Energy News Without the Spin
October/November 2016 
Trending: Corporate Energy - PACE - Focus on Energy - Solar - Net Zero Carbon - Renewable Energy Growth - Methane Emissions
DIRECTOR'S UPDATE

It’s Time for Companies to be Strategic About Energy, an article in Harvard Business Review by Andrew Winston, summarizes a path for managing energy more strategically at all levels of a business. Capitalizing on energy as a strategic advantage is important given that “[a] company’s approach to energy and carbon emissions now directly impacts its cost structure, its risk profile and resilience, and its brand value with customers, employees, and communities”. Wisconsin PACE, the new property assessed clean energy program, where local lenders finance 100 percent of commercial energy efficiency, solar and water conservation upgrades through a special municipal charge, will help businesses capitalize on energy. 

PACE enables businesses to make costly equipment upgrades with no upfront cost and often, to realize monthly savings in energy costs beyond the cost of paying back the loan. PACE programs also increase property values and create local jobs.  Nine Wisconsin counties now have adopted PACE, a uniform program statewide that has a PACE Commission administered by a third party, with little to no cost or risk to municipalities. 

Nationally, $292 million in commercial PACE loans have been issued creating 3,500 jobs according to PACENation. More commonly, PACE is used to upgrade houses. Nationally, more than $2.2 billion has been invested in 104,000 homes through residential PACE financing, reports PACENation. This generated 22,000 energy sector jobs. These impacts on local economies are notable and now, can be realized in Wisconsin.

NEWS

Focus Funds for Rural Broadband Access, Energy Efficiency and Digesters
The Wisconsin Public Service Commission (PSC) acted to allocate $47.5 million in unspent Focus on Energy funding to promote energy efficiency ($20-$35 million) and anaerobic digesters ($10-$20 million) in rural communities underserved by broadband. The premise of this action was to create parity in benefits between Focus ratepayers in rural areas and the rest of the state. While it was stated that the PSC action would not fund broadband infrastructure, they left the design of how to improve energy efficiency in rural areas, including expanding broadband access, to CB&I, Focus on Energy’s administrator. One possible program thrust might be to spur the use of remote thermostat technology, not only to improve energy efficiency in rural areas but, statewide. The PSC will issue a final order in December in which they will determine funding allocations based on cost effectiveness of CB&I’s proposals. To read more, see PSC and Midwest Energy News.


PSC Approves Renewable Energy Rebates
[October 20, 2016], ... the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin authorized approximately $7.7 million in rebates spanning 2017 and 2018 to spur small, customer-based renewable energy projects throughout Wisconsin.
 
The rebates go to residential, business, and non-profit customers of eligible Wisconsin utilities, and enable the customers to install renewable energy technologies including solar, geothermal, biogas, biomass and small wind systems. … This level of renewable energy rebate funding should support upwards of 500 solar electric home installations, 70 or more home geothermal installations, and dozens of larger business renewable energy projects for each of the next two years.


Solar Power Expands in Western Wisconsin
Dairyland Power's latest solar project, a 1 MW solar tracking system, is under construction in the town of Hallie. It is one of 14 major projects totaling more than 19 MW of distributed solar energy Dairyland Power has commissioned in Wisconsin in 2016. Set up as power purchase agreements, a third party will install, own, operate, and maintain the systems. Together, the projects will generate enough power for more than 2,500 Wisconsin homes. Learn about Dairyland’s renewable portfolio here


Future Solar Workforce Gets Hands on Training
Western Technical College's Independence, WI campus installed four PV arrays in October as part of a workforce training program. The solar project can be monitored for power output, voltage, amperage, and environmental benefit by students studying electronics and energy management. Data from the solar array will be used in the classroom and students will learn the basics of solar installation and maintenance to prepare them for solar technician jobs. The solar electricity will be used on the campus.

Dairyland Power installed that system and is in the process of installing solar arrays on three public high schools in western Wisconsin that will be monitored by students for educational purposes. These projects are part of Dairyland's Solar for Schools program. Lacrossetribune


MGE's Shared Solar Sells Out
Madison Gas and Electric’s (MGE) “shared solar” project, a 500 kW solar PV rooftop array built on the City of Middleton’s operation center, was fully subscribed in September (see EOW News). The pilot, which was approved by the Public Service Commission in March 2016, is under construction and is projected to generate electricity by December.


Private Sector Mobilizes Around Renewable Energy: MGE Positions to Attract New Businesses
According to the report Corporate Renewable Energy Procurement: A Snapshot of Key Trends Strategies and Practices in 2016 that surveyed companies across 9 industry sectors with combined revenue exceeding $1 trillion, most are buying renewable energy and many have a 100 percent renewable energy goal.  Currently, their renewable energy is from renewable energy credits (RECs) and power purchase agreements; but, they are looking to drive new projects to maximize environmental and local benefits. They are motivated by greenhouse gas emissions targets, reducing costs of energy procurement, and demonstrating corporate leadership. They include IT, manufacturing, consumer products, health care, retail and other services.

Seeking greater access to renewable energy, a growing number of large corporations have signed Corporate Renewable Energy Buyers’ Principles. It brings together corporate energy buyers with utilities to advance solutions to deploy more renewable energy. In a proactive move to attract and collaborate with these large businesses that might consider expanding to the Madison area if it can accommodate their buying most or all of their energy from renewable sources, MGE filed a Renewable Energy Rider framework tariff with the Public Service Commission (PSC) in May. If approved, it would allow MGE to offer key attributes corporate buyers are seeking, including to have greater control over the energy they procure and fast contracting timelines (by speeding up the PSC approval process for each contract). A ruling on the tariff is expected by December.


Climate Accord Gets Critical Signatories: Net Zero Carbon Building Certifications Advance
The first international accord on climate change, the Paris agreement, was ratified by the European Union, Canada, India, Nepal, Malta, and other countries in October. The US and China ratified in September. The deal, which needed countries representing 55% of the global greenhouse gas emissions to sign on, now has 73 countries with 57% of emissions and will take effect November 4th. The agreement calls for participating countries to develop individual plans to reduce carbon emissions and to report those results in order that the average global temperature doesn’t rise more than 2°C above pre-industrial levels by 2100.

Certifications for net zero carbon (NZC) buildings that align with the emissions reductions goals established by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Paris (COP21) are under development.  Representatives from ten Green Building Councils worldwide met with the World Green Building Council and Architecture 2030 at the Advancing Net Zero workshop in New York City late September to determine a common approach to creating net zero building certifications. 

The countries at Advancing Net Zero, including the US and China, agreed that: 1. All new buildings and major renovations are built to a NZC standard starting in 2030, and 2. 100 percent of buildings achieve zero emissions by 2050. Each country will use these guidelines in drafting their certification programs, which should be completed by the end of 2017. Australia, Brazil, Canada, Germany, India, The Netherlands, South Africa and Sweden will be the first to launch NZC certifications. See Architecture2030, to read more.


IEW Raises its Five-Year Renewable Growth Forecast as 2015 Marks Record Year

Source: International Energy Agency


Solar Power at Airports
Airports around the world are generating solar electricity utilizing the land around their runways and terminal roof space. The energy produced from these solar energy systems is used to power the airport itself or sold to a nearby city. Solar powered airports can now be found in Minnesota, Massachusetts, California, Florida, India, Africa, and the Caribbean. The largest solar array in Minnesota, a 3 MW system, is located at the Minneapolis-St Paul Airport. San Diego International airport is currently installing a 5.5-MW solar PV system that is estimated to provide 10-13% of the airports energy needs. Cochin International Airport, in India, produces enough solar energy to meet all its energy needs. A new study on the potential for solar energy capacity at airports reports that the US could gain a gigawatt in solar capacity if major airports throughout the country installed solar energy systems.


Tesla's Solar Roofing Tiles and Powerwall Battery Unveiled
Textured quartz roof tiles with solar cells embedded are designed to look like a traditional clay or slate roof while seamlessly and invisibly integrating solar.  This new product is stronger than traditional roofing and eliminates the need for separate solar panels, announced Tesla’s CEO, Elon Musk. He rolled out an update to its energy-storing Powerwall as well. The flatter battery provides 14kWh of storage with a 7kWh power draw, or as much electricity used in a four bedroom house for one day. Musk’s vision is of a home that makes and stores its own power for daily use and for fueling the family electric vehicle. For more information.


Scientists May Have Solved a Key Mystery About the World's Methane Emissions
New research has added yet another layer to a major scientific debate about our global emissions of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas that is second only to carbon dioxide when it comes to driving climate change. A study, published ... September 27 in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, suggests that the amount of methane leaked by the fossil fuel industry has been increasing since the 1980s, and especially so during the last decade — a finding that flies in the face of previous studies on where the greenhouses gases have been coming from. 


Hydroelectric Dams: An Increasing Source of Methane Emissions
Twenty-five percent more methane is being released from reservoirs than previously thought, according to a study published in BioScience, October 5, 2016. “The construction and operation of over 1 million dams globally (Lehner et  al. 2011) has provided a variety of services important to a growing human population (e.g., hydropower, flood control, navigation, and water supply), but has also significantly altered water, nutrient, and ecosystem dynamics and fluxes in river networks… Artificial reservoirs created by dams are distinct from natural systems in a number of key ways that may enhance GHG emissions from these systems.” This is especially critical because of the recent boom in hydroelectric dam construction globally.

According to a study in Aquatic Sciences, January 2015, “ At least 3,700 major dams, each with a capacity of more than 1 MW, are either planned or under construction, primarily in countries with emerging economies. These dams are predicted to increase the present global hydroelectricity capacity by 73 % to about 1,700 GW.” The authors caution, “…,there is an urgent need to evaluate and to mitigate the social, economic, and ecological ramifications of the current boom in global dam construction”.
FUNDING
 
Focus on Energy Cuts Incentive Funding for 2016; Will Provide $7.7 Million in Renewable Energy Incentives 2017-2018
Applications for Focus on Energy incentive funding for solar electric or geothermal heat pumps are due December 1, 2016, one month sooner than was originally stipulated. However, those applications will be waitlisted. In 2017 Focus will return to an incentive program (see article above). For more information.
 
Farm Rewiring Assistance for WPS Customers
Wisconsin Public Service's (WPS) farm rewiring program helps farmers fund modernizing their electrical system. WPS covers the first $1,000 of rewiring, pays 50% of the remaining costs (up to $10,000 for livestock farms, up to $5,000 for non-livestock farms), and offers financing options for the farmers portion of the cost. Rewiring saves energy costs by increasing efficiency. Learn more here.
PHOTO
Used with permission by Chequamegon Bay Renewable Energy Resources
First installation of Madeline Island Resiliency Project in the town of La Pointe. 18.2 kW array provides 112% of the electricity needs for the town library and medical clinic. The next phase of the project includes installation of a PV array at the Town Hall.
EVENTS
Solar Power PV Conference & Expo
November 9-10, 2016
Monroe, WI


MREA Course: Basic Photovoltaics (PV 101)
November 14 - December 18, 2016


Midwest Building Energy Codes Conference
November 15-16, 2016
Cleveland, OH


WERCBench Labs Fall Program
November 15, 2016
Milwaukee, WI


Wisconsin Energy Institute: Adventures in Deep Decarbonization
November 21, 2016
Madison, WI


Advancing the Last Frontier: Reduction of Commercial Plug Loads
November 22, 2016


Wisconsin Energy Institute: Social Science, Political Economy, and Why They Matter for the Future of Energy
December 5, 2016
Madison, WI


Wisconsin Sustainable Business Conference
December 8, 2017
Onalaska WI


MREA Solar Training Academy 2017: Solar Design & Installation Training for NABCEP Certification
January 7 - May 21, 2017
Multiple Locations throughout Midwest


RENEW Wisconsin Energy Summit
January 19, 2017
Madison, WI



RESOURCES

Energy Strategy for the C-Suite: From Cost Center to Competitive Advantage, An Introduction to the Unified Approach to Energy Transformation
A brief by EnerNOC, PwC, and Winston Eco-Strategies provides the value proposition for businesses to manage energy strategically and a roadmap for building an energy strategy that will take business performance to a new level. 

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Sherrie Gruder, LEED APBD+C  
UW-Extension
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