RENEW Wisconsin Hosts Electric School Bus Events

RENEW Wisconsin Hosts Electric School Bus Events

On Wednesday, September 20, RENEW Wisconsin held multiple events focused on the benefits electric school buses (ESB) can bring to Wisconsin. The EPA’s Clean School Bus Program provides $5 billion over five years to replace existing school buses with zero-emission and low-emission models. RENEW worked with Lion Electric to bring an electric school bus to Wisconsin, promoting the health and financial benefits of clean transportation.

 To start the day, RENEW held private tours of a Lion Electric school bus for Republican Legislators in conjunction with the Wisconsin Conservative Energy Forum and private tours for Democratic Legislators in conjunction with Wisconsin Conservation Voters. Both events provided a platform for attendees to ask questions about the bus and program to Lion Electric and RENEW Staff.

After the private tours, RENEW and Lion Electric staff opened the electric bus tours to the public, inviting passersby and anyone interested to ride the bus around the Capitol and ask questions of the experts.

RENEW and Lion Electric ended the day at Forest Edge Elementary School, offering the opportunity to tour the bus, hear from students why they want to electrify their school’s transportation, and tour the Forest Edge facility, Wisconsin’s first net zero school!

RENEW was grateful for the opportunity to bring an electric school bus
to the public and private sectors. The EPA announced the opening of
its 2023 Clean School Bus Program on September 28, 2023, which will remain open until January 31, 2024. To learn more or ask questions about this
program, please reach out to RENEW Emerging Technologies Director
Francisco Sayu.

Speeches from Forest Edge: 

Why do fifth graders want Electric School Buses? 
Why do Seniors want Electric School Buses?

2023 Clean School Bus Rebate Program Now Open!

2023 Clean School Bus Rebate Program Now Open!

The EPA has made $500 million in rebate funding available for the 2023 Clean School Bus (CSB) Rebate Program. The application period opened on September 28 and will remain open until January 31, 2024. This is the second rebate funding opportunity through the multi-year funding program.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) launched this program to help school districts purchase new, cleaner school buses for little or no cost. The Clean School Bus Program funds the replacement of existing diesel and gas-powered buses with cleaner buses that result in better air quality on the bus, near bus loading areas, and in the community generally. This program not only protects the health of children and the environment but also reduces operational costs for schools.

2023 Clean School Bus Rebates Overview

The EPA is prioritizing applications from high-need, rural, and Tribal school districts. There are nearly 100 Wisconsin school districts on the priority list. School Districts are eligible to receive rebates of up to $345,000 per school bus, up to 25 buses per district. These funds are also intended to cover the cost of charging infrastructure.

The deadline to apply for this year’s rebate program is January 31, 2024. School districts that previously applied for CSB funding may reapply if they meet eligibility requirements. Applicants on the 2022 CSB Rebate waitlist must also reapply.


Important Dates



Online Rebates Application Period September 28, 2023 – January 31, 2024
Final date to submit questions January 10, 2024
EPA reviews rebate applications and begins the selection process February 2024
EPA notifies applicants of selection and posts selectees online. Selectees can proceed with purchasing new buses and eligible infrastructure April 2024
Selectees submit Payment Request Forms with purchase orders April 2024 – October 2024
Deadline to receive new buses, install EV chargers, replace old buses, and submit final documentation April 2026

The following entities are eligible to apply for EPA school bus rebates:

  • State and local governmental entities that provide bus services, such as public school districts, including charter schools, with an NCES District ID.
  • Eligible contractors such as for profit or nonprofit entities that have the capacity to sell or finance clean or zero-emissions school buses or related charging infrastructure to school bus owners.
  • Nonprofit school transportation associations.
  • Indian Tribes, Tribal organizations, or tribally controlled schools responsible for the purchase of school buses or providing school bus service for a Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) funded school.

For questions about eligibility, please contact  

For more information on electric school buses, route planning assistance, and applying to the Clean School Bus Program, contact Francisco Sayu, Director of Emerging Technology at RENEW Wisconsin, at

Shining a Bright Light on St. Dunstan’s Episcopal Church’s Solar Commitment

Shining a Bright Light on St. Dunstan’s Episcopal Church’s Solar Commitment

Located in Madison, Wisconsin, St. Dunstan’s Episcopal Church, founded in 1958, has embarked on a notable journey towards sustainability and environmental responsibility. This warm and inclusive congregation, comprising approximately 200 households, places a strong emphasis on creation care, welcome for all, and the full inclusion of LGBTQIA+ individuals. Their recent venture into renewable energy underscores their commitment to their faith and environmental stewardship.

St. Dunstan’s has long been aware of its carbon footprint. In 2016, the church established a Creation Care mission statement, outlining its commitment to nurturing a reverence for the natural world, reducing its ecological impact, and broadening its involvement in environmental initiatives. To this end, the church had previously sourced all its energy through MGE’s shared solar and green energy programs. However, with mounting concerns about climate change, the congregation sought to take more direct action.

In the fall of 2022, St. Dunstan’s Episcopal Church received a grant from RENEW Wisconsin’s Solar for Good program. This initiative supports nonprofits in the state in installing solar arrays, marking the inception of an ambitious effort to generate renewable energy on-site. This decision aligned with the church’s pre-existing commitment to environmental stewardship.

The resulting 29.7-kilowatt solar array, installed by Full Spectrum Solar, consists of 55 panels and is anticipated to offset 75 percent of their estimated annual energy consumption.

Financial backing for the project was a collaborative effort. St. Dunstan’s secured a generous gift from a donor, further complemented by pledges from congregation members and friends. Additional financial support was provided through grants and incentives, including the MadiSUN Backyard Solar grant and Focus on Energy support. Enthusiasm surrounding the project sparked additional donations from congregation members. 

Beyond achieving self-sufficiency through energy generation, St. Dunstan’s remains firmly committed to community service and outreach. The solar project aligns harmoniously with their mission of social justice and community support. As energy costs rise and budgetary pressures mount, the solar project is anticipated to alleviate some of these financial burdens, enabling the church to reallocate funds back into its mission.

In the summer of 2023, St. Dunstan’s hosted a solar dedication event. This event served as an opportunity to celebrate and promote their 29.7-kilowatt solar array to their congregation and the wider community. It included information sessions on the economic and environmental benefits of solar energy, as well as details regarding financial incentives for installing a solar system.

St. Dunstan’s Episcopal Church’s commitment to renewable energy is a shining example of how faith-based organizations can lead by example in environmental stewardship while simultaneously nurturing a sense of community, social justice, and environmental consciousness. Their dedication to their values and the environment serves as a compelling illustration of the positive impact such initiatives can have on local communities and the broader world.

People’s United Methodist Church Celebrates Completion of Solar Project

People’s United Methodist Church Celebrates Completion of Solar Project

On Sunday, September 24, People’s United Methodist Church (PUMC) hosted a dedication ceremony to celebrate the completion of its solar array. The solar project is substantial, with an installed capacity of 70.3 kW, poised to offset approximately 64 percent of the church’s power consumption. In addition, a 7.56-kW installation at the church house is expected to generate 10,000 kWh annually, covering 94 percent of its current power usage.

PUMC’s commitment to sustainability extends beyond solar installations. They were named a 2023 Climate Champion by the Dane County Office of Energy and Climate Change for their consistent efforts.

“Climate justice is social justice, and our commitment will do more for people worldwide than almost any other effort we can support at this time,” said representatives from the church. “Together, we are doing a powerful ministry for our world today and for future generations.”

Funding for this solar project was secured from various sources, including a grant from Solar for Good, financial support from Focus on Energy, and a 30% elective pay from the federal government under the Inflation Reduction Act. A vital component of their fundraising efforts was a capital campaign, fortified by a pledge from an internal donor.

Established in 1845, PUMC has been a steadfast presence in their community. PUMC is a Christian community of faith open to all people, focused on issues such as racial inequality, food security, and environmental justice.

PUMC’s journey in environmental stewardship began with small-scale initiatives; however, their ambitions for sustainability expanded in 2019 when they initiated plans for a solar installation. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic introduced logistical challenges and financial uncertainties that momentarily halted progress.

Nevertheless, their objective remained unchanged —  commit to environmental stewardship and reduce their carbon footprint. They also sought to enhance community engagement by participating in the Midwest Solar group buy program for Dane County in the spring of 2023 as part of their solar project.

Other notable works include participating in a Solar group buy, implementing recycling initiatives, hosting an annual Green Fair, and exploring the possibility of adding heat pumps for the church office and preschool. 

PUMC’s solar project goes beyond a technological upgrade; it exemplifies its commitment to environmental preservation and carbon footprint reduction. This effort guarantees not only long-term reductions in utility costs but also allocates substantial financial resources that can be redirected toward their other critical social justice initiatives. PUMC’s journey toward environmental stewardship stands as a compelling example for other nonprofit organizations and community groups, showing how sustainable practices can foster positive change.

From Brownfield to Bright Ideas: Green Tech Station’s Journey to Green Energy

From Brownfield to Bright Ideas: Green Tech Station’s Journey to Green Energy

On Thursday, September 28, the Northwest Side Community Development Corporation (NWSCDC) celebrated the completion of their 8.88-kilowatt solar system at their Green Tech Station Facility. The solar installation on this site represents a pivotal step forward for the former brownfield site.

Green Tech Station’s significance lies not only in its solar capabilities but also in its role as an outdoor environmental education destination. This site has been thoughtfully designed to attract hundreds of visitors each year, catering to individuals of all ages.

NWSCDC, a nonprofit community development organization established in 1983, operates across multiple program areas with the goal of supporting neighborhood stability and economic growth.

“The solar electric generation at Green Tech Station will offset our energy use at the site and allows us to expand the environmental education and green technology features for learning and observation,” said Andrew Haug, Senior Development Manager at NWSCDC. “Students, community groups, and researchers will benefit by seeing renewable energy working together with stormwater management.”

The journey from a remediated brownfield to an outdoor education hub is remarkable. The site boasts a host of features, including bioswales, an underground stormwater cistern, over 465 newly planted trees, the restoration of native prairie, and the creation of a constructed wetland. These elements collectively provide a tangible opportunity for visitors to witness sustainable practices and green technologies in action.

An outdoor pavilion, completed in late 2021, serves as the educational focal point of Green Tech Station. As NWSCDC highlights its solar array, visitors can expect both an educational experience and a practical demonstration of renewable energy.

The excess energy generated by the expanded solar array will be channeled back into the grid, creating savings that will be reinvested into programming and maintenance at Green Tech Station.

NWSCDC’s solar array signifies a significant step toward sustainability and stands as a symbol of progress and education within the Milwaukee community. This solar installation’s capacity to generate clean energy showcases the potential of renewable technology.

The installation powers the facility and serves as a lesson on the benefits of embracing renewable energy solutions. As hundreds of visitors, young and old, explore Green Tech Station, they are offered a tangible opportunity to witness firsthand how renewable energy and environmental stewardship can coexist.

Why I Purchased a Used Plug-in Hybrid

Why I Purchased a Used Plug-in Hybrid

The transition to a clean and renewable economy includes many paths from all the economic sectors. Some of the transition decisions are made by government, some by business and NGOs, and some by individuals. When it comes to individuals, there are multiple options, such as where we live, our homes and how we live in them, what we eat, what we throw away, and how we travel, to name a few.

When it comes to getting around, the options are varied: walking, biking, ride-sharing, using public transportation, and driving a car, whether gas or electric. In most cases, it’s a combination of these options.

As a self-proclaimed energy geek, I take pride in regularly assessing my energy footprint. I’ve been doing this since the first Earth Day in 1970 when I was a junior in college (yes, I’m dating myself!). I’ve also been labeled as “frugal” by my friends and acquaintances, an apt label considering I still have some shirts from the 1970s. Both my educational training and work in the clean energy space over 40-plus years allow me to tackle both energy and financial impacts systematically.

This particular skill set came in handy when my 2010 Toyota Prius, with 135,000 miles, started to show signs of age and expense. It was time to use my energy assessment tools and frugal habits to select the best vehicle that fit my values. For me, the decision was based on current and future driving patterns, energy and environmental impact, and price ( incentives included).

I walk or bike for most of my short trips in Madison, WI, that are 5 miles or less. My partner of eight years lives almost 10 miles away, and I usually drive to her place three or four times each week. We are both retired and go on occasional daily or weekly road trips that can be hundreds of miles away.

The Inflation Reduction Act now offers up to $4,000 tax credit for qualified used plug-in hybrid electric vehicles that are at least two years old, are purchased after December 31, 2022, from a certified car dealer, cost less than $25,000, and have 7 KW or higher battery storage. To be eligible for the tax credit, an individual must have an Adjusted Gross Income of $75,000 or less and $150,000 or less for married couples for the current or previous tax year.

So, for me, the goal was to find a plug-in electric hybrid that delivered at least 25 miles on electric power, got good gas mileage, had less than 50,000 miles on the odometer, and would qualify for the federal tax credit.

The most likely candidates to fit these requirements were the Toyota Prius Prime, the Hyundai Ionic, and the Kia Niro. All three could be charged overnight using a standard 120-volt outlet, which I had next to my driveway. There are pros and cons for each of these, based on personal preferences and price. In total, my search lasted about six months.

Major online car retailers, like Carfax and Autotrader, helped to determine what was available within a reasonable distance from Madison. Unfortunately, I was unable to find eligible vehicles in the immediate Madison area during this time period. Locating an eligible vehicle for less than $25,000 was also a major limiting variable.

Eventually, I found and purchased a 2018 Toyota Prius Prime from a car dealership in Eau Claire, WI, that met my requirements. After almost three months of charging and driving, I’m pleased with my purchase. The car has been delivering a pretty standard 30-31 miles on pure electric power in town, and 54 to 58 miles per gallon.

After about 2,000 miles I’ve used just 15 gallons of gas. Depending on my final tax status, I’ll have a highly energy-efficient and environmentally friendly vehicle for about $20,000. This definitely meets my energy and frugality goals. I credit the Inflation Reduction Act as key in focusing my attention on a vehicle that allowed me to fulfill my goals.

– Don Wichert
Emeritus Board Member and Founder of RENEW Wisconsin

The Power of Partnership

The Power of Partnership

RENEW Wisconsin and Alliant Energy have agreed to preserve net metering for two years and have created a clear pathway for future rooftop solar installations. At the end of the two-year period, new Alliant solar customers will shift away from net metering and into Power Partnership, a proposal that will support the sustainability of the solar industry.

Power Partnership preserves key aspects of net metering while creating new benefits. The agreement is a compromise that offers a durable framework that recognizes the value of each customer’s solar installation to Alliant’s infrastructure. Power Partnership limits the risk to installers, ensures a steady revenue stream to solar customers, and provides a solid growth path for solar and storage.

Additionally, after net metering is fully phased out, Power Partnership will continue to provide customers and installers with the information they need to estimate payback periods for new installations. This was a non-negotiable aspect of RENEW’s agreement with Alliant.

This is a win for the solar industry and wouldn’t be possible without the incredible grassroots efforts of every person and organization who submitted public comments and testimony to the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin. This unified action helped bring Alliant to the table.

These collective efforts gave us the opportunity to bargain from a strong position and have a voice in crafting what a net metering transition in Wisconsin looks like. This agreement creates certainty for the solar industry and the customers who support it, in both the short and long term.

Key Aspects of the Proposal:

  • New customers with installations under 20 kW will be able to choose between net metering and Power Partnership until Dec. 31, 2025.
  • Net metering customers will receive legacy treatment until 2032.
  • Bill credits earned under Power Partnership will carry over on a monthly basis for one year.
  • Power Partnership will expand access to installations between 20 kW and 75 kW.
  • Alliant will create a payback calculator to help customers plan financially for their solar installations.
  • Customers will have a minimum charge of $10 per month for installations up to 20 kW and $15 per month for installations between 20-75 kW. This charge will not apply to current net metering customers.

Transitions away from net metering are rarely this favorable to solar customers, and we are grateful for Alliant’s collaboration and the organized support of clean energy advocates. RENEW still believes that net metering is the best policy for Wisconsin’s current solar industry, and our opposition to MGE’s proposal continues. We hope that we can depend on your support in that effort.

Clean Energy Legislative Update • September 2023

Clean Energy Legislative Update • September 2023

The 2023-24 legislative session in Wisconsin is nearing the halfway point. Much has happened in the last year, and we are hoping to make great strides by the end of the current legislative session.

This year’s biennial budget bill for 2023-25 had several provisions we were monitoring — however, most of them were removed from the final version. The budget did ultimately include a $75 increase to annual registration fees for electric vehicles.

Despite the outcome of the budget bill, there are still opportunities in several key areas. One of our main focuses of late has been net metering and the two rate cases before the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (PSCW). We are also working to remove barriers in the effort to build EV charging infrastructure while also supporting bills that would allow Wisconsin residents to participate in community solar projects.

Net Metering Proposal

In most states, when you generate electricity from solar panels on your property, you get a credit for the energy you produce, reducing your electricity purchases from the utility and some compensation for sending any excess electricity from your system back to the grid. RENEW Wisconsin has been active in two net metering rate cases before the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (PSCW).

In the Alliant Energy rate case, RENEW and Alliant have agreed to preserve net metering for two years and have created a clear pathway for future rooftop solar installations. At the end of the two-year period, new Alliant solar customers will shift away from net metering and into Power Partnership, a proposal that will support the sustainability of the solar industry.

RENEW still believes that net metering is the best policy for Wisconsin’s current solar industry, and our opposition to MGE’s proposal continues. The comment period for MGE’s rate case before the PSCW has closed. A final decision from the PSCW in both the MGE and Alliant rate cases is expected in late October or early November.

  • RENEW staff has testified in both rate cases before the PSCW.
  • RENEW has encouraged and empowered our members and the public to support net metering through the public comments process.
  • RENEW staff is engaged with state legislators, making them aware of how these rate cases will affect their constituents and the solar industry in general.

Electric Vehicle Charging

Recognizing the need for better access to charging stations to support the electric vehicle industry, RENEW is working to support efforts to remove some of the barriers created by restrictions in state law. State law limits private companies’ ability to build charging stations by only allowing electric utilities to sell electricity to the public.

  • RENEW anticipates legislation (likely led by Sen. Howard Marklein) to be introduced this fall to remove some of these barriers.
  • RENEW is seeking a proposal that would allow non-utilities to provide electricity at charging stations by using the national standard of charging by the kilowatt hour rather than by the time it takes to charge.
  • RENEW staff have been in regular communication with various interested parties and we hope to see movement on this proposal soon.
  • To support these efforts, we also have preliminary plans to host educational, lobbying, and test-driving electric vehicle events through the fall.

Community Solar

Current Wisconsin state law limits solar installations to larger utility-built projects and smaller rooftop installations on private property of individual homes or businesses. What is lacking is the option for community-based projects for individuals to participate in solar energy generation even if they do not own the building or have adequate sun exposure or roof space to accommodate solar installations.

RENEW Wisconsin has joined a coalition of groups that support community solar projects that would provide new opportunities for the industry and customers. Two bills were introduced earlier this year that would allow Wisconsin residents to participate in community solar projects. SB 226 was authored by Sen. Duey Stroebel, and AB 258 was authored by Rep. Scott Krug.

  • RENEW is encouraging the chairman of the committee, Sen. Julian Bradley, to schedule a hearing in October in the Senate Committee on Utilities & Technology.
  • More than 30 organizations are listed as lobbyists on the proposal, with an almost equal number for and against.
  • Utility groups and labor representatives have strongly opposed the bills.
  • Supporters along with RENEW include the Alliance of WI Retailers, NAIOP Commercial Real Estate Association, League of WI Municipalities, WI Property Taxpayer Association, and Fieldworks Power.


Peace Lutheran of Pigeon Falls’ Solar Dedication Brightens the Community

Peace Lutheran of Pigeon Falls’ Solar Dedication Brightens the Community

On Sunday, September 17, Peace Lutheran of Pigeon Falls hosted a solar dedication ceremony to celebrate their new solar array. The 44.3-kilowatt  array was installed by Ethos Green Power and is expected to produce 61,000 kilowatt hours of energy annually.

Peace Lutheran of Pigeon Falls is a congregation of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and has served the community for over 150 years. The installation will help the church with reducing its reliance on conventional energy sources, ultimately saving on energy costs. 

The journey to embrace solar was a collective endeavor, made possible through dedicated support and funding. Notably, Peace Lutheran of Pigeon Falls received funding from Focus on Energy, Solar for Good, Ethos Green Power, and individual donations from its congregation.

The commitment to this initiative would not have been possible without the support of its congregation members, whose dedication to environmental stewardship and care for creation played a pivotal role. 

“Our new solar array is a testament to our ongoing dedication to caring for God’s creation,” said John Skoug, Member of Church Council and Creation Care Team Lead. “This project, in conjunction with our geothermal heating and cooling system, signifies two major steps our church has taken to reduce our environmental impact while simultaneously saving on energy costs.”

Peace Lutheran has undertaken a series of green initiatives. In addition to its solar array, the church has embraced geothermal heating and cooling, upgraded to energy-efficient LED lighting, and implemented a recycling program.

As Peace Lutheran of Pigeon Falls celebrates the completion of their solar project, they stand not only as an example of environmental stewardship within their community but as a model for churches throughout Wisconsin. They have shown that renewable energy is not only an environmentally conscious, but a smart financial decision. 

Elk Creek Solar Project Approved!

Elk Creek Solar Project Approved!

The Elk Creek Solar project, located in the Township of Spring Brook in Dunn County, was approved this month by the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (PSCW). The 300-megawatt (MW) solar project is paired with a 76.6 MW battery energy storage system and is expected to go online by the spring of 2026.

As designed, Elk Creek Solar would supply homegrown, affordable, emission-free electricity to power the equivalent of approximately 60,000 homes for at least 30 years. RENEW Wisconsin submitted testimony in support of the project, and we are excited for construction to begin.

The developer of the project, TED Renewables, has been engaged and transparent with the Springbrook community throughout the approval process by providing detailed information on the benefits and timeline of the project. Beyond generating revenue for local schools and government services, the project is expected to create upwards of 650 jobs during the construction phase and 3-4 highly skilled long-term jobs.

According to TED Renewables, the annual tax revenues for all taxing districts will exceed $1.2 million. As stated in the La Crosse Tribune, “Spring Brook township of $500,000, Dunn County of $700,000 and the Elk Mound Area School District of $60,000.”

Construction is projected to start in the fall of 2024. Throughout the life of the project, the landowner will retain the title to the land and sign a 30-year lease, with the option for a five-year extension. At the end of its operational life, the equipment will be recycled or reused, and the land will be restored. By giving the soil time to rest and planting deep-rooted plants, the quality of the soil will be improved substantially by the time it is once again ready for agricultural use.

Elk Creek Solar is the 17th project larger than 100 MW the PSCW has approved since 2019, totaling 3,249 MW for Wisconsin. Several other projects, including Silver Maple Solar, are awaiting approval.