sponsor Generation Subscribers
MadiSUN Madison, Middleton RENEW  145kW 32
Solar Iowa County UW-Extension, Driftless Area Land Conservancy, Sustain Iowa County MREA 240kW 32 
Solar Central Wisconsin Stevens Point, Wisconsin Rapids, Tech College MREA 335kW 46 
SolarTosa & Milwaukee Shines Milwaukee, Wauwatosa MREA 121kW 24 
Solar Southeastern Wisconsin Greening Greater Racine  Arch Electric 147kW 18 homes, 3 businesses 

Pace Update
PACE Wisconsin is growing with more counties and lenders in the program. Since September, Winnebago and Kenosha Counties adopted PACE, bringing the total to 25 PACE counties that cover more than 800 municipalities and more than 55% of Wisconsin’s population.

PACE, property assessed clean energy, is a way for counties to help developers and building owners implement energy efficient building solutions. Local lenders finance 100% of upgrades for commercial energy efficiency, solar, and water conservation through a special municipal charge. There are now nine lenders, including Wisconsin-based McFarland State Bank. These lenders bring a large amount of capital to fund PACE projects ranging from $75,000 to $20 million. Currently, there are 20 to 30 energy projects in the pipeline. PACE Wisconsin 

Nationally, 33 states plus Washington D.C. have commercial PACE programs and the loan volume, presently at $493 million, is doubling annually. PACENation

Delays yield unexpected savings for Xcel solar subscribers
Delays in the construction of Xcel Energy’s La Crosse area community solar garden have yielded unforeseen benefits for consumers: lower costs and higher output. The utility is proposing a 10 percent cut to the cost of subscriptions to the voluntary solar gardens, which if approved by Wisconsin regulators would be granted retroactively to current subscribers...

Xcel to Help Business Customers Tap Energy Savings
Xcel Energy customers in Wisconsin can get help in cutting their energy use. State regulators have approved the utility’s plans for a 2018 community conservation plan that shifts some resources to help business customers take better advantage of energy efficiency programs and incentives.

Under the new plan, Xcel will deploy five field representatives to help about 36,000 small and medium-sized businesses in its Wisconsin service territory identify potential energy savings and connect them with Focus on Energy, a statewide utility-funded program that helps customers reduce energy use…

Denver Votes for Cool Green Roofs
A green roof initiative passed by ballot in the City of Denver that will require developers of buildings larger than 25,000 square feet to include rooftop gardens or solar panels. Existing buildings will have the same requirement when they undergo roof replacement. The percentage of roof covered by a green roof scales by building size starting at 20 percent for 25,000SF buildings to 60 percent for greater than 200,000SF buildings.  The green roof may include a combination of green roof and solar as long as the combination is at least 30 percent green roof and retains a specified rainfall volume.
The purpose of the measure is to reduce urban heat island effect thereby reducing the temperature in the city and some of the cooling load. Green roofs provide additional benefits of longer roof life, stormwater management, new microhabitats for nature and green space for tenants. Initiated Ordinance 300 will go into effect January 1, 2018. San Francisco, Toronto, Paris and London have mandatory green roof programs while Chicago, Philadelphia, New York City and DC offer incentives for green roofs. More information at Greenbuildingadvisor

Electricity Generating Solar Greenhouses
Researchers at the University of California, Santa Cruz are testing greenhouses capable of generating some of their own energy, without hampering plant growth. Greenhouses use electricity to control temperature and power fans, lights, and other monitoring systems. Electricity-generating solar greenhouses utilize Wavelength-Selective Photovoltaic Systems (WSPVs), a novel technology that generates electricity more efficiently and at less cost than traditional photovoltaic systems…

Reducing the energy consumed by greenhouses has become a priority as the global use of greenhouses for food production has increased six-fold over the past 20 years to more than 9 million acres today–roughly twice the size of New Jersey, according to Loik…
For additional information, UC-Santa Cruz

This Floating Wind Farm is the World's First. It won't be the last
Scotland's new floating wind farm haas officially started generating off-shore wind power. The installation could potentially power about 20,000 homes...
The entire installation is projected to add 30 MW of power into the local grid...

The country recently announced a goal to become "zero-carbon" by 2020 and they are using the full gamut of clean energy generating sources to help meet that lofty goal. Currently, the world's first large-scale tidal power farm, the MeyGen tidal stream project, is operating off Scotland's north coast. This project hopes to scale up in order to provide power for 175,000 homes...

Wisconsin Home Energy Assistance Program
While Wisconsin is experiencing some warn fall weather, the heating season will be coming soon. The Wisconsin Home Energy Assistance Program (WHEAP) provides assistance to low-income families for heating costs, electric costs, and energy crisis situations. Operating with federal and state funding, the program provides assistance to more than 200,000 households across the state to help lower the burden incurred with monthly energy costs. It operates a 24-hour crisis hotline as well in the event that the heat goes out, a disconnect notice was delivered or there's no money to purchase more fuel. 

WHEAP assistance is a one-time payment during the heating season (October 1-May 15). For more information on the Wisconsin Home Energy Assistance Program (WHEAP) and how to apply, please call 1-866-HEATWIS (432-8947), or visit the "Where to Apply" tab on to find your local energy assistance agency. 

Focus on Energy Offers Free Energy Savings Items
Wisconsin’s Focus on Energy residential program is offering free packs of simple energy saving products to ratepayers of participating Wisconsin utilities The packs include items such as light-emitting diode (LED) light bulbs, high-efficiency shower heads, water-saving bathroom faucet aerators and shower heads, pipe insulation, and advanced power strips for home entertainment centers and office areas. Homeowners can choose among six energy packs to select the one that best suits their needs at or by calling 800.230.4701.

No-Cost Energy Technical Assistance for Tribal Governments
The DOE Office of Indian Energy provides federally recognized Indian tribes, including Alaska Native villages, tribal energy resource development organizations, and other organized tribal groups and communities, with technical assistance to advance tribal energy projects at no cost. Technical experts from DOE and its national laboratories, along with other partnering organizations, provide support to assist Indian tribes and Alaska Native villages with energy planning, housing and building energy efficiency, project development, policy and regulation, resilience, and village power.
For more information, visit the on-request technical assistance description.


Eau Claire Awarded SolSmart Gold Award for Commitment to Solar Energy

Eau Claire receives SolSmart Gold designation. Photo courtesy of Xcel Energy

The City of Eau Claire was awarded a SolSmart Gold designation in October 2017. The gold-level designation is the the top honor awarded by SolSmart, a U.S. Department of Energy-supported nonprofit program that connects local governments with a team of national experts who provide no-cost technical assistance to help municipalities improve their solar programs. Eau Claire was recognized for its strong commitment to encouraging a local transition to solar power.

MREA Online Course: Basic Photovoltaics
November 27, 2017 - December 22, 2017

MREA Online Course: Navigating the National Electrical Code
November 27, 2017 - December 22, 2017

MREA Online Course: PV Site Assessor Training
November 27, 2017 - December 22, 2017

DOE Webinar: Essential Tribal and Utility Relationships
November 29, 2017
12:00 pm

Seventhwave Webinar: Electric Submeters: Market and Technology Trends
December 07, 2017
10:00 am

GreenTech Media Webinar: What Does Energy Storage Success Look Like?
December 07, 2017
1:00 pm

US Green Building Council Wisconsin: Annual Meeting & Luncheon
December 07, 2017
10:00 am - 2:00 p.m.

WERCBench Labs Demo Day
December 14, 2017
Milwaukee, WI

MREA Online Course: Photovoltaic (PV) Development for Institutions
January - March 2018
January 13 - March 17, 2018
Milwaukee, WI

RENEW Wisconsin Renewable Energy Summit
January 18, 2018
Madison, WI

MEEA Midwest Energy Solutions Conference
February 7-9, 2018
Chicago, IL

HPC National Home Performance Conference & Trade Show
April 23-26, 2018
Philadelphia, PA

Community Solar Business Case Tool
The Community Solar Business Case Tool provides a flexible financial model that projects the costs and benefits to the system developer and subscriber of a single community solar project. The tool development was supported by the US DOE SunShot Initiative's Solar Market Pathways program. 

From Power to Empowerment: Plugging Low Income Communities Into the Clean Energy Economy
This white paper from Groundswell, a community power nonprofit, details the critical relationship between energy and economic opportunity in the United States, and the case for making renewable energy accessible to low income households, for expanding and supporting energy efficiency programs that align with community solar, and for driving consumer adoption of these programs through place-based community organizations.

Resilient Solar Case Study: The Marcus Garvey Apartments Microgrid
A new case study from the City University of New York's Smart DG Hub examines the solar+storage microgrid system in the Marcus Garvey affordable housing complex in Brooklyn, New York, a neighborhood that experiences rolling blackouts more frequently than other parts of the city. The housing complex uses its solar+storage microgrid system to cut electricity costs, improve grid reliability, and provide resilient backup power for tenants during extended outages. The $1.3 million project features an anticipated 6.6 year system payback for the battery storage.

Smart DG Hub: Value of Resiliency Survey Results
The City University of New York’s Smart DG Hub recently formed a Value of Resiliency (VoR) Strategy Team to recognize the value of resilience offered by solar+storage system installation. This report details the Smart DG Hub’s findings from interviews with three key industries—insurance, government, and banking. 

SolarResilient Tool
The SolarResilient sizing tool for solar PV and battery storage systems estimates the required rating and physical size of grid-connected photovoltaic (PV) and battery energy storage to provide power for extended periods during a large-scale grid power outage. 

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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