Puerto Rico Learns about Renewable Energy in Madison
On May 29th Madison Mayor Paul Soglin asked RENEW Wisconsin to join him and his staff to meet with Bernardo Márquez Garcia, Mayor of Toa Baja, Puerto Rico, as they discussed some of the renewable energy initiatives that Madison has in place and ways that cities in Puerto Rico might use renewable energy to help reestablish electric service and make it more reliable.
“That is so important because in the remote areas of the island and so many critical areas of the city there is a need when the hurricane strikes, when the power system goes down, to have electric power,” Soglin said.
Bubolz Nature Preserve Unveils Off-Grid Microgrid
On May 31st I was very excited to head to Appleton where Faith Technologies, in partnership with Schneider Electric, unveiled the state-of-the-art, clean energy microgrid they designed and built at the Gordon Bubolz Nature Preserve in Appleton.
As one of the keynote speakers at the event, Senator Roger Roth praised the project and the Bubolz Nature Preserve for the great work they do. Many other local officials were on hand to learn more about the project including Senator Rob Cowles, Representative Mike Rohrkaste and Outagamie County Executive Tom Nelson.
As one of the most advanced microgrids in existence, the Gordon Bubolz Nature Preserve project acts as a testing and demonstration site for increasingly sophisticated microgrid operations, showing how advanced controls and operation optimization combined with state of the art technology can work together to provide clean, reliable power.
The advanced microgrid uses a 200-kW solar photovoltaic array; C-Series Proton On Site Hydrogen Generator; 30-kW hydrogen fuel cell; a 100-kW Tesla lithium-ion battery storage system; a 65-kW micro-turbine; and a 60-kW Kohler natural gas generator. Together they allow the system to completely disconnect from the utility grid and still operate the 18,000-square-foot nature center building, with power to spare!
Crave Brothers Open House
On June 13th I visited the Crave Brothers Dairy Farm in Waterloo for a very well attended Green Energy Showcase event designed to educate the public and government officials about their unique operation that integrates raising crops, a dairy farm, cheese making operation and a biodigester system.
Attending the event were Wisconsin DATCAP Secretary Sheila Harsdorf, State legislative staff and U.S. Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Steve Censky. While addressing the crowd, Censky praised the Crave Brothers operation, “There are many wonderful innovations happening in agriculture,” he said, “This is just one example of those projects.”
The two 750,000-gallon biodigester tanks located on the farm process manure from 2,600 cows. Other organic byproducts, such as cheese whey and food waste, also go into the biodigester, producing enough methane to generate 633 kilowatts of electricity from the adjacent generator, enough electricity to power the farm, the cheese factory and more than 300 homes in the Waterloo area.
T-Wall Enterprises Leading the Way on Multi-Family Solar
On June 14th RENEW Wisconsin recognized T-Wall Enterprises with a “Renewable Energy Champion” award for their support of renewable energy. T-Wall worked with SunPeak to install solar arrays on four of its multifamily properties —Veritas Village, Tribeca 1, Tribeca 3 and Wingra Point — for a total of 431 kW of onsite solar generation. As of June 2018, T-Wall Enterprises has put in place more solar capacity than any other developer of multifamily dwellings active in Wisconsin.
The H&H Energy Services building located at 818 Post Road in Madison is the latest Wisconsin business to benefit from commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing available through PACE Wisconsin. H&H Energy Services plan to offset the majority of their warehouse’s electrical use by installing roof upgrades, a 57 kilowatt photovoltaic (PV) system, along with rooftop heating and cooling units to the one-story 25,200 square foot building. Through the combination of energy savings and reduction in operating costs achieved through these improvements H&H Energy Services will offset the cost of the investment.
PACE is a means of financing energy and water efficiency upgrades, as well as renewable energy installations for commercial and industrial properties. PACE financing can fund up to 100% of the cost of eligible building improvements, and allows property owners to exchange equity with non-recourse financing. Financing options of up to 30 years yield positive cash flows, and increase the net operating income for commercial and industrial building owners. Financing costs can be passed on to tenants as part of their property tax, and therefore benefit tenants and property owners alike.
PACE Wisconsin is administered by Energy Finance Solutions (EFS), the financial services division of the Wisconsin Energy Conservation Corporation (WECC). “As an early adopter, H&H Energy Services will be able to use the benefits of commercial PACE financing as a competitive advantage in the market. Having gone through the PACE financing experience first-hand, H&H will be able to help their clients realize the benefits of this innovative project finance tool,” explained Jason Stringer, Senior Manager Clean Energy Finance for WECC EFS, and PACE Wisconsin Administrator.
The lender for the project is Greenworks Lending, a national lender that currently provides financing in 11 Commercial PACE enabled states. PACE Wisconsin currently works with thirteen lenders, of which four are located in Wisconsin. Thirty counties in Wisconsin have approved an ordinance to participate in PACE Wisconsin—meaning property owners in those counties are now eligible to apply for PACE financing. For more information on PACE Wisconsin and how it helps property owners, businesses, local governments, and contractors, visit pacewi.org.
RENEW’s summer tour of renewable energy projects to help educate legislators and local officials about renewable energy continued on May 30th, as I helped to coordinate a visit for State Senator Howard Marklein, Representative Ed Brooks and Jon Hochkammer of the Wisconsin Counties Association to the Sauk County Health Care Center to showcase a new solar project that was one of two arrays that were approved last year by the Sauk County Board.
The project was made possible through the use of a third-party investor that allows the county to benefit from the projects without any upfront cash outlay. Eagle Point Solar, who built the project, is also the initial investor/owner of the installations. Financing for the project, which included a Focus on Energy grant, provides an option for the county to purchase the arrays after seven years and potentially save money on their utility bills. The cumulative cash flow savings from both projects over a 25-year period is projected to be more than $550,000 for the county!
As quoted in a local newspaper story, Mark Hanson, director of sustainable services for Hoffman Planning, Design and Construction who helped coordinate the project said “It is groundbreaking for a Wisconsin county because some counties are just getting into it with this combination of both the solar and third-party financing.”
Eagle Point Solar General Manager Jim Pullen said from an investor’s standpoint, there are advantages to having another party in the project. “We have the ability to monetize the tax credits and monetize the depreciation and therefore our cost to build this solar array is less than if the county just wrote us a check,” Pullen said. “Therefore we pass that lower cost back to the county by way of a lower energy rate.”