The proposed Koshkonong Solar Energy Center would be located in southeast Dane County upstream of the Rock River. The centerpiece would be a 300-megawatt solar power generation facility anticipated to begin producing energy in 2024. Koshkonong Solar will also include a 165-megawatt battery storage component to help bolster grid reliability.
As Wisconsin continues to retire coal-fired power plants it is vital to replace those fossil fuel electricity generators with emission-free renewable energy. For example, the Columbia Energy Center, located just south of Portage, is now slated for a 2024 retirement.
Koshkonong Solar would advance the clean energy goals of Dane County, its local municipalities, and residents, and the State of Wisconsin. Koshkonong Solar will generate enough emissions-free electricity to power 60,000 average American homes or just about ¼ of the 240,000 households in Dane County. The project also represents exactly ¼ of the amount of solar capacity Dane County called for in its Climate Action Plan. This single project would also bring an estimated $200 million of investment including lease payments to local landowners and new revenue streams to local governments. Local governments in the project area will receive $1.2 million per year for the life of the project based on Wisconsin’s utility aid fund formula.
The developer for this project is Invenergy, which has successfully permitted other large solar farms in Wisconsin (Badger Hollow, Paris). Koshkonong, like Invenergy’s other projects, is slated to be acquired by Wisconsin utilities, including Madison Gas and Electric.
Air Quality and Carbon Emission Reduction Benefits
Koshkonong Solar will reduce CO2 emissions by between 15 and 20 million tons over its 30-year life, along with reductions in other forms of air pollution such as 12,000 tons of nitrogen oxides (NOx), 12,000 tons of sulfur dioxide (SO2), and 804 tons of particulate matter (PM2.5).
The emissions reductions from the estimated 600,000 megawatt-hours of energy production for the project are equivalent to the carbon sequestered by 7 million tree seedlings grown for 10 years, or the avoided CO2 emissions from 2,345 railcars worth of coal burned. See other comparisons at the EPA greenhouse gas equivalency calculator.
Soil Retention and Water Quality Benefits
Koshkonong Solar will establish deep-rooted prairie vegetation amidst the arrays. This type of vegetation will increase infiltration of the site compared with current agricultural usage by (+2.2%), reduce stormwater runoff (-60% for a 1-year 24-hour rainfall event), nitrogen outflow (-48%), phosphorus outflow (-53%), and Total Suspended Solids outflow (-87%).
These upstream water quality improvements would have a positive impact on downstream environments, and yield material benefits for watershed ecosystems, human health, and recreation. Furthermore, the prairie vegetation will help turn atmospheric carbon into organic carbon, which will be deposited and build up the soil for future agriculture. Koshkonong Solar, like other solar farms, can be returned to agricultural use after the project is completed and equipment is removed, see our solar farm FAQ to learn more.
The Public Service Commission of Wisconsin is currently reviewing the project. We are asking supporters of clean energy, conservation, and climate action to submit comments sharing their support for the project. Your support would be greatly appreciated. Your voice is crucial to move the project forward and advance the clean energy transition in Wisconsin.
Submitting a message of support is easy, simply click on the link below, fill out the form, and click ‘file’. The last day to submit letters of support is July 3rd.
A recent Analysis Group report for Advanced Energy Economy – called Economic Impact of Stimulus Investment in Transportation Electrification – demonstrates a significant return on the stimulus funds spent on electric vehicle (EV) and transportation electrification initiatives as part of President Biden’s American Jobs Plan.
According to the report, a total of $274 billion is slated for transportation electrification initiatives nationwide, which would result in a nearly five-fold return on public investment, or $1.3 trillion added to the national GDP!
This public investment would also spur upwards of 11 million jobs, including EV and battery manufacturing positions; generate over $230 billion in tax revenue for federal, state, and local governments; result in $19 billion annual savings for consumers, businesses, and governments by switching to EVs; and also attract significant private investments at $2.60 to each $1 of public investment.
What does this mean for Wisconsin?
There are legislative discussions underway to allocate $5 million of Wisconsin’s Volkswagen Settlement funds for electric vehicle charging infrastructure. Governor Evers has also proposed $5 million in transportation-funded bonds to be used for EV charging infrastructure. If these two proposals pass, we would have $10 million in public funds investment in EV infrastructure. Using the Advanced Energy Economy report’s finding of a five-fold return on investment for public dollars spent for EV initiatives, these funds have a potential return of $50 million. This would bring Wisconsin’s current GDP of $294 billion to $344 billion, which is significant given that Wisconsin’s GDP dropped by almost $14 billion from 2019 to 2020.
Of course, this $50 million return on investment doesn’t factor in any other future state or local public investments in transportation electrification, including grant programs, utility investments, and other local monies spent on rebates and incentives programs for electric vehicles and charging infrastructure.
Additionally, using the report’s estimated $2.60 in private investments for every $1 of public investment spent, the above combined $10 million in projected public investment from VW Settlement funds and transportation-funded bonds could spur an additional $26 million in direct private investments within the state.
None of the above returns take into account the number of potential Wisconsin jobs to be created by these investments, the fuel and maintenance cost-savings consumers and businesses can expect by switching to EVs, the tax generation that would trickle down to state and local governments from the federal stimulus, or any additional tax revenue generated from investments within the state.
Investing in the electric vehicle market may be the boost to Wisconsin’s economy and jobs that we so badly need.
 Measured in job years, i.e., a job created by stimulus spending that lasts one year equals one job-year. See report.
Residential solar installations are increasing rapidly across Wisconsin. As with any growing industry, it is essential consumers are educated and know how to find responsible, reputable firms.
RENEW has provided tips for consumers when selecting a solar contractor for their home installation and has created a Solar Installers map with links to our solar installer members. However, instances of aggressive salespeople and deficient solar installations continue to grow.
In 2020, RENEW Wisconsin partnered with the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP), the state’s foremost authority on consumer trade, to create consumer awareness around solar, particularly how to choose a qualified, reliable solar contractor.
RENEW Wisconsin thanks the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection for their work on this initiative. It’s reassuring to know the state of Wisconsin is officially prioritizing the protection of solar customers.
In 1991, Don Wichert saw a need for an organization to advocate for Wisconsin’s renewable energy future. As founder and first executive director of RENEW Wisconsin, Don set forth on his mission to promote the development and use of renewable energy resources in the state of Wisconsin. Thirty years later, RENEW is a thriving and growing nonprofit organization working towards clean energy powering a strong, healthy, and vibrant Wisconsin.
RENEW Wisconsin’s accomplishments over the past 30 years are part of Don’s legacy. But there is more work to be done, and Don knows RENEW needs a stable financial foundation to continue its work for another 30 years. He worked with Madison Community Foundation to create a RENEW Wisconsin Charitable Gift Annuity and the RENEW Endowment Fund to ensure a financial pipeline for our clean energy future.
CHARITABLE GIFT ANNUITY For donors interested in taking a charitable deduction on their taxes in the current year while still receiving income from those assets, a charitable gift annuity (CGA) offers the opportunity to achieve both goals. CGAs allow you to make a current tax-deductible gift to benefit RENEW Wisconsin while still receiving a lifetime annual income.
The idea of a charitable gift annuity was very appealing. The guaranteed interest rate was high enough to make it a reasonable investment during my lifetime. And the CGA provides tax benefits too…RENEW, and the work that it does is my legacy.
Don Wichert, RENEW Wisconsin Founder
RENEW ENDOWMENT FUND
The RENEW Endowment Fund supports paid internships from the Energy Analysis and Policy Program at UW-Madison. This endowment allows RENEW to offer a hands-on, real-life job experience to future leaders in renewable energy.
The RENEW staff gave me the trust and mentorship I needed to become a strong clean energy policy advocate. I was able to grow my utility regulation knowledge, energy education skills, and Midwest clean energy network. Thank you, RENEW WI, for being my strong stepping stone into the clean energy industry.
Lauren Reeg – Energy Analysis and Policy Intern
You have the opportunity to help create a cleaner, stronger, more vibrant Wisconsin by setting up a Charitable Gift Annuity listing RENEW Wisconsin as the beneficiary and/or giving to the RENEW Endowment Fund. Madison Community Foundation makes giving incredibly easy.
I can help facilitate communications with Madison Community Foundation to start planning your legacy now. Contact me at: Elizabeth@renewwisconsin.org or call 608-255-4044 ext. 7
Senator Dale Kooyenga (R-Brookfield) and Representative Adam Neylon (R-Pewaukee) circulated a bill earlier this week that would allow for a direct sales business model of electric vehicles (EVs). If passed, EV manufacturers could sell their vehicles directly to consumers, either online or from a manufacturer-owned dealership, rather than through the traditional dealership model we know today.
The Kooyenga/Neylon Bill is key to increasing EV adoption and is a much-needed policy to overcome a free market barrier. It would permit Wisconsin’s consumers greater access to EVs that better suit their financial and driving needs by allowing them to purchase online or directly from the manufacturer-dealership.
Consumer purchasing power is especially relevant when considering increased demand in the electric vehicle market. Edmunds predicts the U.S. will experience record EV sales in 2021, while Bloomberg projections demonstrate increased demand in the coming decades, with a projected 54 million EV sales in 2040. Even here in Wisconsin, we can expect anywhere from 25%-50% EV adoption by 2050. Adopting the Kooyenga/Neylon bill would give consumers more EV purchasing options, granting direct access to their electric vehicle models of choice as EV demand continues to climb and more models become available.
UPDATE: The first grant cycle for EVs for Good closed Saturday, May 1, 2021. Applications for the second grant cycle are now being accepted on a rolling basis.
March 5th, 2021
RENEW is happy to announce EVs for Good, a new grant program created to foster the expansion of and transition to electric vehicles among nonprofits in Wisconsin. EVs for Good will reduce the upfront costs of purchasing an electric vehicle while reducing vehicle maintenance costs and transportation emissions.
RENEW Wisconsin’s mission is to lead and accelerate the transformation to Wisconsin’s renewable energy future through advocacy, education, and collaboration. Transportation accounts for approximately 25% of Wisconsin’s energy use and emissions. This presents a huge opportunity to transition our state’s vehicles away from fossil fuels and onto clean, renewable electricity sources. Electrifying transportation will result in lower carbon emissions and improved air quality for all Wisconsinites.
EVs for Good is possible thanks to a generous donation from Carol and Andy Phelps. The Phelps installed a solar array at their Middleton home in 2019 and recently purchased an electric vehicle to further reduce their carbon emissions. The Phelps are extremely happy with their shift from gasoline and want to ensure everyone has the same opportunity.
“Everyone thinks electric cars are only for rich people, but EVs are for everybody,” said Andy Phelps.
This interview of Carol and Andy Phelps explains why they are so passionate about the EVs for Good program.
EVs for Good will offer grants for 20% of the cost of an electric vehicle, with a maximum grant of $5,000. Larger grants, capped at $10,000, are available for organizations seeking to purchase an electric van or bus. In addition, $500 grants are available for organizations who choose to install Level 2 (or higher) electric vehicle charging equipment.
Preference will be given to organizations that work on issues related to social justice or education. Preference will also be given to organizations that serve black, indigenous and people of color (BIPOC), low-income, or rural communities, as well as, those that serve children or seniors.
Nonprofits can apply for the following:
Vehicle Grant: Covers 20% of the cost of a new or used electric vehicle, with a $5,000 maximum amount. Grants may also cover 20% of an electric bicycle or an electric cargo bicycle purchase.
Van or Bus Grant: Covers 20% of the cost of a new or used electric van or bus, with a maximum grant amount of $10,000. The vehicle must be able to transport eight or more persons safely.
Electric Vehicle Charging Equipment Grant: $500 grant for nonprofits installing a Level 2 (or higher) electric vehicle charger.
Organizations that receive an EVs for Good grant must agree to promote their awards in their communities. This outreach can be a media event, an open house for the solar + charging infrastructure, a vehicle demonstration, or a “ride and drive” for an electric vehicle purchase.
Grants will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis, with the initial grant cycle opening in Spring 2021. If all funds are not awarded in Spring 2021, grant applications will be accepted on a biannual basis until all funds are dispersed.
The initial grant cycle for EVs for Good opens on Thursday, April 1, 2021. Applications are due by Saturday, May 1, 2021. Questions can be emailed to email@example.com.
Nationally, the solar industry employed 231,474 workers in 2020. The report tracks all solar jobs in residential and utility-scale construction, as well as all supply chains, and includes anyone who spends 50% or more of their time working on solar-related activities.
While overall national solar employment dropped, the Solar Jobs Census results did show favorable numbers in specific categories. Diversity in the workforce increased, mainly among women but also among Blacks, Asians, Latinos, and Hispanics. Additionally, the Census demonstrated that pay rates for solar jobs were comparable or higher than the U.S. averages for similar occupations in energy and construction industries.
Productivity in solar showed significant growth in 2020. Record amounts of solar installations occurred last year as the total U.S. capacity increased by over 19,000 megawatts. A vast majority (73%) of the installed solar capacity was utility-scale, but residential solar productivity also increased by 19% nationwide.
Here in Wisconsin, our solar installation totals set records last year. The completion of the Two Creeks solar farm in Manitowoc County was part of over 200 megawatts of solar that came online in 2020. According to RENEW’s analysis, Wisconsin’s cumulative solar capacity more than doubled in 2020.
Wisconsin residential solar installations also increased in 2020. Over 10 megawatts of solar were installed on homes last year compared with approximately 5 megawatts in 2019. Focus on Energy saw nearly a tripling of requests for residential solar incentives, going from around 700 reservations to over 2,000. This surge in solar adoption was likely due to people spending more time in their homes, recognizing their energy consumption habits, and seeking to reduce their utility bills.
According to the Solar Jobs Census, solar employment figures in the Badger state saw a slight improvement from last year’s figures. Across the state, jobs were up from 2,871 in 2019 to 2,910 in 2020. Wisconsin is ranked #26 nationally for all solar-related employment.
While the Wisconsin job totals are reassuring, significant workforce growth is still needed. According to SEIA, “the solar industry is on a trajectory to reach 400,000 solar jobs by 2030,” but “employment will need to exceed 900,000 workers by 2035 to reach the 100% clean electricity goal set by President Biden.”
Approximately 2,450 megawatts of generation are expected to come online in Wisconsin over the next 3-5 years. We will need to scale up our solar workforce in that timeframe to complete these projects. Wisconsin’s solar industry offers an unparalleled opportunity to grow our clean energy workforce and reinvest millions in our local economies.
Several dozen EV owners and car dealers gathered in Madison with an assortment of all-electric vehicles, hybrids, and electric motorcycles, including the new Ford Mustang Mach-E, BMW Roadster, and the Harley LiveWire Motorcycle, amongst other makes and models.
Parade participants started at Brittingham Park in Madison, drove through the city and Capitol Square, and then returned to Brittingham Park. You can watch the parade on Channel 3000.com.
The parade was inspired by EV drivers who see the transition to electric vehicles as another tool in the fight against climate change. Other EV owners mentioned that EVs are fun to drive and even stand up to the challenges of Wisconsin’s cold winters!
For more information about the parade or upcoming electric vehicle events, please contact Jeremy Orr at (608) 210-1428 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Department of Energy recently announced $162 Million in grant funding to electrify medium- and heavy-duty trucks, expand electric vehicle infrastructure, and increase vehicle efficiency. This funding is an important step towards EV adoption, decarbonization, and emerging technologies in general. The programs will help to electrify transportation while allowing enough flexibility for project applicants to focus on different low emissions concepts that suit their communities.
The Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy (EERE)’s Vehicle Technologies Office (VTO) and Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technologies Office are partnering on the “SuperTruck 3” funding opportunity, which will provide up to $100 million to electrify medium- and heavy-duty truck projects that increase vehicle efficiency and decrease emissions. The funding will be available over four years and can be used for:
All-electric vehicle concepts
Hybrid systems using renewable biofuels
Hydrogen fuel cell technologies and hybrid concepts such as fuel cell range extenders
In addition to SuperTruck 3 funding, the Vehicle Technologies Office is offering $62 Million for on- and off-road vehicle projects that reduce emissions and increase vehicle efficiency. Eligible activities include the expansion of electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure and community-level projects that reduce barriers to EV adoption, such as the installation of EV charging stations at multi-family dwellings.
Concept papers are due May 13, 2021, at 5 PM EST, with full applications due July 12, 2021, at 5 PM EST. Applicants for both funding opportunities are required to submit a plan detailing diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts, including project benefits for underrepresented communities.
On Tuesday, April 27, 2021, the City of Madison and Dane County announced the start of this year’s MadiSUN Solar Energy Programs. The MadiSUN programs aim to expand access to local renewable energy and include initiatives and grants that assist residents, businesses, and nonprofit organizations with onsite solar electric installations.
The MadiSUN Solar Group Buy is for Dane County homeowners looking to install solar on their rooftops. The Solar for Business program provides project grants and consulting services for Madison businesses interested in installing solar electric systems. And the Backyard Solar program offers up to $10,000 in grants for affordable housing providers and nonprofit organizations seeking to install solar electric systems at their facilities in the City of Madison.
The Group Buy program, now in its sixth year, will expand this year to offer solar installations to homeowners across Dane County. The Group Buy has spurred approximately $2.38 million in clean energy investments since 2016 and has added over 800 kilowatts of renewable electricity to the community’s electric grid. To date, nearly 200 local homes have gone solar through MadiSUN.
“Now in its sixth year, the MadiSUN program offers a way for residents, businesses, nonprofits, and affordable housing providers to go solar,” said Stacie Reece, the Sustainability Program Coordinator for the City of Madison. “Every rooftop solar installation contributes to the City of Madison’s goal of 100% renewable energy and helps reduce carbon emissions.”
In addition to expanding the Group Buy to all of Dane County, the program will also expand the number of solar contractors. MadiSUN has partnered with Full Spectrum Solar, Midwest Solar Power, and Arch Electric to ensure residents have access to reputable, experienced contractors for their solar installations.
“With the program’s expansion this year, we wanted to ensure that homeowners throughout the county had multiple options when it came to solar,” stated Sam Dunaiski, Program Director for MadiSUN. “Residents in rural portions of Dane County have different needs than residents in urban or suburban areas. Homeowners will now have access to more solar contractors and the different materials and services they provide.”
The Group Buy will also provide multiple options for homeowners looking to finance their solar systems. Low-interest loans for solar arrays will be available through greenpenny bank and Clean Energy Credit Union.
“We can offer Dane County residents fast, easy, and affordable financing for their solar projects,” said Jason MacDuff, Vice President of greenpenny. “Whether the appeal of solar is its climate stewardship, its economic benefits, or both, greenpenny’s mission is to finance a sustainable tomorrow.”
The Solar for Business program, currently in its fourth year, will offer grants to Madison-based businesses choosing to install onsite solar arrays. The program has facilitated solar on 16 businesses across the city for a total capacity of more than 750 kilowatts of renewable energy.
The Backyard Solar program will continue to offer grants for solar projects with affordable housing providers and nonprofit organizations in Madison. The program approved seven grants during its first two years of operation. These seven projects will result in nearly 550 kilowatts of solar energy, enough to power roughly 100 households.
Movin’ Out, an affordable housing provider based in Madison, won a Backyard grant in 2020 to install a 100-kilowatt solar array at the Ace Apartments. The facility will provide affordable housing access to children, veterans, the disabled, and their families.
“The opportunity to participate in MadiSUN’s Backyard Solar program helps us achieve our goals for green building to provide the healthiest possible environments for the people and communities we serve,” said Kathryne Auerback, Executive Director of Movin’ Out. “The more we are able to invest in renewable energy and environmentally sustainable building now, the greater the returns will be in the long run.”
Residents can receive a complimentary solar assessment by visiting madisunsolar.com and filling out the “I’m Interested” form. Applications for the Group Buy program must be submitted by August 31, 2021. The application deadline for the Backyard Solar Grant is September 1, 2021, and applications for the Solar for Business grant are open until December 31, 2021.
MadiSUN facilitates solar power installation for residents, businesses, and nonprofits located within the City of Madison. Promotional videos can be accessed by visiting MadiSUN’s YouTube channel. More can be found at www.madisunsolar.com.
About RENEW Wisconsin
RENEW Wisconsin is a nonprofit organization that promotes solar power, wind power, biogas, local hydropower, geothermal energy, and electric vehicles in Wisconsin. RENEW Wisconsin is contracted by the City of Madison to administer the MadiSUN programs. More information can be found at www.renewwisconsin.org.