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.

‘GreenWhey’ turns cheese wastewater into energy and more

A new project in Turtle Lake, WI aims to use a cheese plant’s wastewater to produce electricity, heat and fertilizer. Read the article at Agri-view.

By Jane Fyksen Crops Editor  

TURTLE LAKE — A $28 million renewable energy project underway in Turtle Lake will convert cheesemaking byproducts into electricity, heat and a new fertilizer. The aim is to provide an alternative to land-spreading of cheese plant wastewater (high in organic content and phosphorus), while at the same time generate electrical power for nearby homes and businesses, while at the same time, cheaper heat for dairy plants. 

Instead of being a liability for the cheese industry, dairy wastewater will be transformed into valuable commodities, thanks to pioneers at GreenWhey Energy in Turtle Lake.


Clean Air Act Settlement with Wisconsin Utilities Includes Funding for Renewables

An exciting new settlement in Wisconsin leads the way for millions in funding for clean energy. The EPA’s press release is below. Also check out Tom Content’s blog post summarizing the settlement. Detailed information can be found here.

Clean Air Act Settlement with Wisconsin Utilities to Reduce Emissions by More Than 50,000 Tons Annually 

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Department of Justice, and the United States Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Wisconsin announced a Clean Air Act (CAA) settlement with Wisconsin Power and Light Company (WPL) that will significantly reduce air pollution from three coal-fired power plants located near Portage, Sheboygan, and Cassville, Wis. 



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 (http://www.renewwisconsin.org/interconnection/interconnectionToolbox.htm) 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: www.renewwisconsin.org.
ACTION ALERT: Support Highland Wind Farm

ACTION ALERT: Support Highland Wind Farm

February 25, 2013
Fate of Highland Wind Farm in St. Croix County Hangs in the Balance
In December 2011, Emerging Energies of Wisconsin filed an application with the Wisconsin Public Service Commission (PSC) for permission to construct the $250 million Highland Wind project in St. Croix County. If built, this 102 megawatt (MW) installation would generate enough zero-carbon electricity from its 41-44 turbines to power 30,000 residences.  Constructing Highland Wind would create more than 100 jobs, while operating and maintaining this facility would require six to eight full-time positions. In addition to its job creation impacts, Highland Wind would pump nearly $1 million each year into the local economy, in the form of both lease payments to host landowners as well as shared revenues to host townships and St. Croix County.
To date, Emerging Energies has invested six years and nearly $2 million on this project.  Highland Wind is the only large wind energy project currently in active development in Wisconsin. 
On February 14, 2013, the PSC issued a preliminary decision turning down Emerging Energies’ application to build Highland Wind.  In doing so, the PSC cited concerns over the level of measurable sound propagated by the turbines that could be detected at neighboring residences.  In a nutshell, the PSC wants stronger assurances that Highland Wind’s wind turbines would be able to operate without exceeding the maximum allowable sound emission levels at any time. The PSC will take up the Highland Wind case again at its next open meeting this coming Friday (March 1st).
On February 22, Emerging Energies filed a request to the PSC to submit additional evidence on the sound propagation issue. The filings came with several affidavits and exhibits to substantiate Emerging Energies’ assurances that the turbines can operate within the sound emissions limits likely to be specified by the PSC. According to Emerging Energies, compliance with sound emission limits will be achieved through the selection of a quieter wind turbine model, one equipped with operational controls that can automatically ramp down output when sensors detect atmospheric conditions conducive to high levels of sound propagation.  Emerging Energies’ filing can be accessed at the link below: http://psc.wi.gov/apps35/ERF_view/viewdoc.aspx?docid=181219
If this filing were accepted into evidence, the PSC would have both the factual foundation and a procedure for approving this project before March 25. As noted in Emerging Energies’ filing, approval of the project by March 25 is necessary to enable the developer to submit the project for consideration in Xcel Energy’s pending solicitation for an additional 200 MW of wind generating capacity.
On Monday February 25th, RENEW Wisconsin will file comments supporting Emerging Energies’ request to have its February 22 filing entered into the case record as evidence. RENEW also supports Applicant’s request to the Commission not to issue a final denial order in this proceeding, as well as its suggested procedures and related time frames for presenting additional evidence in a manner that allows the Commission to issue a final order by March 25.  The text of RENEW’s two-page filing appear below this Action Alert.
March 1st is a red-letter day for Highland Wind. Either the PSC will (1) accept Emerging Energies’ filing and with it documentation substantiating Highland Wind’s capacity to operate in full compliance with sound limits established by the PSC in this case, or (2) finalize its denial of Highland Wind.
If the PSC turns down Highland Wind, it’s a pretty safe bet that Emerging Energies will not submit another application to build in that location. A denial would also send a clear signal to all concerned that Wisconsin’s political climate has become positively radioactive for wind development. 
Please contact Governor Scott Walker:  Phone (608) 266-1212 or e-mail  govgeneral@wisconsin.gov
Thank you for your thoughtful consideration of our request.

Application of Highland Wind Farm, LLC for a
Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity                                              Docket No. 2535-CE-100
To Construct a 102.5 MW Electric Generation
Facility and Associated Electric Facilities, to be
Located in the Towns of Forest and Cylon,
St. Croix County, Wisconsin
RENEW Wisconsin respectfully requests the Commission consider the following comments in response to the Emergency Request filed by Highland Wind Farm LLC on February 22, 2013 (PSC REF# 181219). RENEW Wisconsin is an intervener in this proceeding.
RENEW Wisconsin has reviewed the Applicant’s Emergency Request as well as the exhibits and affidavits associated with that filing. Highland Wind’s filings address the central issue—the ability of this project to comply with applicable sound emission limits–that led to the Commission’s motion to deny the Application at its February 14, 2013 open meeting. Applicant’s Emergency Request asks the Commission not to issue a final order denying Highland Wind’s CPCN at its March 1st open meeting. Instead the Applicant asks the Commission to conduct further discussion of the evidence that is already in the record and, if necessary, to also consider the information contained in the Applicant’s filings as a basis for determining whether the Highland Wind project can comply with the sound limits established by the Commission. Based on our review, RENEW believes that this information warrants Commission consideration. We therefore support Applicant’s request for leave to present additional evidence, as well as its request to allow interveners to respond to its request prior to the next open meeting. RENEW also supports Applicant’s request to the Commission not to issue a final denial order in this proceeding, as well as its suggested procedures and related time frames for presenting additional evidence in a manner that allows the Commission to issue a final order by March 25. 
Discussion: RENEW supports the Applicant’s Emergency Request because we believe that operational curtailment is an appropriate and effective mitigation measure to ensure compliance with applicable sound emissions standards. In fact, we believe that operational curtailment is the most effective tool available to a windpower project operator for reducing sonic output from individual wind turbines to allowable levels. Of the many variables and factors that determine what levels of sound might be measurable at a residence near a wind turbine (e.g., wind speed differential at different elevations, barometric pressure, humidity, background sound levels), the only one that is fully under the project operator’s control is power production.  Operational curtailment limits power generation from turbines, which results in a reduction of sound emissions. The Commission is fully cognizant of the role that operational curtailment can play in controlling sound emissions, as demonstrated by the conditions it imposed on the Glacier Hills wind project in its January 2010 order and by the provisions it approved in the development of PSC 128. In the latter instance, PSC 128.14 explicitly allows project owners to use curtailment procedures to maintain sound emissions below the maximum allowable levels.
Many of today’s utility-scale wind turbines come equipped with automated curtailment protocols that are triggered under a variety of atmospheric conditions. The more sophisticated models can ratchet power production when sensors detect atmospheric conditions that could contribute to long-distance sound propagation. As stated in its Emergency Request, Highland Wind is committed to using only those wind turbine models that are programmed to curtail power output based on real-time atmospheric phenomena such as wind shear. This commitment should remove any lingering uncertainty over whether Highland Wind can operate in full compliance with the sound limits specified by the Commission in this proceeding.
Summary: Apart from the question of whether Highland Wind can comply with sound limits modeled for the Commission’s consideration, this project undeniably advances the public interest in terms of stimulating local economic development, diversifying our region’s resource portfolio, enhancing energy security, and reducing pollution caused by fossil generation sources. We believe that the Applicant is correct that the existing record supports issuance of a CPCN with appropriate conditions.  Moreover, the exhibits and affidavits submitted with Applicant’s Emergency Request fully address any lingering questions that the Commission might have about the project’s sound profile. For that reason, RENEW believes that these filings should be entered into evidence and made a part of the record, so that the Commission has a factually solid foundation for rendering a decision on Highland Wind.
Respectfully submitted this 25th day of February 2013.