Voice your support for the Paris Solar Energy Center

Voice your support for the Paris Solar Energy Center

Amid our current health and economic challenges, the solar industry is committed to investing in local communities, creating jobs, and increasing tax revenues with clean, homegrown energy. Large scale solar projects are currently being built in Wisconsin and new projects are on the horizon, ready to contribute to Wisconsin’s energy mix! In order to ensure success, we need you to help a critical project win approval at the Public Service Commission.

The Paris Solar Energy Center is a 200 megawatt project proposed in Kenosha County, Wisconsin. The project will supply homegrown, affordable, emission-free electricity to 55,000 homes. If approved, the Paris Solar Energy Center would more than double the solar generating capacity we have operating in Wisconsin today. Paris Solar would begin producing clean power by 2022. Want to learn more? Check out the application here.

Help us demonstrate Wisconsin’s enthusiastic support for this project and renewable energy.

RENEW Wisconsin will share the list of supporters with the Public Service Commission during the official comment period for this project.

Please add your name to our petition!

A Farewell Letter from Tyler Huebner

A Farewell Letter from Tyler Huebner

Dear RENEW Wisconsin Members and Supporters,

First and foremost, I wish you, your families, and everyone well during this unprecedented time regarding the novel coronavirus and COVID-19.  I urge you to continue following the ever-changing guidelines coming from the Center for Disease Control and your elected officials at all levels to help keep each other safe.

With that said, last week Governor Tony Evers appointed me to be the next Commissioner at the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin.

With this change, I will be leaving RENEW Wisconsin, and my last day is today.  I started with RENEW in June of 2013, and I want to thank you all for your support of the organization, and of me, since then.

It has been extremely rewarding to be the Executive Director of this organization, and I feel very proud of the organization’s growth and successes during my period here.

Heather Allen will be the organization’s Interim Executive Director starting immediately. Heather has been with the organization for nearly two years, and she will do an excellent job advancing its mission and priorities going forward. You can reach her at heather@renewwisconsin.org or 608-255-4044 extension 1.

In addition to Heather, the rest of the RENEW staff is here to support you however they can.

Thank you, again, for the opportunity to serve this organization and all of you in this role.  It has been a distinct pleasure!

Sincerely,
Tyler Huebner

‘Wisconsin Clean Energy Toolkit’ is a guidebook for a cleaner future

‘Wisconsin Clean Energy Toolkit’ is a guidebook for a cleaner future

RENEW Wisconsin, Wisconsin Conservation Voters, and Sierra Club have released the Wisconsin Clean Energy Toolkit: Developing a Clean Energy Plan for Your Community.

Towns, villages, cities, and counties in Wisconsin are building the renewable energy economy. The Wisconsin Clean Energy Toolkit recognizes this leadership in Wisconsin communities and the opportunities to expand these efforts across the state.

As part of its statewide launch, clean energy leaders, including Wisconsin State Treasurer Sarah Godlewski, addressed members of the media and the public across the state on March 10th, 2020 to announce the release.

“The Wisconsin Clean Energy Toolkit will help communities develop clean energy plans, which are good for the environment and also can be good for a community’s bottom line,” said State Treasurer Sarah Godlewski. “I’ve seen this firsthand as the Chair of a $1.2 billion trust fund, how we’ve helped local governments finance projects such as solar panels that saved taxpayers’ money. I hope communities across the state see us as a partner in their projects to address climate change and lower energy costs.”

Local communities across Wisconsin are eager to develop and implement clean energy plans. Often, they struggle with how to begin from a technical perspective and how to engage their communities.

“Smaller communities often lack the staff to conduct clean energy assessments and make recommendations,” said Jennifer Giegerich, Government Affairs Director for Wisconsin Conservation Voters. “This toolkit is a comprehensive resource for those considering a commitment to clean energy.”

The Wisconsin Clean Energy Toolkit is a comprehensive guide to energy policy options in Wisconsin. The toolkit is a resource designed to help guide communities of varying sizes and with differing resources as they consider, craft, and implement clean energy policies, and how to ensure the greatest return on potential clean energy investments.

“Local governments have heard from their residents; they want to shift to clean, renewable energy,” said Heather Allen, Program Director for RENEW Wisconsin. “But they need resources and technical support to make the transition.  This toolkit offers practical strategies to help communities access affordable clean energy.”

“The Public Service Commission’s Office of Energy Innovation is committed to delivering programs that have a measurable impact on our state, this is why we’ve supported the Energy Independent Communities and will continue to support (with grants and technical assistance like this guide) communities and Tribal Nations on the road to our clean energy future,” Megan Levy, Local Energy Programs Manager & Energy Assurance Coordinator, Office of Energy Innovation, Public Service Commission of Wisconsin.

The Clean Energy Toolkit provides information to help local communities including:

  • How to understand current state policies and regulations that impact energy use in Wisconsin
  • Guidance on how to commit to clean energy
  • How to build support in the community for clean energy policies
  • How to establish a baseline of current energy use in the community, and how to set benchmarks to track progress toward long-range goals
  • Defines equitable carbon reduction strategies that protect vulnerable communities when making the transition to clean energy, and how to ensure all impacted constituencies have a voice at the decision-making table
  • Provides an overview of various financing options available to local governments to pursue clean energy

“As Wisconsinites demand action on climate change, local communities are answering those calls,” said Elizabeth Ward, Director for Sierra Club Wisconsin.  “We’re glad to provide a resource for those communities as they demonstrate the leadership we’re missing at the federal level.”

The toolkit is available to download at www.wicleanenergytoolkit.com. For additional information, questions, or to request a paper copy of the toolkit, please contact Heather Allen (heather@renewwisconsin.org)

Visit www.wicleanenergytoolkit.com to learn more.

PSC Rides First Wave of Utility-Scale Solar Farms to Fruition

PSC Rides First Wave of Utility-Scale Solar Farms to Fruition

The Public Service Commission today cleared the path for the Badger Hollow solar farm to become a utility-owned generating asset in its entirety. Approved in April 2019 and now under construction, the 300 megawatt (MW) plant in western Iowa County will soon be co-owned by a third utility, Milwaukee-based Wisconsin Electric Power Company (WEPCO). Chicago-based Invenergy is the developer for Badger Hollow and will oversee the construction process until its completion in 2021

As a result of today’s action, WEPCO and Madison Gas and Electric (MGE) will jointly acquire a 150 megawatt share of this facility, which should start sending power into the grid by the end of 2020. Shares of the 300 MW solar farm will be divided equally between WEPCO, MGE, and Green Bay-based Wisconsin Public Service.

After reviewing the applicants’ filings, the PSC determined that both MGE and WEPCO need new generating capacity in the near future, and that this 150 MW increment of Badger Hollow would be part of the least-cost expansion plan for both utilities.

RENEW submitted a letter of support for the acquisition, as did the cities of Milwaukee and Madison. Calling attention to the state’s clean energy goals as well as those of the two cities and the utilities that serve them, our comments emphasized the economic and environmental value that Badger Hollow will yield to utility customers as well as to project participants, host communities, and the state as a whole.

The PSC’s approval effectively brings the first chapter of utility-scale solar development in Wisconsin to a close.  Since June 2018, the PSC has reviewed four proposals to build nearly 700 MW of in-state renewable generating capacity, and gave the green light to all of them. The following table summarizes these projects and their relationships to Wisconsin electricity providers.

Project Capacity (in MW) Developer Utility participant(s) Location (by county)
Badger Hollow 300 Invenergy WEPCO (100 MW)

MGE (100 MW)

WPS (100 MW)

Iowa
Two Creeks 150 NextEra Energy WPS (100 MW)

MGE (50 MW

Manitowoc
Point Beach 100 NextEra Energy WPPI Energy Manitowoc
Badger State Solar 149 Ranger Power Dairyland Power Cooperative Jefferson

 

The next wave of solar farms will begin washing through the state regulatory review process this spring. The first one out of the gate is the Paris Solar Farm, located in Kenosha County.  Invenergy’s application to build the 200 MW solar farm was submitted yesterday. Dockets have been opened for several other prospects in Wisconsin.  Listed below are the solar farm projects that we anticipate will be reviewed by the PSC this year.

Project Capacity (in MW) Developer Location (by county) Docket number
Paris 200 Invenergy Kenosha 9801-CE-100
Grant County 200 NextEra Energy Grant 9803-CE-100
Wood County 150 Savion Energy Wood 9804-CE-100

 

RENEW Wisconsin Supports AB 712 & SB 689

RENEW Wisconsin Supports AB 712 & SB 689

Bill Would Solidify Funding for Citizens Utility Board and Streamline Solar/Wind Permitting

RENEW Wisconsin is proud to announce our support for a legislative initiative that will support the Citizens Utility Board with a more robust level of annual funding. This bill will also streamline one element of permitting solar and wind farms of 100 megawatts or larger.

The Chairs of the Assembly Energy Committee and the Senate Utilities and Housing Committees are the co-authors of Assembly Bill 712 and Senate Bill 689, which were introduced at the request of the Public Service Commission, whose Chairperson, Rebecca Valcq, was appointed by Governor Tony Evers.

 

Funding for Citizens Utility Board

Citizens Utility Board (CUB) has been an important energy stakeholder since its founding in 1979.  CUB’s primary role is to keep energy bills affordable for our state’s residents and small businesses.

CUB and RENEW Wisconsin have had many shared priorities over the years.  Perhaps the best example is the importance of our state’s Focus on Energy program and the value of additional utility-sponsored energy conservation programs.  These programs help customers save energy and save money on their utility bills, while also reducing the need to build new power plants.

As we look ahead to more coal power plant closures in Wisconsin, there is a big opportunity to strike a cost-effective balance between utility renewable energy development and customer-side solutions, including both energy efficiency and on-site renewable energy. A strong CUB will be important to those conversations.

This bill would institute a new base-funding model for CUB whereby customers of the five largest investor-owned utilities would together provide them with $900,000 in annual funding.  These funds would be used by CUB to participate in most of their usual PSC activities, and they would be allowed to use outside funds to conduct other activities.

We are glad to see the PSC and Legislators find common ground to provide CUB with adequate and stable funding so they can continue to be a strong voice for ratepayers and affordable energy in Wisconsin.

Streamlining 100 MW+ Solar & Wind Farm Connections

The first two utility-scale solar farm proposals introduced in Wisconsin resulted in four “CPCN” proceedings (Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity). Each of the two solar energy projects needed a very short connecting “tie line” to connect the solar farms into a nearby electric grid substation. That tie line is necessary to move the solar power to all the customers who can use it!

Current law mandates that the tie lines required their own separate CPCN evaluation.  This bill would streamline that effort, so that a solar or wind farm and the short associated “tie line” can be reviewed together in one CPCN application. Since the renewable energy project would not be productive without the tie line and the tie line wouldn’t exist without the renewable energy resource, it makes sense to conduct their review in the same docket.

RENEW Wisconsin supports this effort which will improve project development efficiency.

“Badger State Solar” Project in Jefferson County Gets PSC Approval

“Badger State Solar” Project in Jefferson County Gets PSC Approval

Today, the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin approved another solar farm: the Badger State Solar Farm to be located in Jefferson County, Wisconsin.

Badger State will be a 149-megawatt solar farm, and will supply electricity to Dairyland Power Cooperative. Dairyland is a wholesale energy provider for 24 rural electric cooperatives, 18 of which are located in Wisconsin. Dairyland also provides energy to an additional seventeen municipal electric utilities, ten of which are in Wisconsin.

The solar project’s developer is Ranger Power, one of RENEW Wisconsin’s Business Members.

This project marks the fourth solar farm approved by the Wisconsin PSC in the past 9 months, and the solar projects approved now total 699 megawatts. Badger State should be operational by 2021.

The project is expected to generate enough renewable energy to power over 20,000 homes, according to a Dairyland Power news release from March 2019, when their power purchase agreement was announced.

The project was given a unanimous verbal approval today, and a final order will follow in the next few weeks. This was the final decision made by retiring Commissioner Mike Huebsch, who announced his retirement earlier this month.

RENEW Wisconsin’s Executive Director Tyler Huebner said, “The Badger State Solar will continue Wisconsin’s steady march towards a clean, renewable energy future, and will help Dairyland Power Cooperative meet its goals to increase the sustainability and diversity of its power generation sources. Congratulations to Ranger Power and Dairyland Power Cooperative on this project approval!”

Statistics about the Badger State Solar Farm

  • 149 megawatts
  • Expected to produce enough electricity for about 20,000 Dairyland Power Cooperative customers each year
  • Electricity Production will be about 0.4% of Wisconsin’s total 2018 electricity sales, and about 8% of Dairyland Power’s 2018 Wisconsin retail sales.
  • Located on approximately 1,200 acres which is 0.5% of Jefferson County’s farmland
  • The project developer expects to utilize pollinator-friendly plants under the solar panels that will help rejuvenate the soil underneath the array.
  • Under Wisconsin’s energy generation shared revenue law and renewable energy incentive payment laws, the local governments where the arrays are located will receive a substantial economic boost: Jefferson County will receive approximately $348,000 annually, the Town of Jefferson $125,000 annually, and the Town of Oakland $123,000 annually.

 

Statistics about the 4 solar farms approved by the PSC

Badger Hollow Solar (Iowa County), Two Creeks Solar (Manitowoc & Kewaunee Counties), Point Beach Solar (Manitowoc County), and now Badger State Solar (Jefferson County) received PSC approvals between April 2019 and January 2020.

  • Total of 699 megawatts of solar power production
  • Expected to produce enough power for about 178,000 average Wisconsin homes’ annual energy consumption
  • This amount of electricity produced would be about 2.0% of Wisconsin’s total 2018 electricity sales
  • These four projects will be located on approximately 5,300 acres of land, about 0.05% of Wisconsin’s farmland. In total Wisconsin has approximately 34,700,000 acres of land.
  • The hosting local governments (townships and counties) will receive $2,796,000 annually once these four projects are operational.