Geothermal Energy in Wisconsin – What it is, How It Works, and How to Utilize its Benefits

Geothermal Energy in Wisconsin – What it is, How It Works, and How to Utilize its Benefits

Photo Credit: James Tinjum – Associate Professor & Director of the Geological Engineering Program at UW-Madison

Energy is the driving force of our world, powering everything from our cars to our phones and the way we generate our energy is closely tied to our health and economic prosperity. Current environmental and economic pressures are moving us toward cleaner and cheaper energy systems. As this transition gains speed it allows us to uplift communities that have been historically marginalized by disinvestment and pollution. However, this transition is complex and requires education so that all stakeholders understand the risks and opportunities ahead. To achieve success, we must understand the technologies and the tools required to grow the economy, increase energy independence, and improve our health and well-being. The purpose of this writing is to discuss geothermal energy and explore how this technology fits in the context of Wisconsin.

I have been fortunate to work in the clean energy industry for the past decade. During this time, I have learned that “geothermal energy” means different things to different people. While it is acceptable for the term “geothermal” to describe both renewable energy systems and energy efficiency measures, we must understand the differences between the two. Just like the word “cassette” can refer to a collection of sprockets in a bicycle or an analog audio recording device, the term “geothermal” can describe either a way to generate electricity from high-temperature water reservoirs (renewable energy) or a strategy to maximize the efficiency of an electric appliance (energy efficiency). 

Renewable energy sources such as solar panels or wind turbines do not require any fuel input to generate electricity, as they convert light or the kinetic energy of air into electricity. Meanwhile, energy efficiency measures aim to increase the amount of work that can be done per unit of energy, regardless of the energy source. In the following paragraphs, I will explain the differences between geothermal renewable energy, which results in electricity generation, and geothermal energy efficiency, which is implemented with geothermal heat pumps. Additionally, I will provide examples of how geothermal energy can help Wisconsin residents and businesses save both energy and money.

Geothermal Energy – The Big “G”

Geothermal energy is a renewable source of heat that comes from the Earth’s interior. Geothermal heat is derived from naturally formed or artificially created reservoirs of hot water found at varying depths and temperatures below the Earth’s surface. Natural hot springs and the famous Old Faithful geyser in Yellowstone National Park are good examples of natural geothermal energy. In contrast, artificial geothermal (also known as enhanced or engineered geothermal energy) is captured by pumping cold water into hot rock deep under the Earth’s surface. This process transfers heat from the hot rock to the water and produces steam. Geothermal heat, both natural and enhanced, can be utilized as an energy source for district heating or converted into electricity using turbines.

In Iceland, about 90% of homes are heated using hot water or steam from natural geothermal fields located near one of the country’s 600 hot spring areas. Geothermal also provides 30% of Iceland’s electricity. Geothermal electricity is produced by spinning a turbine coupled with a generator. Once the turbine starts rotating, the generator converts the kinetic energy of the rotor into electrical energy, just like in a coal or gas plant. The main difference is that coal or gas plants require a fossil fuel input, while geothermal plants don’t need any fuel, just the heat from the Earth. In other words, all the mechanical energy required to operate the geothermal plant is derived from a geothermal reservoir located near or below the plant, which makes geothermal electricity clean, renewable, cost-effective, and available 24/7.

The United States is also a leader in installed geothermal capacity. According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), geothermal heat contributed 210 trillion BTU (about 0.2% of the total energy consumed) in the U.S. in 2022. Geothermal electricity is currently generated in several states including California, New Mexico, Utah, Nevada, Idaho, Oregon, Alaska, and Hawaii. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has identified significant geothermal resources, most of which are located west of the Mississippi River, and estimates that geothermal can contribute up to 8% of the country’s energy needs by 2050. At the time of this writing, Wisconsin has no known hydrothermal resources suitable for renewable geothermal energy generation.

Geothermal Heating and Cooling
– The little “g”

Heating and cooling are essential aspects of building operation, especially in regions with wide temperature variations like Wisconsin. According to the Energy Information Administration (EIA), space heating and cooling account for over 40% of energy usage in commercial buildings and nearly half of the average home’s energy usage. Many homes and commercial buildings in Wisconsin use natural gas furnaces for heating and mechanical air conditioners for cooling. Heat pumps are quickly becoming a cost-effective alternative to the furnace and air conditioner combo, as they can provide both heating and cooling using a single appliance and rely on electricity rather than gas or other combustible fuels. Think of a heat pump as a device that moves heat from a heat source to a heat sink. A refrigerator provides a good example of how a heat pump works. The heat pump in a refrigerator uses electricity to transfer heat from inside the fridge (heat source) to the air outside the fridge (heat sink), thus reducing the temperature inside the fridge and keeping the food fresh.

Heat pumps can output several units of energy for every unit of energy input. For instance, a heat pump that delivers three (3) units of heat (measured in British Thermal Units or Btu) and consumes one (1) Btu has a Coefficient of Performance (COP) of 3. This means that the heat pump has an efficiency of 300%. To compare, the most efficient gas furnaces on the market are only 98% efficient. Therefore, the heat pump in this example is three (3) times more efficient than a furnace. Some people argue that expressing efficiency in values above 100% is wrong, which is why heat pumps are usually rated in terms of their COP instead of their efficiency.

Heat pumps can move energy from air to air (air-source heat pumps) or from water to air (water-source heat pumps). Both air-source and water-source heat pumps can work in reverse. For example, a water-to-air heat pump can also move heat from air to water. It is also important to note that all heap pumps function in the same manner. Whether it is an air-source heat pump or a water-sourced heat pump, the same thermodynamic principles apply. The function of the heat pump is to move – rather than generate – heat.

Geothermal Heat Pumps

Geothermal heat pumps are heating and cooling appliances. Heat pumps move heat from the geothermal field into a building during the heating season and from the building into the geothermal field during the cooling season. The geothermal field is a heat exchanger, typically composed of a set of pipes buried underground or submerged in a body of water, which acts as a heat source in the winter and as a heat sink in the summer. 

Geothermal Heat pumps have a significant advantage over air-source Heat pumps in areas with high-temperature variations, such as Wisconsin, because the ground temperature in these regions remains relatively constant year-round. For example, Wisconsin’s air temperature can drop below zero in the winter and reach over 90 °F in the summer. Yet, the temperature of the ground eight feet below the surface remains relatively stable at about 45-58 °F throughout the year.  Contrary to popular belief, the ground around the geothermal field does not store solar energy. The earth’s temperature at that depth is constant throughout the year. Therefore, In the summer, the ground is generally cooler than the air, while in winter, the ground is typically warmer.  Geothermal Heat pumps take advantage of this constant temperature to reduce the amount of energy required for heating and cooling, decreasing the overall energy consumption of a building. 

Geothermal heat pumps are becoming increasingly popular in Wisconsin. At the Epic Campus in Verona, thousands of miles of geothermal pipes that stretch 500 feet underground are connected to heat pumps that heat and cool the buildings. The Discovery World Museum building in Milwaukee is another great example of a geothermal system that uses heat pumps and water from Lake Michigan as the heat source. Although the systems at the Epic Campus and the Discovery World Museum use different heat sources, the heat pumps in both of these facilities work in the exact same way. They use the relatively constant temperature of the earth or the lake to heat and cool buildings, which saves energy and money compared to traditional furnaces and mechanical air conditioners.


Geothermal electricity is a reliable, cost-effective, and renewable source of energy that has the potential to make a significant contribution to the energy supply in the United States. The geothermal resources in the U.S. are mainly concentrated west of the Mississippi River, which means that Wisconsin has limited opportunities to access geothermal reservoirs that are hot enough to generate renewable electricity. However, the varying temperatures between the ground, water, and air in the state provide an excellent opportunity to leverage geothermal heat pumps for heating and cooling purposes. Furthermore, geothermal heating and cooling systems work well in tandem with rooftop solar because the heat pump regulates the building’s temperature using electricity provided by the on-site solar panels, lowering energy costs, and transmission losses, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. 

Heat pumps are currently the most energy-efficient heating and cooling systems available in Wisconsin. The state has a growing number of geothermal facilities, including the 1,100-acre headquarters of medical software giant Epic Systems. The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) provides substantial incentives for geothermal heat pumps and solar, and Wisconsin’s Focus on Energy® Program also incentivizes equipment that reduces energy consumption in new and existing buildings. Taking advantage of these incentives can help reduce the state’s reliance on imported fossil fuels and reduce emissions from power generation.

Letters of support needed for Dane County Clean Energy Budget

Letters of support needed for Dane County Clean Energy Budget

County Executive Joe Parisi has issued his 2023 budget, which once again prioritizes environmental action and includes initiatives to implement the County’s robust Climate Action Plan. RENEW is asking Dane County advocates to write a letter to Dane County Board Members to support the proposed budget.

A major portion of the budget includes work to achieve its goal of 100% renewable energy for County facilities by the end of 2023. These items will significantly contribute to the ongoing effort to reduce emissions, help the County achieve carbon neutrality in its facilities and fleet by 2030, and cut countywide emissions in half. Included in the proposed budget:

  • $4.5 million for the development and installation of carbon capture technologies at the RNG facility at the landfill
  • $3 million for feasibility work and acquisition of a site to develop a commercial-scale manure treatment facility to capture manure from up to 30,000 cows in the north Mendota watershed reducing methane emissions comparable to removing 20,000 cars.
  • Almost $900,000 to start work on campus-wide geothermal systems for the East District Campus (Medical Examiner and Highway Garage) along with the Badger Prairie campus in Verona.
  • Almost $100,000 in additional resources for the Office of Energy & Climate Change and our efforts to accelerate countywide climate action
  • $2 million for ongoing “Suck the Muck” efforts to remove phosphorous from our waterways
  • $3 million plus new staff positions to continue sediment dredging that improves water flow between our lakes, reducing flooding risks exacerbated by climate change
  • $2 million for the Dane County Continuous Cover Program, which funds private landowner efforts to convert marginal cropland to perennial cover, reducing runoff and sequestering carbon
  • $10 million for the Dane County Conservation Fund to continue County land acquisitions that help improve water quality and allow opportunities for prairie and wildlife restoration
  • $3 million for additional regional bike trails

RENEW Wisconsin is asking Dane County advocates and allies to support Executive Parisi’s budget approval with the County Board. Here’s how you can help:

  • Write a letter in support of Executive Parisi’s proposed budget. Your letter can focus on any of the above bullet points and how these initiatives would improve the overall health, economy, and well-being of Dane County. Ask the Board of Supervisors to approve Executive Parisi’s 2023 budget.
  • You can find contact information for Dane County Supervisors HERE.

Thank you for weighing in on this important issue!

Inflation Reduction Act Breakdown

Inflation Reduction Act Breakdown

The world of clean energy received a monumental win earlier this month with the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act. The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) will be the backbone of the United States’ effort to decarbonize our energy sector, spur clean energy implementation across all demographics, and significantly grow the clean energy economy.

Here is a breakdown of the bill’s elements:

Renewable Energy Generation

Investment Tax Credits

  • Residential Solar: 30% Investment Tax Credit (ITC) on project costs until the end of 2032, with a step-down of 26% in 2033 and 22% in 2034. Credits are retroactive for residential installations from 1/1/2022, meaning that homeowners who installed a solar array at any point in 2022 will qualify for the 30% ITC.
  • Commercial Solar: 30% ITC on project costs until the end of 2024 (ITC on commercial solar is also retroactive to 1/1/2022). Beginning in 2025, the ITC will be replaced by technology-neutral credits, with the following rules in place:
    • 6% base credit; bonus credits up to 30% of costs if the project meets union labor, prevailing wage, and apprenticeship requirements. These requirements do not apply to projects less than 1 megawatt (MW) in size.
    • 10% bonus credits if the project meets domestic content requirements.
    • 10% bonus credits if the project is sited in an “energy community” – a brownfield site or a community with a recent coal plant closure.
    • 10% bonus credits if the project is sited in a low-income community. This only applies to projects that are 5 MW and less.
    • 20% bonus credits if the project qualifies as directly serving a low-income residential facility or another economic benefit system.
    • Interconnection costs -for projects less than 5 MW- with the utility can be included in the credits.

Production Tax Credits

While the Investment Tax Credit applies to the upfront purchase of parts, materials, and labor, the Production Tax Credit (PTC) functions differently. This credit is a direct payment and applies to the production or output of the generation source. This generation source can be solar, wind, geothermal, biomass, and hydropower, to name a few. These credits are also retroactive from 1/1/2022.

Here is how the PTC breaks down:

  • Direct pay value: $0.026 per kilowatt-hour (kWh) starting in 2022; rate rises with inflation.
  • Bonus credit of 1.5 cents/kWh if union labor, prevailing wage, and apprenticeship requirements are met.
  • 10% bonus credits if domestic content requirements are met.
  • 10% bonus credits if the project is sited in an “energy community” – a brownfield site or a community with a recent coal plant closure.
  • The PTC is available for nonprofits, state and local governments, rural electric cooperatives, tribal governments, and/or other tax-exempt entities. These organizations previously did not qualify for the ITC.
  • PTC will also apply to utility-scale projects.
  • Credits are available for ten years after the project is placed into service.
  • Direct pay/PTC is not available for residential solar installations.
  • PTC is transferable after 2022; however not for individual taxpayers.
  • Commercial solar projects can choose either the ITC or the PTC.


Electric Vehicles

New EVs: (Effective 8/16/2022)

  • $7,500 tax credit to be divided into two separate credits:
    • $3,750 credit for electric vehicles with batteries produced in North America.
    • $3,750 credit for electric vehicles using a certain percentage of critical battery minerals extracted or processed in the U.S.
    • Vehicles meeting only one requirement will only be eligible for a $3,750 credit.
  • Vehicles must cost less than:
    • Vans < $80,000
    • Pickups and SUVs < $80,000
    • Cars < $55,000
  • Income requirements:
    • Joint tax return < $300,000
    • Head of household < $225,000
    • Single-payer < $150,000
  • Credit will eliminate the limit of 200,000 vehicles per manufacturer.

Commercial Clean Vehicles: (Effective 01/01/23)

  • Up to $40,000 tax credit for commercial electric vehicles.

Used EVs: (Effective 01/01/2023)

  • $4,000 tax credit or 30% of the vehicle’s sale price.
  • The vehicle’s model year must be at least two years older than the current “new” model year.
  • Vehicle cost must be less than $25,000.
  • Income requirements:
    • Joint tax return <$150,000
    • Head of household <$112,300
    • Single-payer <$75,000
  • Used EV tax credits will continue until the end of 2032.


  • Credits for EV-charging equipment and infrastructure will increase up to $100,000.
  • Equipment must be located in a qualified census tract, with similar bonus credits if prevailing wage and apprenticeship requirements are met.
  • A direct pay or PTC option is available for charging with transferrable credits.
  • Credits will be available until 2032.


Battery Storage

Effective as of 1/1/2023

  • 30% ITC for the cost of installation; credits last until 2033. To qualify, batteries must be larger than 3kWh for residential installations and larger than 5kWh for commercial installations.
  • Commercial battery credits have similar sliding scales as other ITC items: baseline of 6% with increasing credits for prevailing wage, labor, location, etc.
  • Battery storage systems will no longer need to be coupled with solar generation systems to qualify for tax credits.

Energy Efficiency and Electrification

Effective as of 1/1/2023

Federal Tax Credit

  • Heat Pumps: 30% of costs, up to $2,000
  • Electric Upgrades: 50% of costs, up to $1,200/year
Upfront Discounts
  • Incentive levels and eligibility are determined by income
  • Heat Pumps: rebates for up to $8,000
  • Electric Upgrades: up to $4,000 for breaker boxes/electric service; $2,500 for wiring, and $1,600 for insulation/venting/sealing


Manufacturing and Production

Effective as of 1/1/2023

  • $30 billion in PTC to manufacture solar panels, trackers, inverters, wind turbines, batteries, and other critical minerals.
    • Solar PV cells – $0.04/watt
    • Solar-grade polysilicon – $3/kg
    • Solar modules – $0.07/watt
    • Wind components – 10% of the sales price
    • Battery cells – $35/kWh
    • Critical minerals – 10% of the cost of production
  • $10 billion in ITC funding for building new facilities to manufacture clean energy products; $4 billion of these funds must be allocated to “energy communities.”
  • $500M for manufacturing heat pumps and processing of critical minerals necessary for heat pump production.

Other Items

  • Carbon Sequestration Credits (ITC or PTC) for facilities that begin construction before 2033 and provide direct air capture of carbon dioxide. Credits will be issued by a metric ton of carbon capture.
  • Clean Hydrogen – credits for production -by unit- of green and blue hydrogen that can be used to offset traditionally carbon-based fuels.
  • Sustainable Aviation Fuel – credits for SAF produced by unit (gallon) with increasing credits based on a percentage of greenhouse gas reduction.
  • Biodiesel/Alternative Fuels – production credits for fuels produced based on life-cycle emission levels.
  • Methane Fees – fees imposed by EPA for facilities that emit more than 25,000 metric tons of CO2 annually.

Additional Provisions

  • $500 million for the Defense Production Act, some of which could be used for solar manufacturing.
  • Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund totaling $29 billion overseen by the Environmental Protection Agency.
  • Climate Pollution Reduction Grants to state and local governments totaling $5 billion.
  • Environmental and Climate Justice Block Grants: $3 billion for disadvantaged communities.
  • $2 billion in loan authority for new transmission construction in designated national interest corridors.
  • $760 million for the Department of Energy to issue grants to state, local or tribal entities to facilitate siting of high-voltage interstate transmission.
  • Additional $1 billion for rural renewable energy electrification loans and expansion of the program to include storage.
  • Additional $1 billion for Rural Energy for America Program (REAP), with total grants limited to 50% of the total cost of an eligible project.
  • $9.6 billion for loans and financing for rural co-ops to purchase renewable energy, generation, zero-emission systems, and related transmission, limited to 25% of total cost.
  • Incentives for build-out of electric vehicle charging networks.
  • Extension, expansion, and changes to electric vehicle tax credits, including a new credit for purchasing used EVs.


Much of the implementation and administration of the Inflation Reduction Act is still not understood. This document is meant to summarize the items in the bill that RENEW Wisconsin considers particularly important to the clean energy transition in our state.

For additional information, please utilize the following resources:

Please contact Sam Dunaiski ( with questions.

2022 Ride with RENEW in Eau Claire, Wisconsin

2022 Ride with RENEW in Eau Claire, Wisconsin

On Sunday, May 22, RENEW Wisconsin, with presenting sponsor, Xcel Energy, hosted the 9th Annual “Ride with RENEW” bike ride fundraiser in Eau Claire, WI. Starting at Carson Park, the 16-mile route featured the Chippewa River State Trail and Lakeshore Trail. Over 20 riders enjoyed a chilly spring day pedaling and learning about the innovative renewable energy installations powering Eau Claire, Wisconsin.

The first stop of the 2022 tour was Solar Forma. Brian Graff showed riders the company’s unique solar designs, including E-cacia trees, their signature product. Solar Forma wants to expand its solar designs to include a solar “wave” carport with electric vehicle charging.

Next, riders visited Xcel Energy’s Sky Park Solar Garden. Julie Thoney and Zeus Stark provided an up-close look at the 1MW community solar garden at Sky Park, and riders also learned about Xcel’s three other Wisconsin community solar gardens. Xcel was the first investor-owned utility in the country to propose a net-zero carbon goal. They’re looking to expand their renewable portfolio in all operating states, including Wisconsin.

The next stop on the ride was Chippewa Valley Technical College (CVTC) Energy Education Center. Adam Wehling and Zeus Stark showed riders a variety of renewable energy generation sources on display, including several solar layouts and multiple small wind turbines, which is the same equipment CVTC uses in their class lessons. Riders also heard from Claire Lindstrom from the Couillard Solar Foundation about their work to make solar more accessible to public schools and mission-based organizations throughout the state. The Couillard Solar Foundation supplied 80 kilowatts of solar panels to CVTC, which provides approximately 40% of the electricity consumed at the Energy Education Center.

The final stop of the 2022 Ride was the home of long-time friend and former board member of RENEW, Ellen Terwilliger. Over the last decade, Ellen and her husband Steve installed four geothermal wells for heating and 15 kilowatts of solar PV, offsetting around 80% of their energy needs. The property also contains electric-vehicle charging, native prairie grasses, and several rain barrels. The Terwilligers even removed and reinstalled a south-facing rooftop to optimize their solar panels!

Our 2022 Ride with RENEW ended back at Carson Park with Toppers pizza and a brief address from Jim McDougall discussing his work to install solar on Eau Claire schools. Thanks to Eau Claire, local Ride leader Jeremy Gragert, and all of our riders, donors, and sponsors. Stay tuned for information on our 2023 Ride!


2019 Ride with RENEW in the Fox Cities

2019 Ride with RENEW in the Fox Cities

On Saturday, September 14th, our 7th Annual “Ride with RENEW” bike ride, held in the Fox Cities this year, was a huge success!

We started the morning at Prairie Hill Park in Grand Chute with 40 determined bike riders and 12 wonderful young ladies from the Girl Scouts of the Northwest Great Lakes!  The State Representative for the area, Amanda Stuck, welcomed our riders by talking about the importance of energy, and how easy it has become to take advantage of clean energy sources.

Our bike riders and Girl Scouts then set out for the Bubolz Nature Center where we explored their solar panels and microgrid, built and operated by Faith Technologies, who walked us through this one-of-a-kind facility in Wisconsin. The microgrid includes a lithium battery, a hydrogen fuel cell, and a generator, and the facility runs off the solar panels and renewable storage most of the time.

Next we biked 10 miles to Evergreen Credit Union which has become a regional leader in sustainability. With solar panels covering its roof, Roni Kasperek of Evergreen described the credit union’s migration to becoming a clean energy leader and how sustainability is a core value of the organization.

We turned Schildt Park into a clean energy mecca at lunch!  Featuring pizza from Glass Nickel Pizza, we were fortunate to have the Ripon Lego League join us as they collected data from our bike riders to help them with their Lego challenge of designing a sustainable community!  Our riders engaged in the Lego League’s survey, created to help the kids better understand bikers’ safety needs and how a city could better support bicycling.  The Lego League kids did a great job helping to serve lunch and engage with our bikers!

In addition, we had an electric vehicle exposition featuring 9 vehicles from 5 car brands that drive with electricity, instead of gasoline. This technology is advancing and many new types of affordable electric vehicles are coming out soon.  We loved showing these cars off to our bike riders and a few members of the public, and the vehicle owners loved chatting about how much they enjoy driving electric.

After lunch we saw small wind turbines at Essity (formerly SCA Tissue) right along the bike path.  These 4 turbines were designed and installed by a former Wisconsin company called Renewegy (which is unfortunately no longer in business).  Next we headed to Heckrodt Wetland Reserve in Menasha where we learned about their tremendous efforts to preserve this part of the state and how solar power is a sustainable part of their growth.

We next saw an innovative solar carport at the Petit and Dommershausen law offices in downtown Menasha, where were treated to a much-needed snack.  Then we biked to RiverHeath, which is a new development in Appleton right along the Fox River.  Mike Barnett of HGA described an innovative use of geothermal energy, designed by HGA and installed by G.O. Loop, that uses the temperature of the water to provide heating and cooling to the new buildings in the RiverHeath complex.

Last, but certainly not least, we biked to the first power plant in Wisconsin that delivered electricity to a customer. We were greeted by “Thomas Edison,” a generous measure provided by the Appleton Historical Society, who helped explain the origins of the Vulcan Street Hydropower Plant which was put into service in 1882 and provided electricity for lights at paper manufacturing plants as well as one home.

The actual Vulcan plant burned down in 1889.  The Appleton Historical Society, as well as Ford Motor Company, contributed many hours and, in Ford’s case, equipment, to allow this replica of the original hydropower plant in Wisconsin to stand and to give visitors like us the opportunity to learn about Wisconsin’s energy history and see it in action.

Finally, we arrived back at Prairie Hill Park, where we enjoyed beer from Central Waters based in Amherst and celebrated a great event with our riders!  The weather was outstanding, and we can’t wait to plan next year’s Ride with RENEW.

Four of RENEW staff members joined Board member Jim Funk of Energize LLC as he showed off one of Wisconsin’s earliest examples of “bi-facial” solar panels – panels that can receive light from both sides of the panel to create electricity.  This installation at a carport has served as a beautiful visual example of solar energy in the Fox Cities since 2010.  For example, check out the very cool design when our staff member Jim Boullion’s car was parked underneath the panels.

Check out our Facebook photo album to see more images of the ride!

Thank you again to all of our sponsors, shown below, all the bike riders, the Girl Scouts, Lego League, and everyone who donated to support our riders and helped us raise over $17,000 to continue our education, advocacy, and collaboration to advance renewable energy in Wisconsin!


Fox Cities Gear up for  RENEW Wisconsin Bicycle Tour

Fox Cities Gear up for RENEW Wisconsin Bicycle Tour

Ride with RENEW to highlight area renewable energy projects.

On Saturday, September 14th, RENEW Wisconsin will host its 7th annual “Ride with RENEW” bicycle tour of renewable energy projects in Appleton, Grand Chute, Neenah, Menasha, and Fox Crossing, WI.  All event proceeds support RENEW Wisconsin’s ongoing work to advance renewable energy in Wisconsin.

Riders will travel approximately 30 miles on paved roads and bike paths to visit solar, geothermal, wind, and hydropower energy generation facilities in the area. Riders can also participate in an electric vehicle “ride and drive” event as part of National Drive Electric Week.

Riders will depart from Prairie Hill Park at 9 AM. The total tour time will be approximately 7 hours (including stops at renewable energy sites) and actual riding time will be approximately 3 hours. Those not able or wanting to bike the ride can register as a non-biker and can use their own vehicles to transport themselves to the various tour stops.

Participants will get an inside look at some of the area’s leading renewable energy projects and will enjoy breakfast, lunch, and beverages along the way. They will visit with installers and workers who are advancing renewable energy every day, and hear from customers about why clean energy works for their businesses and communities.

The day’s tour will include stops at the following clean energy facilities:

  • Gordon Bubolz Nature Preserve – The Gordon Bubolz Nature Preserve is a 700-acre facility used for recreation, conservation, and education. In July 2018, the nature preserve unveiled its new clean energy microgrid composed of solar panels, battery system, and software system.
  • Evergreen Credit Union – With a mission to be the most environmentally responsible credit union in the nation, Evergreen Credit Union installed a solar array at their Appleton facility. The solar array produces enough electricity to satisfy 85% of the credit union’s annual electricity demand.
  • Electric Vehicle Ride and Drive at Schildt Park (Neenah) – As part of National Drive Electric Week, join RENEW Wisconsin and many Fox Valley sustainable businesses to learn about and test drive electric vehicles and electric bicycles. The event will overlap with Ride with RENEW’s lunch hour.
  • Essity Wind Turbines – Essity is a global company that manufactures hygiene and health products. In 2007, Essity installed a 20 kW solar PV system, and in 2010, Essity installed four wind turbines that generate 80 kW of energy.
  • Heckrodt Nature Preserve – Heckrodt Wetland Reserve, a  Solar for Good grant recipient, is a 76-acre urban nature reserve. In 2018, Heckrodt installed a 19.6 kilowatt solar panel system to offset 5,000 pounds of CO2 emissions.
  • Petit & Dommershausen, SC Law Offices – The Petit & Dommershausen Law Offices have embraced solar energy at their Menasha and Oshkosh locations. After installing a 20.7 kW solar carport array at their Menasha location in the fall of 2017, Petit & Dommershausen is offsetting approximately 81% of their Menasha office’s annual electricity usage.
  • RiverHeath – RiverHeath Community is a vibrant apartment and retail area that was redeveloped from an urban brownfield site on the Fox River. Buildings utilize an innovative river based geothermal heating and cooling system that minimizes the site’s energy use and carbon intensity while reducing first costs compared to a conventional ground source geothermal system.
  • Vulcan Street Plant – The Vulcan Street Hydroelectric Central Station, the world’s first Edison hydroelectric central station, began operation in 1882 in Appleton. The output of the original generator was about 12.5 kilowatts. In 1891, the plant burned down, and a replica of the plant was later built on South Oneida Street.
  • Schmidt Brothers Solar Canopy (add-on stop for non-bikers) – This 20kW Bi-Facial Solar Cantilevered Parking Canopy benefits from added generation from reflection below when snow covers the lot and when white or other light-colored vehicles park beneath it. The cantilevered design was specifically implemented to provide open and clear access to all parking spaces.
  • The ride will conclude at Prairie Hill Park for refreshments at around 4:00 p.m.

Registration for the ride is open through September 14th. The cost is $45 for members of RENEW Wisconsin, $55 for non-members, and $75 to both register for the ride and become a member of the organization for one year.  All donations to RENEW Wisconsin for this charity bike ride are matched up to $15,000 by generous donors John & Mary Frantz of Madison!

Individuals and businesses can donate to RENEW Wisconsin or in support of a rider, donate to RENEW to contribute towards a $15,000 matching donation, or volunteer on ride day.

“We are very excited to tour some of the Fox Cities’ great renewable energy projects on Saturday, September 14th,” said Tyler Huebner, Executive Director of RENEW Wisconsin. “This tour allows us to showcase a variety of ways to produce homegrown, clean energy right here in Wisconsin and for our team to engage with renewable energy advocates in the Appleton area. We’ll be learning about wind, solar, geothermal, and a hydropower plant that is part of renewable energy history as being the first electric production in Wisconsin. This is a really fun event where you can meet great people, help a good cause, and learn together about clean energy in Wisconsin.”

Sponsors of the Event include Eland Electric, Energize LLC, HGA, North Wind Renewable Energy Cooperative, Appleton Solar, Arch Electric, Clean Fuel Partners, G.O. Loop, Petit & Dommershausen, SC Law Offices, RiverHeath, Velocity, Wegner CPAs, 4imprint, Central Waters Brewing Company, Chain Reaction Cyclery, Glass Nickel Pizza Co., and Sturdy Bag Designs.