Madison Gas & Electric is now offering a first-in-Wisconsin opportunity for its business and institutional customers to access clean, renewable energy.
“Ride with RENEW” will highlight area renewable energy projects
Madison, WI – August 23, 2017; Contact Tyler Huebner, Executive Director, 608-255-4044 ext 1.
On Sunday, October 1st, RENEW Wisconsin, with presenting sponsor SunPeak, will host its 5th annual “Ride with RENEW” bicycle tour of renewable energy projects, with this year’s ride taking place in Middleton, WI. All event proceeds support RENEW Wisconsin’s ongoing work to advance renewable energy in Wisconsin.
Riders will travel approximately 22 miles on paved roads and bike paths to visit innovative wind, solar and biogas energy generation facilities in scenic northwest Dane County.
|2015 Ride with RENEW – Lake Geneva
The total tour time will be approximately 6 hours (including stops at renewable energy sites) and actual riding time will be 2 to 3 hours. Seasoned cyclists will have an optional longer route of about 40 miles to travel at their own pace.
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 pocketbooks and their businesses.
The stops and start and end schedule is as follows:
∞ Gather at BMO Harris Bank parking Lot in Middleton for a 9:30 a.m. departure.
∞ Sustainable Engineering Group’s net-zero solar powered office in downtown Middleton.
∞ Gundersen Health Systems & Dane County Biodigester. This project converts manure to make enough electricity to power approximately 2,500 homes while keeping manure out of the watershed.
∞ Madison Gas & Electric’s Middleton Shared Solar project, a large 500 kilowatt solar project on the roof of the Middleton Operations Center. Subscribers to this pilot shared solar program receive the benefits of locally generated solar power from a centralized solar project.
∞ Epic’s “Galactic” Wind Farm, featuring six turbines — each with three 135-foot blades – which rise hundreds of feet above the rolling hills northwest of Madison and generate enough electricity to help Epic offset much of its energy needs.
∞ PDQ in downtown Middleton. Presenting sponsor SunPeak installed solar panels on this store which showcases the market advances of solar alongside traditional fuels.
|2016 Ride with RENEW – Sisters of St. Agnes Solar Array in
Fond du Lac
The ride will conclude at Capital Brewery, also powered by a set of solar panels, for refreshments around 4:00 p.m.
Registration for the ride is open through September 29th. The cost is $30 for members of RENEW Wisconsin, $40 for non-members, and $60 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, sign on as an event sponsor, or volunteer on ride day.
“We are very excited to tour some of the Middleton area’s great renewable energy projects on Sunday, October 1st,” 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 including wind, solar, and even cow manure. 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 SunPeak (presenting sponsor), Capital Brewery, City of Middleton, H&H Solar, Summit Credit Union, Wegner CPAs, Full Spectrum Solar, One Energy Renewables, Midwest Solar Power, Madison Solar Consulting, Open Circle UUF, and Willy Street Co-op. There is still time to sponsor if your business or organization wishes to do so.
About RENEW Wisconsin
RENEW Wisconsin is a nonprofit organization which promotes renewable energy in Wisconsin. We work on policies and programs that support solar power, wind power, biogas, local hydropower, and geothermal energy. More information on RENEW’s website: www.renewwisconsin.org.
BIG VICTORY!! PSC Approves $7.7 Million in Renewable Energy Rebates and $10-$20 million in Biogas Spanning 2017 & 2018!
approximately $7.7 million in rebates spanning 2017 and 2018 to spur small,
customer-based renewable energy projects throughout Wisconsin.
customers of eligible Wisconsin utilities, and enable the customers to install
renewable energy technologies including solar, geothermal, biogas, biomass and
small wind systems.
|Full Spectrum Solar installs a solar PV system via the MadiSUN program
“From our renewable energy perspective, Chairperson Ellen Nowak may have said
it best in her concluding remarks, stating, ‘This is a great win for
Wisconsin.’ Indeed, continuing the highly successful renewable energy rebates
for 2017 and 2018 is a great win. This
level of renewable energy rebate funding should support upwards of 500 solar
electric home installations, 70 or more home geothermal installations, and
dozens of larger business renewable energy projects for each of the next two
years. The program will help our
residents save money and our companies stay cost-competitive.”
funding should be split between residential and business projects, as well as a
review of the incentive levels in light of the fact that technology prices for
renewable energy systems, specifically solar electric systems, have been
dropping very quickly in recent years.
RENEW Wisconsin will provide our recommendations, and those of the
renewable energy industry, to Commission Staff in the coming days.
million to expand biogas production from anaerobic digesters on dairy
farms. Staff and program administrators
will be developing biogas program options for the Commission to investigate
within 30 days, along with program options for increasing Focus on Energy’s
energy efficiency and renewable energy impacts in rural Wisconsin.
million down to $5 million, which freed up dollars carried over from previous
years to be put into programs starting in 2017.
Huebner said, “We applaud the Commission freeing up millions of dollars
of ratepayers’ money from previous years to be put into programs now that will
enable energy and dollar savings for customers across Wisconsin.
the continuation of the renewable energy rebates. We provided two separate memos describing the
history and status of the renewable energy industry and its relationship with
Focus on Energy and advocating for a continuation of rebates. In addition, a sign-on letter promoting
continuation of renewable energy rebates, which was supported by 41 businesses
and organizations from throughout Wisconsin, was delivered to the PSC as part
of the public comment period in this proceeding.
2014 and allocated $10 million to it over four years. Today, approximately two years into the
program, the PSC decided to end the program and spend the remaining funds
instead on rebates, which had outperformed the loan program in that two year
a boost. The PSC re-committed to
spending $6.4 million on this technology, which it had authorized in 2014. An initial plan to focus on smaller dairy
farms was not as effective as envisioned.
Today, the PSC authorized the creation of an interagency working group
to identify opportunities to expand this technology and its benefits of
renewable energy production, water quality improvements, and on-farm revenue
stability, and indicated that programs between $10 and $20 million should be
investigated to spur this technology.
world-class companies working in anaerobic digesters right here in Wisconsin
that can help make this program a success.
Utility Proposes Anemic Buyback Rate for New Customer-Sited Bioenergy
Press release issued by RENEW Wisconsin, 8/5/2014
Contained in Milwaukee-based We Energies’ pending rate filing is a proposal to cut the buyback rate for new customer-sited bioenergy projects by more than half, down to 4.24 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh) beginning in January 2016. The proposed rate would also apply to existing biodigesters once their existing power purchase contracts with We Energies expire.
Currently, We Energies pays about 9.2 cents per kWh for electricity generated from biogas produced from dairy cow manure or food wastes, and that rate remains in effect for the first 10 years of that system’s operation. We Energies’ biogas rate, along with similar rates offered by other utilities, was instrumental in building up bioenergy’s strong presence in Wisconsin. However, We Energies discontinued its special biogas offer several years ago, as have other utilities.
“Biogas generation provides tremendous benefits to Wisconsin,” said Tyler Huebner, RENEW Wisconsin’s Executive Director. “Biogas provides another revenue stream to dairy operations to offset fluctuations in milk prices. It helps Wisconsin keep energy dollars in the state, because we send $16 billion a year out of Wisconsin to pay for energy when we can make more of it here at home. It helps clean up our environment by reducing phosphorous at the source. The list goes on and on.”
According to RENEW Wisconsin, a renewable energy organization intervening in We Energies’ rate case, the 4.24 cents/kWh rate is a key part of We Energies’ ambitious plan to undermine the economics of customer-sited renewable energy systems through a combination of low power purchase prices and onerous charges. The Public Service Commission will review the utility’s proposal and make a decision on it before the end of this year.
“No dairy farm or food processor can make the economics of generating electricity from bioenergy work with such a low rate,” said RENEW Wisconsin executive director Tyler Huebner. “This rate is guaranteed to stifle new bioenergy development in We Energies’ territory.”
“Moreover, dairy operations with existing generating units may have no choice but to discontinue producing electricity when their current contracts with We Energies expire,” Huebner said. “The gas will either be put to a less financially attractive use or simply flared off.”
“There is no compelling rationale for a buyback rate this low,” Huebner said. “Several of We Energies’ power plants, such as Valley and Rothschild, have fuel costs that exceed 4.24 cents/kWh.”
Fuel costs at Rothschild, a new biomass cogeneration plant in central Wisconsin, are averaging over 10 cents/kWh in 2014.
“Even under the 9.2 cents/kWh rate, buying electricity from operations such as Crave Brothers near Waterloo and Clover Hill near Campbellsport is less expensive than generating electricity from that plant,” Huebner said.
“We’re worried that with We Energies’ proposed acquisition of Wisconsin Public Service (WPS), this low-ball rate, if approved, will spread into prime Wisconsin dairying country in 2017. If WPS follows We Energies’ lead, this could put on-farm bioenergy development in a state of permanent contraction.”
Existing bioenergy generation systems interconnected to We Energies include Forest County Potawatomi Digester (Milwaukee, 2,000 kilowatts); Green Valley Dairy (Shawano, 1,200 kW), Crave Bros., (Waterloo, 633 kW); Clover Hill (Cambellsport, 480 kilowatts); and Volm Farms (Addison, 225 kW).
by Don Wichert, RENEW Wisconsin
1. Renewable energy is cost effective with conventional fossil and nuclear fuels
The price of renewable energy continues to decline, while the price of conventional energy (with the recent exception of natural gas) continues to increase. Customer-sited solar electric is now equal to or less than the retail cost of grid electricity in many areas of Wisconsin. Dairyland Power Cooperative and Vernon Electric Cooperative will begin purchases of power from two large solar arrays under long term contracts. Biogas to electricity is competitive or less than retail electricity for farms and solid biomass fuels out compete propane and oil in rural areas. Renewable fuels have stable, zero, or low fuel costs, that do not fluctuate like fossil fuels.
2. Fossil and nuclear industries have received more subsidies from government than renewables
All energy production in the U.S. receives significant federal support, dating back to the first oil subsidies in early 20thcentury. In cumulative dollar amounts, the oil, coal, gas and nuclear industries have received approximately $630 billion in U.S. government subsidies, while wind, solar, biofuels and other renewable sectors have received a total of roughly $50 billion in government funding.
(DBL Investors, http://bit.ly/uV14lf)
3. Wisconsin has plenty of solar energy
Wisconsin consistently receives enough solar energy to supply significant amounts of electricity used in Wisconsin households and businesses from their rooftops and properties. Wisconsin receives 20 percent more solar energy than the world’s leader in solar development, Germany, and similar amounts as New Jersey, a solar energy installation’s leader in the US. A number of studies imply that solar could supply 100 percent of Wisconsin’s electricity during peak hours by installing panels on existing roofs with solar access (http://www.ecotopia.com/apollo2/photovoltaics/PVMktPotentialCostBreakthruNavigant200409.pdf).
4. Renewable energy provides energy at critical times and locations and is matched well with other resources to maintain reliability
Solar energy output peaks in the summer when demand on the electricity system is highest due to air conditioning use. Wind power can also match high electrical demands when summer and winter winds bring in heat and cold. Biomass and hydropower are forms of stored solar energy that can be used to fill in supply gaps from intermittent sources. Natural gas plants can be quickly started as an adequate and clean back up source of power. Renewable energy systems can be installed at weak voltage locations in the transmission grid to boast power. Installation of incremental amounts of renewable energy to meet growing local demand can occur in months rather than in the years it takes for fossil fuel plants to be installed.
5. Net metering adds value to the grid and all customers
Net metering uses the electric transmission grid to absorb extra renewable electricity from distributed producers and provides a similar amount of electricity back when electric demand exceeds renewable supply. Net metering adds value when produced during peak electrical demand hours, reduces the need for transmission and distribution infrastructure, reduces environmental emissions, enhances energy security, and hedges the variable nature of fossil fuels prices. Although all customers pay for the electrical grid, studies have shown that the extra value from the renewable production is greater than the cost.
6. Wind power provides local energy, improved environmental & economic impact
Wisconsin has thirteen wind farms varying in size from 1.3 MW to 162 MW with a total of 647 MW. This represents about half of all wind energy used in Wisconsin, the rest coming from neighbors Iowa and Minnesota. This power is local, has no emissions, and is now one of, if not the, lowest sources of electricity in Wisconsin and the Midwest (http://www.awea.org/Resources/Content.aspx?ItemNumber=5547).
7. Biogas takes pollution and converts it to rural energy, jobs, and environmental improvements
Wisconsin’s 1.3 million dairy cows produce a great deal of manure: 16 billion gallons per year. For years this manure was spread on pasture land in the summer and winter. Unfortunately, some of the nutrients, pathogens, and smell polluted the local water and air sheds. Wisconsin’s 40-50 farm and food bio digesters take manure and high organic content food wastes and convert these pollutants to local energy, fertilizer, high value bedding, while reducing pathogens and smell by over 95 percent (http://www.epa.gov/agstar/documents/gordondale_report_final.pdf). In addition, the remaining digestate, which is the liquid left over from the digesters, can be stored and used in irrigation systems to add water and nutrients to crops at optimal times.
8. Biomass energy reduces greenhouse gas and other emissions, and can be grown sustainably
Biomass is “young” stored solar energy. Through photosynthesis, water is combined with carbon dioxide to form hydro-carbon compounds. Depending on the biomass, the stored carbon is one to 100 years old. In a natural system of growth and decay, all of the biomass would eventually go back to the atmosphere as carbon dioxide or methane as the biomass oxidizes (rots), if not used. Converting the biomass for productive energy reduces the total carbon emissions because it replaces old (fossil) carbon that has been stored in fossil fuels for millions of years. In addition, half of a tree’s mass is in the roots and some of the carbon is taken up by surrounding soils and stored there.
The vast majority of modern biomass combustion units are labeled, highly efficient, and are regulated for air emissions. This includes residential wood stoves. Most biomass energy processes only use wastes from non-energy forest or crop applications. Smaller branches, twigs, and leaves are not taken for energy use and contain most of the nutrients, which are recycled into the soils on the forest floor. Residual ash from the combustion process, which contains valuable nutrients, can be reapplied to the land.
9. Renewable energy is becoming more mainstream everyday
In 2012 and 2013 solar and wind supplied 51% and 37%, respectively, of all new electric generation capacity in the US (wind power additions fell in 2013 as a result of the expiration of the production tax credit).
Renewable energy now produces more power than nuclear energy in the US.
Solar energy grew at a 40% rate in 2013 from 2012. Wind energy has over 60,000 Megawatts of installed capacity, a ten-fold increase from 10 years ago.
10. The vast majority of Wisconsin citizens want more renewable energy
Surveys consistently show that Wisconsin citizens prefer renewable energy over fossil fuels. Over 83% of Wisconsin voters support solar, wind, and hydro as their energy source vs about 50 percent for coal and nuclear (Source: Voter attitudes towards Energy Issues in Wisconsin, 2012).