Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel article featuring Gary Tauchen discussing his Clean Energy Choice legislation

A Tom Content article in the Miwaukee Journal Sentinel featured Rep. Gary Tauchen (R) discussing his and Rep. Chris Taylor’s (D) new Clean Energy Choice legislation, which would open new financing mechanisms for solar and biogas in Wisconsin:

One of the biggest trends in sustainable power nationally is solar and finance companies — rather than homeowners or businesses — paying the upfront cost for solar panels. 

A bill just introduced in Madison aims to get Wisconsin on that bandwagon. The bill isn’t going to pass but was introduced to get the conversation started on an issue that is strongly opposed by state utilities. 

Republican Rep. Gary Tauchen (R-Bonduel), a co-sponsor with Democratic Rep. Chris Taylor (D-Madison), said the bill is needed to help boost construction of more waste-to-energy projects on Wisconsin farms.

A quote from Rep. Tauchen:

The number of digesters in Wisconsin “has been pretty constant for the last 10 years, and so we’re not really moving forward in any big way, as far as renewables,” he said. “And we have a lot of potential, especially in a state with over 1.2 million dairy cows to take advantage of a resource here that we have a lot of — manure — and make methane or compressed natural gas out of it.”


Bipartisan Clean Energy Choice Bill Introduced

Legislation would allow more customer options for renewable energy

On Friday, Representatives Gary Tauchen (R-6, Bonduel) and Chris Taylor (D-76, Madison) introduced a Clean Energy Choice bill that would allow Wisconsin farms, businesses, and citizens additional financing options for sourcing renewable energy produced on their property.

The bipartisan legislation would clear up a “gray area” of Wisconsin’s public utility law, which is stifling customer efforts to access renewable energy. If adopted, the law would affirm the property rights of homeowners, farmers, businesses, and local governments to use renewable energy produced on their own property, no matter how the project is financed.

In over 23 states, renewable energy developers can install, own and operate a renewable energy system, such as a farm biodigester or a solar power system, and sell the output to the host customer. These arrangements have proven tremendously popular in those 23 states, with over $3.4 billion invested into renewable energy through these arrangements in 2013. However, very little of this investment flows to Wisconsin because of the lack of clarity in current law.

“The present situation is like walking into an automobile dealership and being told, ‘You must own the car you drive, you’re not allowed to lease it’. This is a big barrier for many customers. We are advancing Clean Energy Choice to provide common sense financing solutions for important projects that put the power in consumer hands,” said RENEW Wisconsin’s Michael Vickerman.

“This policy also helps customers lock in a fixed electricity rate from these systems today and insulate themselves from increasing electric rates,” said Vickerman. “In particular, these financial arrangements benefit school districts, local governments, houses of worship, farmers, food processors, and retailers.”

Nationally, Kohl’s Department Stores and Wal-Mart are using developer arrangements to power more than 365 of their stores with solar power, at a cost savings to the companies.

A recent national poll conducted by Zogby Analytics found that 69% of homeowners want more choices when it comes to their own energy and electricity supply. “Consistent with that finding, this bill would empower citizens to chart their own energy future. We applaud Representatives Tauchen and Taylor for reaching across the partisan divide to launch the public discussion on a policy that will prove critical for Wisconsin’s energy future,” Vickerman said.

The whey-t is over: GreenWhey Energy’s vision of turning cheese plant waste into useable energy becomes reality – The Country Today: Front Page

GreenWhey Energy’s is the nation’s only privately owned facility to process food waste from multiple sources. This new facility will generate enough energy to power about 3,000 homes. Read more in the Country Today article below:

TURTLE LAKE — After more than five years of planning and a few setbacks, GreenWhey Energy is open for business in Turtle Lake. 

“It’s a good day,” said an emotional Tom Ludy, one of the plant’s owners, during an open house Sept. 26 in the plant’s brand-new intake bay. “It’s been a long time coming.” 

Engines in the $30-million facility were fired up for the first time just a few days before the open house. Ludy said it will take about six months to fully ramp up to full production. 

Eventually, GreenWhey’s two anaerobic digesters will bring in 500,000 gallons of wastewater seven days a week from area cheese plants, converting it to electricity, heat and fertilizer. 

GreenWhey is the only privately owned anaerobic digester facility in the U.S. to utilize wastewater from multiple food processors.

The whey-t is over: GreenWhey Energy’s vision of turning cheese plant waste into useable energy becomes reality – The Country Today: Front Page

Collaboration Between Rosendale Dairy, University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh and Renewable Energy Firms Enables the States Largest Dairy Farm to Begin Waste-to-Energy Project

Rosendale Dairy’s University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh funded biodigester is predicted to supply 1,200 homes with electricity. Read Tom Content’s article to learn how the BIOFerm headed project will help the University achieve it’s goal of reaching carbon neutrality by 2025.

By Thomas Content

A $7 million waste-to-energy manure digester will be built at Rosendale Dairy in Pickett, in a collaboration between the dairy, renewable energy firms and the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh.The project, kicked off Tuesday, consists of a large biodigester energy facility, learning laboratory and a public education center at Milk Source’s Rosendale Dairy, the state’s largest dairy farm with more than 8,000 cows, located in Fond du Lac County. 

The project is being funded by the UW-Oshkosh Foundation in support of the climate emission targets and sustainability education efforts in place at the university. 

The digester, to be completed by the end of the year, will use methane from livestock waste to produce electricity that will be sold to the electric power grid through an arrangement with Madison-based Alliant Energy Corp.The digester is expected to generate 1.4 megawatts of electricity, or enough to supply about 1,200 typical homes, according to BIOFerm Energy Systems of Madison, which is overseeing the project. 

UW-Oshkosh plans to tap carbon credits from the renewable power generated at the site to help it fulfill its climate change emission reduction commitment.“The campus hopes to also use it go help us greatly accelerate our carbon neutrality goal, which was 2025,” said Alex Hummel, UW-Oshkosh spokesman. “Early estimates from when we were sizing up the collaboration show we could reduce that to about 2017 or 2018.” 

UW-Oshkosh and BIOFerm opened a first-of-its-kind dry fermentation digester, about one-seventh the size of this project, in 2011. The digester converts food waste and yard waste to energy. 

Partners in the project include BIOFerm and its Germany-based parent company, Viessmann Group, as well as Alliant Energy and Madison-based Soil Net.BIOFerm also is the developer of a third area project, a small family-farm-scaled digester that is currently in the pilot stage that also processes livestock waste.

Proposed Madison Biodigester Could Make the City a Pioneer in Renewable Energy Production

Madison recycling coordinator George Dreckmann’s $20 million dollar proposal for a city-run biodigester and corresponding household organic refuse collection program could offer educational opportunities and ultimately reduce city landfill expenditures. Read Pat Schneider’s Capital Times article below to learn more. 

By Pat Schneider

Melon rinds, chicken bones, even pizza delivery boxes: Three years from now Madison residents could be putting them all curbside in a third household bin for collection and transfer to a city-run biodigester where they would be converted into biogas and compost.

That’s if the City Council approves $20 million — and the “yuck” factor doesn’t kill city recycling coordinator George Dreckmann’s proposal.

Dreckmann included expenditures for a citywide organic waste composting program — including construction of a biodigester — in a 2014 capital budget proposal sent Friday to Mayor Paul Soglin.

 If the funding is approved and the digester is built on the proposed schedule, Madison would be among the first U.S. cities to run its own digester for residential organic waste, Dreckmann said.