News Briefs


Baldwin Visits Chippewa Valley

U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisconsin) made a stop at Chippewa Valley Electric Cooperative last month to talk about how federal investments are helping to expand broadband.

Baldwin touted the federal ReConnect Program, which awarded Ntera (created by Chippewa Valley Electric Cooperative and Citizens Connected), more than $3 million in 2020 to expand broadband in the region.

Senator Baldwin also supported the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which funded the Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment (BEAD) program through which Wisconsin was allocated more than $1 billion to expand access to high-speed internet.

WECA Urges EPA to Drop New Power Plant Rule

WECA President and CEO Steve Freese has joined utility industry leaders across the country in urging the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to drop its plan to require all coal and most natural gas generating plants to slash emissions or shut down by as early as 2032. The rule proposes plant operators use clean hydrogen mix or carbon capture sequestration (CCS) to achieve the results, even though the technology is “not yet widespread or commercially available.”

“WECA believes the proposed rules threaten baseload electricity production, reliability, and affordability,” Freese wrote.

The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association and the Edison Electric Institute also submitted comments voicing concerns that the rule could lead to premature closures of plants that are needed to ensure reliability.

EV Policy Emerges as Key Campaign Issue

President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump are trading barbs over Biden’s clean energy agenda, and electric vehicle (EV) adoption in particular, as they lay the groundwork of their 2024 campaigns.

Trump says the Biden Administration is forcing the EV transition and promised to roll back Biden’s electric vehicle policies on his first day in office, if elected.

Biden, meanwhile, is touting his clean energy policies as a win, saying they are “creating millions of good-paying clean energy manufacturing jobs” and will save consumers money, while lessening the greenhouse gas pollution that is causing climate change.

Nowak Joins American Transmission Company

Ellen Nowak, former member of the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin, has joined American Transmission Co. (ATC) as vice president of regulatory and government affairs. Nowak served 11 years on the commission before her term ended March 1, 2023.

ATC is currently partnering with Dairyland Power Cooperative and ITC Midwest to build the Cardinal-Hickory Creek transmission line, which will run from Middleton to Dubuque, Iowa.

Nowak is a recipient of the WECA 2023 Champion of Electric Cooperatives Award, presented for her leadership and common-sense approach to issues that impact electric cooperatives and the energy industry.

DOT Submits Plan for EV Charging Stations

The Wisconsin Department of Transportation (DOT) has submitted its latest Wisconsin Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Plan to the Federal Highway Administration. The plan identifies locations for EV charging stations along key routes. To receive $78 million in federal funds, the state must ensure a charging station with four fast-charging ports is located at least every 50 miles.

Wisconsin’s plan includes EV chargers along I-90, I-94, I-43, I-41, and I-535, and seven U.S. highways including US 53, US 151, parts of US 51, WIS 29, US 2 and US 141, and all of US 8 and US 41.

Copernicus: July Was Earth’s Hottest Month Ever

According to Copernicus Climate Change Service, a European climate monitoring organization, July was the hottest month on record for the globe. The group reported that July’s global average temperature was 62.51 degrees Fahrenheit, six tenths of a degree higher than the previous record set in 2019.

July’s global average temperature was 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than the average during pre-industrial times (1850-1900) and 1.3 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than the July average from 1991 to 2020.

In the United States, according to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, this was the 11th hottest July on record.

Large Turnout at 2023 Energy Issues Summit

Electric cooperative leaders from across the state gathered in Eau Claire on August 2 for the 2023 Energy Issues Summit. Topics on the agenda ranged from the state of the rural economy, trends in rate setting and rate structures, electric vehicle (EV) adoption and charging station expansion, USDA energy funding opportunities and tax considerations related to federal energy incentives, ensuring reliability of the grid now and in the future, and iron air battery storage technology.

Attendees also had the opportunity to try out an electric chainsaw and other electric power tools and take a spin on one of several brands of electric bikes.

UW Receives $4 Million for Nuclear Research Grants

UW-Madison’s nuclear engineering program has been awarded four grants of $1 million each from the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Nuclear Energy University Program. DOE awarded more than $41.2 million to support 43 university-led nuclear energy research and development projects in 22 states. The goal of the program is to provide top science and engineering programs opportunities to develop innovative technologies and solutions for civil nuclear capabilities.