Energy News Without the Spin

December 2017 
Trending: Blockchain - LED Holiday Lights - Federal Tax Bill - Conservative Energy Forum -  Solar - Clean Energy Jobs - Foxconn - Human Health - Battery Storage 
In January, US DOE published its 2017 Energy and Employment Report reporting 3.3 million American jobs in the $200 billion advanced energy industry, which is larger than the pharmaceutical industry. In the Midwest, clean energy jobs grew almost five times faster than other jobs this year. Many factors will disrupt the energy sector further and aid in the rapidly transitioning clean energy market. Emerging technologies including storage for renewables integration, Blockchain, and intelligent energy efficiency technologies are ones to watch.

Storage for renewables integration can help to address the variable and intermittent nature of renewable energy. According to the Renewable Energy Futures Study, electricity demand in 2050 could be met with 80 percent of generation from renewable energy technologies with better grid storage.

Strides in large scale battery storage occurred in 2017 with a 100MW system by Tesla in  Australia (see News below).  The electric vehicle market is driving manufacturing improvement in battery production that is driving costs down. Also, a new "air-breathing battery technology has been developed by MIT researchers that could store electricity for very long durations for about one-fifth the cost of current technologies and with zero emissions.

Austin, TX is America's solar storage test bed. In 2016, US DOE granted $18m in federal funding to six integrated PV and storage projects, the largest to help fund Austin SHINES by Austin Energy, a public utility with nearly half a million customers. This project is beginning to deploy integrated solar and storage at the utility, commercial and residential scales, and is looking into new models and software systems to help reduce customer costs and balance supply and demand for distributed energy resources.

Additionally, 2017 saw energy + storage integrated into emergency management plans to increase resilience such as that deployed in the wake of September's hurricanes in San Juan, Puerto Rico where Tesla restored power to a hospital and other vital infrastructure. 

Like bitcoin that is revolutionizing the financial industry by creating a peer-to-peer marketplace, blockchain, could do this for the energy industry. Blockchain is a cryptocurrency technology that enables direct secure processing and recording of transactions between people that eliminates the need for the power supplier, bank or public authority in energy transactions. Members of the Brooklyn miicrogrid are using it to buy and sell their excess energy to neighbors. It doesn't rely on the utility meter, enabling people with solar on their roof to sell their electricity. Many utilities and energy companies are testing this especially in the 19 deregulated utility states where people have choice for purchasing energy. USAtoday  Municipal utilities and energy coops in Wisconsin might be a testing ground for Blockchain.

Intelligent efficiency technologies such as learning thermostats and smart watches are making it easier to track and quantify the many benefits of saving energy. Automated data collection and processing-  enabled by smart devices, inexpensive sensors, networks, and cloud computing- can quantify how energy efficiency improves worker productivity, building occupant health and the environment. A study by ACEE shows that making energy efficiency more attractive can help boost energy savings for individuals, utilities, and society.

These technologies are likely to transform the energy industry's processes and markets. I look forward to tracking and reporting the strides in 2018  to you in the Energy On Wisconsin News. 

Sherrie Gruder

LED Holiday Lights Save Money and Energy but What About On-line Shopping
The cost to power 25,000 LED holiday lights in WI for one month (9hrs/day for 31 days) is $46 vs $4,278 to power 25,000 incandescent holiday lights. Estately

What about the energy use during the holidays from on-line shopping? Cyber Monday logged a record-breaking $6.5 billion in on-line sales alone. That translates into huge energy use by data centers. One Google query takes 1,000 joules (1kJ), the equivalent energy to operate one incandescent light bulb for 10 seconds. With mobile phone computing and the internet of things, data center use is increasing exponentially, using 3 percent of the power grid now or 12-15 GW per year. While less than the energy used in transportation, it's important that research is underway to reduce the energy use of data centers. To learn more, see Holiday Lights redux
Happy Holidays!

Tax Bill Impacts on Renewable Energy Unclear
The impacts of the final tax bill on renewable energy finance:
  • The $7,500 credit for electric vehicle (EV) purchases is intact until 200,000 EVs are sold.
  • The production tax credits for wind and the 30 and 10 percent investment tax credits for solar survived and with the same eligibility requirements.
  • Changes to the corporate tax rate from 35 to 21 percent will impact profits from renewables projects, project finance and the value of tax credits.
  • The BEAT provision - Base Erosion Anti-Abuse Tax, could threaten tax equity financing for renewable energy, according to industry groups.
"...[W]hile the overall effect on renewable energy projects and finance is unclear at this time, one thing is clear form the new bill: that lenders, developers and tax lawyers will be very busy for the next year trying to figure out the new landscape." pv-magazine

Wisconsin Conservative Energy Forum Launched to Promote Renewable Energy
The Wisconsin Conservative Energy Forum is a newly formed organization focused on building support for renewable energy sources and technology among Republicans. The organization is part of the National Conservative Energy Network that has expanded into 19 states over the past four years. The Wisconsin Forum will be chaired by former Governor Tommy Thompson. Scott Coenen of Madison's Capitol Group, a lobbying firm, will serve as the group's first executive director with board members such as Debbie Crave of Crave Brothers Farmstead Cheese that has two manure digesters and Matt Neumann, of Nuemann Companies, with home development and solar energy businesses. They recognize that renewable energy sources are reliable and cost-competitive with significant job creation momentum. The Forum’s message is that renewable energy is an economic development opportunity for the state; and therefore, should no longer be a partisan issue.
JS US News Midwest Energy News

Foxconn would get $140 million electricity project, use more power than any plant in state
American Transmission Co. [ATC] will seek state approval for a $140 million project to run electrical power to the huge manufacturing complex Foxconn Technology Group plans to build in Racine County. The massive plant is expected to draw an enormous amount of power — six times more than the next-largest factory in Wisconsin. . .

To provide that much electricity — enough to serve 170,000 households — the utility wants to run high-voltage power lines to a new substation it would build along Racine County Highway H just east of the Foxconn campus in the far southwestern corner of Mount Pleasant. The project would affect the rates of residential electric customers in Wisconsin, but probably only marginally. ATC says the costs would be spread among some 5 million customers over 40 years. . . 

We Energies named America's best at keeping the lights on
We Energies has received the 2017 ReliabilityOne™ National Reliability Award for superior reliability of its electric system. This is the third time the company has been recognized as the most reliable utility in America. . .

We Energies' Gale Klappa flips the switch for solar energy
The Milwaukee-based parent company of We Energies recently announced it will close coal-burning plants in Pleasant Prairie and Green Bay in 2018. In their place, WEC Energy Group plans to build natural gas-fired plants. . . and will invest $460 million in two new solar energy farms that will generate 350 megawatts of power in Wisconsin. The company is considering building one of the solar farms at the site of the Point Beach nuclear plant in Two Creeks and the other in southwestern Wisconsin. . .

Sauk County: Positive Cash Flow Through Solar
The Sauk County Board voted to enter into a third party solar financing agreement with Eagle Point Solar for two solar arrays: a $792,000 roof-mounted system on its Baraboo law enforcement facility and a $395,000 ground-mounted system on its nursing home. The county has received $131,301 in state grants for the solar projects. Sauk County then will purchase electricity from Eagle Point Solar at a rate cheaper than from the utility. Baraboo News Republic

Chequamegon Bay Solar Group Buy
Cheqaumegon Bay Renewables is offering a solar group buy to area homeowners and businesses that ends December 31, 2017 for installation in 2018. For more information and to sign up

Plymouth's Arch Electric finds growth through solar energy
Arch Electric, a Wisconsin leader in solar energy, is setting down roots in Plymouth and expanding its workforce. The company, which has nearly doubled its workforce in the last year and a half, recently purchased the commercial building it had been renting since last summer. . .

Wisconsin Company Brings Solar to Serve Homeless in Hawaii
Hawaii's Holu Energy LLC partnered with Menomonee Falls, WI-based EnSync Energy to launch a 250kW photovoltaic system to provide electric power to Kahumana, a regional nonprofit organization serving homeless and disabled Oahu residents. The system, a combination of rooftop panels and canopy systems, is projected to reduce Kahumana's reliance on grid power through a 20-year power purchase agreement. Cost savings resulting from the project are expected to allow Kahumana to provide an additional 40 beds in transitional housing for the homeless. PR Newswire

United Ethanol LLC to Install Whitefox ICE™ to Reduce Energy and Boost Production Capacity
United Ethanol LLC is to install a Whitefox ICE™ membrane system at its plant in Milton, Wisconsin. The modular bolt-on system frees up capacity in the distillation-dehydration section which enables the plant to increase its annual production capacity to over 60 million gallons. Removing process bottlenecks also reduces energy consumption and cooling water load. The overall effect is a more efficient, easy-to-operate plant. . . 

New, Major Evidence that Fracking Harms Human Health
Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, may pose a significant—but very local—harm to human health, a new study finds. Mothers who live very close to a fracking well are more likely to give birth to a less healthy child with a low birth weight—and low birth weight can lead to poorer health throughout a person’s life. The report, published Wednesday in Science Advances, is the largest study ever conducted on fracking’s health effects. . . 

From Science Advances Abstract: Hydraulic fracturing and infant health: New evidence from Pennsylvania. . . Informal estimates suggest that about 29,000 of the nearly 4 million annual U.S. births occur within 1 km of an active fracking site and that these births therefore may be at higher risk of poor birth outcomes. . . 

Solar + Storage Systems Bring Disaster Relief
After hurricanes took down the electric grid in Puerto Rico in September, Tesla deployed solar panels and energy storage systems to restore reliable electric power to hospitals, an elderly community, sanitary sewer treatment plants, a water pumping station, and other critical infrastructure on multiple islands. Sewer and water treatment systems already powered by PV were not able to operate until battery backup was installed. This restored the water supply. Additionally, Resilient Power Puerto Rico, a nonprofit organization, continues to distribute mobile solar electric kits to residents and businesses in under-served areas of Puerto Rico. The group hopes to deliver 100 kits in 78 municipalities before the end of 2017.
CleanTechnica Grist

Worlds Largest Lithium Ion Battery Deployed in Australia
Tesla activated a 100MW (129MWh) lithium ion battery in South Australia in response to a brownout that left 30,000 homes without power. The battery stores and dispatches electricity generated from wind. The project is part of a broader effort to enhance grid security in South Australia.
Greentech Media NPR Reuters
Clean Energy Trust Investment Program for Cleantech Startups
The Clean Energy Trust (CET) is currently accepting applications for its 2018 501vc Investment Program, which will invest a total of $1 million in three to five high-potential, early-stage companies in the clean energy, water, and agriculture tech industries. Companies selected typically receive investments between $100,000 and $300,000 as well as membership in the CET portfolio and ongoing strategic support. The 2018 application period closes on January 12, 2018. For more information and to apply

Renewable Energy Grants for Non-Profits
WPPI Energy announced Round 7 of its grant funding program for renewable energy projects targeting non-profit organizations seeking to lower their energy costs and promote their environmental commitment. The program is open to 501(c)(3) IRS qualified entities, non-profit schools, colleges, universities, and other higher learning institutes and units of government receiving electric service from  one of WPPI's 41 Wisconsin member municipal utilities.
Grants of up to $100,000 that align well with solar PV projects up to 80kW and wind turbine projects up to 10kW will be awarded. WPPI will retain ownership of the projects'  Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) for ten years and use them to satisfy requirements of their voluntary Renewable Energy block sale program.
Bid application materials for this round of funding are due January 5, 2018. A second round of funding  will be due July 6, 2018 (see table).
For eligibility requirements and application details

  Round 7 Round 8
Release December 1, 2017 June 1, 2018
Applications Due January 5, 2018 July 6, 2018
Award February 2, 2018 August 3, 2018

Alliant Rebates for Electric Vehicle Charging Stations
Rebates to commercial and industrial customers of Alliant Energy who purchased and installed a Level 2 Electric Vehicle (EV) Charger for use by their employees or the public between January 1, 2017 and December 31, 2017:
  • $1,000 for single car charger
  • $1,500 for dual charger
Program may continue into 2018. For more information and to apply

DOE Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer Program Funding
DOE’s Office of Science released the latest round of funding in its Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer (SBIR/STTR) program. This release includes four solar energy topics spanning cybersecurity to innovative financing mechanisms. Applicants are required to submit a mandatory letter of intent by January 8. Learn more about the solar topics

Wisconsin is listed as an underrepresented in these programs. Applicants from WI will receive free application preparation and other related services from US DOE.

The objectives of the SBIR/STTR programs include increasing private sector commercialization of technology developed through DOE-supported research and development (R&D), stimulating technological innovation in the private sector, encouraging participation by women-owned and minority-owned small businesses, and improving the return on investment from Federally-funded research for economic and social benefits to the nation. DOE will support high-quality research or R&D on innovative concepts concerning important mission related scientific or engineering problems and opportunities that have high potential for commercialization.

Phase I grants will be awarded for up to $150,000 or $225,000 depending on the topic. Phase II grants will be awarded 9 months after only to those that received Phase I grants. For more information and the application. For questions about budgets and eligibility: Carl Hebron, (301) 903-5707,

Wisconsin Home Energy Assistance Program
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 online or call 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. These organizations can apply annually to receive support from DOE technical experts and its national laboratories who, 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.

Royal Oaks Elementary School Solar: Preparing Students for the Solar Era

Pole-mounted solar array at Royal Oaks Elementary in Sun Prairie, WI. Photo courtesy of Royal Oaks Elementary.

STEM Center informational kiosk displaying solar generation and energy savings information. Photo Courtesy of Royal Oaks Elementary.

Students, under the direction of a second grade teacher at Royal Oaks Elementary School in the Sun Prairie Area School District, Dane County, helped to raise over $22,000 to fund the installation of a solar system at their school. The 18 panel, 5.13kW tracker is able to be manually tilted to optimize electricity production by season. Students can track solar output in the schools STEM Center via the display. Note the bicycle that generates electricity directly into the building's supply in addition to the solar array.

January - March 2018

ENERGY STAR Webinar: Ask the Expert
January 3-31, 2018

ENERGY STAR Webinar Series: Portfolio Manager 101, 201, 301
January 4-18, 2018

MREA Solar Training Academy
January 13 - March 17, 2018
Milwaukee, WI

ENERGY STAR Webinar: Verifying the ENERGY STAR Application
January 16, 2018

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

ENERGY STAR Webinar: ENERGY STAR and Green Building Rating Systems
January 23, 2018

ENERGY STAR Webinar: Using EPA's ENERGY STAR Target Finder & Portfolio Manager Tools for Commercial New Construction Projects
January 24, 2018

DOE Better Buildings Webinar: Buildings that Rebound: Resiliency Strategies for Commercial Buildings and Communities
February 6, 2018

ENERGY STAR Webinar: How to Apply for the ENERGY STAR
February 6, 2018

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

Wisconsin Academy 2018 Local Government Summit on Energy and Resilience
April 23-24, 2018
Eau Claire, WI

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

Case Study: Parking Ramp Solar Array in Healthcare
Gunderson Health Systems LEED certified parking structure with solar PV panels that offset 100% of its energy needs is the subject of this US DOE Better Buildings Alliance Case Study. Learn the keys to success, financing arrangements, and key takeaways of this project.

Energy and Civilization: A History
This book by Vaclav Smil explores how human innovations in energy have driven economic and cultural progress over the past 10,000 years. He traces the ways that society exploited energy in order to move forward and describes how energy innovations enabled major societal and technological advancements.

New Distribution Grid Integration Unit Cost Database for PV
A new database from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) provides information to utilities, developers, and analysts for assessing distribution grid integration costs associated with PV.

Project Drawdown 
Project Drawdown is a comprehensive proposal to reverse global warming emanating from a diverse group of researchers from around the world. It offers a comprehensive analysis of climate solutions and their financial, social, and environmental impacts over the next 30 years. Of the 100 solutions provided, wind turbines (onshore) ranked 2nd, solar farms 8th, rooftop solar 10th, geothermal 18th, nuclear 20th, wind turbines (offshore) 22nd, and concentrated solar 25th. Some other solutions in the top 25 included refrigerant management, reduced food waste, tropical forests, and clean cookstoves, among others. Ninety-nine of the 100 solutions result in regenerative development creating jobs, meaningful work, and an economy that works for the people and the planet.

Solar and Storage for Energy and Resiliency
This guide about integrating solar into emergency preparedness by Utah Clean Energy provides essential information about solar + storage and how it can enhance resilience.

Using Intelligent Efficiency to Collect and Analyze Nonenergy Benefits Information 
This report from the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) explores how new technologies and Big Data can be used to analyze energy efficiency program benefits. These technologies reduce the time and expense of a robust cost-benefit analysis of a program's nonenergy benefits (NEBs), and thus can attract additional program funding. By making energy efficiency more attractive, they can help boost energy savings for individuals, utilities, and society. The report examines how automated data collection and processing can quantify how energy efficiency improves a range of attributes including worker productivity, building occupant health, and the environment.

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.

This list is private and not distributed. To unsubscribe from this mailing list, simply click the unsubscribe link below.

Unsubscribe from this list    Update subscription preferences 

Copyright © 2016 Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System., All rights reserved.

This email was sent to <<Email Address>>
why did I get this?    unsubscribe from this list    update subscription preferences
UW-Extension Energy On Wisconsin · 610 Langdon Street, Madison, WI · Madison, Wi 53706 · USA

Email Marketing Powered by Mailchimp