News Briefs


Biden Ramps Up Climate Goals

President Joe Biden recently signed an executive order that directs the federal government to become carbon neutral by 2050, and use federal buying power to help reach ambitious climate goals including:

  • 100% carbon pollution-free electricity by 2030 (at least half of which will be locally supplied clean energy to meet 24/7 demand)
  • 100% zero-emission vehicle acquisitions by 2035, including 100% zero-emission light-duty vehicle acquisitions by 2027
  • Net-zero emissions from federal procurement by 2050
  • A net-zero emissions federal building portfolio by 2045, including a 50% emissions reduction by 2032

The executive order is good news for clean energy and electric vehicle companies, as the federal government buys $650 billion in goods and services annually in addition to a real estate portfolio of more than 300,000 buildings and a fleet of more than 600,000 cars and trucks.

December Storm Causes Widespread Power Outages

A rare, extreme weather event swept through Wisconsin and much of the Midwest December 15–16, knocking power out for almost 20,000 members from at least 21 Wisconsin electric co-ops. Wind gusts topped 75 miles an hour, and at least one tornado, an EF-2, was confirmed in Clark County. Most power was restored within 24 hours, despite widespread downed trees and powerlines.

The weather followed a day of record high temperatures. Madison and Green Bay both recorded a high temperature of 65 degrees.

Riverland Energy, Clark Electric, and Alger Delta Cooperatives requested assistance in restoring power. Bayfield Electric, East Central Energy, St. Croix Electric, and Dunn Energy Cooperatives sent crews to help.

2021 Essay Winners Announced

Congratulations to the winners of the 2021 Wisconsin Electric Cooperative Association essay contest. Students who attended the Youth Leadership Congress were invited to participate in the contest.

The winners are:
1. Mackenzie Shankle – Oakdale Electric Cooperative ($1,000 scholarship)
2. Katelyn Haschke – Oakdale Electric Cooperative ($500 scholarship)
3. Lauren Thompson – St. Croix Electric Cooperative ($250 scholarship)

Students were asked to write an essay about how electric cooperatives benefit local communities beyond providing electricity.

Mackenzie wrote, in part, “Cooperatives invest in teaching the next generation to become active, strong, wise, and aware individuals. This happens by sponsoring the Youth Leadership Conference and providing education and careers in the cooperative. They also encourage positive growth, learning, and the importance of teamwork along with many other skills.”

CHARGE EV Grows to 49 Cooperatives

CHARGE EV, a cooperative-branded electric-vehicle charging network spearheaded by Wisconsin electric co-ops, has grown to include 49 cooperatives. The CHARGE EV brand will extend to western Iowa and southern Illinois with the addition of Iowa generation and transmission cooperatives Corn Belt Power Cooperative and Northwest Iowa Power Cooperative, as well as Egyptian Electric Cooperative Association in Murphysboro, Illinois.

“This is an incredible boost for CHARGE both in terms of cooperative participation and the opportunity for collaboration,” said Nate Boettcher, president of CHARGE EV, LLC. “As our affiliations grow, we leverage the needs of each cooperative to benefit all.”

CHARGE is a national electric vehicle (EV) charging brand that launched just about a year ago to ease range anxiety by providing cooperative-branded chargers located on routes where they are needed, as well as making them available to install in homes.

Record Renewable Growth is Still Not Enough

According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), about 290 GW of new renewable energy generation capacity, mostly in the form of wind turbines and solar panels, has been installed around the world this year, beating the previous record set in 2020. The Renewables Market Report predicts renewable energy generating capacity will jump to 4,800 GW by 2026, exceeding that of fossil fuels and nuclear energy combined by 2026.

However, the agency says the 2021 record level of growth is still far short of what is necessary to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by mid-century.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s Short-Term Energy Outlook shows coal-fired electricity generation is estimated to increase this year for the first time since 2014, mainly due to rising natural gas prices.

Elk Mound Plant Sees Record Year

Dairyland Power Cooperative’s Elk Mound plant has shattered records in 2021, 20 years after it first went into service. The station generated 57,231 MWH by the end of October, almost five times the annual average of 12,000 MWH for the plant, which consists of two dual-fuel combustion turbines (natural gas with fuel oil as back-up).

The previous record for the Elk Mound facility was set in 2007, at 30,529 MWH. The record low was set in 2009 at 338 MWH. The facility has been in service since June of 2001.