Report: Focus on Energy Fuels Economic Growth in Wisconsin

Report: Focus on Energy Fuels Economic Growth in Wisconsin

Focus on Energy, the state’s ratepayer-funded energy efficiency and renewable energy program, continues to yield dividends for Wisconsin’s economy.

An independent analysis of program investments in 2015 and 2016 shows that energy savings from completed projects generated $208 million in economic benefits and supported about 1,200 jobs annually.

The Cadmus Group, an independent third-party evaluator, found that Focus on Energy achieved a benefit-cost ratio of $3.24 per dollar spent without factoring in broader economic impacts such as job creation. When broader economic impacts are factored into the analysis, the benefit-cost ratio rises to $4.77 per program dollar invested.

Cadmus released its findings in a January 2018 report submitted to the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin, which oversees the Focus on Energy program.

“A $4.77 return on investment shows Focus on Energy is one way Wisconsin encourages economic development and grows its favorable business climate,” said Public Service Commissioner Lon Roberts in a press release dated January 29, 2018.

“When a business saves money by saving energy, it also becomes more globally competitive,” Commissioner Roberts added.

For more information, view the full report or executive summary on Focus on Energy’s website, www.focusonenergy.com.

Highlights of the 2018 Renewable Energy Summit

Highlights of the 2018 Renewable Energy Summit

There was a palpable sense of excitement and our largest crowd ever (330 attendees), for our 7th Annual Renewable Energy Summit held January 18th.  This year’s Summit, “Connecting to a Powerful Future,” included NextEra Energy Resources as a Presenting Sponsor.

Wind energy is coming back to Wisconsin as evidenced by the 2017 addition of Quilt Block Wind Farm, which was awarded the Renewable Energy Project of the Year.

Solar energy had its best year ever – for the 3rd consecutive year.  The total amount of solar power capacity in Wisconsin has grown to 80 megawatts, enough to power over 10,800 Wisconsin homes.  That’s up from 42 megawatts twelve months ago and 25 megawatts the year before that.

Our panel of utility executives and our solar industry speakers described the growth in solar, and the future opportunities on the horizon.

And biogas, which has struggled in recent years, is finding new opportunities.  Dane County Executive Joe Parisi described the county’s plans to transform their landfill from electric generation to gas injection to a pipeline, and how it will also facilitate local biodigesters to do the same.

Bringing home our theme of “Connecting to a Powerful Future,” we learned how to improve our clean energy communications from Jane Bloch of Tusculum Consulting.  Jane’s specialty in conveying the benefits of clean energy to broad audiences will help all of us continue to expand renewable energy in Wisconsin.

We also named John & Mary Frantz of Madison and Cal & Laurie Couillard of Deerfield Renewable Energy Champions for their support and philanthropy which enables RENEW Wisconsin to continue growing.  John & Mary have been matching donors to our Ride with RENEW bicycle events, and Cal & Laurie founded Solar for Good to help Wisconsin mission-driven nonprofits “go solar.”

Our exhibition hall had 27 vendors, our most ever, and the networking was consistently described by many attendees as “excellent.”

Please check out the presentations from the day and photos of the event, and plan to join us at next year’s event!

Also, we encourage you to check out the media coverage of the day:

RENEW Wisconsin: Big Increase in Solar Energy Expected in Next Few Years (Chuck Quirmbach, Wisconsin Public Radio, January 18, 2018)

Cost-Effectiveness of Solar, Other Renewables Expected to Keep Growing (Alex Moe, WisBusiness.com, January 19, 2018)

 

Thank you to our 2018 Summit Sponsors!

Renewable Energy Champions & Projects to Receive Honors at RENEW’s 2018 Summit

Renewable Energy Champions & Projects to Receive Honors at RENEW’s 2018 Summit

RENEW’s seventh annual Renewable Energy Summit, set for January 18, 2018, will furnish the occasion for recognizing the leading lights in Wisconsin’s renewable energy industry and spotlighting the developments that made 2017 such a stellar year. Titled “Connecting to a Powerful Future,” RENEW’s Summit will take place at Monona Terrace in Madison; registration starts at 8:00 AM and the program runs from 9:00 AM to 3:30 PM. The recognition ceremony will begin at 2:00 PM.

Last year saw the first large-scale wind power plant go up in Wisconsin since 2011. Quilt Block, a 49-turbine, 98-megawatt (MW) project developed by Houston-based EDP Renewables is now online, producing power under contract to La Crosse-based Dairyland Power Cooperative, whose four-state service area includes 18 member cooperatives and 10 municipal utilities in Wisconsin.

Representing a capital investment of $167 million, EDP’s Quilt Block project will produce enough renewable electricity to power more than 25,000 Wisconsin residences while providing millions of dollars in local aids to the Town of Seymour and Lafayette County, as well as lease payments to participating landowners over the plant’s operating life.

At the Summit, RENEW will honor Quilt Block Wind Farm as Wisconsin’s Renewable Energy Project of the Year. Recognizing the strong collaboration forged by project participants, RENEW will present plaques to representatives of the developer (EDP Renewables), the utility purchaser (Dairyland Power Cooperative), local governments (Town of Seymour, Lafayette County), and participating landowners.

Last year marked the emergence of RENEW Wisconsin’s Solar for Good, a program that provides grants to nonprofit institutions that seek to install solar electric systems on their buildings. Initiated by donations from Deerfield-based philanthropists Cal and Laurie Couillard, Solar for Good awarded 16 grants in 2017 supporting the installation of 573 kilowatts (kW) of new solar electric projects to serve such entities as public charter schools, food pantries, houses of worship, and nursing care facilities. For their philanthropy that made possible the Solar for Good program, Cal and Laurie Couillard will receive honors as Renewable Energy Champions.

Also set to receive honors as Renewable Energy Champions are John and Mary Frantz, both retired physicians and long-time renewable energy advocates now living in Madison who have been generous supporters of RENEW Wisconsin’s work to expand renewable energy.  In recent years, their generosity has taken the form of providing matching donations to “Ride with RENEW,” a fundraising event held in autumn featuring bicycle tours of noteworthy renewable energy projects in Wisconsin.

The recognition segment will also draw attention to other milestones and notable achievements in 2017, including the following:

  • All 15 solar arrays built by SoCore Energy (Illinois) and GroSolar (Vermont) under contract to Dairyland Power are now producing electricity. Three of the arrays, located in New Auburn, Phillips, and Roberts, are the state’s largest in operation.
  • Xcel Energy’s Wisconsin utility commissioned a 1 megawatt (MW) array in Eau Claire, which now supplies energy to its shared solar subscribers.
  • SunPeak designed and built the state’s largest rooftop solar electric system in operation, a 1.2 MW array atop the American Family Insurance headquarters building in Madison.
  • Eagle Point Solar installed 350 kilowatts (kW) of solar generation atop two schools in the Northland Pines School District, which now has more solar capacity than any other K-12 district in Wisconsin.
  • SunVest Solar and Current Electric teamed up to design and install 800 kW of solar capacity on six rooftops in the Oneida Nation reservation in Brown County.
  • Contractors partnered with local nonprofits to launch five residential group solar purchase programs across Wisconsin. Together these initiatives result in 158 installations totaling nearly 1,000 kW of new solar capacity.

“These award winners and honorable projects deserve recognition for the benefits they are bringing Wisconsin’s people and economy,” said Tyler Huebner, RENEW Wisconsin’s Executive Director.  “These honorees are leading the way towards a clean, vibrant, and self-sustaining Wisconsin energy future.”

For more information on the 2018 Summit program agenda, speakers, and registration, please visit http://www.renewwisconsin.org/2018_Summit/index.html.