by Lauren Cohen | Mar 24, 2023 | Events, Programs, Solar
On February 7, 2023, and March 2, 2023, 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. MadiSUN
is the City of Madison’s solar program administered by RENEW Wisconsin.
Solar installer is one of the fastest-growing jobs in the United States. Madison has a robust solar market, and solar installers struggle to find enough qualified employees. In response to this need, RENEW Wisconsin crafted a solar workforce initiative that had two primary goals:
1. To increase the number of qualified, trained workers in our community that local solar contractors could utilize to expand the total solar capacity installed in Madison.
2. To increase family-supporting careers within communities of color and low-income communities in the City of Madison.
To fulfill these goals, RENEW Wisconsin partnered with MREA instructors to host two “Solar 100” training sessions. These classes were each a one-day (8-hour) course that introduced participants to solar photovoltaic (PV) technology and workplace safety.
The course catered to those interested in a career in solar but unsure where to begin. It provided participants with many basic skills necessary for a career in the solar industry, making them more appealing to solar installation companies.
In the future, RENEW is working to find additional opportunities for participants of the Solar 100 class to take advanced training to obtain full North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP) certification. While NABCEP certification is not needed to become a solar energy professional, it gives individuals more opportunities to further their careers.
Thank you to the City of Madison, MREA, and the students who made this initiative a success. We hope to provide more training opportunities in the future to advance clean energy in Wisconsin.
by Sam Dunaiski | Feb 1, 2023 | Community, Events, Local Initiatives, RENEW Wisconsin
On Thursday, January 26th, RENEW held our 12th annual Renewable Energy Summit. Attendees from across Wisconsin, the Midwest, and even around the globe gathered to learn more about the clean energy transition taking place in our state. With over 600 attendees and dozens of exhibitors, this year’s Summit was our most successful to date!
Our amazing cast of panelists, presenters, and guest speakers highlighted how new federal legislation will help drive clean energy deployment in Wisconsin. As renewable energy sources continue to grow in our state, the tools available from the Inflation Reduction Act, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, and other bills will increase the speed at which we phase out fossil fuels.
Each year our Summit continues to grow in size and scope. The energy and excitement at this year’s event were absolutely palpable. Thank you to the sponsors, volunteers, staff, attendees, and everyone else that helped make this an amazing Summit!
by RENEW Wisconsin | Jan 23, 2023 | Events, RENEW Wisconsin
During its twelfth annual Renewable Energy Summit, RENEW Wisconsin, with presenting sponsors greenpenny and Invenergy, will honor individuals and businesses who have made significant and lasting advances in clean energy development in Wisconsin. The Summit will take place Thursday, January 26, 2023, at Monona Terrace in Madison.
RENEW’s 2023 Summit, titled “Sizing Up the Clean Energy Transformation,” will take a close look at the forces unleashed by the Inflation Reduction Act, the most important climate action ever undertaken by the federal government, and assess the impact of this landmark law on Wisconsin’s energy landscape. Featured speakers include Michelle Moore, CEO of Groundswell; Jennifer Bumgarner, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Congressional and Intergovernmental Affairs; and Wisconsin Public Service Chairperson Rebecca Cameron Valcq.
The awards are grouped under four categories:
Clean Energy Policymaker:
State Senator Robert Cowles
Clean Energy Pioneer:
City of Madison
Clean Energy Warriors:
Will Kenworthy, Vote Solar
Tim Lindl, Keyes and Fox
Denny Wroblewski, Northwind Solar
Josh Stolzenburg, Northwind Soar
Jim Pullen, Eagle Point Solar
Erick Shambarger, City of Milwaukee
Amy Heart, Sunrun
David Bender, EarthJustice
Nick Hylla, Midwest Renewable Energy Association
Clean Energy Honor Roll:
EnTech Solutions, Middleton
Solar-powered renewable natural gas (RNG) production facility
Solar-powered school campus
Bad River Tribe (Ishkinoge Nawadide), Odanah
Solar-powered microgrid – resiliency for the reservation
Dominion Properties/Arch Solar, Shorewood
Vertical solar installation serving an office building
Dynamic Renewables/BC Organics, Greenleaf
Large-scale RNG production facility
Friends Meeting House, Madison
All-electric building tapping into onsite energy
Alliant Energy – Wood County Solar Farm, Nekoosa
Utility-scale solar generation
Clean Energy Policymaker: Senator Robert Cowles
Representing the 2nd Senate district in the Green Bay and Fox Valley area since 1987, Sen. Robert Cowles has been a dedicated and productive champion of clean energy policy throughout his Senate career. Over the years, Sen. Cowles has sought to advance energy efficiency and renewable energy through legislation that balances economic and environmental interests. Among Sen. Cowles’ accomplishments are several comprehensive bills that (1) established Wisconsin’s energy resource priorities (1994), (2) expanded the state’s utility local aids law to promote in-state renewable power (2003), and (3) safeguarded the statewide Focus on Energy program from harmful budget raids (2006). Ongoing clean energy initiatives championed by Sen. Cowles include those to allow convenience store operators to sell electricity for electric vehicle charging purposes and to clarify the legality of third-party-owned renewable energy systems built on a customer’s property to serve that customer.
Clean Energy Pioneer: City of Madison
In March 2017, Madison adopted an ambitious climate goal: to achieve 100% renewable energy and net zero carbon emissions for city operations by 2030 and communitywide by 2050. The award salutes the City for its conscientious and systematic approach to advancing local clean energy and ensuring that its investments and programs benefit the entire community. By the end of 2022, the City’s accomplishments encompassed the following:
- Installing more than 1,800 kilowatts (kW) of solar generation on its own facilities, including approximately 500 kW in 2022. Unlike other local governments, the City designs and installs most of its solar installations. This initiative also provides a platform for a solar training program aimed at underemployed and unemployed residents to better prepare them for future job opportunities in the solar marketplace.
- Partnering with Madison Gas & Electric to purchase the output from the Hermsdorf solar farm in southeast Madison. The 8 MW array went live in April 2022 and now offsets 22% of the City’s electricity usage.
- Leveraging the installation of more than 300 solar PV systems on homes and multifamily buildings through its MadiSUN program, including 64 in 2022.
- Acquiring, by the end of 2022, 85 electric vehicles, more than 150 hybrid-electric vehicles, and the first all-electric fire truck operating in the United States. The City is also testing three all-electric buses.
Clean Energy Pioneer – Warriors
The recognition ceremony will also honor businesses and individuals who, at various times, led the campaign to enable Wisconsin electricity customers to access third-party-financed renewable energy systems installed on their property. This has been a long-standing policy priority for RENEW, stretching back to 2012. After years of being stalemated at the Public Service Commission, Wisconsin’s solar industry finally received some good news. In December 2022, the Commission affirmed the legality of a private contract between a utility customer and a solar energy provider. This will allow, on a limited basis, electricity customers to access solar energy onsite through leases or service agreements, so long as the contract meets certain criteria.
The ceremony will conclude with the 2022 Clean Energy Honor Roll, in which RENEW will recognize seven clean energy projects in Wisconsin that recently commenced operation. Whether on the basis of their productivity, innovativeness, attention to detail, scale, resourcefulness, or efficacy in reducing carbon emissions, these seven projects showcase the skills and know-how Wisconsin stakeholders bring to the clean energy marketplace in the Badger State.
This annual event features an exposition hall, breakout sessions, and industry professionals discussing current and future opportunities for advancing clean energy in Wisconsin.
Click here for more information on the 2023 Summit program agenda, speakers, and registration. For press passes, please email Jodi Jean Amble (email@example.com).
by Francisco Sayu | Sep 16, 2022 | Community, Electric Vehicles, Electrification, Events, Solar, Sustainability
With an invitation extended by Governor Tony Evers, RENEW’s Interim Executive Director, Jessica Niekrasz, and Emerging Technology Director, Francisco Sayu, joined President Biden, his cabinet, and lawmakers at the White House on Tuesday, September 13, to celebrate the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA).
The celebration – including a surprise appearance by James and Kim Taylor – was a stunning reminder of our collective power to accomplish “big things” when we work together. “Today offers proof that the soul of America is vibrant, the future of America is bright, and the promise of America is real,” Biden said during his speech on the South Lawn.
RENEW applauds the Biden administration for signing the IRA – the most significant climate legislation ever passed in the U.S. The IRA includes $369 billion to help families save money on energy, improve quality of life, create stable jobs, and fight climate change by reducing carbon emissions.
RENEW is dedicated to building a stronger, healthier, more vibrant Wisconsin through the advancement of renewable energy. The clean energy investments in the IRA will boost renewable energy and beneficial electrification in Wisconsin, limiting our dependence on imported gas and petroleum. This market transformation is needed to begin transitioning our economy away from fossil fuels that bleed our state’s economy by $14 billion yearly.
Wisconsin Families that take advantage of the clean energy incentives and electric vehicle tax credits in the IRA could save more than $1,000 per year. Here are some of the benefits available to Wisconsin residents:
- Up to $14,000 in direct consumer rebates for families to buy heat pumps or other energy-efficient home appliances, saving families at least $350 per year.
- 30% tax credit to install rooftop solar systems, saving families $9,000 over the system’s life or at least $300 per year.
- Up to $7,500 in tax credits for new electric vehicles and $4,000 for used electric vehicles, helping families save $950 per year.
The clean energy investments in the IRA support the Governor’s climate goals, as outlined in Wisconsin’s Clean Energy Plan. These investments will help power homes, businesses, and communities with homegrown renewable energy, improve health outcomes, and create stable jobs for residents of Wisconsin.
RENEW was honored to be at the White House representing the great state of Wisconsin and thanks Governor Tony Evers for this incredible opportunity. Inclusion at this historic celebration is a testament to the incredible work the RENEW team has been doing for over thirty years. We look forward to helping our state take advantage of the opportunities offered by the IRA, and will continue to support access to clean energy for families, businesses, and communities in Wisconsin.
by Michael Vickerman | Aug 29, 2022 | Community, Events, Local Initiatives, Solar, Sustainability
Bear Creek Project Ushers in Gigawatt of Solar Capacity
Alliant Energy’s ambitious solar portfolio debuted on August 22 with a ribbon-cutting ceremony at its 50-megawatt (MW) Bear Creek project near Lone Rock in Richland County. Electricity produced from Bear Creek should equate to the annual consumption of approximately 13,000 residences.
Bear Creek will be followed by 11 more Alliant-owned solar projects totaling more than a gigawatt (1,000 MW), which are expected to go online over the next 18 months. Indeed, Alliant’s Wisconsin affiliate is on a trajectory to source 20% of its electricity from solar power by 2025. All 12 projects were approved by the Public Service Commission (PSC). (See table below for a complete list of Alliant’s solar projects.)
“This project is an incredible milestone for our customers,” said David de Leon, Alliant Energy’s Wisconsin President. “Guided by our purpose-driven strategy to serve customers and build stronger communities, this solar farm diversifies our energy portfolio, boosts American energy independence, and increases access to affordable electricity.”
The Bear Creek project drew praise from several project partners, including the Town of Buena Vista. “This project represents a significant, long-term investment in our community,” said Van Nelson, the town of Buena Vista clerk. “The township appreciated how well they were kept informed of progress throughout the project.”
With the completion of Bear Creek, Buena Vista and Richland County expect to reap a combined $200,000 annually from the state’s shared revenue program over 30 years. The project site covers 456 acres.
Construction of the Bear Creek solar farm began in July 2021. Burns & McDonnell was the lead contractor for the project and engaged operating engineers, carpenters, laborers, and electricians from several local union halls – increasing the positive economic impact and community benefit.
“When businesses partner with the skilled forces of Wisconsin’s unionized building trades, they know they’re going to get a safe, quality product that delivers superior value for everyone,” said Emily Pritzkow, Executive Director of the Wisconsin Building Trades Council. “By prioritizing using local unionized labor on renewable energy projects, Alliant Energy is supporting a strong workforce, keeping project dollars in the community and boosting our state economy.”
At the ribbon-cutting, Alliant officials drew attention to the safety record achieved during construction. According to Cameron Garner, construction project manager at Burns & McDonnell, not a single accident resulting in a loss of labor hours was recorded during the project’s construction. This is a remarkable achievement considering that 120,000 hours of labor were logged in completing the solar farm.
Alliant has scheduled its next ribbon-cutting ceremony in late September at its 150 MW Wood County solar farm near Nekoosa. A third ceremony will likely follow in November at the utility’s North Rock project north of Janesville.
Over the last three years, the PSC has approved 1,850 MW of utility-owned solar generating capacity in Wisconsin. Of that total, nearly 60% of that capacity will serve Alliant Energy’s Wisconsin customers. PSC Commissioner Tyler Huebner joined Alliant officials and other project partners in the ribbon-cutting.
Approved Alliant Energy solar projects
Docket Nos. 6680-CE-182 and 6680-CE-183
||Capacity (in MW)
by Jodi Jean Amble | Jul 1, 2022 | Electric Vehicles, Events, Local Government, Programs, RENEW Wisconsin, Renewables, Solar, Solar for Good
Last weekend, the Midwest Renewable Energy Association (MREA) hosted the 31st Annual Energy Fair, bringing people together to learn about sustainability and clean energy, connect with others, and take action toward a sustainable future. The Fair featured workshops, exhibitors, live music, inspiring keynote speakers, family fun, great local food, and more.
RENEW staff presented some compelling workshops and you can download slides from their presentations below.
A Zero-Carbon Grid – How We Get There
Andrew Kell, RENEW Policy Analyst, discussed zero-carbon goals and ongoing planning efforts in Wisconsin. Andrew also discussed a joint study to address policy considerations of this clean energy transition.
Health Benefits of Electric Vehicle Adoption
Christina Zordani, Electric Vehicle Policy Intern at RENEW, discussed a Wisconsin with 100% clean-power electric vehicle adoption. In this workshop, attendees learned how a renewable-powered transportation network would bring significant economic and health benefits to Wisconsin.
Vehicle-to-Grid: Opportunities and Challenges
Francisco Sayu, RENEW Emerging Technology Director, discussed how Vehicle-to-Grid technology unlocks the energy stored in electric vehicles and opens opportunities for energy trading, energy management, and grid resiliency. The workshop delved into two case studies.
Energy Policy and Politics in Wisconsin
Jim Boullion, RENEW Government Affairs Director, reviewed the busiest legislative session for energy-related issues in many years, including solar financing, community solar, and electric vehicle rules.
Small Solar Farms in Wisconsin – Why More Are Needed
Michael Vickerman, RENEW Policy Director, discussed initiatives to expand Wisconsin’s solar marketplace’s middle tier: offsite arrays serving groups of self-selecting customers or whole communities across Wisconsin.
A Clean Energy Toolkit for Local Governments
Sam Dunaiski, RENEW Resources Director, discussed towns, cities, and counties in WI that are building the clean energy economy. By investing in renewables, WI communities are reducing carbon emissions, investing locally, and creating energy independence.