RENEW Wisconsin announces Sam Dunaiski as Executive Director

RENEW Wisconsin announces Sam Dunaiski as Executive Director

RENEW Wisconsin has named Sam Dunaiski as Executive Director.  Mr. Dunaiski was hired as RENEW Wisconsin Program Manager in July 2018 and moved into the Distributed Resources Director position in October 2020. Before joining RENEW, he served as an operational meteorologist, creating detailed weather forecasts for utilities, agriculture groups, radio stations, and other clients. 

“I am very pleased that Sam will become RENEW’s next Executive Director,” said Michael Vickerman, Policy Director at RENEW Wisconsin. “Sam’s leadership will be a crucial factor as we prepare for the next chapter of Wisconsin’s clean energy transition. It is our goal to make clean energy accessible, affordable, and available for anyone who desires it. This will involve engaging the many constituencies who have much to gain from actively taking part in Wisconsin’s journey towards a zero-carbon future. Sam has the drive and the skill set necessary to make that happen.”

RENEW’s Board President Amy Seeboth Wilson added, “The RENEW Board is ecstatic to work with Sam in this new role. He is a true champion for our mission, first volunteering with us in 2017 before joining our staff in 2018 and taking on increasing responsibility within the organization. Sam is committed and passionate- we cannot imagine a better person to lead us into this period of pivotal growth and transition for Wisconsin’s renewable energy future!”

“I am honored to lead RENEW Wisconsin at this transformational time for clean energy,” Mr.Dunaiski said. “With unprecedented legislation in the Inflation Reduction Act and Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, our work is more important than ever. RENEW will work towards bipartisan implementation of these new laws and increased access to the benefits of solar, wind, biogas, local hydropower, and building and transportation electrification.”

“This is an incredible opportunity to invest in Wisconsin communities and keep our energy dollars in state,” he continued. “We are committed to ensuring all Wisconsinites can reap the benefits of clean energy and will continue our work towards building a healthier, smarter Wisconsin through the advancement of clean energy.”

Sam has served on numerous committees and working groups addressing renewable energy, sustainability, and climate change, including co-chairing the Sustainable Madison Committee. He has a Bachelor of Science degree in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.


Other advocates and industry professionals applauded Mr. Dunaiski’s appointment.

“In both volunteer and professional capacities, Sam is a champion for renewable energy in our community and a tremendous partner. From co-chairing the City of Madison’s Sustainable Madison Committee to helping us expand the MadiSUN program, Sam’s leadership has been a key to success. I’m excited to see him take on the role of Executive Director at RENEW.”
-Jessica Price, Sustainability and Resilience Manager, City of Madison

“Sam has been the Solar for Good grant program coordinator for the Couillard Solar Foundation for the last five years. He is as dedicated and committed to our mission as we could hope, and we know that he will bring that same commitment to his new role as RENEW Wisconsin’s Executive Director. Personally, I’ve worked with Sam closely over this last year when I stepped into my role at the foundation and I couldn’t be happier to see his achievement.”
– Jackie Harrison-Jewell, Executive Director, Couillard Solar Foundation

Dane County Recognizes More Than 70 Local Organizations as 2022 Climate Champions for Efforts to Address Climate Change Locally

Dane County Recognizes More Than 70 Local Organizations as 2022 Climate Champions for Efforts to Address Climate Change Locally

On Thursday, October 6th, County Executive Joe Parisi joined the Office of Energy and Climate Change (OECC) to recognize local entities leading on climate action through Dane County’s Climate Champions program. The aim is to celebrate local leadership in fulfilling the goals outlined in Dane County’s Climate Action Plan, which commits Dane County to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 50% county-wide by 2030 and puts the county on a path to be carbon-neutral by 2050.

This year 87 Climate Champions are being awarded, representing 77 organizations. The Office of Energy & Climate Change recognizes achievements across ten categories, including:

  • Building Energy Use -for entities with very energy-efficient buildings.
  • Building Design -for still-under-construction facilities projected to be very energy efficient.
  • Fleet Operations -for entities with a fleet powered by clean fuels.
  • Employee Commuting -for entities where the workforce commutes via bike, walking, transit, or telecommuting.
  • Water Saving Practices -for entities that have implemented practices to reduce water usage.
  • Waste Diversion Practices -for entities that have strong waste diversion practices.
  • Sustainable Land Use Practices -for farms and land with strong sustainability practices.
  • Catalysts -entities that help others take climate actions.
  • GHG Emissions -for entities that have reduced their carbon footprint.
  • Other -for entities that have taken actions that don’t fit into other categories.

Entities that achieve Climate Champion status receive signage and recognition on the OECC website.

“We are excited to celebrate another cohort of Climate Champions,” said Dane County Executive Joe Parisi. “The leadership these organizations are taking to enhance their sustainability and meet our climate goals is admirable and inspiring to others.”

Each Climate Champion category has four levels of distinction, with four stars indicating the highest level of achievement in that category. In 2022, six entities representing three projects are receiving four stars. These entities include design craft Advertising, Greater Madison MPO, Madison Friends Meeting (Religious Society of Friends), and its building team: Ferch Architecture, Ideal Builders, and Full Spectrum Solar.

Additionally, nine local entities are earning awards in two or more categories, including design craft Advertising; Mad Local Food Group LLC, dba “Pasture and Plenty”; Madison Christian Community; Middleton Community Church, UCC; Monona Grove School District; Summit Credit Union; Sun Prairie Area School District; UW-Madison; and Willy Street Grocery Cooperative.

“The Climate Champions program is an important way for us to recognize how organizations across the county are helping to accelerate climate action. We are energized by how much this program has grown since its inception and are hopeful the actions these organizations are taking can spur additional action across Dane County,” Parisi added.

The full list of 2022 Dane County Climate Champions:

  • AprilAire – AprilAire achieved 2022 Climate Champion (Catalyst) status for developing ENERGY STAR-certified dehumidifiers and fresh air ventilators that help customers make their homes more energy efficient.
  • Arch Solar – Arch Solar achieved 2022 Climate Champion (Catalyst) status for helping over 100 homeowners install nearly 1 MW of solar in Dane County over the past two years. In addition, Arch Solar volunteers with renewable energy nonprofits to educate the community about solar and related technologies and has received grants to grow the solar workforce in underserved areas.
  • Bayview Foundation and its construction partners Horizon Development Group, Kubala Washatko Architects, SmithGroup, Spire, and Design Engineers – Bayview Foundation and partners achieved 2022 Climate Champion (3 Star/Building Design) status for their redevelopment of the Bayview affordable housing units and community center. These apartment buildings and community centers incorporate high energy efficiency features, including Passive House for the Community Center and ENERGY STAR for the townhomes. The facility is projected to use just a quarter of the energy used by comparable facilities.
  • Belle Farm – Belle Farm achieved 2022 Climate Champion (3 Star/Other) status for the Belle Farm development. The 44-acre eco/agri/wellness neighborhood in Middleton is planned to create a sustainable, walkable community of 880 dwelling units. To achieve near-net zero, all facilities will use geothermal heating and cooling, rooftop solar, passive design measures, and robust EV capabilities.
  • Biological Farming Friends – The Biological Farming Friends achieved 2022 Climate Champion (3 Star/Sustainable Land Use) status for sustainable land practices, including using cover crops, reducing fertilizer and chemical inputs, and increasing the use of no-till agriculture on over 10,000 acres since 2018, as well as adopting rotational grazing on over 500 acres. Creating resilient farming systems has reduced carbon emissions and sequestered carbon on marginal cropland through perennial covers.
  • Boys & Girls Clubs of Dane County and its construction partners OPN Architects, JSD, Hooper, Staff Electric, and Dave Jones Plumbing – Boys & Girls Clubs of Dane County and partners achieved 2022 Climate Champion (1 Star/Building Design) status for their new Workforce Training Center. The center will use approximately 25% less energy than a comparable facility and include geothermal heating and solar panels to support student learning about sustainable construction.
  • Capital Area Regional Planning Commission – The Capital Area Regional Planning Commission achieved 2022 Climate Champion (3 stars/Employee Commuting) status for 90% of employees regularly telecommute, bike to work, or take mass transit to work than driving alone.
  • City of Madison
    • The City of Madison achieved 2022 Climate Champion (3 Star/Building Energy Use) status for Fire Station 13, which uses around 75% less energy than similar buildings through a combination of solar power, geothermal, and passive lighting systems that are efficient and cost-effective.
    • The City of Madison achieved 2022 Climate Champion (2 Star/Building Energy Use) status for Pinney Library, which uses over 50% less energy than a comparable building. The LEED® Gold building has geothermal energy and LED lighting with daylight sensors.
    • The City of Madison achieved 2022 Climate Champion (1 Star/Building Energy Use) status for the Police Training Center, which uses about 25% less energy than a comparable building.
    • The City of Madison achieved 2022 Climate Champion (1 star/Building Energy Use) status for the Water Utility Building, which uses approximately 25% less energy than a comparable building.
  • City of Sun Prairie – The City of Sun Prairie achieved 2022 Climate Champion (2 Star/Employee Commuting) status for creating policies such as telecommuting, carpool facilitation, and emergency rides that encouraged 45% of employees to choose not to drive alone to work.
  • Cooper’s Tavern – The Cooper’s Tavern achieved 2022 Climate Champion (1 Star/Other) status for using local, organic, and sustainably sourced food to reduce emissions for transporting food; working to recycle fryer oil into biodiesel for farmyard vehicles; partnering with university students to turn food waste into compost, and using recycled materials in takeout packaging and other paper materials.
  • Couillard Solar Foundation – Couillard Solar Foundation achieved 2022 Climate Champion (Catalyst) status for helping 41 sites in Dane County acquire a total of 2.58 MW of solar power via grants to nonprofits and schools.
  • CUNA Mutual Group and its construction partners Eppstein Uhen Architects (EUA) and Affiliated Engineers (AEI) – CUNA Mutual Group and partners achieved 2022 Climate Champion (1 Star/Building Design) status for their rebuilding of the 5810 Mineral Point Road building. The energy-efficient building will use approximately 25% less energy than a comparable building. It will support employee well-being and offer outdoor spaces with native vegetation, while captured rainwater will be used for irrigation and building flush fixtures, saving 348,000 gallons of water a month.
  • designCraft Advertising – DesignCraft Advertising achieved 2022 Climate Champion (4 Star/Employee Commuting) status for allowing all employees to telecommute rather than travel to the office in person. They also achieved 2022 Climate Champion (2 Star/Greenhouse Gas Emissions) status for having corporate emissions lower than 70% of their peer companies.
  • Door Creek Orchard – Door Creek Orchard achieved 2022 Climate Champion (3 Star/Sustainable Land Use) status for sustainable land practices on the 80-acre property since 1984. These include reduced or no-till agriculture, continuous cover crops, increased nitrogen use efficiency, active tree maintenance, rotational grazing, controlled burns, and 16-plus acres of prairie/wetland restoration.
  • Drews Solar LLC – Drews Solar achieved the 2022 Climate Champion (Catalyst) for installing rooftop solar arrays and electric car chargers to help families produce 90-110% of their annual electricity needs. The company is on track to install over 2,000 solar panels in 2022.
  • Edgerton Hospital – Edgerton Hospital achieved 2022 Climate Champion (1 Star/Building Energy Use) status. The hospital, which features geothermal heating and cooling, uses about 25% less energy than a comparable hospital. Edgerton Hospital was the first hospital in Wisconsin to be built with geothermal heating and cooling.
  • Filament Games – Filament Games achieved 2022 Climate Champion (3 Star/Employee Commuting) status for allowing all employees who would like to work from home to do so, resulting in less than 6% of employees regularly driving alone. This also allowed the office to downsize to less than a tenth of its previous square footage when the company’s employee count is the highest it’s ever been.
  • First Unitarian Society of Madison – First Unitarian Society of Madison achieved 2022 Climate Champion (1 Star/Building Energy Use) status. Solar power and energy-efficient features enable this campus to use about 25% less energy than comparable facilities. FUS Madison achieved LEED® Gold status in 2009 with a modern addition that featured ground source heat pumps. After the addition, the FUS green team continued to pursue energy savings with a large solar array and smart HVAC management.
  • Girl Scout Troops #1477 & #1952 – Girl Scouts of Wisconsin Badgerland Council – Girl Scout Troops #1477 and #1952 achieved 2022 Climate Champion (Catalyst) status for their advocacy to reduce the embodied carbon of building materials, including concrete. Through two videos and various in-person and virtual presentations, the Girl Scouts reached thousands of building professionals worldwide. Locally they inspired the City of Madison Engineering Department to explore low-carbon concrete options and hosted a virtual roundtable to facilitate dialogue between local building industry groups.
  • Glass Nickel Pizza Co, West – Glass Nickel Pizza Co, West achieved 2022 Climate Champion (1 Star/Other) status for taking sustainable actions every day, including shopping locally, using recycled materials, reducing single-use plastics, composting, and recycling fryer grease.
  • Greater Madison MPO – Greater Madison MPO achieved 2022 Climate Champion (4 Star/Employee Commuting) for encouraging alternate transportation options so that no employees regularly commute to work by driving alone.
  • Green Box, LLC – Green Box achieved 2022 Climate Champion (Catalyst) status for collecting and composting 26,000 pounds of food waste in seven months, preventing that waste from ending in a landfill, and producing methane.
  • HGA – HGA achieved 2022 Climate Champion (Catalyst) status for working with clients to design energy-efficient new and retro-commissioned buildings with renewable energy and reduced embodied carbon. Recent HGA clients include SSM Health, Sun Prairie School District, Oregon School District, and Middleton Business Park.
  • Holy Wisdom Monastery – Holy Wisdom Monastery achieved 2022 Climate Champion (3 Star/Sustainable Land Use) status for sustainable land practices, including 190 acres of continuous cover, 170 acres managed with controlled burns, 130 acres of native prairie restoration, and a restored lake.
  • Legacy Solar Co-op – Legacy Solar Co-op achieved 2022 Climate Champion (Catalyst) status for increasing solar education and adoption of solar in Dane County. In 2020 and 2021, they educated hundreds of residents and supported 32 installations for 245 kW of solar. Legacy Solar Co-op (LSC) is a statewide member-owned cooperative that provides expert consulting and financing services to facilitate solar projects for communities and nonprofits in Wisconsin.
  • Mad Local Food Group LLC, dba “Pasture and Plenty” – Pasture and Plenty achieved 2022 Climate Champion (3 Star/Waste Diversion Practices) status for diverting at least 60% of their waste from the landfill via minimizing packaging and other raw materials, incentivizing reuse, reducing contamination of the waste streams, recycling, and composting. Pasture and Plenty also achieved 2022 Climate Champion (2 Star/Greenhouse Gas Emissions) status for having fewer emissions than at least half of the comparable businesses. Pasture and Plenty achieved lower emissions via bike delivery of meal kits, buying local food, reducing energy usage in their building, and buying green power. Pasture and Plenty advocates for environmental equity through food access programs, community classes, and training.
  • Madison Christian Community – Madison Christian Community achieved 2022 Climate Champion (3 Star/Sustainable Land Use) status for sustainable land practices on their 0.66-acre property, which they have been implementing since 1970. They have practiced reduced/no-till agriculture, controlled burns, and riparian/wetland restoration on their land. They also achieved 2022 Climate Champion (1 Star/Water Saving Practices) status for minimizing winter salt application, installing rain barrels and green infrastructure, and using native plants.
  • Madison Friends Meeting (Religious Society of Friends) with its construction partners Ferch Architecture, Ideal Builders, and Full Spectrum Solar – Madison Friends Meeting (Religious Society of Friends) and its partners achieved 2022 Climate Champion (4 Star/Building Design) status for their renovation of Friends Meetinghouse. A geothermal heating and cooling system coupled with rooftop solar arrays make the facility nearly net-zero in energy consumption. In addition to using less than 20% of the energy of comparable facilities, the Meetinghouse is now all electric. Project partners include Friends Meeting renovation managers Susan Kummer and Richard Pifer; David Ferch, architect; Hein Engineering Group; Ideal Builders; Full Spectrum Solar; Legacy Solar Co-op; Johnson Bank; and Quaker Power and Light.
  • Metcalfe’s Markets – Metcalfe’s Markets achieved 2022 Climate Champion (Catalyst) for their commitment to local producers and using food miles signs to help shoppers make sustainable choices by understanding where their food comes from and their carbon footprint. The stores also have a strong tradition of sustainable practices, including reducing single-use plastics, using renewable electricity, and working to minimize food excess.
  • Middleton Community Church, UCC – Middleton Community Church UCC achieved 2022 Climate Champion (Catalyst) status for their Earth Day Every Day: EV Car & Sustainability Show. Over 150 people visited the event, with 25 electric cars on display, e-bikes for test-driving exhibits from numerous local solar and environmental organizations, electric lawn equipment, and more. They also achieved 2022 Climate Champion (1 Star/Greenhouse Gas Emissions) status for having 45% fewer carbon emissions than a similar church.
  • Midwest Solar Power – Midwest Solar Power achieved 2022 Climate Champion (Catalyst) status for installing over 650 kW of residential and small commercial solar in 2021 and providing education about solar.
  • Monona Grove School District
    • Monona Grove School District achieved 2022 Climate Champion (2 Star/Building Energy Use) status for Granite Ridge, a new elementary school in Cottage Grove that uses about half the energy of a comparable school.
    • Monona Grove School District and its construction partner McKinstry Inc. LLC achieved 2022 Climate Champion (1 Star/Building Design) status for the energy efficiency upgrades and addition of solar panels on the roof of Monona Grove High School. The solar array is the largest in a K-12 school in Wisconsin and should provide about half of the school’s electric usage.
  • Odyssey Farm – Odyssey Farm achieved 2022 Climate Champion (3 Star/Sustainable Land Use) status on 14 acres, focusing on regenerative agricultural practices such as continuous cover, rotational grazing, increased nitrogen efficiency, and tree maintenance.
  • Promega – Promega achieved 2022 Climate Champion (2 Star/Building Energy Use) status for the Kornberg Center. A 250 kW solar array and ground source heat pumps reduce the building’s energy needs, while a 50,000-gallon rainwater collection system and green roof reduce stormwater run-off. The center uses less than half as much energy as comparable facilities.
  • Purple Cow Organics – Purple Cow Organics achieved 2022 Climate Champion (1 Star/Other) status for manufacturing compost that will increase the organic matter in soil and improve the soil’s ability to sequester carbon. Purple Cow processes an average of 18 million pounds of green material annually, resulting in over 4,000 additional tons of carbon sequestered this year.
  • RENEW Wisconsin – RENEW Wisconsin achieved 2022 Climate Champion (Catalyst) status for leading the MadiSUN program, which makes it easier for households across Dane County to access solar power. As part of MadiSUN, RENEW is also developing a workforce development plan to increase the solar labor force in Dane County by recruiting candidates from historically underserved populations, providing training, and connecting them with potential employers.
  • RenewAire – RenewAire achieved 2022 Climate Champion (2 Star/Building Energy Use) status. Leveraging natural daylighting and LED lighting, the LEED® gold-certified building uses only half as much energy as comparable facilities.
  • Short Stack Eatery – Short Stack Eatery achieved 2022 Climate Champion (2 Star/Waste Diversion Practices) status for its efforts to minimize waste, incentivize reuse, reduce packaging, and minimize contamination. This has resulted in diverting over 50% of their waste from landfill.
  • Slipstream – Slipstream achieved 2022 Climate Champion (Catalyst) status for helping to develop energy-efficient affordable housing via the Bayview project, hosting webinars and classroom events to educate building professionals, and managing the Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy (C-PACE) program to help property owners obtain low-cost loans for energy efficiency, renewable energy, and water conservation.
  • Standard Imaging, Inc. – Standard Imaging achieved 2022 Climate Champion (3 Star/Building Energy Use) status. With solar panels and geothermal heating and cooling, the building is fully electric and uses just a quarter of the energy of a comparable facility.
  • Summit Credit Union
    • Summit Credit Union achieved 2022 Climate Champion (1 Star/Building Energy Use) status for their Headquarters building, which has solar panels, a rainwater cistern for irrigation, a white roof, electric car charging, and prairie landscaping, resulting in over 25% less energy usage than a similar building.
    • Summit Credit Union achieved 2022 Climate Champion (1 Star/Other) status for supporting employees and members in sustainability efforts through a Summit Sustainability Champions group, offering energy efficient and solar loans, reducing waste, and participating in environmental events.
  • Sun Badger Solar – Sun Badger Solar achieved 2022 Climate Champion (Catalyst) status for installing over 60 residential solar arrays in Dane County in 2022 with a combined capacity of 555 kW and an annual output of almost 750,000 kWh of electricity.
  • Sun Prairie Area School District
    • Sun Prairie Area School District and its construction partners Bray Architects, Fredericksen Engineering, Muermann Engineering, and HGA – Sun Prairie Area School District and its partners achieved 2022 Climate Champion (2 Star/Building Design) status for West High School. A solar array will provide 10% of the building’s energy, while geothermal heat pumps and LED lighting will reduce the school’s energy consumption. The school is expected to use about half as much energy as a comparable school.
    • Sun Prairie’s Patrick Marsh Middle School achieved 2022 Climate Champion (2 Star/Other) status for a student project to reduce food waste at the school. Students developed initiatives to reduce up to 60% of wasted food heading to the landfill and partnered with the City of Sun Prairie to lead composting classes.
  • SunVest Solar LLC – SunVest Solar achieved 2022 Climate Champion (Catalyst) status for developing and installing commercial and distribution-level utility solar projects. Past projects include the 1.85 MW array at Madison College. SunVest is working with Dane County and Alliant Energy to complete the 17 MW Yahara Solar Project to provide renewable energy to Dane County facilities. In addition, SunVest works to educate students and other community members on the benefits of solar.
  • Sustain Dane – Sustain Dane achieved 2022 Climate Champion (Catalyst) status for their Climate Action Program, which resulted in 143 climate action commitments and another educational program to inspire climate action across the county.
  • The Neutral Project and its construction partners Michael Green Architecture, Equilibrium Engineers, ARUP, and RDH – The Neutral Project and partners achieved 2022 Climate Champion (3 Star/Building Design) status for Bakers Place, a new apartment building featuring mass timber construction, green roofs, a community garden, and electric car and bike sharing. The 15-story building was designed to reduce both operational and embodied carbon emissions. The building is projected to use just a quarter of the energy of comparable facilities.
  • UW Health
    • UW Health achieved 2022 Climate Champion (3 Star/Building Energy Use) status for the UW Health Union Corners Clinic at 2402 Winnebago St., which uses about a quarter of the energy of similar clinics. The LEED® Silver clinic was a 2 Star Climate Champion in 2020 and has continued to improve, earning it 3 Stars and an ENERGY STAR Rating of 98.
    • UW Health achieved 2022 Climate Champion (1 Star/Building Energy Use) status for the UW Health hospital at 4602 Eastpark Blvd, which is 20% more energy efficient than average hospitals. This building was recognized as an “Emerging” Champion in 2020 but has continued to improve, earning an ENERGY STAR score of 81.
  • UW Madison
    • UW Madison achieved 2022 Climate Champion (1 Star/Building Energy Use) status for Cooper Hall, which is approximately 25% more energy efficient than similar buildings. The building uses centrally supplied steam and chilled water to heat and cool the building.
    • UW Madison achieved 2022 Climate Champion (2 Star/Employee Commuting) status for having 40% of UW Madison employees commute to work by bike, bus, carpool, or on foot most of the time, with additional employees able to telecommute. Programs such as discounted employee bus pass, campus bus service, covered bike storage, carpool programs, custom route planning assistance, and the emergency ride home program reduce single-passenger driving.
  • Village of McFarland Police Department – The village of McFarland Police Department is recognized as an Emerging 2022 Champion (Fleet Operations) for purchasing its first battery electric police vehicle for its fleet.
  • Willy Street Grocery Cooperative – Willy Street Grocery Cooperative achieved 2022 Climate Champion (3 Star/Waste Diversion Practices) status for its efforts to minimize waste and increase recycling and composting, resulting in over 60% of waste being diverted from landfill. They also achieved 2022 Climate Champion (2 Star/Water Saving Practices) status for their food waste reduction measures, efforts to educate customers about water-saving practices, and installation of green infrastructure for gardening and run-off reduction.
  • Wisconsin Creation Care Ambassadors – Wisconsin Creation Care Ambassadors achieved 2022 Climate Champion (Catalyst) status for supporting faith communities interested in reducing their energy use or “greening” their building by adding solar panels, etc. They act as ambassadors for climate action by reaching out to congregations and providing speakers. In addition, they created a green team network to offer opportunities to environmentally-minded members of Dane County faith communities to network, collaborate, and inspire each other.

To learn more about the 2022 Climate Champions, visit the Dane County of Energy and Climate Change website and the related Climate Champions map.

Citing Growing Differences, RENEW Exits Customers First! Coalition

Citing Growing Differences, RENEW Exits Customers First! Coalition

After much internal deliberation, RENEW Wisconsin decided to end its 28-year membership in  Customers First! Coalition (CFC). RENEW was a founding member of CFC, an organization whose diverse membership supported a balanced approach to shaping Wisconsin’s energy policy. For many years, RENEW’s participation in CFC yielded positive results in the form of legislation that served to drive utility investments in renewable generation, such as the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard. However, as renewable energy technology and economics have advanced, we have had growing differences in various State policies that would allow utility customers to expand their renewable energy options. Because of this, RENEW Wisconsin felt we could no longer support many of the official positions of the CFC, and it was necessary to withdraw as a member.

RENEW sent a letter on September 28 informing CFC Directors of our decision to exit the coalition, listing three of the latest high-priority policy initiatives that RENEW supports and CFC opposes:

  • Policies to affirm 3rd party financing of behind-the-meter renewables;
  • Expansion of community solar options to serve all Wisconsin customers; and
  • Customer-sited solar generation supplying power to commercial electric vehicle charging stations.

In explaining our advocacy for policies that CFC finds objectionable, we pointed to the continuing evolution in technology and economics.

While RENEW acknowledges the many benefits that Wisconsin energy consumers derive from effective utility regulation, it is crucial that our regulatory framework remain responsive to the ongoing evolution in renewable energy technology and economics. Distributed energy resources today can deliver a level of savings and operational flexibility to customers that were considered unthinkable 15 years ago. If Wisconsin is serious about clearing pathways for such beneficial electrification technologies as solar and storage, electric vehicle charging, heat pumps, and community solar, it must update and clarify the utility regulations that presently hinder customers from pursuing those options.

Thank You!

Thank You!

Dear RENEW Wisconsin Members and Supporters,

Since March 2020, I have served as RENEW Wisconsin’s Executive Director. In these last 2.5 years, solar installations multiplied while electric vehicles and building electrification technology became more accessible. Meanwhile, RENEW Wisconsin has grown. We launched the new SolarShare Wisconsin Cooperative, expanded our programs, developed a zero-carbon roadmap, deepened our technical expertise, and supported new bipartisan clean energy legislation.

It has been the great joy of my life to serve as RENEW’s Executive Director. Our staff is talented and dedicated. Our supporters’ energy and generosity are unparalleled. It’s an honor to be part of this community. That said, beginning in October, due to personal circumstances, I will step down as Executive Director and start a new role as Advisor. In this new role, I will support RENEW’s operations, policy work, and programs.

RENEW Board Member, Jessica Niekrasz, stepped in as Interim Executive Director in July, and she will stay in this leadership role until the end of the year. I thank her for providing expert guidance and direction to RENEW. RENEW staff and board are true testaments to the strength and tenacity of our organization.

Since 1991, RENEW Wisconsin has been the state’s leading voice for renewable energy. We have grown from a one-person advocacy organization to an expert nine-person team. RENEW membership has grown by over 50% in the past five years alone. Through political obstacles, our team has triumphed in advancing clean energy in Wisconsin. With the passage of the historic Inflation Reduction Act, Wisconsin is poised to accelerate clean energy adoption. RENEW is ready to lead this transition.

It is an exciting time for clean energy in Wisconsin. I know that the future of RENEW Wisconsin is exceptionally bright, and I am grateful to be a part of our community. I want to thank you for all your support of RENEW and me since I joined RENEW in 2018.

Sincerely,

Heather Allen
Executive Director
RENEW Wisconsin

The results of our 2022 Board Of Directors election are in!

The results of our 2022 Board Of Directors election are in!

Thank you to all members who voted in our 2022 Board of Directors Election. RENEW Wisconsin’s Board of Directors plays an important role in setting the strategic vision for the organization. All dues-supporting members of RENEW Wisconsin were invited to vote in this year’s Board of Directors election.

The results of this year’s election include two incumbent board members, Mike Barnett and Jim Funk, and two newly elected board members, Lauren Reeg and Melissa Warning. All will soon begin a three-year term helping us advance renewable energy in Wisconsin.

MEET OUR NEWLY ELECTED BOARD MEMBERS

LAUREN REEG

RENEW Wisconsin is at the forefront of clean energy policy, and I would be proud to sit on the Board of directors. I have extensive experience with Wisconsin energy policy that could aid RENEW’s efforts.

Having lived in Wisconsin for over a decade, I received my Bachelor’s in engineering and Masters in energy policy from UW-Madison while interning at RENEW for two years. Currently, I work for RMI, a national clean energy non-profit focused on building decarbonization and electrification policy in the Midwest.

I’ll bring my knowledge of federal funding for equitable building retrofits, expertise in technical analysis related to cold climate heat pumps and renewable energy, and a national understanding of building policy efforts. These skills can elevate RENEW’s ability to engage in the buildings sector, which is ~17% of WI’s energy-related emissions. In addition to skills from my current role, I have experience in Wisconsin regulatory dockets and EV analysis and policy.

Finally, I am personally interested in sitting on the Board because I deeply care for RENEW. My internship with RENEW launched my career and cemented my passion for Midwest energy policy. This organization does exemplary advocacy, stakeholder engagement, and education that I would be proud to support.

MELISSA WARNING

I would like to become a Board of Director member at RENEW Wisconsin to help drive clean energy initiatives forward in our state. I am passionate about the impact renewable energy and electrification can and will have. There’s significant work to be done in our state to educate key stakeholders as to why the Badger State needs to continue innovating and investing in a future that is not dependent on fossil fuels.

Our future depends on our actions now, and collectively, we need to strategize what options are available today and how we knock down barriers to help build a stronger, cleaner, more vibrant Wisconsin.

As electrification becomes more prominent as an alternative energy source, we must ensure we have the resources to support those efforts. It’s up to us to push for cleaner, more reliable power for people and businesses across the state. Renewable energy options need to become a larger part of the conversation. Change is difficult but necessary as we move towards a decarbonized, decentralized, and digitized energy future.

I am currently the Sr. Marketing Strategy Manager for EnTech Solutions, a full-solution clean energy company, where I lead the strategic marketing initiatives for the business. I am passionate about brand building by understanding trends and authentically connecting with consumers through education and value creation. I have 12 years of experience in marketing strategy, content development, project management, and social media strategy. Before joining EnTech Solutions, I was with Harley-Davidson and Kimberly-Clark.

I hold a Communications/Public Relations degree from the University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point and an MBA from the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee. I reside in Oshkosh and enjoy spending time with my family, being outdoors, and traveling.

RENEW BOARD OF DIRECTORS

Mike Barnett • Madison, WI
Mike Cornell • Hartland, WI
Beth Esser • Madison, WI
Jim Funk • Winneconne, WI
Samara Hamze • Stevens Point, WI
Alicia Leinberger • Viroqua, WI
Mariah Lynne • Albert Lea, MN
Jessica Niekrasz • Chicago, IL
Lauren Reeg • Boulder, CO
Amy Seeboth-Wilson • Platteville, WI
Josh Stolzenberg • Wausau, WI
Eric Udelhofen • Madison, WI
Ken Walz • Madison, WI
Melissa Warning • Oshkosh, WI
Niels Wolter • Madison, WI

Don Wichert (DIRECTOR EMERITUS/Lifetime/Non-voting) • Madison, WI

Thank you for participating in the election and using your voice to help shape RENEW’s future! And thank you to all candidates who offered their expertise and time to help our organization grow and thrive. 

RENEW Wisconsin

RENEW Wisconsin holds elections for our Board of Directors every year. If you or someone you know would like to be considered for our next election, please complete the short form linked below. Racial diversity and inclusion are a priority in our organization, and we strongly encourage people of color and other underrepresented groups to join us in advancing renewable energy in Wisconsin. 

RENEW Wisconsin at the 31st MREA Energy Fair

RENEW Wisconsin at the 31st MREA Energy Fair

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.