BIG VICTORY!!  PSC Approves $7.7 Million in Renewable Energy Rebates and $10-$20 million in Biogas Spanning 2017 & 2018!

BIG VICTORY!! PSC Approves $7.7 Million in Renewable Energy Rebates and $10-$20 million in Biogas Spanning 2017 & 2018!


Today, the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin authorized
approximately $7.7 million in rebates spanning 2017 and 2018 to spur small,
customer-based renewable energy projects throughout Wisconsin.
The rebates go to residential, business, and non-profit
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

Tyler Huebner, Executive Director of RENEW Wisconsin, said,
“From our renewable energy perspective, Chairperson Ellen Nowak may have said
it best in her concluding remarks, stating, ‘This is a great win for
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.”
The Commission asked Staff to recommend how the renewables
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.
In addition, the Commission will evaluate spending $10-$20
million to expand biogas production from anaerobic digesters on dairy
.  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. 
The Commission agreed to lower its cash reserve from $30
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.
RENEW Wisconsin was the lead advocacy organization promoting
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.
The PSC had authorized a renewable energy loan program in
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
Biogas production through anaerobic digesters will also see
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.
In its comments to the PSC, RENEW pointed out that we have
world-class companies working in anaerobic digesters right here in Wisconsin
that can help make this program a success.

RENEW puts solar hot water on the Wisconsin map

Immediate release
October 13, 2011

More information
Michael Vickerman
Executive Director

From the North Woods to the Illinois border, from Lake Michigan to the Mississippi River, growing numbers of Wisconsin factories, businesses, schools, hospitals, fire stations, apartment buildings and breweries have installed systems that heat their water with the power of the sun.

A newly launched online map on RENEW Wisconsin’s web site displays the locations of more than 60 nonresidential solar hot water systems installed in the state. Each flagged system is accompanied by a box containing information on the owner, installation contractor, system size and date of installation. Many of these systems are linked to their installers’ web sites, accompanied by photos.

The solar hot water map joins the family of on-line renewable energy maps developed by RENEW Wisconsin in the past year. Some maps are resource-specific; others break out renewable energy systems by county.

“These maps verify the enormously positive effect that Wisconsin’s clean energy initiatives like Focus on Energy have had in creating such a vibrant economic sector,” said RENEW executive director Michael Vickerman.

Created in 1999 and strengthened in 2006, Focus on Energy is a ratepayer-funded initiative that helps Wisconsin residents and businesses employ energy efficiency measures and install renewable energy systems.

“In the past five years, Focus on Energy incentives have been instrumental in putting solar hot water on the map in Wisconsin,” Vickerman said. “No other Midwestern state has come close to experiencing Wisconsin’s success in advancing this particular application of solar energy.”

The table below shows the five largest solar hot water installations operating in Wisconsin, two are located at University of Wisconsin campuses.

Owner: UW-Oshkosh
Installer: H&H Solar, Green Sky Energetics
County: Winnebago
Capacity: 6,800 square feet (total)
Year installed: 2010, 2011

Kalahari Resorts
Terrytown Plumbing/H&H Solar

Menomonie Indian Tribe
Energy Concepts

UW-Stevens Point
Hooper Corp./ Pertzborn Plumbing
2,240 (total)

Avis Rent-a-Car (multiple locations)
Mitchell’s Heating & Cooling
2,160 (total)

Milwaukee-based Hot Water Products, one of the largest stocking distributors for solar thermal and domestic hot water systems in the Midwest, supplied and designed four of these systems and many others in Wisconsin over the last five years. In addition to training contractors in this field, Hot Water Products also assists them with system design and equipment sizing support.

This year, installation activity has been brisk, but most installation contractors are bracing for a sharp slowdown in 2012, due to a Focus on Energy decision on July 1st to suspend renewable energy grants and incentives to nonresidential customers. The announcement of the funding suspension came after the Legislature voted in June to lop $20 million from Focus on Energy’s 2012 budget.

“The longer Focus on Energy’s funding suspension goes on, the deeper the damage will be. Installers are holding their breath as they wait for Focus on Energy to restore renewable energy funding assistance.”

Installers and system owners wishing to add their installations to the map should contact Alex Brasch at

State’s Hostility Toward Renewables Escalates; “Leaders” Lag Citizenry on Wind Support

Two articles from Catching Wind, a newsletter published by RENEW Wisconsin with funding from a grant from the U.S. Department of Energy:

State’s Hostility Toward Renewables Escalates
At the urging of Wisconsin utilities, several lawmakers have introduced a bill to allow a renewable energy credit (REC) to be banked indefinitely. If adopted, this measure (AB146) would constitute the most devastating legislative assault yet on the state’s renewable energy marketplace, which is already reeling from the suspension of the statewide wind siting rule this March and the loosening of renewable energy definitions to allow Wisconsin utilities to count electricity generated from large Canadian hydro projects toward their renewable energy requirements.

“Leaders” Lag Citizenry on Wind Support
Public support for wind energy development has held strong against the attacks launched by Governor Walker and the Legislature’s new Republican majority, according to a poll conducted between April 11 and April 18 by the St. Norbert College Survey Center for Wisconsin Public Radio.

Asked whether Wisconsin should “increase, decrease or continue with the same amount” of energy supply from various sources, 77% favored increasing wind power, the highest of any option (60% favored increasing hydropower, 54% biomass, 39% natural gas, 27% nuclear, and 19% coal).

West Salem health center to get solar hot water

From an article by Jo Anne Killeen in the Coulee News:

Plans are in place to install a solar hot water system at Lakeview Health Center in West Salem.

According to Jim Speropulos, facilities director for La Crosse County, installation will begin the last week of September and be completed by mid-November.

The county is also installing solar water heating panels in the new law enforcement facility in La Crosse. It’s the first solar water project for La Crosse County, Speropulos said.

“Lakeview energy usage is higher than we see at other nursing homes,” he said in explanation of why Lakeview was chosen for the solar water system.

Most of the $164,975 cost is funded through a $100,000 federal American Recovery and Reinvestment grant program the county received through the Wisconsin Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant program. The county also is receiving a $25,000 rebate from the Wisconsin Focus on Energy program.

Speropulos said the Lakeview system is designed to offset gas usage by about 1,665 therms per year, or about $1,360 in the first year, and the savings go up from there due to an escalator clause for an increase in future gas prices. He also said the county’s cost is expected to be recouped in about eight years.

Workshop: Renewable energy for international development, Costa Rica, May 15-24, 2010

From a course description from Madison Area Technical College:

Course Number 20-623-290-090 Class Number 61386
Three Credits Hybrid Format (Study Abroad + Online)
May 15–24, 2010

Renewable Energy for International Development provides an examination of energy and economics in developing countries with special consideration given to renewable energy sources. The course will combine 8-weeks of online instruction with 10 days of travel and study abroad in Costa Rica. Students will learn to specify, design, and install renewable energy systems for developing countries. Field work will include design and installation of one or more of the following types of renewable energy systems:
+Small solar electric system (