Energy News Without the Spin
March 2017
Trending: Women in Solar - School Energy Financing - Wind -
Solar - Energy Water Nexus - Smart Cities - Funding Available

Since March 8 was International Women’s Day, it’s a good time to point out that women have had and continue to play key roles in the energy arena. Looking back, women invented the electric water heater, the modern refrigerator and the solar-heated home. As reported in a post by Sunrun, Dr. Maria Telkes, the Hungarian scientist, invented the thermoelectric power generator in 1947 to provide and store heat on sunless days. This was deployed in the first 100 percent solar-powered house that she designed with architect Eleanor Raymond. Today Lynn Jurich is the CEO of Sunrun, one of the largest residential solar companies in the U.S. with 3,000 employees; and, she is named one of Fortune’s Most Powerful Women Entrepreneurs.

Additionally, the most influential U.S. solar associations are headed by women. Some include: the Smart Electric Power Alliance that works on solar at the utility and community scale headed by Julia HammThe Solar Foundation that implements the annual National Solar Jobs Census and other industry research lead by Andrea Luecke (formerly with Milwaukee Shines); the American Solar Energy Society the solar industry professional organization that publishes SolarToday with CEO Carly Rixham; and most recently, the Solar Energy Industries Association with Abby Ross Hopper as president and CEO. Also, the executive director of solar energy international is Kathy Swartz. While these women are in leadership positions, overall women as a percentage of the solar workforce is low but has grown from 18.7 percent in 2013 to 28 percent in 2016.

STEM (Science Technology Engineering Mathematics) education starting as soon as early childhood is important to provide the foundation for both women and men to move into the job market of the rapidly growing renewable energy sector.

Sherrie Gruder
GOP Lawmakers Introduce Legislation Meant To Lower Electricity Bills
Republican lawmakers have introduced legislation they say could lead to lower electricity bills.

The "Ratepayers First" measure would require the Public Service Commission, the state's utilities regulator, to review contracts every 10 years set up under Power the Future, a 2001 law aimed at encouraging Wisconsin power companies to generate more electricity…
Also see JS

Budget Proposal Would Impact k-12 Energy Efficiency Spending
The Governor’s proposed budget would shift Wisconsin’s approach to school funding on many levels, including funding of energy projects. The budget contains a proposal to eliminate Act 32 that allows schools to fund energy efficiency projects without going to referendum. Eliminating Act 32 would remove school borrowing authority. The Governor proposes setting aside $10 million per year instead for school energy efficiency projects. Proponents support these changes as a way to keep property taxes from increasing, while others note  that this would result in a strong reduction in funds and the savings that come from school energy efficiency projects. See Lakeland Union High School’s energy projects under Act 32 in the next article.

Power of the Sun: LUHS is now home to the largest solar farm of any school in Wisconsin
 As renewable energy continually steps forward into the minds of builders, Lakeland Union High School has made a giant leap in the world of solar energy. LUHS has now flipped the switch to the "on" position for the largest solar energy farm of any school in the state of Wisconsin.

The project was assisted by Act 32, a piece of legislation passed in 2011 that allows school districts to raise the tax levy for spending on energy efficient projects without taking the issue to referendum. The raised tax levy allows up to $14.6 million to be spent on renovations for renewable energy such as the solar panels, improved lighting and updated heating and cooling systems which are exceeding their life expectancy...
For more information SunPeak, WPR

                                   Lakeland Union High School 280 kW solar array provides 20% of school's electricity use
                 Photo courtesy of SunPeak

Wisconsin Utility Plans Out Iowa Wind Farm
Wisconsin’s Madison Gas and Electric (MGE) has announced a proposal to construct, own and operate its largest wind farm to date: the 66 MW, 33-turbine Saratoga project, to be situated in Howard County, Iowa.

The wind farm would be located about 200 miles west of Madison, Wis., near Saratoga, Iowa. If approved by regulators, the project’s construction could begin in early 2018. It would deliver enough energy to power approximately 47,000 homes by the end of that year, the utility says.

Floating Wisconsin's Energy Water Nexus
The largest category for water consumption is electric power generation. Similarly, the largest demand for electricity is water extraction and distribution. This strong interdependency drives great opportunity in Energy Water Nexus (EWN) to impact both energy and water consumption. It is projected by the Midwest Energy Research Consortium (M-WERC) and The Water Council (TWC) that the EWN market will grow dramatically from the current $240 billion to nearly $500 billion by 2025.

The EWN road-mapping report (see resources below) significantly expands the baseline EWN opportunity set to include many large water and energy embedded consuming applications in agriculture, industry, buildings and residences outside of the traditional water and energy cycles. Market projects, by market segment, from both top-down and bottom-up projections are contained in the report. M-WERC is launching an EWN working group in May to implement over 20 specific recommendations from the EWN Roadmap Report.

Madison Finance committee recommends resolution aiming for total renewable energy use
Madison' finance committee unanimously recommends committing up to $250,000 for a consultant that would help the city find ways to use more renewable energy sources and emit fewer carbon emissions. The goal is to achieve 100 percent renewable energy and net-zero greenhouse gas emissions using a plan developed by a third-party expert. Madison's 2017 capital budget already includes $750,000 for sustainability improvements, including renewable energy installations and energy efficiency upgrades...

The resolution calls for city staff to develop a plan by January 2018 that would include target dates to meet goals, interim milestones, budget estimates and estimated financial impacts. 

KEEP Our Educator of the Year
The Wisconsin K-12 Energy Education Program (KEEP) senior outreach specialist Sara Windjue was presented with the educator of the year award by Seventhwave at the Better Buildings Better Business Conference.  KEEP brings energy education to the classroom through teacher training and curriculum. They offer an energy education certificate as well through University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point and are a collaborating partner of the Green & Healthy Schools Wisconsin program.
KEEP uses the school building as a learning tool for students and contributes to increasing school energy efficiency by helping schools to purchase and install Vending Misers, occupancy sensors, LED lighting and ENERGY STAR appliances. More than 6,400 teachers that have reached potentially 4 million students have participated in KEEP workshops and courses over the 10 plus years that Sarah has been with the program.

Smart Cities: Developing a Framework for the Midwest
Smart cities utilize the "Internet of Things" (IoT) sensors and technology to connect infrastructure components across the city to impact every layer from beneath the streets, to energy use, to water quality and quantity, to the air people breath.  Data from all segments are analyzed for patterns to better inform how to sustainably manage the city. On the energy front, smart cities manage the power grid more optimally by monitoring building energy use and distributed generation of home solar systems and electric vehicles just as residents manage personal energy use with smart meters. Smart grids can enhance energy services by improving outage detection, field service operations and disaster recovery. Smart transportation optimizes multi-modal transportation, parking (smart parking), traffic management and (smart) traffic lights.

The Midwest Energy Research Consortium (M-WERC) hosted a smart cities technologies event in December 2016 with industry experts Johnson Controls, Current - Powered by GE, Oracle and others. Using the information and discussion generated there, M-WERC is developing a framework/plan for implementing smart cities technologies to deliver to the City of Milwaukee. The same plan will then be used as a framework for helping other cities and municipalities in Wisconsin and the Upper Midwest to adopt smart cities technologies. M-WERC will launch a "Smart Cities Technologies working group" in May.

Jimmy Carter Leases Land for 1.3 MW Solar Array
Former president (Jimmy Carter) has leased 10 acres of farmland outside of his hometown of Plains, Georgie for the construction of a 1.3 MW solar array. Once completed, the array will provide over half the town’s annual energy needs. The array is being built by SolAmerica who is entering a 25-year Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with Georgia Power. As president, Carter created the Department of Energy, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, signed the Public Utility Regulatory Act, and was the first to put solar panels on the White House. Learn more.

Clean Energy Investments in Wisconsin Communities Planning & Implementation Grants Coming Very Soon
As part of its work, the Office of Energy Innovation (OEI) administers the State Energy Program (SEP), funded by the US Department of Energy. Supporting the efforts of the Energy Independent Communities (EIC) and other municipal or Tribal entities in reducing energy use and waste is a core function of the State Energy Program. Participants in the EIC program and/or the Green Tier Legacy Communities Program will receive 5 additional points.
This Request for Proposals (RFP) seeks applicants interested in one of the following areas of interest listed below. Please note that communities without a plan that includes a baseline dataset of energy used in buildings, infrastructure and fleet vehicles, will only be considered for award under the planning grant area of interest.
Area of Interest One: Energy Independent Planning Grants:
Communities applying under this area of interest will agree to compile a baseline of energy consumption (of buildings, vehicles, and infrastructure) that will serve to identify opportunities to save energy in local government operations and to create an action plan based on that information. Grants under this area of interest will be limited to a maximum of $10,000 with no minimum grant size. Communities will be encouraged but not required to use EPA Portfolio Manager to record and report data. Communities that include UW-Extension in their planning team will be awarded 5 points since UW-Extension has been a partner in the Energy Independent planning process since inception and has provided cost-effective services to Wisconsin people and communities since 1862.
Area of Interest Two: Implementation Grants for Energy Independent Communities:
Communities will apply to use funds (up to $25,000) to implement a cost-effective project that will result in energy savings and serve to fulfill the detailed plan set forth in the communities’ energy independence (or other detailed) plan. Communities will be encouraged but not required to use EPA Portfolio Manager to record and report data. kWh and therms saved will be a required deliverable of the grant, more detailed proposals with better savings estimates will be funded first.
The Office of Energy Innovation anticipates making at least 5 planning grants and 10 implementation grants in this round of funding. The application period is March 20th through April 20th, 2017.

Focus on Energy Renewable Energy Incentive Program - Residential and Small Businesses

  • Solar Electric (PV)
    • Residential (1-3 units)
      • Incentive: 12% of project cost, not to exceed $2,000
    • NEW Business (Any property outside of a 1-3 unit home)
      • Incentive: 12% of project cost, not to exceed $4,000
    • Geothermal Heat Pumps
      • Incentive:
        • Residential:$650
        • NEW Business:$650

Renewable Energy Competitive Incentive Program (RECIP) for Businesses
The Renewable Energy Competitive Incentive Program provides incentives for cost-effective renewable energy systems installed at eligible Wisconsin businesses through a competitive request for proposals (RFP) process. Both the RECIP program and the Renewable Energy Path (prescriptive) incentives are available to businesses in WI. The business may choose either RECIP or the prescriptive (not both), depending on which is a better fit for their project.

  • For nonresidential customers of participating Focus On Energy utilities for biogas, biomass, geothermal. solar PV and solar thermal systems.
  • Applies to new equipment or retrofitted system with substantially increased generation capacity
  • Required payback period is a minimum of 1.5 years. Incentive amount is based on the estimated $/kWh and/ or $/therm for the first year energy produced or offset. This will indicate the cost effectiveness of the project.
  • Combined incentives for any calendar year may not exceed 50% of the total project cost and is capped at $400,000.
  • Projects to be completed in 2017 will be given priority.
  • view a webinar with additional details and requirements
  • Proposals must be submitted to Focus on Energy by March 24, 2017 at 5:00pm CST

DOE SunShot Prize: Solar in Your Community Challenge - $5 million

  • Applications Due: March 17, 2017
  • Eligible Entities: State, local, and tribal governments

DOE announced a prize competition that aims to expand solar electricity access to all Americans, especially underserved segments such as low- and moderate-income (LMI) households, state, local, and tribal governments, and nonprofit organizations. The Challenge works to spur the development of new and innovative financial and business models that serve non-rooftop solar users such as community solar.
For more information, visit the challenge website.

USDA Rural Energy for America Program for Federal Fiscal Year 2017 - $2 million

  • Applications Due: March 31, 2017 (for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy program)
  • Eligible Entities: State, local, and tribal governments

USDA is making available funding to help agricultural producers and rural small businesses reduce energy costs and consumption through energy efficiency and renewable energy through the Rural Energy for America Program. The Energy Audit and Renewable Energy Development Assistance grants are designed to evaluate energy efficiency and renewable energy potential.
For more information, visit the federal register notice.

Appliance Recycling Program
Appliance Recycling Centers of America (ARCA) is partnering with Focus on Energy to re-launch Wisconsin's appliance recycling program. Open to residents in Focus participating utility service territories, customers can schedule a free pickup of an old, working refrigerator or freezer and will receive a $35 rebate. Appliances will be recycled and disposed of in an environmentally responsible way. For more information.

Photo Courtesy of the Eau Claire Leader-Telegram
Sunflower II, in Warren, St Croix County, WI should be energized by May 2017. The 2.34 MW solar field, consists of 9.360 solar-tracking panels. This is part of Dairyland Power's investment of 19 MW of solar in Wisconsin.
Wisconsin Wood Energy Team Webinar Series
March 16 & 23, 2017

"Intro to Cool Choices" Demo Webinar
March 22, 2017

WIDRC - Distributed Generation Interconnection Forum
March 23, 2017
Fond du Lac, WI

SEPA Webinar: Distributed Energy Resources Integration & Regulatory Initiatives in NY and CA
March 23, 2017

ENERGY STAR Webcast Series: Portfolio Manager 101, 201, 301
March 28, 2017 - March 30, 2017

DOE Tribal Renewable Energy Webinar: Federal and State Policy: Advancing Tribal Energy Partnerships
March 29, 2017

ACEEE/CEE National Symposium on Market Transformation
April 2, 2017 - April 4, 2017
Arlington, VA

WI Academy of Sciences, Arts & Letters - Local Government Leadership Summit on Energy and Resilience 2
April 5, 2017
Fond du Lac, WI

M-WERC Annual Technology Symposium
April 11, 2017 
Wauwatosa, WI

Sustainability Summit and Exposition, Building a Sustainable Future - Making it Work
May 3, 2017 - May 4, 2017
Milwaukee, WI

MREA: 28th Annual Energy Fair
June 16, 2017 - June 18, 2017
Custer, WI

ACEEE Summer Study on Energy Efficiency in Industry
August 15, 2017 - August 18, 2017
Denver, CO

Energy-Water Nexus Industry Roadmap Report
The Midwest Energy Research Consortium (M-WERC) and The Water Council (TWC) collaborated to publish this report on the roadmap for the Energy-Water Nexus (EWN) industry. The report seeks to provide a usable tool for M-WERC and The Water Council members to identify specific EWN applications, benefits, target markets, industry categories, technologies and products, and active companies within the EWN market space. The report also defines and classifies six market segments and the numerous products that makes up the industry, focusing on the most potentially impactful EWN applications.

51st State Perspectives - Distributed Energy Resources Integration
This report, co-authored by SEPA and ScottMadden, outlines the key similarities and differences between New York and California's path towards distributed energy resources (DERs) integration, and offers critical lessons for other states to adopt or adapt to facilitate their own market transformations.

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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