Wisconsin Primed and Ready for Non-Transmission Alternatives
NINE transmission lines have been turned down by sixteen state Public Service Commissions  because flat electricity caused the states to switch from expansion spending to efficiency and “Right-Sizing” their electric systems. Instead of choosing the high voltage transmission line proposed by transmission builders, the commissions found Non-Transmission Alternatives (NTA) presented by public intervenors to be much more cost effective at delivering reliability, energy savings, CO2 reductions and allowing customers and communities to have greater future control and in their energy planning and profit taking.
NTA’s combine a variety of small investments that reduce energy use and peaks in extended hot weather. Eliminating demand for power plants, transmission and distribution lines, NTA’s economic and environmental superiority comes from investment in homes and businesses on the “user side” rather than of the “supply side” of the electrical system. NTA’s can emphasize low and no cost conservation practices, attractive rebates for common appliances and business equipment, essential building improvements and small stimulation grants for homes, businesses and communities hoping to “go solar.”
Over the last decade, Wisconsin's Focus on Energy Program has been credited with keeping state electricity use flat through the promotion of more efficient lighting appliances, commercial equipment and improvements to dwellings. Though one of the smallest, if not the smallest in the upper Midwest [1.5] , the program has consistently achieved energy savings in the range of .55-.7 % per year. One of the simplest Non-Transmission Alternatives to avoid or significantly delay unnecessary power plants, distribution and transmission lines is to increase the under-funded rebate incentives in the current program as the Wisconsin State Legislature had approved in 2009. The superiority of the benefits delivered to customers and the environment from a simple doubling the rebate incentives are compared to those from the Cardinal Hickory Creek transmission proposal in the below graphic
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Explanation of Doubled Energy Efficiency Program NTA Benefits: Energy savings result from a stimulated -.6% per year decline in electricity use from doubling the $56 million in rebate incentives as documented in the evaluation of the Wisconsin Focus on Energy (FOE) program FY2016. Focus on Energy 2015-2016 spending, half the amount of the 2XEE NTA, is expected to support 8,769 FTE jobs through 2040.  Reduced energy use over 40 years is equivalent to about 1900 MW of generation. 35% CO2 emission reductions over 40 years. Lifecycle emission reductions in the FY2016 Focus on Energy Evaluation are higher rates than this estimate based on annual reductions  FOE distributed solar incentives stimulated 2 MW of home and business installation during 2017 adding to the base of about 48 MW as documented in Figure 47 in the WI PSC 2014 Strategic Energy Assessment  Utility-scale additions to the grid result in long term debt and system costs that undercut the economic viability of developing local renewable energy resources. 
Cardinal Hickory Creek Benefits: Due to the contrasting .3% per year increase in energy use, the 40 year “Existing Fleet” future for CHC  in conjunction with continued expansion spending would cause electric bills to soar, provoke at least 520 MW in new generation, guarantee no CO2 reductions, create only 1300 short term jobs and encourage more expansion lines in Wisconsin . The approximate cost per month for CHC over 40 years including high interest debt, a $750 million power plant, increased CO2 costs and 2 cents per month net savings is around 34 cents per month but energy use increases would result in a losses on bills in 2016 dollars of about $4.80, $31 and $1350 per month for residential, commercial and industrial customers respectively. ATC’s other futures assume larger energy use increases.
Click on graphic to examine Impacts on monthly electric bills and also savings with grid-tied and off-grid solar.
Explanation of NTA Impacts on Sample Electric Bills:
"Do Nothing" = Business as usual with rates and fees increasing at a little less than 2005-2016 historical rates  with Cardinal Hickory Creek and other expansion lines avoided. The Doubled Energy Efficiency Non-Transmission Alternative assumes a-.6% / year reduction in use per year based on a 2016 Focus on Energy program evaluation. CO2 reductions are annual, not much larger lifecycle calculations. The Doubled Energy Efficiency + Grid Tied (Home) Solar Array NTA involves a $15,000 investment in a 6kW solar array for the $100 per month bill and a $47,000 solar array for a 20 kW solar array for the $280 per month bill. The arrays are sized to meet 100% of use in year 15. 30 year savings include the cost of the arrays. The Triple Energy Efficiency + Off Grid Solar NTA involves a $24,000 investment in a 6kW solar array + battery storage for the $100 per month bill and a $78,000 solar array for a 20 kW solar array + storage for the $280 per month bill. These arrays are also sized to meet 100% of use in year 15. The 30 year savings include the cost of the arrays without rebates or tax incentives. Solar is an effective investment because of the predictability of rates and fees continuing to increase.
When the affects of two growth rates and more rapidly rising rates are factored into the CHC Business as Usual / Existing Fleet Future and CHC Accelerated Technology "futures" utility bill increase much larger than Doing Nothing and the Non-Transmission Alternatives.
1. List and articles, p. 35 http://soulwisconsin.org/Resources/FootnoteHarbour.pdf#page=35
1.5 2007-2015 funding data compiled, p.11
2. CADMUS, Focus on Energy Calendar Year 2016 Evaluation Report Volume I May 19, 2017
3. Over 40 years,15,000 jobs would be sustained at the current findings by Cadmus, January 2018, “Focus on Energy Economic Impacts” p.3
4. CADMUS, Focus on Energy Calendar Year 2016 Evaluation Report Volume I May 19, 2017
5. PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION OF WISCONSIN FINAL STRATEGIC ENERGY ASSESSMENT 2018 -2024,
6. Solar Financing Guide, p.12 excerpted p. 42 http://soulwisconsin.org/Resources/FootnoteHarbour.pdf#page=42
8. Assumes CHC is 15% of MVP benefits. See MVP MTEP14 Triennial Review https://cdn.misoenergy.org/MTEP14%20MVP%20Triennial%20Review%20Report117061.pdf
9, WISCONSIN RATE ANNUAL PERCENTAGE RATE INCREASES 2006-2016 p.47 http://soulwisconsin.org/Resources/FootnoteHarbour.pdf#page=47
Cardinal Hickory Creek
Tuesday, September 11
PUBLIC LIBRARY 225 W. MAIN ST
Across the US, empowered by flat and declining electricity use, 16 state utility commissions have turned down proposals for nine expansion transmission lines like Cardinal Hickory Creek (CHC). Why should it be any different in Wisconsin?
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The state rejections were supercharged by powerful statements of public priority made by hundreds of private persons, businesses and municipal governments who filed to formally intervene in transmission cases to earnestly protect their personal, community, economic and environmental goals. Instead, many states chose Non Transmission Alternatives guaranteeing energy improvements for households, businesses and local economies through energy efficiency, modern load management and the development of home and local, renewable power. Expanded use of energy efficiency in the US leads the way in CO2 reduction and Wisconsin lags dramatically behind.
To ensure that Cardinal Hickory Creek is met with no less response and public priority, citizen volunteers have formed a "Public Intervenor Resource" of individuals, businesses and municipalities to help inform individuals and municipalities of state-granted right to assert substantial interests in the Cardinal Hickory proposal before the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin as an INTERVENOR. Substantial interests include concerns about declining property values, harm to local economies/natural habitats and high costs/long term debt for millions of electric customers if Wisconsin chooses the backwards and unnecessary utility expansion path. Join us to consider all options of the PSC's review process.
Contact PIR volunteer Susan Slotten at firstname.lastname@example.org 703.201.0819
Terese’s Energy Efficiency & Conservation Tips For Sharing
Terese Agnew - La Farge, WI
I love having solar panels, because when the sun is shining I can see how much electricity we produce in real time. When the sun is giving us 5 to 6 KiloWatts (kW), I like to do activities that require more electricity, like using power tools, doing laundry, vacuuming and air conditioning when it’s hot. Our solar panels produce the most energy on clear, sunny days, even in the middle of the winter. It can run our house, even on cloudy and snowy days if we shift energy intensive tasks to sunny days. To avoid adding (expensive) demand on the electric grid during hot summer days, we aim to do intensive tasks before 3 pm and then supply solar power to the grid. On hot summer days you, too, can benefit the energy balance, by using less energy after 2-3pm whether you have solar or not.
But not everyone is able to “go solar.” Did you know that reducing your energy use with the following techniques is equivalent to going solar? It’s true! Our household reduced our use of grid power even more AFTER we went solar by paying attention to and stopping our mindless waste.
No and Low Cost Here are just some of the fun things anyone can do with very little money to reduce their CO2 footprint from electricity use significantly and save money.
- Change to LED light bulbs. Incandescent bulbs use 10 times more energy and add heat to your house in the summer. LED bulbs are only $1, last about 17 years and are brighter! Replace 60 watt incandescent bulbs with 40 watt LED’s that only use 5 watts each. Choose 2700K “color temperature” to maintain the pretty color of incandescent bulbs. They work in outside fixtures and in most appliances. If a LED bulb hums or make noise, it is faulty, exchange it!
- Turn lights and fans off when not in the room* Myth: it does not take more electricity to turn modern lights on and off. Consider turning off all appliances you do not use steadily like cable TV boxes, computers, speakers, radios and water pumps. We save $3 per month just turning off our cable box which we only use a few hours per day. We turn off or unplug chargers for cell phones, toothbrushes and other gadgets when they are finished charging.
- For huge, instant savings, set and keep the temperature knob on your hot water heater to 110 degrees. Its set correctly when the faucet handle is turned all the way to the hottest position and it feels just perfect. This alone can save as much as adding 2-3 solar panels to your house!
- Purchase low-flow shower heads rated at 1.2 to 1.5 GPM (Gallons Per Minute) compared to older 4+ GPM units. You will barely notice the minute difference in pressure. When you buy a new water heater*, consider a natural gas or propane, “on-demand” heater for more awesome savings and lower CO2 emissions than electric hot water hear.
- Don’t stand in front of an open fridge looking for something to eat. Think about what you want, open the door, get it and close it. The fridge is the biggest energy guzzler that is on all the time. (When I was in a wheel chair I learned to appreciate how much cold falls out of an opened fridge.)
- When we heated all of our hot water on a wood stove, we never poured it down a drain and wasted it after one use. Save the washing and rinsing power of hot water by stoppering the sink drain for tasks like soaking a bowl of crusty cereal. A final rinse will rid your dishes of any germs..
- If your house has not had an energy audit to help find air leaks and other places to make cost effective improvements, look into Focus on Energy rebates for this and get one! A good company will provide a full range of options from cheap to more costly.
Staying Warm in Winter
Another layer of clothing like a sweater or vest allows you to drop the air temperature in your house in the winter another 2-4 degrees producing very significant savings over the course of winter. We "winter" at 64F and know of households that like even lower temperatures! Polar fleece is a soft, comfortable fabric to use for extra layer clothing. Nothing is warmer than polar fleece and wool. They dry in a flash, and are very light weight. Skinny under layers are widely available too.
For that cozy feeling climbing into bed when is freezing outside, make a rice warmer to pre-warm your bed. Its infra heat will make your bones feel warm -especially with an extra grandma quilt on top. If you still crave heat, well a dance party can heat up your house several degrees and make everyone sweat with a smile.
If your house is already well-insulated or you can’t afford an insulation upgrade now, sew quilted roman blinds that keep the house cool in summer and warmer in winter. Easy DIY how-to on net.
Staying Cool in Summer
Check the forecast, overnight temperature at your location. If the temp is forecast to drop under 68F, open up your windows and let the night air cool your house. Before the outside air starts to heat up (~8am), shut everything down and close curtains and shades-- especially on the South and West sides of your home. It’s like free AC.
When its time to roof your house, do not put a dark colored roof on! Light colors reflect heat, dark colors absorb heat. We planted deciduous trees to eventually shade our roof and south and west walls of our house. In the meantime, we put metal trellises in front of the large windows on the south side to grow something that you can cut back to the ground in winter for full winter sun. How about edible shade like french pole beans? For lovely flowers, Sweet Autumn Clematis (Paniculata) are great for enjoying the hummingbirds and song birds that perch on the trellis.
Ceiling and personal fans are excellent for summer because the moving air cools the skin directly. Myth: Fans do not cool walls and furniture, they cool skin. To increase the effect, add a thin layer of moisture with a wash cloth. Personal fans will keep one very comfortable using much, much less energy than running the AC.
Hang heavy laundry like towels on a clothes line to dry. I like to finish them in the dryer for 5 minutes to make them fluffy. Personally—I like to hang most of my clothes out too. They just smell nice, better than dryer lint sheets, for sure!
Unlike my son and my husband, I get miserable when I’m hot. Our energy efficient equalizer is my DIY spa/outdoor pool sanctuary! I have an Intex Easy Set backyard pool (8’ X 30” pool, $45) placed inside a 10’ X 10’ screened tent (about $78) to keep bugs out! After 20 minutes in the pool and I am cool as a cucumber for hours. Not one mosquito bite in 3 years.
Reducing the CO2 content in products we buy.
Like many, we are working on our shopping and consumption habits. We are eating lower on the food chain (less meat, more plants), buying local whenever we can and avoiding products with ridiculous packaging. We are even making progress on diet soda! Weaning use of silly, highly energy and material wasteful packaging is easiest when we cook our meals. We need to buy more foods in bulk. I have a picture above my desk of the plastic bottle “island” the size of France, floating in the ocean.
In a year or two we’ll hope to buy an all electric car. Importantly, we’ll charge it when the sun shines with the extra power from our solar panels. Until then, our neighbors will continue to use our solar power for their needs.
Okay, got all that down? Check out the ingenious, community-minded activities of New Power Tour in Upper Michigan.
Terese Agnew has served on the SOUL Media Committee and as a member of the Board of Directors since 2013.
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Harnessing Our Local
Meeting Our Priorities with Household and Local Solutions
Shortfalls in Transmission Review Process and Busting Utility Myths
Confronting the Harmful Land and Economic Impacts of Transmission Expansion
Trustee, Village of Montfort, WI
StopPATH WV, Shepherdstown, WV
Participation, Politics, and Public Opinion
Driftless Area Land Conservancy, Dodgeville, WI
Protecting the Natural Habitats and Local Economies of the Driftless Area from Unnecessary Transmission Expansion
Powers Engineering, San Diego, CA
Local-Based Energy Futures and the Obstacle of Transmission Expansion
The grid to nowhere
An argument against building giant transmission lines
BY MICHAEL LENEHAN
MARCH 1, 2018