From “Seeking savings when filling up, fleets turn to propane, natural gas” — The newest police vehicle in the city of Port Washington is powered by propane instead of gasoline.

The fuel known most for lighting gas grills and heating rural Wisconsin homes has emerged as an alternative that provides savings for owners of small fleets – like the seven patrol cars in the Port Washington police department.

Port Washington Police Capt. Mike Keller said he started exploring alternative fuels as a way to find a way to chip into the more than $60,000 a year the agency spends on fuel.

“For a small department that’s a lot,” so I’ve been doing research since 2012 looking for ways to reduce our operating costs and fueling costs,” Keller said during the Green Vehicles Workshop held Tuesday at Milwaukee Area Technical College.

The department considered vehicles fueled by compressed natural gas before deciding on propane instead. The first vehicle: A Ford sport utility vehicle that can run on gas or propane.

“The squad here went live in very late December a few months in, but based on usage so far saving $500 a month on fuel on one car vs. what we paid for gas,” Keller said.

The propane shortage that hit much of the country during the deep freeze this winter didn’t affect the department because it had already paid for the propane.

Until this year, the price of propane has been stable whereas gasoline prices have been much more volatile, said Jason Ebert, fleet and facilities manager with Go Riteway, which operates propane-powered buses and airport shuttles as well as propane-fueled school buses.

“Typically it’s gasoline that will fluctuate rapidly. Propane in its history has been a very stable fuel so that’s one thing that is very appealing,” said Ebert. “However we did have this issue this winter, due to our wonderful Wisconsin winter.”

Go Riteway had a “ceiling price” on propane that kept its prices from being too exorbitant when prices spiked temporarily this winter, he said.

The type of alternative fuel fleet operators are seeking depends on the kind of vehicles and the size of the fleet involved, said Ted Barnes of the Gas Technology Institute near Chicago.

Propane is best suited to small fleets given the lower up-front and capital costs associated with going with propane, compared with CNG.

Compressed natural gas, Barnes said, is best suited to larger trucks that burn a lot of fuel. Case in point: refuse trucks like those in the city of Milwaukee, which has 21 natural gas-fueled refuse trucks that double as snow plows, with another 22 on order, said Jeffrey Tews, fleet operations manager for the city’s Department of Public Works.

The city is saving about $6,500 per year per truck because of the price advantage natural gas enjoys over diesel.

With an upfront extra cost of $39,000 for buying the natural gas-powered vehicle, “that amounts to a six-year payback if we buy them outright, which is what we’re planning to do,” Tews said.

From “MATC leaders, Sen. Baldwin discuss expanded focus on ‘green-collar’ jobs” –Milwaukee Area Technical College has expanded its training for people working in green-collar fields, including those who will maintain and repair growing fleet of vehicles fueled by compressed natural gas.

And the Wisconsin Auto and Truck Dealers Association is expanding training of vehicle technicians to include training to fix hybrid electric vehicles.

In Wauwatosa, Telkonet Inc. has hired five workers who were in the MATC sustainable facilities operations program at the Center for Energy Conservation and Advanced Manufacturing in Oak Creek.

These are some examples highlighted during a roundtable with U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) Wednesday morning at MATC’s downtown campus.

Baldwin is visiting technical colleges around the state Wednesday and Thursday to discuss green-collar jobs and a bill that she introduced last week that would expand training for careers in clean-energy and sustainable business fields.

The Grants for Renewable Energy Education for the Nation, or GREEN Act, would create a $100 million competitive grant program through the U.S. Department of Energy to help facilitate training programs, as well as energy-saving or sustainability-focused facility upgrades, at technical colleges around the country.

“This is really going to help build some of the partnerships that have already been started in this case, but create, I hope, a bunch that don’t yet exist,” Baldwin said.

The green collar sector employed more than 3.4 million people nationwide in 2011, according to federal Labor Department statistics released last year.

AT ECAM in Oak Creek, taking courses in the sustainable facilities operations program led Steve Dudek of Brookfield to get hired as a project manager at Telkonet, a developer of energy-saving technologies for hotel and college dorm rooms, even before he completed his associate’s degree, he said.

The program gave him in-the-field training when he got the chance to conduct an energy audit at his children’s school in Brookfield, he said.

Telkonet employees who have gone though the program are already versed in the importance of saving energy in a building and systems that can enable that, and then can “land virtually running,” said Gerrit Reinders, executive vice president of Telkonet, which has 105 employees and is growing.

The training on CNG trucks at MATC in Oak Creek has expanded since it was first launched in 2012.

The program has done five rounds of training, starting with city of Milwaukee employees for the refuse trucks that will run on CNG, said MATC instructor Craig Kuehl.

“It’s been very well received,” he said. Most recently the college conducted training with technical college instructors from around the state, to help broaden the base of people experienced with maintaining CNG vehicles, he said.

Ted Wilinski of MATC said Baldwin’s bill could still be helpful to MATC, even though it has moved more quickly than some other technical schools in training for careers in renewable energy, energy efficiency and alternative fuels.

The college would like to pursue energy-saving changes that would enable the south campus to become certified through the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design program of the U.S. Green Building Council, and it’s possible this could be a source of funding to assist with that initiative, he said.

From “Baldwin: Clean energy bill would aid schools, employers” – Passage of a Senate bill aimed at bolstering education and training for students who want to work in clean-energy jobs would benefit schools and factories in Northeastern Wisconsin, the bill’s sponsor said Wednesday in Green Bay.

U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., said her proposal would help create good-paying jobs in a growing industry, while supporting technical colleges that offer coursework that prepares students for “green energy” careers. The Grants for Renewable Energy Education for the Nation Act, or GREEN, was introduced last week and calls for about $100 million in spending.

“The idea is to make some very prudent, very targeted investments in an area that’s growing … faster than the economy overall,” she said.

The senator met with educators and some students at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College’s Great Lakes Energy Education Center as part of a statewide tour to tout her bill, introduced last week. NWTC offers programs that prepare students for energy jobs, and is increasing the percentage of its energy supply that comes from green sources.

Scott Liddicott, who teaches energy-management classes at Green Bay Southwest High School, said it’s exciting to hear support for energy education at the federal level.

“It’s so easy to get students and teachers interested in this,” he said. “It’s a compelling and dynamic field. The energy business is really important stuff.”

Baldwin’s bill would allocate grant money for programs that prepare students for jobs, or to attend post-secondary schools. Her office said clean-energy jobs pay about 13 percent better than the average job in the U.S., and the field is growing nearly twice the rate of the national economy.

A hospital in western Wisconsin, she told educators, “completely redid its energy systems” to emphasize green power, and as a result was able to save patients money and avoid staff cuts.

A number of Wisconsin technical college leaders, including NWTC President H. Jeffrey Rafn and Wisconsin Technical College System President Morna K. Foy, have expressed support for the bill. NWTC partners with area school districts, including ones in De Pere and Sturgeon Bay, to deliver energy education, said Amy Kox, the college’s associate dean for energy and sustainability.

A bill similar to Baldwin’s was introduced in the House of Representatives in June and remains in committee, according to, which tracks federal legislation. The bill, by California Democrat Jerry McNerney, also would spend $100 million to develop career and technical education programs, and facilities in the renewable energy field.

Baldwin Wednesday also visited Lakeshore Technical College in Cleveland, and Milwaukee Area Technical College. She is slated to visit Mid-State Technical College in Wisconsin Rapids today.

From “Baldwin announces legislation to train workers for green jobs” – U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin on Wednesday, January 22nd, visited technical colleges across Wisconsin to announce her new legislation to help train the next generation of skilled-workers for jobs in clean energy.

Baldwin visited Milwaukee Area Technical College, Lakeshore Technical College in Cleveland, and Northeast Wisconsin Technical College in Green Bay on Wednesday and will tour Mid-State Technical College in Wisconsin Rapids on Thursday.

The Grants for Renewable Energy Education for the Nation (GREEN) Act allocates competitive grant funding for clean energy career and technical training programs so that students are better trained for post-secondary education and better equipped for the high-skilled jobs of the future.

“In order to create a Made in Wisconsin economy that is built to last, we must invest in job training and workforce readiness for clean energy jobs. In Wisconsin, we know that higher education is the path to the middle class and this legislation will help open the doors of opportunity and strengthen our Wisconsin economy,” said Baldwin. 

Over three million Americans are employed in the growing green collar workforce, including in clean energy and sustainability, which is more than the amount of people working in the fossil fuel industry, and twice as many as those employed in the biotech industry. In fact, the clean energy sector has grown nearly twice as fast as the overall economy. Additionally, the jobs created in the clean energy economy pay better than the average American job, with compensation rates 13 percent higher than the national average.

“Over the past several years, Wisconsin’s technical colleges have created cutting edge sustainability programs in areas like wind, solar and geothermal. We’ve also “greened” our remaining curriculum by including sustainability concepts in sectors including agriculture, construction and health care.  The GREEN Act supports and advances this work in a ground-breaking way,” said Morna Foy, President Wisconsin Technical College System.

By supporting the development of clean energy career and technical training programs, the GREEN Act creates a bridge between secondary and postsecondary schools so that students can transition from high school with technical knowledge that will be expanded and honed in a postsecondary environment. Post-secondary institutions, local education agencies, career and technical schools, and community partners will use the grants to enter into partnerships to develop these training programs. The bill also provides opportunities for technical schools to upgrade their own energy systems to serve as model training facilities.

“We applaud Senator Baldwin’s introduction of the Grants for Renewable Energy Education for the Nation (GREEN) Act. Supporting the development of Career Technical Education programs of study in the fields of clean, renewable, and efficient energy ensures that the United States will have the skilled workforce it needs for the 21st century. This legislation will help support the growth and development of this critically important sector of our economy and is an essential component to a sustainable future,” said Kimberly Green, Executive Director National Association of State Directors of Career Technical Education Consortium.

From “Column: MSTC students give back to community” – Winter is ending — I am sure of it! Well, almost sure. Despite the weather, Mid-State Technical College students have been actively engaged in our communities, demonstrating service learning at its finest. MSTC students and employees positively impact hundreds, possibly thousands, of lives each year through volunteerism and service learning.

Service learning is a method of instruction that combines classroom knowledge and skills with real-world experience through community service. Many MSTC students engage in service learning and charitable activities, demonstrating that a technical college education not only provides students with the skills they need to succeed in the workforce, but also community spirit to be valuable contributors to central Wisconsin.

The number of MSTC community projects is too great to list them all, but I’d like to share a sample of the spirit of giving among our students.

Many MSTC programs arrange service learning to help meet specific community needs. For instance, the Early Childhood Education, or ECE, Club filled pillowcases with pajamas, toys, personal hygiene items and games for children who have been removed from their home due to possible neglect or abuse. Mid-State Student Nurses Association, or MSNA, sponsors an on-campus blood drive every semester.

Students also are quick to address tragic events and previously unforeseen needs. Corrections students sponsored a walk that raised $9,800 to assist a local family with their child’s medical expenses. The same group of students is raising money for the family of an Adams County deputy injured in the line of duty.

Student projects also increase awareness and educate. Students Environmentally United for a Sustainable Society, or SEUSS, a club made up of students from MSTC’s five renewable energy programs and the Urban Forestry program, regularly promote environmental sustainability through a variety of events and charitable giving. In one instance, the SEUSS club recently bought and prepared locally grown foods and served dinner to about 180 people at The Neighborhood Table in Wisconsin Rapids. MSTC law enforcement students mentor local high school students and members of the community through the police academies.

I am humbled and inspired by these outstanding and selfless acts of kindness. Generosity and service learning are truly a part of our culture at MSTC. The student club concept fosters self-improvement by providing opportunities to develop leadership qualities, social awareness, occupational understanding and civic consciousness. Development of these skills helps students discover new interests, make connections, and enhance opportunities for employment — all while positively impacting their future employers and the fabric of our communities.

From “MATC to mark launch of Oak Creek Campus wind turbine Nov. 9″ – Milwaukee Area Technical College will mark the launch of a new wind turbine at the Oak Creek Campus at a ribbon cutting ceremony scheduled for Friday, Nov. 9, at 11:30 a.m. The event will be held at the Center for Energy Conservation and Advanced Manufacturing (ECAM), 6665 S. Howell Ave.

MATC President Dr. Michael L. Burke, Oak Creek Campus Vice President Dr. Evonne Carter, associate dean Dr. Joseph Jacobsen and representatives from businesses that partnered on the project will attend the event.

The 47-foot wind turbine generates 3.5 kW and completes the renewable energy sources portfolio at ECAM. Other elements include a geothermal heat pump, two solar thermal systems and several photovoltaic systems. MATC utilizes Johnson Controls’ METASYS Energy Management System to collect data from the wind turbine.

An on-campus weather station provides the opportunity for performance monitoring of the solar thermal and photovoltaic systems and wind turbine. The station replicates industry standards that students would encounter on the job. Two wind power courses will begin in the fall 2013 semester.

Other academic programs, including Power Engineering and Boiler Operator, Sustainable Facilities Operations, Energy Engineering Technology and Environmental Health and Water Quality Technology, will incorporate the wind turbine into curriculum.

From “Solar panel grant presented to WITC” – New Richmond Utilities and WPPI Energy recently presented Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College-New Richmond with a check for more than $16,000 to virtually pay for the 16-panel PV (photovoltaic) solar system installed this summer on the east lawn.

“New Richmond Utilities recognizes our shared responsibility to help protect the environment for future generations. Supporting local efforts such as the WITC solar project is one way we’re working to do our part,” says Mike Darrow, New Richmond city administrator and utility manager.

“With the generous financial support through this grant from New Richmond Utilities and WPPI Energy, we were able to have this PV system installed at our New Richmond campus – a fine model of collaboration with our local utility,” says Ted May, Ph.D., academic dean of General Studies, Renewable Energy and Sustainability.

The solar panel offers hands-on experience for students, too. WITC students in the Industrial Automation and Controls Networking program will work with and learn from the PV system’s monitoring software. A solar or wind electricity certificate, which electricians may pursue to enhance their knowledge and skills for installing renewable electricity systems, is available at the college’s Ashland campus.

From “Solar energy now helps WITC-New Richmond” – 

Though not uncommon, the sight of solar panels soaking up the sun still seems out of the ordinary – especially on a college campus. But thanks to the participation of New Richmond Utilities and WPPI Energy, a 16-panel PV (photovoltaic) solar system was recently installed on the east lawn at Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College-New Richmond.

“With the generous financial support through a grant from New Richmond Utilities and WPPI Energy, we were able to have this PV system installed at our New Richmond campus – a fine model of collaboration with our local utility,” says Ted May, Ph.D., Academic Dean – General Studies, Renewable Energy and Sustainability.

“This project demonstrates how using energy from a renewable resource like the sun can benefit our community and our environment,” says Mike Darrow, New Richmond City Administrator / Utility Manager. “New Richmond Utilities recognizes our shared responsibility to help protect the environment for future generations. Supporting local efforts such as the WITC solar project is one way we’re working to do our part.”

“This 4 kilowatt system is significantly larger than those at our other campuses. It allows us to continue our ongoing efforts to reduce energy costs for college operations, while providing educational opportunities for our students,” May explains.

This New Richmond PV system also increases education potential since the students in the Industrial Automation and Controls Networking program will work with and learn from its monitoring software. WITC-Ashland also offers a solar or wind electricity certificate, which electricians may pursue to enhance their knowledge and skills for installing renewable electricity systems.

In theory, the process is basic: The panels capture solar power and convert it to direct current (DC). The power is channeled into WITC’s existing electrical system or power grid. It’s estimated the solar PV system-produced electricity will save approximately $650 per year.

The PV system is mounted on a pole for clear access to the sun and is tilted as the seasons change. The system will produce power on cloudy days and can handle up to one-inch hailstones and winds of 90 mph.

Installation of this PV system on the New Richmond campus is a very visible sign of WITC’s ongoing dedication to sustainability. Across the 11-county district, WITC has worked to reduce energy consumption and invest moderately in renewable energy projects.

The Ashland and Superior campuses have PV systems installed, and the Ashland campus also installed a small (3 kilowatt) wind turbine. Among the many investments in sustainability in operations, the Ashland and Rice Lake campuses have installed rain gardens; and the Rice Lake campus has an electric car for its conference center.

New Richmond Utilities is a local, municipally owned and operated electric utility. WPPI Energy is the nonprofit power supplier for New Richmond Utilities and 50 other consumer-owned electric utilities. Through WPPI Energy, these public power utilities share resources and own generation facilities to provide reliable, affordable electricity to more than 195,000 homes and businesses in Wisconsin, Upper Michigan and Iowa.

For more information about WITC’s Renewable Energy and Sustainability efforts, visit The PV-produced electricity will be monitored and a link provided on this site to see results.

From “MATC plans wind turbine at Oak Creek campus” – Milwaukee Area Technical College plans to install a small wind turbine at its Oak Creek campus, home of the college’s Center for Energy Conservation and Advanced Manufacturing.

The technical college received initial approval from officials in Oak Creek last week for the 47-foot turbine, college spokeswoman Kathleen Hohl said.

The plan still needs approval from the Federal Aviation Administration, she said.

The turbine will provide the college with a “comprehensive portfolio of renewable energy sources at the Oak Creek campus,” Hohl said.

The college has solar power at the Oak Creek campus and also has a wind turbine at the Mequon campus. The college’s most high profile solar project is the Photovoltaic Educational Laboratory, a 510-kilowatt solar array north of Capitol Drive.

From “Plan commission approves MATC wind turbine” – The Oak Creek Plan Commission on Tuesday gave Milwaukee Area Technical College the go-ahead to build a 47-foot wind turbine at its Oak Creek campus, 6665 S. Howell Ave.

The turbine will be used in the school’s Energy Conservation and Advanced Manufacturing curriculum. It is much smaller than turbines typically seen at wind farms, where they can stretch more than 100 feet high. Officials said this turbine likely won’t be seen outside the campus.

Because of its proximity to the airport, the turbine could not be more than 50 feet high and needs approval from the Federal Aviation Administration.

Also on Tuesday, the commission delayed action on Aldi’s renovation plans, at the company’s request. It could come back to the commission as early as July 10.

From “Funds sought for building on CVTC’s West Campus” – A $7.9 million Energy Education Center planned for Chippewa Valley Technical College’s West Campus in Eau Claire is included in the school’s budget for the upcoming academic year.

Scheduled for a hearing and vote Thursday evening, CVTC’s 2012-13 budget would increase spending for the building and associated renovations but would not raise property taxes.

“There’s zero dollar change in the levy when compared to last year,” said Kirk Moist, CVTC’s director of finance and budgeting.

The upcoming budget is the second year of a state-mandated freeze on technical colleges’ operating costs, and CVTC’s debt payments are staying level.

CVTC plans to pay for the Energy Education Center — consisting of a 24,000-square-foot renovation of the Transportation Center on the West Campus and a 30,000-square-foot addition — through a mix of its own funding and donations.

“The big ‘if’ is there still is private-sector money being raised to pay for a large portion of the project,” said Doug Olson, CVTC’s executive director of facilities.

About $1 million in business donations still is needed before the project can move forward, he said.

When all the money is secured, CVTC would need the approval of its own board and the state Technical College System Board before building the new center.

The center will teach applications of alternative energy sources, including biofuels, solar power, geothermal heating and wind energy. College programs including heating, ventilation and air conditioning; civil engineering; construction; and electrical power distribution would be based at the center because those fields are seeing increasing use of green technology.

In recent years the college renovated parts of the Business Education Center, but the last major project was the creation of the $10.25 million Health Education Center in 2004.

“Anytime we do a major project, there’s an upward blip,” Moist said of CVTC’s spending.

The proposed budget shows a minor bump up for what taxpayers will be billed for CVTC.

The owner of a $100,000 home that paid $174.17 in taxes last year to CVTC would see a $2.65 tax increase under the proposed budget. But that’s only assuming the property value of that hypothetical home did not fall.

While the tax rate paid by homeowners will appear larger on their bill in December, that’s because property values have fallen in the technical college district’s 11-county area and are expected to again decline.

“Our property values have gone down three years in a row,” Moist said.

Currently valued at about $20.3 billion, properties within the district are projected to fall in value by about $305 million in the next year, according to CVTC’s proposed budget.

From “Grant will boost solar panel training at MSTC” – Mid-State Technical College has won a state grant that will help train construction electrician apprentices on the latest in solar panel technology.

The $8,000 grant is part of $638,000 being doled out through the state’s Sector Alliance for the Green Economy or SAGE project. The grants help give apprentices training in green energy skills that will make them competitive in the workforce, said SAGE outreach coordinator Owen Smith.

Half of the grant money went to Associated Builders and Contractors of Wisconsin, which identified Mid-State as one of the schools it works with.

The grant money will also help train apprentices how to weld new sustainable materials. Skilled welders, in particular, have been in demand throughout the manufacturing sector, including manufacturers of solar panels and wind turbine structures.

From “State awards $638,216 to train workers for ‘green’ jobs” – More than $638,000 in grants aimed at training workers for “green” jobs such as building solar panels and wind turbines has been awarded by the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development, state officials said Friday.

At the same time, the department said it is awarding $232,500 in grants to help ensure the state has a skilled labor force for industries such as manufacturing and health care.

The green job training money is part of a $6 million U.S. Department of Labor allocation to Wisconsin in 2010 to fund its Wisconsin Sector Alliance for the Green Economy, or SAGE, project. The $638,216 award represents the latest round of funding.

In all, the three-year SAGE initiative will provide training to approximately 4,500 new and ex isting apprentices for “green” energy jobs, the department said. In addition, more than 1,000 journey workers will receive green skills training.

“As more homeowners, businesses and utilities opt for renewable energy sources, we will need skilled workers to build, install and maintain renewable energy systems,” said Reggie Newson, secretary of the Department of Workforce Development. “These grants will also help meet the need for welders. In addition, we are taking steps to make the training programs themselves more energy efficient, safe and environmentally friendly.”

Various trades

The grants fund training in six trades: carpenter, construction craft laborer, construction electrician, ironworker, sheet metal and steamfitter. Grant contracts authorize funding for curriculum, equipment and supplies, as well as training needed by the instructors for either the technical colleges or independent training agencies.

Of the $638,216, $326,420 was awarded to the apprenticeship and training trust of the Associated Builders & Contractors of Wisconsin Inc. Most of the money will be used to purchase heavy equipment and welding simulators. Apprentices will undergo computer-simulated training rather than use the more costly heavy equipment in the field. The simulators will reduce fuel costs and let apprentices safely learn basic operations before using heavy equipment at excavation work sites, the department said.

Other SAGE grants supporting training: $186,770 to Plumbers, Steamfitters, Refrigeration Workers and Service Technicians Local 434; $67,900 to Ironworkers Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committee Local 8; $49,126 to Moraine Park Technical College; and $8,000 to Mid-State Technical College.

Separate grants totaling $232,500 will go to 10 regional workforce development boards, funding their efforts to develop strategies and customized training programs to meet the need for skilled workers in manufacturing, health care and other high-growth sectors, the department said.

The grants, ranging from $22,500 to $25,000, will go to workforce boards in various regions of the state.

From “Stations to power green vehicles” – An electric car isn’t going anywhere when it runs out of juice, and a vehicle powered by compressed natural gas obviously needs to be refilled from time to time.

So as gasoline prices continue hovering near $4 a gallon, the question arises: Can you buy an alternative-fuel vehicle and count on finding a place to fill it up when needed?

Efforts to provide that are picking up steam.

The City of Milwaukee, for instance, has tapped $35,000 in federal stimulus funds to open five charging stations, including one at 735 N. Water St. and another outside the main entrance of Discovery World at Pier Wisconsin that are already open. Others are planned for Brady St., the Clarion Hotel near Mitchell International Airport and a west side site not yet chosen.

“We’re trying to address the chicken and the egg issue – which should go first: charging stations or people buying more of these vehicles?” said Erick Shambarger, manager at Milwaukee’s Office of Environmental Sustainability, during the Green Vehicles Workshop Friday at Milwaukee Area Technical College.

Once the city’s stations are completed, there will be eight public charging stations in Milwaukee County, including two at Milwaukee Area Technical College campuses and one at Schlitz Park in Milwaukee.

The charging stations are part of a broader deployment of clean vehicles and fleets financed both by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and by major corporations.

AT&T Inc. has expanded its alternative fuel vehicle fleet to 200 vehicles, including plug-in electric delivery vans and compressed natural gas, or CNG, vehicles. That’s an increase from 50 alternative fuel vehicles two years ago, said AT&T, which aims to reduce operating costs by saving on fuel.

Lorrie Lisek, executive director of Wisconsin Clean Cities, a nonprofit that educates consumers and fleet owners about alternative fuel vehicles, said interest in shifting away from gasoline and diesel is growing as fuel prices remain high.

Forecasters at the Energy Information Administration last month projected that the price of crude oil will average more than $100 a barrel through the end of next year, and the price of regular unleaded will remain near $4 a gallon, 6% above last year, during the summer driving season.

The number of organizations that are members of Wisconsin Clean Cities has swelled to more than 60, she said, from 14 a year ago.

Working with the state government, Clean Cities aims to deploy more than 280 alternative fuel vehicles for fleets across the state by the end of next year, as part of a $15 million stimulus-funded initiative that is paying for hybrid-electric utility trucks for Milwaukee County, CNG vehicles in Bayfield, hybrid-electric school buses in Oconomowoc and alternative fueling stations across the state.

Altogether, the program aims to displace 1.6 million gallons of petroleum per year, she said.

The city is putting charging stations in high-profile spots in part to attract tourists with electric vehicles, since Milwaukee has been slower than other markets like Chicago to have electric vehicles for sale.

“We haven’t gone crazy with our investment,” Shambarger said. “Other cities have a lot more charging stations than we do. Our decision to start with five reflects Milwaukee’s demographics but is still providing that initial signal that we have the infrastructure here.”

Private investment is taking place too, whether at Schlitz Park for a charging station in Milwaukee or at Kwik Trip stations from Sturtevant to La Crosse that are adding compressed natural gas fueling capabilities.

La Crosse-based Kwik Trip will host a natural gas trade show and summit this week and unveil an alternative-fuels station that sells a wide range of fuels.

The Milwaukee workshop for the first time featured an all-electric Nissan Leaf, which just became available for test drives and ordering in recent months, said Kip Malmstadt of Boucher Nissan in Greenfield.

Malmstadt gets a lot of questions about the vehicle’s range – which is 100 to 110 miles.

“It’s really a daily driver – most people drive back and forth to work 30 miles a day,” he said. “Because of that, it’s the perfect car for that use. It’s not a car you want to go on vacation with, unless you’re going on vacation to Sheboygan.”

Compared with current prices at the pump, a typical Leaf driver may save $1,100 a year on fueling, Malmstadt said. The Leaf costs $35,000 to $38,000; tax credits can reduce the cost by $7,500.

The local network of natural gas fueling stations may also expand. The city of Milwaukee, which has eight CNG garbage trucks in service and another 13 on order, has installed several fueling stations that are used to fill the trucks.

From “Wisconsin Green Vehicles Workshop Features Propane Autogas Technology from Alliance AutoGas Partner Charter Fuels” – Alliance AutoGas fueling partner Charter Fuels shared the benefits of clean, affordable propane autogas for fleets at the ninth annual “Driving Toward 2020: Green Vehicles Workshop.” Hosted at the Milwaukee Area Technical College by Wisconsin Clean Cities May 4, the all-day event explored the latest trends in the alternative fuel industry and gave students and community members a chance to experience green vehicles firsthand.

The event featured alternative fuel and advanced technology vehicles of all types from major vehicle manufacturers, including Ford, GM, Toyota, Honda and Nissan. Josh Budworth of Charter Fuels showcased a propane autogas-powered 2011 Ford F-150.

“This workshop was a unique opportunity to get younger generations excited about alternative fuel technology and educate them about the most viable options on the market today, like propane autogas,” said Budworth, who participated in a panel covering propane autogas, natural gas, ethanol and electricity. “Autogas is an American-made clean fuel that saves fleets thousands annually on fuel costs, even with as little as one autogas vehicle.”

Charter Fuels recently helped the City of Marinette, Wis., convert a police cruiser to autogas, and they expect fuel cost savings of around $5,000 annually. A partner in the national Alliance AutoGas network, Charter helps fleets switch to autogas through vehicle conversions, installation of a fuel station at the fleet base, data integration for fuel management systems, operational and safety training, and ongoing technical support. Alliance provides funding options so fleets can switch to autogas at no upfront cost.

Autogas fleets currently save around $1.50 per gallon compared to gasoline, and many report reduced maintenance needs and increased engine life. Propane autogas is 30 percent cleaner than gasoline, and 98 percent of the U.S. autogas supply is made in America. The most widely used alternative fuel in the world, autogas powers 18 million vehicles globally.

From “NTC goes green” – Northcentral Technical College is going green. Or, at least its farm is.

“Sometimes we want to be free of WPS power,” Director of Facilities Rob Elliot said.

That’s why NTC partnered with Warner Electric to install three wind turbines at their agricultural center. Combined with the already placed solar panels, during a sunny, windy day they are expected to carry the farm’s full electrical load.

“At peak demand we use about 38 kilowatts here at the farm, the wind turbines will produce about 27 kilowatts,” Elliot said.

The energy produced from the turbines will power lights, classrooms, and technology.

“There will be times we are pulling off the grid from WPS, buying power. But, there will be times we will be selling power back,” Elliot said.

But, it’s not just about saving energy. It is also a teaching tool.

“It gives students practical equipment to work with so they can tip them down, see the motor, the brakes and can learn the technology,” Elliot said.

Scott Story is a first year student. Even before the turbines were up and running, story and his class were on site, learning.

“Now-a-days were learning how to find ways to create energy with using gasses and stuff like that,” Story said.

But, not everyone is as excited. NTC officials say they did have one complaint. A nearby residence worried about how much noise the energy savers would make.

“These generate less noise than the ones you see on a farm on the highway. Actually, traffic going by will be louder than these turbines,” Elliot explained.

School officials say all three turbines will be producing energy by next week, making this farm a little greener.

View WAOW video

From ” Wind farm event brings together backers, opponents” – The stage was set for a serious confrontation as officials with the Highland Wind Farm hosted an open house Wednesday, April 25.

The gathering, conducted at Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College in New Richmond, was designed to answer questions that area residents had about the project that would bring 41 turbines to the Town of Forest and an electrical substation to the Town of Cylon if approved by the Wisconsin Public Service Commission.

Opponents of the project gathered in the college’s parking lot as the open house began. Many of them wore “Stop the Turbines” shirts and several signs were posted to display their displeasure with the industrial wind farm idea.

John Strom, a spokesman for the opponents, said the group would eventually be well represented inside.

“We’ll attempt to get some questions answered,” he said, claiming that Highland officials have avoided answering many questions up until now.

He also charged that when developers do provide answers to people’s questions, the landowners are peppered with partial truths and incomplete information.

Strom and others continue to claim that the Highland project doesn’t belong in the Town of Forest because turbines have been shown to have an impact on the health of those living nearby. Homeowners are also concerned that their property values will decline if the turbines are eventually installed.

Strom said such wind farms belong in places where homes are not close by, but Forest is too heavily populated to comfortably host such a project. At the most, Strom said, the township could safely site between 18 or 19 turbines, not 41.

As the PSC process moves toward possible approval by this fall, Strom said the citizen’s group will continue to do all it can to stop the turbines from being installed locally.

“The best we can do is educate people and raise awareness,” he said. “It’s not that we’re anti-wind, we just want responsible siting.”

When the group went inside WITC to participate in the gathering, there were a few terse words exchanged between supporters and opponents of the project, but overall the open house was orderly and cordial.

Jay Mundinger, founding principal of the Highland Wind Farm project, said he was happy both backers and those opposed to the plans were represented.

“We were very, very pleased,” he said. “I think we were able to set the record straight on a few things. There’s been some misinformation out there.”

Mundinger said he recognizes that strong feelings remain on both sides of the issue, but Highland officials are committed to working with everyone and answering questions and concerns.

“We’re willing to continue listening,” he said. “I don’t think we’re shutting the door on anyone.”

Highland contends that current research shows no correlation between turbine operations and the health of individuals nearby. They also claim that a wind farm will not negatively impact property values in the area.

According to a timeline posted at the open house, the PSC will likely conduct two public meetings in July or August to gather comments about the Highland project. One meeting will likely be held in Madison while a second will be offered in the St. Croix County area.

If the project continues to move forward, Highland officials expect final state approval to occur by Sept. 25. If that happens, turbine construction could begin before the end of 2012.

The proposed wind farm project includes the following details: 26,550 acre project boundary; 41 turbine sites with 11 additional alternative locations; an estimated 100-member construction work force; an estimated six to eight permanent employees for wind farm operations.

If constructed, the project would connect to Xcel Energy’s 161-kilovolt transmission line near the Forest-Cylon town line.

The Highland Wind Farm would produce enough renewable wind energy to power more than 30,000 homes.

From “Solar Tree grows power for CVTC” – A few weeks ago, Chippewa Valley Technical College got a bit more green by planting a black, metallic tree.

Over the last year, the college worked with local renewable energy systems installer Next Step Energy to create their first “solar tree,” which provides up to 180w of energy on a sunny day. It helps to power the greenhouse shown above.

The coolest part of this, though — beyond the fact that it’s also a sculpture resembling a tree — is that the energy coming in is trackable via a sweet website. Here you can see the current production, charts of the last week or month or year, and even a conversion to how many lightbulbs have been powered.

The tree was designed by Next Step Energy’s Joe Mauer (an Eau Claire-based artist) who explains, “The project started with CVTC wanting to have a solar system that wasn’t just a solar array. It’s sculptural and it’s an educational array.”

The tree is actually engineered to hold up to three solar panels, meaning production could go up to 540w in the future. Mauer says Next Step “hopes for a ‘forest’ of these in some form, though we don’t have a client for that at the moment.”

It was crafted by Minneapolis metalsmith Chris Rand.

View video “Around the Solar Tree”

From “Interactive class broadcasted from Lakeshore Technical College” – A Basics of Wind Power course is being offered at Moraine Park Technical College as an interactive ITV class broadcast from Lakeshore Technical College (LTC). It will be held on Wednesday evenings, February 15 to May 9, from 5 to 9 p.m. The presenter is Matt Boor, Wind Energy Technology program instructor.

This continuing education class is designed to prepare learners to assess the global energy picture; analyze the causes of wind and wind flow properties; explore small, medium and large wind turbine designs; assess the environmental effects of wind turbines; perform business and site assessments for a wind turbine project; begin plans for a wind turbine project; overview the operation and maintenance of a turbine system; and analyze the future of wind energy.

Participants who complete this 12-week course will be provided the additional opportunity to participate in a wind tower hands-on day at LTC on Friday, May 11. To register, call the LTC Registration Desk at 1-888-468-6582, Extension 1366, and ask for class number 24524.

Students who wish to pursue Wind Energy Technology as a career and receive associate of applied science degree credit, should call the LTC registration desk to enroll in class number 23964. Enrollment in this class provides the prerequisite for students to attend the 2012 Summer Wind Energy Technology Boot Camp to be held June 11 through August 9 at the LTC campus as additional hands-on credits towards the full associate of applied science degree.

Questions on the shared program agreement between Moraine Park and LTC should be directed to Doug Lindsey, dean of the Energy Education Center, at 1-888-468-6582, Ext. 1265.

From “Energy project kicks off at NTC” —  Northcentral Technical College is installing a solar panel system and three wind turbines to generate electricity as part of a green initiative at its Agriculture Center of Excellence.

The project is meant to give students hands-on experience in environmentally friendly energy production, and will produce electricity that will run a wireless computer network on the working farm, which provides students hands-on experience working with cattle, nutrition and crops.

The equipment will help NTC keep pace with other schools across the country, said Katie Felch, director of marketing and public relations at NTC.

“Most colleges you see are working on renewable programs,” she said. “We know that energy programs are the wave of the future.”

Officials say the entire project will cost NTC $127,000, which will pay for the solar panels and the wind turbine equipment. Werner Electric Supply of Wausau, the company that’s providing the equipment and installing the system, is donating materials and time to build the wind turbine towers.

The equipment will be installed in stages. The 3-kilowatt photovoltaic solar panel system will be put in first. Those panels will produce enough energy to meet a third to half of the electricity required of a typical household daily, said Matthew Giovanelli, wind and photovoltaic sales specialist with Werner Electric.


From “Western recognized for energy stewardship” – La Crosse, Wisconsin (WXOW) - For saving enough energy in 15 months to effectively plant more than 30,538 trees, Western Technical College was recently presented with The Award for Energy Stewardship from Energy Education. The award recognizes the college’s efforts to implement an organizational behavior-based energy conservation and management program. The program is administered through Energy Education, a national energy conservation company.

“Western Technical College President Lee Rasch, the board members, and administration are demonstrating wise fiscal and environmental stewardship by implementing this unique organizational behavior-based energy conservation program,” said Dr. William S. Spears, Chairman and Founder of Energy Education. “Using human resources to reduce energy use saves natural and financial resources for the organization and the community.”

The program delivers an environmental benefit from reduced carbon footprint. Energy not used prevents the emission of carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides. According to EPA/EGrid figures, in the first 15 months of the program, Western Technical College saved 11,219 MMBTU, the equivalent of 1,213 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions being prevented, 214 cars removed from the road, or 30,538 pine trees grown for 10 years.

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From “Madison College receives grant from Thermo Fisher Scientific” – Madison Area Technical College in Madison, Wis., has received a $10,000 Thermo Fisher Scientific Inspire Grant to support student participation in Renewable Energy for International Development. The course, which is offered through Madison College and the Consortium for Renewable Energy Technology, examines energy and economics in developing countries with special consideration to renewable energy sources. The class combines eight weeks of online instruction with 10 days of study and hands-on work in Costa Rica. Students design and install working renewable energy systems that can be applied in developing countries. The Inspire Grant provides six $1,500 scholarships, as well as a $1,000 stipend that will be given to a program participant from Costa Rica to offset their expenses to attend related workshops in Madison.

From “Wind tower erected in Jefferson” – JEFFERSON — As today’s tough economy fosters creativity and innovation almost everywhere, partnerships continue to sprout up around the region to get things done. On Friday afternoon, one of these latest liaisons — between county government and Madison College — was working toward the construction of a wind-speed measurement tower at Jefferson County Fair Park. By Friday evening, the tower was in place.

With Jefferson County Fair Park Director Paul Novitzke looking on, Madison College Industrial Maintenance Instructor Cris Folk and a number of his students undertook the task of erecting the 100-foot, portable wind-measuring tower in the southwest corner of the fair park.

The device has a small turbine on top to measure wind velocity, direction, temperature and other data that will be made publicly available over the Internet. After one year, the Jefferson County Fair Park Committee will have enough data to determine the feasibility of erecting a full-size wind turbine at the fairgrounds. Madison College, also known as MATC, in turn, will use the tower and data gathered in Wind Turbine Safety and Introduction to Wind Energy classes taught at its Watertown and Fort Atkinson campuses.

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From MATC students looking up to future in renewable energy” – 

FT. ATKINSON (WKOW) — For the first time in the Madison area, a class aimed at training electricians for work on wind turbines is up and running.

Eight students at Madison Area Technical College’s Ft. Atkinson campus learned basic safety and rescue techniques Saturday in hopes of earning a certification that could put them above their competition.

“Having the certification makes an individual ready to go to work sooner,” said Clay Tschillard,   training director for the Madison Area Electrical Apprenticeship Committee.

“There are times when you can go ahead of other workers that are out of work because you have the certification.”

The course is paid for by a federal grant, all part of a $6 million effort to make Wisconsin’s trades greener.

The two-day class costs $56.

From “Solar companies say demand is on the bright side” – The bankruptcy of high-profile and government-backed Solyndra has cast a shadow over solar power at a time when demand for the industry’s products is rising.

The rapidly falling cost of solar panels, driven by intense competition from government-supported panel manufacturers in China, was among the key factors in the failure of Solyndra, which received more than $500 million in federal loan guarantees.

As Solyndra was failing, though, the U.S. solar market was growing. Installations were up 69% in the second quarter from a year earlier, according to a recent report by GTM Research for a national solar association.

“Ultimately, this year the industry is going to double again,” said Steve Ostrenga, president of Milwaukee solar panel manufacturer Helios USA.

Helios has expanded to 30 employees from 17 since shipping the first panel from its new factory in February, he said.

To compete with Chinese companies, Helios uses a robot-filled factory and technological enhancements. It has developed a highly efficient panel that will hit the market next month, delivering more power per square foot than typical solar panels sold today.

“There’s always pressure (to compete),” Ostrenga said. “That’s why we have to automate, and innovate.”

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