by jboullion | Jul 21, 2014 | Uncategorized
Based on a July 18, 2014 article by Chuck Quirmbach on Wisconsin Public Radio
The Alliance for Solar Choice, a solar industry trade group, has scorned three Wisconsin utility’s attempts to harm solar companies through their respective proposed rate restructuring. All three rate proposals include a planned increase in customer’s fixed charges, while offering a small decrease in the price of energy use per kWh.
The Alliance for Solar Choice represents many members of the rooftop solar industry and believes that We Energies’ (along with WPS and MGE) plan would stop customers from having installers lease them solar panels. Alliance president Bryan Miller believes that utilities are adopting the philosophy of “if you can’t stop it, monopolize it” by assuring that rooftop solar is more economical through the utility. We Energies has also unveiled a solar panel leasing ban, further adding to the calamity felt by solar contractors. The utility waited to propose this ban after the deadline for groups to formally intervene in the rate case before the Public Service Commission, the entity that would review the proposal. According to Miller, “the way they did this shows you really what the character of this company is about.”
We Energies spokesperson Cathy Schultze said her company followed standard procedures for rate cases, stating that “the same amount of time that usually transpires went down in this case.” Further, Schultze stated that the increase in fixed charges is fairer to customers who can’t afford or don’t want solar panels, a surprising statement considering that the 1,450 MW of residential solar installations across the country since 2000 have been overwhelmingly occurring in middle-class neighborhoods that have medium incomes ranging from $40,000 to $90,000 (read the Center of American Progress report here).
Read the entire article here
by jboullion | Jun 13, 2014 | Uncategorized
RENEW Executive Director, Tyler Huebner was interviewed by Tom Breuer for the May issue of InBusiness Magazine
“If you’ve managed to survive even one brutal Wisconsin winter (or unseasonably hot summer), you know that looming utility bills can often creep into your daydreams and nightmares on a moment’s notice, eating away at your peace of mind well before they have your kids’ college fund for lunch.
If you’re a small business owner who pays his or her own heat or electricity, you’ve got double trouble, and in addition to unpredictable weather, unforeseen rate increases can be the difference between shivering in the dark and avoiding a deep freeze.
So imagine if your utility bills ran into the hundreds of thousands every month instead of the hundreds. Well, there are plenty of Wisconsin ratepayers — big manufacturers and other commercial energy consumers — who don’t have to imagine. They live that reality. And they are skittish about a recent proposal to beef up Wisconsin’s renewable energy mandate from its current 10% threshold to 20% by 2020 and 30% by 2030 — a move that, many believe, would spike energy prices that are already high in comparison to other states.”
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by jboullion | Apr 21, 2014 | Uncategorized
Wisconsin needs ambitious clean energy goal : WSJ
See also the April 27, 2014 response by Keith Reopelle, Clean Wisconsin
The paramount environmental issue this Earth Day, which arrives Tuesday, is climate change. Wisconsin, our nation and the world need solid steps forward to stem the worst impacts of rising temperatures.
The most recent report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change suggests the world could quickly transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy and lose just 0.06 percent of annual economic growth.
But the IPCC’s rosy prediction ignores some realities. Foremost, many industrial nations, including the United States, lack the political will to make such wholesale changes.
Yet change is possible and necessary. Even as nations search for common ground, state and local actions hold promise.
by jboullion | Feb 10, 2014 | Uncategorized
Note: This update follows my commentary posted last week documenting emerging changes in the U.S. natural gas market picture and discussing whether the altered picture will occasion additional repricing upward to balance supply with expected demand increases.
On February 6th, EIA reported that natural gas storage volumes were 270 billion cubic feet (bcf) under last week’s withdrawal numbers. That number reflects data submitted to EIA on January 31st.
Going into February this year, the quantity of natural gas in storage (1.923 bcf) is half of what it was at the start of the current heating season (3,834 bcf). The heating season generally ends around April 1.
I expect the next EIA report (February 13) to easily surpass the 200 bcf threshold.
In the previous 10 years, the largest amount of gas withdrawn from inventories during the entire heating season was 2,311 bcf. That occurred during the winter of 2007-2008. Thus far this season, a total of 1,911 bcf has been taken out of storage. If the next two reported withdrawals (Feb. 13th and 20th) exceed a combined total of 400 bcf, this winter’s withdrawals will exceed that total, and that will happen before the end of February.
Though this is shaping up to be the coldest winter in 20 years, the price of natural gas still remains below $5.00. How many more weeks of below-average temperatures will it take to move the floor price of natural gas to $5.00 and higher? The game-changer narrative is still hanging tough.
Over the weekend, I checked Chicago and Madison weather forecasts for the week of February 10th. To the extent there is a warm-up in sight, it will happen Thursday and Friday. This respite will bring temperatures back to seasonal levels, but don’t expect it to last. The weather forecast in Madison for the Valentine’s Day/President Day weekend heralds a return to below-normal temperatures.
The cold weather is also taking a bite out of current extraction volumes, as evidenced in the highlighted passage of the Bloomberg News article below. While pace of extraction will definitely pick up as winter gives way to spring, the question going forward is whether supply can increase by a record-setting 2.7 trillion tcf between the end of the current heating season and the beginning of the next. We’re starting to enter uncharted territory.
by jboullion | Jun 20, 2013 | Uncategorized
By Michael Tortorello
At 9 o’clock Friday morning, some 20,000 people will start arriving at a
vast field in Custer, Wis., to talk about wind power. No joke. Get
this: Thousands of souls have been coming here every summer for 23 years
to talk — really talk — about wind power.
Here is the Energy Fair,
a three-day convergence of homesteaders, hippies, ecotopians and more
than a few end-times enthusiasts, staged by the Midwest Renewable Energy
Association. Beyond the lecture titled “MacGyver Windmills” (that is,
devices fabricated from junk), a $15 day pass gets you admission to 200
other workshops. Would you like to learn about home algae cultivation
and humane rabbit husbandry (for meat and wool)? How about advanced
photovoltaic systems and D.I.Y. biodiesel?
The overarching theme is what marketers call “sustainable living,” and
these days it hardly qualifies as a kooky pursuit. Many of the fair’s
longtime commercial exhibitors, manufacturers of solar-energy technology
or rainwater harvesting kits, could now find a home at the Home Depot.