MADISON, Wis. — As solar energy has become more popular and cost-effective, this once fringe renewable source is now at the center of an energy turf war in Wisconsin. At issue is a project in which an Iowa-based renewables company wants to partner with the city of Milwaukee to power seven municipal buildings with solar. Eagle Point Solar would help to finance the city's project, taking advantage of federal tax breaks that local governments do not qualify for. Eagle Point is suing the public utility, We Energies, for refusing to connect a series of solar arrays to each other. We Energies says it is simply following the law. The utility claims Eagle Point would essentially be selling electricity to the city within We Energies' service area, which the utility argued would be illegal. "Assuming it's safe, reliable and legal, we have no problem. It's just when it is not a legal agreement, we obviously can't connect that," We Energies spokesman Brendan Conway said. ___ The nonprofit … [Read more...] about Utility blocks Iowa solar firm from Wisconsin energy market
Do solar panels really save money
ST. PAUL, Minn. — Minnesota nonprofits are turning to community solar as a tool to fight poverty. Community solar typically involves households or businesses buying subscriptions to projects owned by a third-party developer. The power generated is credited to subscribers' utility bills and generally reduces monthly payments. But the model comes with barriers such as credit score checks that can put it out of reach for some of those who have the most to potentially gain. Several Minnesota charities are experimenting with ways to spread the benefits. ___ The nonprofit news outlet Energy News Network provided this article to The Associated Press through a collaboration with Institute for Nonprofit News. ___ A proposed solar project in Duluth is among the latest designed to help disadvantaged communities. A clean energy nonprofit called Ecolibrium3 plans to build and eventually own the 40-kilowatt Lincoln Park Solar Garden and sell the power to benefit a veteran's housing project and … [Read more...] about Nonprofits using community solar to help veterans, families
In 2008, Pat Collins set out to build solar panels on Chisago Lakes Middle School as a project with students in his science classes. To meet their initial $100,000 goal, they threw dances, sold t-shirts, raised trees in a garden and sold them to homeowners and even held a 5K race, Collins told a House panel in January. By 2010, the school had raised enough money to build a 44-panel system. But the projects didn’t stop there. A few years later, with the help of grants and other programs, the district had built solar on all five on its buildings and now has 15,000 panels they lease or own. Collins said that is good enough for 110 percent solar power and cost savings worth millions of dollars. “We’re teaching kids that you can save a lot of money, we’re teaching kids this is good for the environment,” he said. “But in the world we live in today … we’re teaching kids that they’re David and maybe climate change is Goliath and that … [Read more...] about Solar panels on schools: Not everyone agrees it’s such a bright idea
For many Americans, the past few months have offered several harsh wakeup calls about how quickly climate change is going to wreak havoc upon our planet. A spate of recent studies and reports have detailed how we’re headed toward a disaster as soon as 2030, while forest fires in Northern California, the 2019 polar vortex that drove temperatures down to -46 degrees, and the frequent hurricanes in the Caribbean have made the Earth feel less and less habitable to humans. Three quarters of Americans now believe that global warning is happening. A third say they are very worried about climate change. And many are asking what we, as individuals, can do to address the problem. If you look at the numbers, the scale of the problem appears to be so vast that individual actions can have very little impact. A report by the Climate Accountability Institute found that 70% of the world’s greenhouse gases are produced by 100 companies. Meanwhile, Richard Heede, cofounder and … [Read more...] about What is conspicuous conservation, and could it really help save the planet?
Pam Kaiser browses the shelves of figurines at Goodwill in Roseville in search of vintage items that speak to her family's roots. "I love to find Scandinavian things. I'm Swedish and my husband is German," said Kaiser, who is a thrift store regular. "It's fun to find things that are unique." She has plenty of places to treasure hunt these days. Nonprofit thrift stores in Minnesota are experiencing unprecedented growth to handle both a growing appetite for secondhand bargains and a burgeoning amount of donated items. Thrift stores, viewed a generation ago as places where poor people shop, are now attracting more middle class, environmentally conscious consumers in search of vintage and one-of-a-kind items. "The temperament and mind-set about reusing things have changed dramatically, and that's across the country," said Michael Wirth-Davis, Goodwill-Easter Seals Minnesota's president and CEO. In the past seven years, Goodwill has more than doubled its Minnesota retail locations to 51, … [Read more...] about Nonprofit thrift stores growing rapidly as shoppers prioritize bargains and reuse