Energy News Without the Spin
December 2016 
Trending: Focus Funding - Rate Hike - PACE - Biodigesters - Solar - Business

Looking back at Energy on Wisconsin News in 2016, articles about solar dominated followed in decreasing order by policy & utility rate cases, energy efficiency, business/economy, wind and green building. Here’s a review of the energy highlights for Wisconsin. 

 Wisconsin solar system installations increased in 2016 utilizing several financing approaches: third-party solar, community solar, solar group purchasing and power purchase agreements. Darlington School District installed the largest school array with a third party arrangement offsetting 20-30 percent of their electric use in each of 2 buildings. Excel Energy commissioned 2 megawatts of community solar in La Crosse and Eau Claire areas. More than 120 household solar electric systems will be installed as a result of solar group buys. Utility investments in solar installations soared to nearly 25 megawatts with Alliant’s 2.3MW project in Beloit and Dairyland Power’s 14 projects totaling more than 19MW. Wisconsin businesses, including Letterhead Press that installed a 337 kilowatt array in New Berlin, continue to invest in solar. The pending Clean Power Plan (with a stay by the Supreme Court in February) and federal Investment Tax Credits for renewable energy reinforced by customer demand helped drive the strong activity in solar energy.

 Headwinds blew in favor of wind projects in Wisconsin after 5 years of no new wind. Highland Wind Farm in St. Croix County got regulatory approval for the $250 million 2.3 MW, 44 turbine project (although local opposition remains stiff). Two new wind projects- $200 million, 99 MW farm by Dairyland Power in Lafayette County and WPPI Energy in Sun Prairie may come on line in 2017. While wind development by surrounding states has increased by an average of 45 percent, Wisconsin has seen 3 percent growth (AWEA).

The trend to increase the fixed base rate portion of electricity bills on customers of Wisconsin investor owned utilities continued. Yet, energy efficiency is the third largest resource (18%) of the US electric power sector (ACEEE report).  Focus on Energy continues to fund energy efficiency incentive programs while funding for LED street lights moved to the State Energy Office. The Wisconsin Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing program launched in 2016, where local lenders finance 100 percent of commercial energy efficiency, solar and water conservation upgrades through a special municipal charge. Eleven counties joined this program and the first applications by businesses have been submitted. Recognizing the business case for energy efficiency and green building, CBRE earned a  triple LEED Platinum certification for operations and management of their Gateway West Sustainable Facility building in Brookfield. The WI Commercial Building Code Council (CBCC) has been reviewing the codes, which provides an opportunity to increase commercial energy efficiency statewide.

 The State Office of Energy Innovation released the Wisconsin Biogas Survey Report (May 2016) in a year when several anaerobic digesters that produced electricity in Wisconsin were decertified due to utility nonrenewal of their power purchase agreements and a static Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS). A new initiative to invest in anaerobic digestion as a means of preventing water contamination while producing energy was launched by the governor’s office (see below).

 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”. Small and medium enterprises participate actively in the sectors that are the focus of the green economy like renewable energy production, smart metering, building refurbishment, cleaner cars, wind and solar installations and battery development. That is where jobs are created. Wisconsin can grow jobs through the clean energy economy like our neighboring states. Look toward continued progress in 2017.


Focus Funding Finalized for Renewable Energy, Biodigesters and Rural Energy Efficiency
The Wisconsin Public Service Commission (PSC) rulings from December 1st finalize several items discussed in their October meeting. PSC docket, PSC Press ReleaseWSJ

Renewable Energy Incentives Increased
The Wisconsin Public Service Commission (PSC) allocated $8.6 million to renewable energy incentives to homeowners, businesses and organizations for renewable energy systems in 2017 and 2018. This represents an increase of $900,000 from unspent Focus funds added to the $7.7 million the PSC had authorized in October (see EOW News, Oct/Nov). Funding will go toward incentives to install renewable energy technologies including solar, geothermal, biogas, biomass and small wind systems.

Biodigester RFP and Inter-agency Workgroup to Explore Energy Water Nexus
Governor Walker has directed an inter-agency workgroup of the PSC, DATCP and DNR to collaborate in exploring how biodigesters can produce renewable biogas and address ground water, surface water and drinking water issues. The inter-agency group will prepare a request for proposal (RFP) with up to $20 million of Focus incentive funding for a hub-and-spoke anaerobic digester system. The RFP is slated to be released in January 2017.
Funding Rural Broadband and Energy Efficiency through Focus on Energy
The PSC ruled that a $50 voucher incentive for 100,000 rural customers to sign up for high speed internet would be paid for with $5 million from Focus on Energy. Money that utility ratepayers pay into Focus for energy efficiency and renewable energy programs will be used to help underwrite the cost of broadband, though not the cost of infrastructure (i.e. cables in the ground). Another $9 million approximately will fund energy-efficiency kits for rural households whose utilities are part of the Focus program. The kits will contain items from power strips and LED lights to rebates for smart thermostats. Smart thermostats work through internet connections to help homeowners manage energy use.

Wisconsin Regulators Allow Alliant Energy to Double Fixed Charges
- Wisconsin regulators have trimmed a rate increase requested by Alliant Energy, but still approved a hike that will add more than $4/month to residential power bills and double fixed fees by 2018.

- The state's Public Service Commission last week allowed Alliant to raise rates by 0.83%, or $9.5 million; the utility had asked for a a 1.1% increase in electric revenues, or $12.9 million.

- Customer advocates decried the decision, especially a plan to double fixed charges from $7.67, to $15/month, saying it would hit seniors, low-income and solar customers hardest. The utility had requested even higher monthly fees.
Additional source lacrossetribune

PACE Wisconsin Program Launched
Wisconsin’s Property Assessed Clean Energy financing - a statewide program where “low-cost, long-term financing stimulates local economies through building revitalization”- is now administered by a third party administrator - Wisconsin Energy Conservation Corp (WECC). WECC will administer a uniform program statewide that relieves municipalities of the majority of the work to run the program. Already, 11 counties have passed resolutions and a Model PACE Ordinance including: Eau Claire, La Crosse, Douglas, Dunn, Chippewa, Iowa, Jefferson, Fond du Lac, Racine, Sheboygan, and Washington. Interested municipalities should contact the program administrator at PACEWI Press release.

Sunflower II - Wisconsin's Largest Solar Project
Sunflower II, a 2.34 megawatt utility scale solar array by Dairyland Power in the Town of Warren, will be the largest solar project in Wisconsin. It is made up of 131 solar trackers. It will be completed December 2016 and provide electricity to St. Croix Electric Cooperative customers through the grid. It is not set up as a solar garden like the Sunflower I project of 2014 that community members subscribed to. newrichmond-news and EOW news Aug 2014

Solar Power Fuels Growth for Letterhead Press: $1.5 Million in savings makes a strong business case for solar
Using renewable energy as a means of controlling rising energy costs and promoting sustainability is finding favor among Wisconsin manufacturers. Letterhead Press Inc., a New Berlin print finisher and packaging manufacturer, is a prime example. The company has installed a 337-kilowatt array, one of the largest solar fields in the state, to provide about 75 percent of its peak electricity demand and 25 percent of its overall annual needs.

Wisconsin Competes in Battle of the Buildings
Over 200 organizations across the US are competing to cut the most energy and water waste in EPA's ENERGY STAR 2016 Battle of the Buildings competition. They benchmarked their energy and water use September through November using ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager. A winner with the greatest weather normalized energy or water savings per square foot in each building type category will be named in January.

Wisconsin had 5 organizations that submitted 9 buildings in the competition, including:
Evergreen Credit Union, Appleton; Blackhawk Evangelical Free Church, Madison; All Peoples Lutheran, Milwaukee; Briggs & Stratton Corporation Menomonee Falls Distribution Center, Menomonee Falls and Corporate Office Building, Milwaukee; City of Madison Warner Park Community Rec Center,  Lakeview Branch Library, Hawthorne Library, and Olbrich Botanical Gardens. EnergyStar competition

Combined Heat & Power Partnership & Awards
EPA’s Combined Heat & Power Partnership (CHP) includes energy engineers, equipment manufacturers, consultants, CHP project developers, and energy services companies (ESCOs), as well as energy policy advocates and federal, state, and local government agencies. There are five Wisconsin partners among the nearly 400 nationally, including Anguil Environmental Systems and Marathon Engine Systems- both equipment manufacturers, Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration – an end-user, Johnson Controls- an ESCO, and Wisconsin Division of Energy – State government.

EPA runs the Energy STAR CHP Awards as well that recognize CHP systems that have demonstrated superior performance by using at least 10 percent less fuel than state-of-the-art separate heat and power generation. Four 2016 winners were just announced, none from Wisconsin or the Midwest. Medical centers, universities and military installations have been the most frequent winners. If your organization has a system and is collecting operating data, consider entering for 2017 and put Wisconsin on the map. You can review winners from this and past years and look up the format for data submission.

A New Step to Powering Lights and Charging Batteries
Researchers at UW-Madison have discovered an inexpensive, simple way to convert footsteps into usable electricity. The method, published in Nano Energy, uses chemically treated cellulose nanofibers from wood pulp that, when in contact with untreated nanofibers in flooring, create an electrical charge set off by footsteps. Because wood pulp is an abundant waste material, this technology could make electricity generating flooring cost competitive with conventional flooring. Read more.


Focus on Energy Renewable Energy Incentives
Funding specifics for Focus on Energy’s Renewable Energy incentives are not yet released but will be posted by January 3, 2017. They will be comprised of a prescriptive incentive for geothermal and solar electric (PV) for residential and small commercial projects (likely either $450 or $500/ kilowatt with a cap at a percentage of the total project cost), and a more customized program that addresses geothermal, solar electric and other renewable technologies for larger scale projects. When the announcement is made, the information will be posted at focusonenergy

Courtesy of Riley Construction 
Wisconsin engine company Briggs & Stratton Menomonee Falls Distribution Center - competitor in EPA's ENERGY STAR 2016 Battle of the Buildings.
ENERGY STAR Webcast: Ask the Expert
December 14, 2016 - January 25, 2017

ENERGY STAR Webcast: Using Target Finder and Portfolio Manager for Commercial New Construction Projects
December 14, 2016

ENERGY STAR Webcast: ENERGY STAR and Green Building Rating Systems
December 15, 2016

USGBC WI Annual Meeting/Making the Business Case for Building Performance Panel
December 16, 2016
Brookfield, WI

ENERGY STAR Webcast Series: Portfolio Manager 101, 201, 301
December 27 - 29, 2016

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

WERCBench Labs Demo Day
January 26, 2017
Milwaukee, WI

ACEEE/CEE National Symposium on Market Transformation
April 2 - 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

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

The Greatest Energy Story You Haven't Heard: How Investing in Energy Efficiency Changed the US Power Sector and Gave Us a Tool to Tackle Climate Change
This 2016 report by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) quantitatively discusses the importance of energy efficiency in the US power sector.

Wisconsin Biogas Survey Report
Released by the Office of Energy Innovation (May 2016), this report examines the current status of the state’s anaerobic digester industry and identified primary operational challenges, key financial barriers to project development, and opportunities for future industry development.

Trends in Photovoltaic Applications, 2016
This report by the International Energy Agency is prepared to assist those responsible for developing the strategies of businesses and public authorities, and to aid the development of medium term plans for electricity utilities and other providers of energy services. It provides guidance to government officials responsible for setting energy policy and preparing national energy plans and, an overview of PV power systems applications, markets and production in the reporting countries and elsewhere at the end of 2015.

NABCEP Certified Professionals Locator Map
The North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP) is an esteemed certification in the solar industry. The NABCEP locator map lists NABCEP certified solar professionals throughout North America with a search engine by state and certification category. Wisconsin has 41 NABCEP professionals: PV Installer (35), PV Technical Sales (4), Solar Heating Installer (2).

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Energy On Wisconsin
Sherrie Gruder, LEED APBD+C  
Sustainable Design Specialist
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