Second Wind? Is it time to revisit Wisconsin’s renewable energy requirements?

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.”

Read the rest of the article...

Vernon Electric developing Wisconsin’s first Community solar farm

The pace of customers signing up to participate in this venture is impressive. In the nine days following the official roll-out, about one-third of the solar panels have been subscribed, according to Clean Energy Collective, the developer of Vernon Electric Cooperative’s array.

Vernon Electric Cooperative (VEC) is bringing community-owned solar to Wisconsin. In partnership with national community solar developer Clean Energy Collective (CEC), VEC will provide any member in its service territory the opportunity to own individual panels in a new locally-sited, utility-scale solar PV array. This is the first community-owned solar facility under construction in the state of Wisconsin. 

The Vernon Electric Community Solar Farm, a 305 kW, 1001-panel clean power facility will be built at VEC’s headquarters in Westby. Through CEC’s model, any member of VEC can purchase panels from the shared farm — as few as one or enough to completely offset the energy demands of a home or business. Credit for the power produced will be provided directly on their monthly utility bills.


Dairyland Power expanding solar resources

From the La Crosse Tribune, an article on a great new development in Westby:

Dairyland Power Cooperative is expanding its renewable energy resources with the addition of a commercial solar project in Westby. 

The new solar installation will be about 520 kilowatts and could produce enough energy to power nearly 60 homes. The project will be adjacent to Vernon Electric Cooperative’s headquarters on Hwy. 27. 

Dairyland has signed an agreement with Clean Energy Collective to purchase the renewable energy produced by this large solar facility, which will be developed, owned and managed by Clean Energy Collective of Boulder, Colo. Construction of the facility is scheduled to begin this spring and expected to be operational by June 1, 2014. 

“For many years, we have been steadily adding renewable resources to our system while balancing reliability and affordability for our members,” said Bill Berg, president and CEO. “Solar-powered generation was part of our long-term resource plan, and this project is a good fit with Dairyland’s overall strategic plan.” 

Dairyland’s renewable, including wind, biogas, biomass, hydro and solar) resources provide about 12.5 percent of the energy delivered to its members, which is ahead of current renewable energy requirements in Wisconsin. 

Dairyland is proceeding with its first commercial solar project announced in January along Hwy. 52, north of Rochester, Minn.

The 24th Annual Midwest Renewable Energy Fair is this Weekend!

The 24th Annual Energy Fair is next week!
We have some highlights we wanted to share with you – and let you know
that we have a few remaining exhibitor booths left, so if you wanted
to exhibit, there’s still time to sign up! Just contact Ellie Jackson as
soon as you can
at 715-592-6595 ext. 115 or
This year’s highlights include:
  1. Keynote speakers Danny Kennedy of Sungevity and Josh Fox, director of the Academy Award nominated documentary GASLAND  – 
  2. The second annual Seeing RED presentation on Sunday where a 2kW PV system will be given away to one of four nonprofit finalists –
  3. A Solar Powering Your Community track on Friday
    featuring sessions on financing, solar market trends, an overview of
    the changes happening in Minnesota, presenters from Wisconsin’s Energy
    Independent Communities, and more!
  4. Solar Professionals Workshops with Schletter, Caleffi, North Wind Renewable Energy, Quick Mount PV,  tenKsolar and more! 
  5. Extended workshops such as EV and Solar Charging and Successful Solar Business 
  6. A second stage (built by MREA’s very own Mike White and Nick Hylla) so there will be even more entertainment – 
The program guide is now online so you can check it out before next week 
And finally, here is a link to our promotional video for this year’s Fair 
We hope to see you there!
RENEW petitions PSC to improve interconnection rules

RENEW petitions PSC to improve interconnection rules

222 S. Hamilton, Madison, WI 53704
Immediate Release February 26, 2013
More Information

Don Wichert, Executive Director
608.255.4044, ext. 1
RENEW Petitions PSC to Improve Interconnection Rules
RENEW Wisconsin (RENEW) filed a petition on February 22 asking the Public Service Commission (PSCW) to simplify the process under which distributed generators can connect their generators to Wisconsin’s electrical grid. The vast majority of these small generating facilities are fueled with locally available renewable energy resources like biogas, solar, and wind.
RENEW’s filing grew out of a year-long study that assessed how Wisconsin’s 10-year old interconnection rule (PSC 119) compares with best practices established in other states.
“We found that  Wisconsin’s outdated rules hurts distributed generators by adding complexity, time, and cost to the interconnection process ,” said Don Wichert, RENEW’s interim Executive Director and study coordinator.  “Most of the renewable energy systems coming on line now are owned by non-utility generators. Fixing the problems in PSC 119 will lead to more renewable energy systems going in faster and at a lower cost. Supported by 86 companies, organizations, and individuals, RENEW’s petition identified 10 specific changes that, if adopted by the PSC, would align Wisconsin’s interconnection procedures with national best practices.    
 “Customer-owned renewable energy systems save ratepayers money in many ways”, said Wichert.  “Because they offset electrical needs right where the electricity is being used, distributed renewables supply clean electricity in a reliable and affordable manner, avoiding potentially expensive investments in central generating plants and costly transmission lines. Moreover, they create jobs and support local businesses.  These are all positive public policy goals”, Wichert said.  
RENEW’s petition can be accessed at RENEW’s web site ( or at the PSCW’s electronic filing system under Docket No. 05-GF-233.
RENEW Wisconsin is an independent, nonprofit 501(c)(3) that leads and represents businesses, organizations, and individuals who seek more clean, renewable energy in Wisconsin.  More information on RENEW’s website: