State’s Renewable Standard Delivers Positive Results

Michael Vickerman
608.255.4044, ext. 2
State’s Renewable Standard Delivers Positive
Most utilities already meeting 2015 targets
Most Wisconsin electricity
providers have already acquired all the renewable energy supplies they need to
meet the state’s 10% target in 2015, according to the Public Service Commission
(PSCW). The agency’s annual compliance review showed that nearly 9% of
electricity sold by in-state electricity providers in 2011 originated from such
renewable energy resources as sunlight, biogas, hydro, landfill gas and wind,
compared with 3% in 2006.
“By any measure, the
state’s Renewable Energy Standard (RES) has been an unqualified success,” said
Michael Vickerman, program and policy director for RENEW Wisconsin. “From the
standpoint of job creation, resource diversity, price stability, environmental
protection and revenue generation, the RES has delivered  exceptional value to a state that is very
dependent on imported fossil fuels for electricity generation.”
Passed in 2006, the RES has
been the most powerful policy for driving growth in renewable electricity
sales. Yet with so many electricity providers already in compliance with their
2015 requirements, the prospects for new investments in home-grown energy
sources are uncertain.
“Right now, we don’t have a
policy in place for directing investments into clean energy after 2015,”
Vickerman said. “If we want to reap the economic and environmental benefits
that come with renewables, state lawmakers will have to extend the Renewable
Energy Standard or adopt a successor policy.”
“Investments in renewable
resources not only supply Wisconsin utility customers with clean energy, they
also generate work opportunities for local manufacturers and businesses,
additional revenue for local governments, and income for farmers,” said
“Renewable energy should be
the cornerstone of an economic development strategy that aims to increase the
state’s workforce and expand investment opportunities,” Vickerman said. “We
look forward to working with the Governor and the next Legislature to put in
place a realistic, low-cost policy framework that maintains the momentum
building from the current RES.”   
RENEW Wisconsin is an
independent, nonprofit 501(c)(3) that leads and represents businesses, and
individuals who seek more clean, renewable energy in Wisconsin.  More
information on RENEW’s Web site at

Dan York: Wisconsin slips in energy-efficiency ranking

letter to the editor from Dan York, with a correction to the original article “Wisconsin slips down in energy-efficiency ranking.“. It’s worth reading the original, and the correction is listed below:

Dear Editor: The Biz Beat article “Wisconsin slips down in energy-efficiency ranking,” published Oct. 6, reveals how Wisconsin has lost its one-time leadership position for policies and programs to achieve greater energy efficiency according to annual rankings performed by my organization, the American Council for an Energy-Efficiency Economy (ACEEE). We are pleased to see this issue raised in Wisconsin.

The article contains one statement, however, that is incorrect. A spokeswoman for the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin, Kristin Ruesch, states that our group (ACEEE) did not look at “achievements” but “spending alone.” Our State Scorecard, in fact, assesses and includes scores both for program spending and savings (achievements). We agree with the PSC that cost-effectiveness and savings impacts are important attributes of programs like Focus on Energy. It is precisely because of the demonstrated cost-effectiveness of Focus on Energy ($2.30 in economic benefits for every program dollar spent) that we believe higher levels of investments in this clean, low-cost energy resource are justified. The PSC reached the same conclusion in its 2010 review of the program, which led to its recommendation to greatly increase funding and associated energy savings goals for Focus on Energy.

Our neighboring states rank higher than Wisconsin because they continue to push for higher energy savings through increased investments in energy efficiency. Wisconsin, by contrast, is standing still and by doing so, is getting left behind. Energy efficiency saves customers money, protects the environment and creates jobs here in Wisconsin. We encourage Wisconsin’s policymakers to take actions to put Wisconsin back in a leadership position for creating a green energy economy for the 21st century.

Dan York, Ph.D., Utilities Program director, American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy

RENEW participates in county announcement of Clean Lakes, Clean Energy initiative

RENEW participates in county announcement of Clean Lakes, Clean Energy initiative

Michael Vickerman, RENEW director of programs and policy, gestures toward Lake Monona during the announcement of a “Clean Lakes, Clean Energy” initiative by Dane County Executive Joe Parisi (right in suit coat).

For Immediate Release
September 27, 2012

New technology to eliminate 100% of lake polluting phosphorus, expanded lake
clean‐up partnership, “CNG by 2023,” and Solar Powered “Green Highway
Garage” among highlights

Near the shores of Lake Monona today, Dane County Executive Joe Parisi announced his
comprehensive 2013 “Clean Lakes, Clean Energy” plan to be included in his 2013 county budget that will be introduced to the County Board on Monday.

“Cleaning up our lakes, preserving our lands, and investing in green energy like solar, wind, and alternative fuels are shared values that enhance our quality of life we enjoy in Dane County,” Parisi said. “My budget reflects a continued commitment to protecting and enhancing the resources that make our home such an attractive place to live, work, and visit,” he added.

One of the cornerstones of Parisi’s $4.5 million capital lakes clean‐up initiative, is brand new technology that successfully removes 100% of the pollutant phosphorus from animal waste.

Parisi’s budget will have $300,000 to install this cutting edge system as part of the new manure digester being built in the Town of Springfield in early 2013.
“Technology is rapidly evolving and this system not only keeps our county on the cutting edge of lake clean‐up, it also could be the gateway to developing additional manure digesters in areas where we know phosphorus run‐off is a problem,” Parisi said.

Phosphorus is the main culprit for smelly, unsightly lakes. One pound of phosphorus removed
from our watershed prevents 500 pounds of algae growth in our lakes.
The system would be the first to operate in Wisconsin, and was the winner of a Top Ten New
Farm Technology Award at World Dairy Expo in 2011.

Parisi also announced that his administration, along with Madison Metropolitan Sewerage District (MMSD) and the 30 cities, villages, towns and private partners comprising the Yahara WINs pilot project, are proposing to triple their lakes clean up and phosphorus reduction partnership next year.

As part of the proposal, Yahara WINs will fund $180,000 in county‐led work next year to ensure timely implementation of phosphorus‐reducing practices on farm fields. Yahara WINs is a first in‐the‐nation effort to reduce phosphorus at one‐quarter of the normal cost.

By using simple, low‐cost practices like planting buffer strips on farm fields or building roofs over animal feeding areas, farm families are partnering with the county and Yahara WINs to save taxpayer dollars. This proposal is contingent on the support of the Yahara WINs Executive Committee.

“Our partnership with the county and others in Dane county is allowing the District to achieve real improvements in the quality of our lakes and streams and to be cost effective with our limited dollars,” said Chief Engineer and Director of MMSD, Michael Mucha.

The County Executive’s budget also addresses a top recommendation from the Lakes and
Watershed Commission by adding new staff to enhance the county’s clean lakes phosphorus reduction efforts in rural and urban areas. The staff will monitor the implementation and effectiveness of various programs through state of the art technology.

“Clean water is key to our economy and quality of life,” said Lakes and Watershed Commission Chair Melissa Malott. “County Executive Parisi’s investment in our lakes is a clear demonstration of his commitment to a healthy, prosperous future in Dane County.”

Another item in the County Executive’s budget expands the promise for cleaner lakes through an innovative $50,000 pilot project. The pilot will test the effectiveness of using alum, an everyday house‐hold canning product, to prevent phosphorus from leaving our farm fields.

A laboratory bench‐scale test will be conducted using water samples from county‐owned farm land operated by the Endres Berryridge Farm in the Town of Springfield. Alum will be applied to water taken from a drainage ditch on the property, and the runoff will be tested to assess the alum’s effectiveness in neutralizing phosphorus.

“Dane County’s farm families are good stewards of the land and have been long‐time partners in our efforts to reduce phosphorus and clean up the lakes,” said Parisi. “Lake runoff comes from urban and rural areas, and my budget takes a comprehensive approach to address both sources.”

Parisi also announced Thursday that his budget will include another new initiative – ‘CNG by 2023’ – the county’s commitment to expanded use of this cheaper, cleaner fuel, and the conversion of the county vehicle fleet to run on CNG over the next decade.

To kick off the initiative, Parisi will fund the purchase of a pilot fleet of snow plows in 2013 that will run on CNG. Dane County will become the first county in Wisconsin to invest in these new trucks, currently in their final stages of development.

Parisi’s budget also includes an additional $50,000 for a study that will provide a roadmap to accelerate converting county vehicles to CNG. The study will include evaluating existing county facilities for the potential development of additional CNG filling stations, including at the county’s future community digester sites.

The county currently has 16 CNG vehicles, and plans to nearly double its CNG fleet by the end of the year. This switch to CNG will offset the use of approximately 20,000 gallons of diesel and gasoline, saving county taxpayers roughly $40,000 annually.

The current CNG fleet fills up with fuel generated by decaying garbage at the county’s Rodefeld Landfill. Dane County is the first location in the state that’s fueling vehicles on landfill gas.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, CNG reduces carbon monoxide by 90 percent, ground‐level ozone emissions by 75 percent, and greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent. Because CNG burns so cleanly, natural gas vehicles cost less to maintain. CNG vehicles show significantly less engine wear, spark plugs last longer, and oil changes are needed less frequently.

Parisi’s budget also continues his commitment to cleaner energy and the creation of more green jobs throughout Dane County.

The budget includes $500,000 to construct a new solar powered system on the roof of a new highway garage the county plans to build next year near the Rodefeld Landfill. This new “green garage” will compliment the largest municipally owned solar project in Wisconsin that will debut at the Dane County Regional Airport in 2013. Once built, the garage will be heated with gas generated by the county’s landfill and powered by solar energy – taking it completely off the grid.

The County Executive’s cleaner energy measures for 2013 also include a $150,000 investment to explore and implement a pilot wind power project to be installed at a county facility to be determined. One of those facilities that will be evaluated will be the Springfield Highway garage.

Green jobs mean big business in Dane County – the county/Madison metropolitan area ranked 7th in the nation in the number of green jobs as a percentage of all jobs in the region according to a 2011 Brookings Institute study. The report found there are 12,337 green jobs (representing 3.5% of the total workforce) and that our green economy ranks 43rd among the 100 largest metro areas.

Parisi’s budget will also include:

  • Expanding the county’s successful Streambank Easement Program to open up more
    areas for public fishing access. Previous easements have created some of the best
    public trout fishing in the country and made a name for Dane County in outdoor
    recreation. Dane County will host the 2013 National Trout Unlimited Convention in
    2013. Parisi’s budget will include $150,000 for this effort. 
  • Investments in new technology to enhance the experience of Dane County’s parks. A
    $150,000 WiFi pilot project at Lake Farm and Babcock County Parks will increase high
    tech access and mobility for park users in the campgrounds and on the trails. New
    staffing resources will develop mobile web apps for campsite reservations, hiking and
    biking trails, and more.
  • Additional staff added to help keep Dane County’s network of parks and trails clean and
    accessible to all residents and visitors.

 “My budget initiatives are an investment in our quality of life,” said Parisi. “As these projects
are implemented, we’ll see a return on those investments in the years ahead through taxpayer
dollars saved, jobs created, and a cleaner environment.”

# # #

RENEW Raps We Energies’ Radical Proposal to Restrict Net Metering

Immediate release
September 27, 2012

More information
Michael Vickerman
Director, Program and Policy
608.255.4044, ext. 2

(Madison) –  In testimony submitted to the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (PSCW) on Wednesday, RENEW Wisconsin objected to We Energies’ proposal to weaken its net-metering service to new customers seeking to generate electricity on-site using solar panels and other renewable energy systems.

In its current rate proceeding, We Energies proposes not to pay a new customer-generator for any electricity produced in excess of the amount consumed on site.

“We Energies’ proposal is a radical departure from its current practice paying the full retail rate for energy that’s fed back to the utility’s system,” said Michael Vickerman, director of programs and policy for RENEW Wisconsin, a statewide renewable energy advocacy organization.

“This proposal is the most extreme example yet of We Energies’ ongoing retreat from customer-sited renewables, and we urge the PSCW to reject it.

Net metering allows customers to sell the unused output from their solar electric or other renewable energy systems back to the utility at the full retail rate each month, so long as the total amount of electricity produced is less than or equal to the customers’ usage.

“Utilities routinely pay for all the energy supplied by non-utility generators to its system.

“By refusing to purchase the small amounts of electricity they may export to the utility, We Energies is abusing its monopoly power in a way that discriminates against its own customers.” Vickerman said.

In its proposal, We Energies would limit its net metering service to systems no larger than 20 kilowatts. In contrast, Madison Gas & Electric, Xcel Energy, and Wisconsin Public Service provide net metering to systems as large as 100 kilowatts.

“When you take into account what other in-state utilities are offering, it seems obvious that We Energies is asking for special treatment from the PSC.

Yet, it has provided nothing in its rate case to demonstrate that a higher net metering ceiling would cause it any more harm than to the other utilities,” said Vickerman.

Vickerman pointed to Michigan as a better model for setting net-metering service standards.

“Thanks to legislation passed in 2008, We Energies’ Michigan customers enjoy a much higher standard of service than what the utility proposes for its Wisconsin customers,” Vickerman said.

“Along with all other investor-owned utilities in Michigan, We Energies must provide full retail credit for all electricity produced by renewable energy systems up to 20 kW and must provide a reasonable net metering rate for systems up to 150 kW.”

In the most recent Freeing the Grid: Best Practices in State Metering Policies report prepared for the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Michigan rated an “A” for its net-metering policies. By comparison, Wisconsin earned a “C.” The report can be viewed here.

Earlier this month, RENEW issued a report card grading individual utility performance on renewable energy, in which We Energies received a “C” for its 2011 performance.

RENEW Wisconsin is an independent, nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization that leads and represents businesses, organizations, and individuals who seek more clean renewable energy in Wisconsin.More information on RENEW’s Web site at

Update on RENEW Initiatives

In a presentation by Don Wichert, RENEW executive director, reported on the following RENEW programs at an informational meeting and social gathering in Stevens Point, September 13, 2012:

  • Evaluation of utility performance on renewable energy; 
  • Clean Energy Choice, which would allow third parties to sell heat and power to customers on premise; 
  • Net metering; 
  • Focus on Energy; 
  • Interconnection streamlining; 
  • Restoration of We Energies’ renewable development fund; 
  • Wind initiatives.