Energy Law Wisconsin Blog

Topic: Wind

Time Sure Flies! Energy Law Wisconsin Celebrates 10th Anniversary in Business

Thursday, January 9th, 2014

Energy Law Wisconsin celebrated its 10th Anniversary in business on January 1, 2014. For the past decade, we’ve pursued our passion by offering advice on energy development and financing, including solar, wind, cogeneration, biomass, biogas and natural gas projects, and worked with schools, utilities and municipalities on energy savings projects. We’ve helped start-up companies grow, helped mature businesses stay on course, and in our spare time assisted with real estate transactions. We are grateful for the support of the local and professional communities in which we reside and have attempted to give back to them whenever possible. We’ve hired legal interns to give them a chance to be exposed to the world of energy law. Our first paralegal, Colleen Wenos, hired in 2011, is now actively involved in the Sun Prairie Leadership Program. We have also served for years on the Boards of Directors of organizations such as the American Red Cross, the Sun Prairie Chamber of Commerce, RENEW Wisconsin and the Sun Prairie Library Foundation. We are the richer for these experiences.

Somehow in the midst of all of this excitement (or perhaps because of it), we neglected to put up a street sign for our business to let friends and clients know where we are. To celebrate our 10th Anniversary, we have finally, to paraphrase astronaut Neil Armstrong, taken “one small step” by putting up a sign on Main Street, shown above. We invite you to celebrate our 10th Anniversary with us by following our Energy Law Wisconsin LinkedIn page, which will allow you to join us as we publish periodic reports on timely energy news topics and other relevant legal and business information. You will not receive e-mails from us, but directly through LinkedIn’s notification program. Linking is simple:

– With an existing LinkedIn account, visit http://www.linkedin.com/company/energy-law-wisconsin. Log in and click “Follow Company”.

– As a new user, visit http://www.linkedin.com/company/energy-law-wisconsin and click the yellow button at the upper right, “Join Now”. After you’ve established an individual profile, you’ll be able to “Follow Company”.

We thank you for your support during the last 10 years.

AWEA’s Jeff Anthony Outlines the State of Wind Power

Thursday, May 31st, 2012

The Wind Power Happy Hour met at Sun Prairie’s Cannery Grill on Monday, May 21. The guest speaker was Jeff Anthony, Director of Business Development for the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA). Anthony noted that the wind energy industry offered terrific opportunities for Wisconsin manufacturers and showed a series of slides to illustrate his point. In particular, Anthony observed that as of 2005, only 30% of the content in wind turbines was made by U.S. manufacturers, but as of 2010, the American-made content had risen to 60% and in 2012, it is anticipated to be almost 70%.

Wisconsin has a number of successful companies in the wind turbine manufacturing supply chain, including Ingeteam in Milwaukee and Gearbox Express in Mukwonago. Even states that have poor quality wind resources, such as those located in the Southeastern United States, have significant opportunities to become manufacturing partners in the U.S. wind industry. To underscore this point, AWEA is holding its Windpower 2012 Conference & Exhibition in Atlanta, Georgia this year.

Anthony noted how closely wind development was tied to policy and currently wind dvelopers and manufacturers are sitting on their edge of their seat, wondering if Congress will renew the Production Tax Credit, which expires at the end of 2012. He showed a chart with illustrations of what had happened in past year when Congress delayed renewing the tax credit and each time this happened, there was a sharp drop-off in wind energy development the following year, due to the uncertainty in the marketplace as to whether the credit would be renewed.

Anthony noted that back-and-forth policy does not exist for the oil and gas industry or the nuclear industry. Both industries are the beneficiaries of very substantial incentives that are permanently built into tax code. In contrast, wind must ask Congress to renew its policy supporting wind from year to year, which puts it at a disadvantage to the other industries.

During the Q&A session, Anthony addressed questions about the impact that the 18 month delay in implementation of the wind siting rules might have had on Wisconsin. Mr. Anthony said that the suspension of the rules very clearly had a harmful effect on Wisconsin’s wind construction industry, as more than $1 billion of projects were cancelled or postponed during the prolonged uncertainty that followed suspension of the rules. Mr. Anthony was less certain about the impact of the rules suspension on manufacturing jobs. He said to his knowledge no plants had closed own and any manufacturing impact was more likely in the form of lost opportunities to add new plants and manufacturing jobs in Wisconsin. He also offered attention-catching figures that showed the during the time the rules were suspended, Wisconsin’s neighboring states put up roughly 50-100 times the amount of wind capacity as did Wisconsin.

Anthony was less certain about the impact of the rules suspension on manufacturing jobs. He was not aware of any plants that had closed down; he said if there was an impact, it more likely would be in the form of “lost opportunities”.

With the final wind siting rules now in place, the current challenge for Wisconsin is to regain the momentum it previously had in wind energy manufacturing and construction and once become a leader in the manufacturing of wind turbine components. Mr. Anthony put up slides illustrating the fact that there are hundreds of different components in a modern wind turbine. Many facilities in Wisconsin and other industrial states that formerly produced components for industries such as the auto industry, have been retooled to provide these components.

To conclude, Mr. Anthony addressed a question about the relationship between the natural gas industry, which is seeing record low prices, and the wind industry. Wind and natural gas are currently the lowest cost sources of energy when all costs are included and are therefore natural competitors. But, he added, wind generation facilities and natural gas generation facilities can be operated very effectively in tandem to meet energy needs, so they are also natural allies. Mr. Anthony noted that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which is a proponent of low-cost natural gas, is also a proponent of the extension of the Production Tax Credit for wind.

People who wish more about this issue can see Jeff Anthony’s slides from his presentation here: Wind Power Happy Hour Slides.

What is “Energy Law Wisconsin” : A Collection of Actual Project Photos

Wednesday, August 4th, 2010

Many people have asked me, “Just what is Energy Law?”  I have quickly learned that to answer this question with precise details of the laws in place and tasks involved is a good way to make peoples’ eyes glaze over.

It is easier to explain what I do is by showing the results, so here are a few pictures.  These are the types of projects I help people with:

Wind Energy

Kewaunee Wind Farm

Solar Farms

Efficient Cogeneration Power Plants

MGE Cogeneration Facility

LEED Certified Buildings

Wisconsin Energy Conservation Corporation Headquarters

Other types of projects I work on that are not pictured above include replacing coal with biomass as a fuel for power generation, helping energy startup companies  get off the ground (kind of like holding your hands around a newly struck match while starting a campfire on a windy day), and helping municipalities convert garbage and sewage into energy.

There are a host of legal issues wrapped up in the journey from start to finish on all of these types of projects.  They include legal issues relating to raising money, protecting new ideas, getting government approvals, contracting for labor and materials, connecting to the electrical grid, putting together a financial package of grants, tax credits and other incentives and positioning the project for optimal use of renewable energy certificates and carbon credits it may produce.

My plan is to share a few of my stories from my practice. I’ll try to weigh in on some of the issues that people face when trying to change the energy status quo.  If you have any comments I’d love  to hear from you.  I’ll do my best to answer questions, time permitting.