From jsonline.com: “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 jsonline.com: “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 greenbaypressgazette.com: “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 govtrack.us, 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 fox6now.com: “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 marshfieldnewsherald.com: “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.edu: “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 newrichmond-news.com: “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.

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