During his first year in office, Governor Tony Evers signed Executive Order #38, creating the Office of Sustainability and Clean Energy (OSCE), which is charged with developing strategies to lower energy bills for Wisconsinites, ensure public health and safety, create jobs, and protect our environment.
The governor called on the OSCE to partner with state agencies and state utilities to put Wisconsin on a path for all electricity consumed within the state to be 100 percent carbon-free by 2050.
The Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (PSC) has helped move the state closer to achieving this goal through initiatives, like the Energy Innovation Grant Program (EIGP). This program provides funding to implement innovative energy projects that reduce energy consumption, increase clean energy technologies, bolster preparedness and resiliency in the energy system, or incorporate comprehensive energy planning.
The EIGP has made it possible for grant recipients—including Wisconsin manufacturers, municipalities, tribes, universities, schools, and hospitals—to complete critical energy projects. As Commissioner, I’ve seen for myself the difference these projects make for communities across the state.
In early November, I had the opportunity to tour several sites in Wisconsin that effectively utilized this grant program to complete energy innovation projects. I visited Ahlstrom—Nicolet Mill in De Pere, a company that received a grant to install a large-scale heat exchanger. This improvement enables the company to reduce its energy use by repurposing used process steam from paper mill operations.
We then toured Brown County’s STEM Innovation Center at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay. Thanks to the EIGP, the STEM Innovation Center installed a 128 kW solar energy system on the roof.
On the second day of the tour, I joined Governor Evers’ office and the Wisconsin Office of Sustainability & Clean Energy in Milwaukee. We visited Stainless Foundry & Engineering to learn more about their creative, multipurpose use of the EIGP.
Their project replaced inefficient air compressors with high efficiency models, installed a heat recovery system, replaced air compressor sequencing control software and hardware, and replaced a non-cycling compressed air dryer. The project annually will achieve an estimated 114 MWh of electrical energy savings, 19,000 therms of gas savings, and reduce water consumption by 17 million gallons.
Our last stop of the tour was at Penfield Montessori Academy, which received $650,000 to offset part of the cost for a $1.3 million heating and lighting upgrade cost at the school. This tour helped visualize the progress we’re making to reach Wisconsin’s clean energy goals—and we’re not done yet.
On Nov. 1, the PSC announced the Office of Energy Innovation is now accepting applications for the next EIGP round.
Since 2018, the PSC has doubled the amount of available funds for the EIGP to meet the growing demand for innovative energy projects. The PSC is expected to award up to $10 million in spring 2023 to businesses and communities, like the sites I toured in early November.
Applications for the current EIGP round are due on Monday, Jan. 30 by 4 p.m. More information can be found on the PSC website at psc.wi.gov.
The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the PSC or any other individual commissioner.