by Julia Holzschuh | Mar 29, 2023 | Press Release, Programs, RENEW Wisconsin
On Tuesday, Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway and RENEW Wisconsin announced the launch of MadiSUN’s 2023 Solar Programs, the City’s initiative to expand solar energy for local homes, businesses, affordable housing providers, and nonprofits. Participants included Sam Dunaiski, Executive Director of RENEW Wisconsin; Rev. Dr. Marcus Allen Sr., Pastor of Mt. Zion Baptist Church; and Maria Redmond, Director of the Wisconsin Office of Sustainability and Clean Energy.
MadiSUN is the City of Madison’s initiative to help foster the expansion of solar renewable energy. It consists of three programs: Group Buy for Homes, Solar for Businesses, and the Backyard Solar Grant. The Group Buy for Homes program simplifies the process of going solar for Dane County homeowners by putting them into direct contact with reputable solar installers. Since 2016, it has helped 289 Dane County residents install solar panels, totaling over 1600 kW. Solar for Business aims to educate and encourage Madison-based businesses to install solar power at their facilities. Since the program’s inception in 2018, they have awarded grants to 24 businesses with an aggregate capacity of 1600-kW and a total investment of $2,200,435. The Backyard Solar Grant fosters access to solar power for Madison-based community organizations and affordable housing providers that serve City of Madison residents. 19 organizations have received grants from the Backyard Program, with Mt. Zion Baptist Church receiving a $10,000 grant in 2021 for their 21.6-kW solar array. Looking forward to the 2023 season, MadiSUN is optimistic about the new possibilities presented by the Inflation Reduction Act on the programs. With nonprofit organizations now able to utilize previously unavailable solar incentives and an increase in the Solar Investment Tax Credit, RENEW is excited to facilitate the continued growth of these programs.
“I anticipate 2023 will be our best year yet!” said Sam Dunaiski, Executive Director of RENEW Wisconsin, “As administrator of the MadiSUN programs, RENEW believes in an all-of-the-above approach to renewable energy adoption. MadiSUN helps community organizations lower the upfront costs of solar, it helps Madison businesses navigate the questions around commercial solar implementation, and it makes going solar easy and affordable for local homeowners. These solar projects will help residents throughout the Madison area save money on their utility bills and reduce their carbon footprint.”
“We felt that installing a solar system would help the church serve the South Madison community by providing an example of leadership in demonstrating to the minority community the importance of good environmental stewardship.” said Pastor Allen of Mt. Zion Baptist Church. “We want to show the community the potential of long-term benefits of reducing dependence on nonrenewable resources thus, reducing the church’s carbon footprint.”
Federal investments from the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) will complement and accelerate Madison’s Climate Forward Agenda by providing much-needed funding to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the building and transportation sectors. IRA incentives will help increase the reach of City programs that support energy efficiency upgrades to naturally occurring affordable housing, and rooftop solar for homes and businesses through MadiSUN, and accelerate the transition of the City’s fleet to low- and no-carbon fuels, among other ongoing initiatives. The timing is fortuitous for new programs as well. The City’s new Building Energy Savings Program will help large commercial building owners identify opportunities to increase their energy efficiency and save money.
“I am very excited about the opportunities President Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act will bring for our MadiSUN program. The bill will allow thousands of Madisonians to transition to clean energy and grow the energy efficiency of their homes and businesses,” said Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway.
The IRA will help Madison accelerate and reach its climate goals by providing funding directly to local households, businesses, and nonprofits to reduce energy costs and make clean energy and transportation more accessible for everyone. This can be done through: home energy efficiency upgrades, home energy systems, using electric vehicles, growing Wisconsin’s green economy, and by businesses utilizing energy cost savings.
- Home energy efficiency upgrades – The law includes rebates for energy-efficient electric heat pumps, water heaters, stoves, ovens, or other home appliances with more energy-efficient electric appliances for low- and moderate-income households. Any household can receive tax credits covering 30% of the cost of home construction projects on windows, doors, insulation, or other weatherization measures that reduce energy waste. These upgrades can lower home energy bills by at least $350 annually.
- Home energy systems – Households can also receive tax credits to cover 30% of installation of solar panels or battery storage costs. The average family installing solar using this credit would save $9,000 on their electricity bill over the system’s life, or about $300 per year.
- Electric vehicles – The IRA makes electric vehicles more affordable by providing up-front discounts of up to $7,500 for new and $4,000 for used electric vehicles, helping families save as much as $950 per year on fuel costs. Businesses can receive tax credits of up to $40,000 for commercial electric vehicles and a $100,000 tax credit for installing EV charging infrastructure in qualified census tracts.
- Growing Wisconsin’s green economy – Between 2023 and 2030, the IRA will bring an estimated $4 billion of investment to boost our manufacturing industry, employing an average of 472,000 workers.
- Business energy cost savings – Through the IRA, small businesses can receive a tax credit that covers 30% of the cost of switching over to low-cost solar power.
More information about the MadiSUN programs can be found on the programs website or by contacting the program coordinator Lauren Cohen at RENEW Wisconsin.
by Julia Holzschuh | Feb 23, 2023 | Press Release, RENEW Wisconsin
RENEW Wisconsin has appointed Beata Wierzba as Government Affairs Director following the retirement of Jim Boullion. Wierzba has been involved in government affairs for over 20 years, with previous positions at Nsight, the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, the Wisconsin Electric Cooperative Association, and the Wisconsin State Legislature.
“I am excited to be working on state legislation again and look forward to being part of an organization dedicated to advancing renewable energy,” Wierzba said. “I wish all the best to Jim Boullion on his retirement.”
RENEW’s previous Government Affairs Director, Jim Boullion, retired on February 17, 2023, after helping Wierzba transition into the role at RENEW. “I am so excited to have Beata take my place at RENEW Wisconsin and lead our efforts to advance renewable energy,” he said. “Beata and I have worked together for over 20 years, and I have always been impressed by her. Her experience in government affairs with Wisconsin’s Electric Cooperative Association will give her a great foundation on the issues, and her relationships with the key players in the energy sector will allow her to hit the ground running.”
“We are very excited for Beata to join RENEW,” said Executive Director Sam Dunaiski. “Beata brings years of experience in the energy industry and a work ethic that matches our efforts as an organization. RENEW is thrilled to add Beata to our talented team.”
by Sam Dunaiski | Feb 1, 2023 | Community, Events, Local Initiatives, RENEW Wisconsin
On Thursday, January 26th, RENEW held our 12th annual Renewable Energy Summit. Attendees from across Wisconsin, the Midwest, and even around the globe gathered to learn more about the clean energy transition taking place in our state. With over 600 attendees and dozens of exhibitors, this year’s Summit was our most successful to date!
Our amazing cast of panelists, presenters, and guest speakers highlighted how new federal legislation will help drive clean energy deployment in Wisconsin. As renewable energy sources continue to grow in our state, the tools available from the Inflation Reduction Act, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, and other bills will increase the speed at which we phase out fossil fuels.
Each year our Summit continues to grow in size and scope. The energy and excitement at this year’s event were absolutely palpable. Thank you to the sponsors, volunteers, staff, attendees, and everyone else that helped make this an amazing Summit!
by RENEW Wisconsin | Jan 23, 2023 | Events, RENEW Wisconsin
During its twelfth annual Renewable Energy Summit, RENEW Wisconsin, with presenting sponsors greenpenny and Invenergy, will honor individuals and businesses who have made significant and lasting advances in clean energy development in Wisconsin. The Summit will take place Thursday, January 26, 2023, at Monona Terrace in Madison.
RENEW’s 2023 Summit, titled “Sizing Up the Clean Energy Transformation,” will take a close look at the forces unleashed by the Inflation Reduction Act, the most important climate action ever undertaken by the federal government, and assess the impact of this landmark law on Wisconsin’s energy landscape. Featured speakers include Michelle Moore, CEO of Groundswell; Jennifer Bumgarner, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Congressional and Intergovernmental Affairs; and Wisconsin Public Service Chairperson Rebecca Cameron Valcq.
The awards are grouped under four categories:
Clean Energy Policymaker:
State Senator Robert Cowles
Clean Energy Pioneer:
City of Madison
Clean Energy Warriors:
Will Kenworthy, Vote Solar
Tim Lindl, Keyes and Fox
Denny Wroblewski, Northwind Solar
Josh Stolzenburg, Northwind Soar
Jim Pullen, Eagle Point Solar
Erick Shambarger, City of Milwaukee
Amy Heart, Sunrun
David Bender, EarthJustice
Nick Hylla, Midwest Renewable Energy Association
Clean Energy Honor Roll:
EnTech Solutions, Middleton
Solar-powered renewable natural gas (RNG) production facility
Solar-powered school campus
Bad River Tribe (Ishkinoge Nawadide), Odanah
Solar-powered microgrid – resiliency for the reservation
Dominion Properties/Arch Solar, Shorewood
Vertical solar installation serving an office building
Dynamic Renewables/BC Organics, Greenleaf
Large-scale RNG production facility
Friends Meeting House, Madison
All-electric building tapping into onsite energy
Alliant Energy – Wood County Solar Farm, Nekoosa
Utility-scale solar generation
Clean Energy Policymaker: Senator Robert Cowles
Representing the 2nd Senate district in the Green Bay and Fox Valley area since 1987, Sen. Robert Cowles has been a dedicated and productive champion of clean energy policy throughout his Senate career. Over the years, Sen. Cowles has sought to advance energy efficiency and renewable energy through legislation that balances economic and environmental interests. Among Sen. Cowles’ accomplishments are several comprehensive bills that (1) established Wisconsin’s energy resource priorities (1994), (2) expanded the state’s utility local aids law to promote in-state renewable power (2003), and (3) safeguarded the statewide Focus on Energy program from harmful budget raids (2006). Ongoing clean energy initiatives championed by Sen. Cowles include those to allow convenience store operators to sell electricity for electric vehicle charging purposes and to clarify the legality of third-party-owned renewable energy systems built on a customer’s property to serve that customer.
Clean Energy Pioneer: City of Madison
In March 2017, Madison adopted an ambitious climate goal: to achieve 100% renewable energy and net zero carbon emissions for city operations by 2030 and communitywide by 2050. The award salutes the City for its conscientious and systematic approach to advancing local clean energy and ensuring that its investments and programs benefit the entire community. By the end of 2022, the City’s accomplishments encompassed the following:
- Installing more than 1,800 kilowatts (kW) of solar generation on its own facilities, including approximately 500 kW in 2022. Unlike other local governments, the City designs and installs most of its solar installations. This initiative also provides a platform for a solar training program aimed at underemployed and unemployed residents to better prepare them for future job opportunities in the solar marketplace.
- Partnering with Madison Gas & Electric to purchase the output from the Hermsdorf solar farm in southeast Madison. The 8 MW array went live in April 2022 and now offsets 22% of the City’s electricity usage.
- Leveraging the installation of more than 300 solar PV systems on homes and multifamily buildings through its MadiSUN program, including 64 in 2022.
- Acquiring, by the end of 2022, 85 electric vehicles, more than 150 hybrid-electric vehicles, and the first all-electric fire truck operating in the United States. The City is also testing three all-electric buses.
Clean Energy Pioneer – Warriors
The recognition ceremony will also honor businesses and individuals who, at various times, led the campaign to enable Wisconsin electricity customers to access third-party-financed renewable energy systems installed on their property. This has been a long-standing policy priority for RENEW, stretching back to 2012. After years of being stalemated at the Public Service Commission, Wisconsin’s solar industry finally received some good news. In December 2022, the Commission affirmed the legality of a private contract between a utility customer and a solar energy provider. This will allow, on a limited basis, electricity customers to access solar energy onsite through leases or service agreements, so long as the contract meets certain criteria.
The ceremony will conclude with the 2022 Clean Energy Honor Roll, in which RENEW will recognize seven clean energy projects in Wisconsin that recently commenced operation. Whether on the basis of their productivity, innovativeness, attention to detail, scale, resourcefulness, or efficacy in reducing carbon emissions, these seven projects showcase the skills and know-how Wisconsin stakeholders bring to the clean energy marketplace in the Badger State.
This annual event features an exposition hall, breakout sessions, and industry professionals discussing current and future opportunities for advancing clean energy in Wisconsin.
Click here for more information on the 2023 Summit program agenda, speakers, and registration. For press passes, please email Jodi Jean Amble (email@example.com).
by Francisco Sayu | Dec 16, 2022 | Electric Vehicles, Local Initiatives, Programs, RENEW Wisconsin
RENEW Wisconsin awarded an EVs for Good grant of $5,000 to EVsafe to support first responder training in accidents involving electric vehicles (EV) and other electric infrastructure-related emergencies.
EVsafe is a Wisconsin-based nonprofit supporting our nation’s first responders through specialized EV training to increase safety and efficiency when responding to emergencies. The grant will support the purchase of a salvaged vehicle for EVsafe’s “break-apart” EV training program. This vehicle will support training on disabling high voltage systems, extinguishing electrical fires, and other challenges unique to electric vehicles.
RENEW Wisconsin’s EVs for Good grant program reduces the upfront costs of purchasing electric vehicles and EV charging infrastructure for nonprofits in Wisconsin. This grant is possible thanks to a generous donation from Carol and Andy Phelps.
by Jodi Jean Amble | Nov 21, 2022 | RENEW Wisconsin
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