2023 ANNUAL REPORT
LEADING THE TRANSFORMATION TO WISCONSIN’S RENEWABLE ENERGY FUTURE THROUGH ADVOCACY, EDUCATION, AND COLLABORATION.
Thank you for your support of RENEW Wisconsin!
Over the past 12 months, RENEW has been hard at work advancing renewable energy policies for all Wisconsinites. In 2023, we grew the renewables industry and our own team. We hired our first staff attorney, expanded our communications team, introduced new business member benefits, and launched a new digital platform that will facilitate connections between RENEW business members and our staff.
This year, we saw more renewable energy policy activity than ever. We defended net metering in two utility rate cases at the Public Service Commission, resulting in the opening of a generic docket to examine the benefits of rooftop solar across all of Wisconsin’s investor-owned utilities. At the Capitol, we advanced legislation on community solar and fought to pass a bill that would enable the public charging of electric vehicles by the kilowatt-hour. With your help, our staff have continued to make RENEW a major voice for renewables in Wisconsin!
We continue to set our sights on a decarbonized Badger State. RENEW’s all-of-the-above approach to renewable energy will mean a cleaner, healthier, and more affordable future for all of Wisconsin.
In 2024, RENEW will continue to advocate, educate, and collaborate to:
- Fight for fair compensation for behind-the-meter solar across the entire state.
- Make clean energy more affordable, accessible, and available by working for community solar, better net metering policies, and access to energy efficiency and other beneficial electrification options.
- Engage with new constituencies who can benefit from a zero-carbon future.
- Increase renewable energy production and distribution by mobilizing support for high-quality, utility-scale renewables.
- Lead a bipartisan coalition of Wisconsinites to implement and defend laws and policies that advance solar, wind, biogas, local hydropower, electric vehicles, energy storage, and building electrification.
Thanks to your support, RENEW continues to have a major influence on our state’s energy policies. Together, we can build a healthier, smarter Wisconsin through the advancement of clean energy.
RENEW Wisconsin Executive Director
It was a busy year for Andrew Kell (Policy Director) and Michael Vickerman (Clean Energy Deployment Manager) at the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (PSCW), with several decisions that will affect clean energy for years to come. Distributed solar was threatened by MGE and Alliant rate cases that sought to alter net metering. RENEW and other clean energy advocates fiercely defended net metering. A week before the PSC ruling, RENEW Wisconsin reached an agreement with Alliant Energy to revamp the Power Partners proposal and reduce risk for solar installer members. Ultimately, the PSCW voted to retain net metering for Alliant Energy and Madison Gas and Electric customers, a victory for Wisconsin’s solar industry.
LARGE-SCALE RENEWABLE ENERGY DEVELOPMENT
This year, the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (PSCW) issued construction permits for six large-scale solar power projects. This year’s crop of PSCW-approved solar power projects will clock in at 1,300 megawatts (MW), the largest annual increase in solar power to date. For comparison, the PSCW approved 614 MW of new solar generating capacity in 2022 and 1,125 MW in 2021.
Five of the six approved projects this year will incorporate battery energy storage systems (BESS), with a combined total of approximately 480 MW. In addition, Wisconsin Public Service and Madison Gas and Electric energized the 28-turbine, 92 MW Red Barn Wind Park in Grant County. Michael Vickerman (Clean Energy Deployment Manager) has been tracking these solar and wind projects, and RENEW staff continue to support clean energy developers in Wisconsin communities and at the PSCW.
Beata Wierzba (Government Affairs Director) kept busy in her first year with RENEW, working to promote clean energy at the state capital. This year, Republicans introduced a bill allowing private developers to pursue community solar. RENEW worked with coalition partners to advocate for the bill, and a hearing is scheduled in the Assembly Committee on Energy and Utilities. In November, Wisconsin legislators introduced two bills that would establish a standard for Wisconsin to allow private entities to own and operate electric vehicle (EV) charging stations and charge customers by the amount of electricity used rather than the time it takes to charge the vehicle. The bills would enable Wisconsin to access $78 million in federal funding for the construction of EV charging stations across the state. RENEW continues to advocate for these bills and others that would advance clean energy in Wisconsin.
In April, Governor Evers appointed Sam Dunaiski (Executive Director) as one of 19 members of the Green Ribbon Commission on Clean Energy and Environmental Innovation. The Commissioners will serve as advisors to the state in the creation of Wisconsin’s Green Innovation Fund, the first clean energy fund of its kind in Wisconsin.
In addition to the EV Charging Legislation, Wisconsin has had other significant developments in electric transportation this year. Francisco Sayu (Emerging Technologies Director) was busy promoting electric school buses. In September, the EPA made $500 million in rebate funding available for the 2023 Clean School Bus (CSB) Rebate Program. In October, RENEW celebrated with Palmyra-Eagle Area School District and Dousman Transport Company as they deployed Wisconsin’s first registered, EPA-funded, electric school buses. We’re looking forward to the delivery of the remaining buses awarded to school districts across the state.
FEDERAL FUNDING IN WISCONSIN
The federal funding made available from the Inflation Reduction Act and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law made its way into Wisconsin this year. Sam Dunaiski, Jodi Jean Amble (Deputy Director), and Francisco Sayu (Emerging Technologies Director) have been serving in leadership roles in the Clean Economy Coalition of Wisconsin, which launched in April. In August, Sam and Jodi Jean joined Coalition partners for President Biden’s visit to a Milwaukee wind turbine factory. RENEW also welcomed Aisha Anderson (Communications and Outreach Specialist) to the team in November, who will provide communications support to the Environmental Justice and Infrastructure Initiative and also lead outreach on the Inflation Reduction Act. We continue to partner with the growing coalition and other national organizations looking to connect federal funding to Wisconsin communities.
CELEBRATING LOCAL GOVERNMENTS
RENEW Wisconsin joined County Executive Joe Parisi, Alliant Energy, SunVest Solar, and other community representatives to cut the ribbon on the 17 MW Yahara Solar project on county-owned land. With the completion of this project, Dane County became the fourth U.S. county to power all of its county facilities with 100% renewable electricity.
SOLAR FOR GOOD AND MADISUN SOLAR ENERGY PROGRAM
There was a lot for nonprofits to celebrate this year, and Lauren Cohen (Program Coordinator) and Julia Holzschuh (Communications and Events Coordinator) attended and coordinated 28 Solar for Good ribbon cuttings. This year, grants were awarded to 31 nonprofits through the program, funded by Couillard Solar Foundation. Since 2017, the Solar for Good program has awarded grants to nearly 200 nonprofits across the state.
In March, RENEW Wisconsin and Midwest Renewable Energy Association (MREA) hosted two Solar Workforce Training Courses at Madison Technical College as part of the MadiSUN Solar Energy Program. RENEW has three additional workforce training sessions scheduled for 2024. MadiSUN is the City of Madison’s solar program administered by RENEW Wisconsin.
RENEW TEAM NEWS
In February, RENEW Wisconsin appointed Beata Wierzba as Government Affairs Director following the retirement of Jim Boullion. Alex Beld (Communications Manager), Ismaeel Chartier (Development Director), and Orrie Walvik (Staff Attorney) also joined the team this year. Alex has taken on Jodi Jean Amble’s former role as she takes on new responsibilities as RENEW’s Deputy Director. Orrie is RENEW’s first staff attorney and has previous experience working at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
In June, the RENEW team was happy to attend the 32nd MREA Energy Fair. The Fair brings people together to learn about sustainability and clean energy, connect with others, and take action toward a sustainable future. Staff led workshops, engaged with attendees at our booth, and enjoyed connecting with MREA and other industry partners.
In July, RENEW welcomed three new board members — Michael Troge – Environmental Project Manager with the Oneida Nation, Victoria Soloman – Associate Professor with the UW Madison Division of Extension, and Tonyisha Harris – Associate Director of Youth Media and Partnerships with Action for the Climate Emergency.
Two impressive reports were released this year by RENEW interns from the Energy Analysis and Policy (EAP) program at UW-Madison. Jenna Greene performed a cost-benefit analysis of the modeled scenarios in the Technical Report and Economic Impacts Report, which is part of the Roadmap to NetZero study released last year. Nolan Stumpf’s report explored Wisconsin’s agricultural trends and outlined the potential solar energy has to sustain the state’s agricultural heritage, keep Wisconsin farmers in business, and provide environmental and economic benefits to the greater public. Our newest EAP intern, Darouny Phouybanhdyt, has begun her own research on agrivoltaics, and we’re looking forward to seeing the results of her work.
Amidst all of these developments, Kimberly Bauer (Administrative Coordinator) and Heather Hanson (Finance Manager) have been working tirelessly to support RENEW’s mission.
people reached through speaking engagements
households signed up for solar through the MadiSun Group Buy
MadiSun Solar grants awarded
Solar for Good grants awarded
MW of Solar for Good projects awarded
Our financial performance has enabled us to grow our staff from three employees to 14 employees in the past nine years, establish an endowed internship focused on energy, analysis, and policy from the University of Wisconsin, and strengthen RENEW Wisconsin’s ability to drive our mission of leading and accelerating renewable energy! Your support allows us to continue growing and advancing a stronger, healthier, and more vibrant Wisconsin powered by renewable energy.