Bill Bailey

Billl Bailey

Cheq Bay Renewables submitted an alternative last September to Xcel Energy’s 2nd Circuit Transmission Line proposal that would run a second transmission line from Ashland to Bayfield. In short, that plan included an alternate transmission route under Lake Superior from Ashland to Washburn and a solar generation facility with battery storage. This proposal was rejected by the Xcel’s transmission team because they said it did not meet their resiliency requirements. Cheq Bay Renewables still believes our proposal coupled with an upgraded transmission line in the existing right-of-way would solve the foreseeable energy needs of the Bayfield peninsula.

Because of this difference in opinion, we have asked Xcel Energy, Dairyland Power Cooperative and Bayfield Electric Cooperative to join us in a community round table discussion about renewable energy and its relationship to the grid. Xcel’s Patrick Dalton, their top Distributed Energy Resources Engineer, Dairyland Power’s Senior Resource Planning Engineer John McWilliams, and Bayfield Electric Cooperative’s Director of Informational Services Larry Roecker will be on the panel. “At the Table: Communities & Utilities Working Together to Deliver Renewable Energy & an Upgraded Grid” will be held at the Northern Great Lakes Visitor Center on Feb. 6, at 6:30 p.m. and is being sponsored by UW-Extension, the City of Ashland, and Cheq Bay Renewables.

The round table will be facilitated by Tim Baye, University of Wisconsin’s State Energy Specialist. Additional panelists will be Robert Owen, a local engineer and meteorologist specializing in power flow and alternative energy; Amy Heart, Director of Public Policy at Sun Run, a solar development company; and Michael Vickerman, Program and Policy Director of RENEW WI, a nonprofit based in Madison, advocating for clean energy through policy, education and collaboration. This promises to be a state-wide conversation about local energy issues. I hope many of you will attend and join the discussion.

Just two days later on Feb. 8, at 6:30 p.m., at the Northern Great Lakes Visitor Center, will be an update on Community Solar. Xcel Energy will be talking about their new 1-megawatt Solar*Connect facility to be installed in Ashland in the summer of 2019. Cheq Bay Renewables will be reviewing Bayfield Electric Cooperative’s Community Solar Garden, which went online in October of 2016, in Iron River, and their future plans. Other initiatives to increase solar photovoltaics in the community will be presented as well, including the Washburn Solar Project, which now is expanding to include parts of Bayfield and Red Cliff. Cheq Bay Renewables has an ongoing Solar PV Group Buy with over 100 interested households and businesses and program updates will be announced. All this, plus other commercial solar projects in the pipeline, could add six megawatts of solar capacity to our area within the next two years. Come learn about these exciting projects.

Concurrently, Dairyland Power Cooperative is planning a 550 MW renewable energy enabling plant to come online in 2024 in Superior. “Renewable energy enabling” means it is a natural gas-fired plant that can ramp up or down quickly to match the variable nature of solar and wind energy. Dairyland Power is gearing up to support the next generation of clean energy.

We are actively engaged with Xcel Energy, Dairyland Power Cooperative and Bayfield Electric Cooperative to explore solutions to grid resiliency and at the same time promote clean energy. I encourage you to be involved in your energy future by attending these upcoming community events and taking a proactive stance to bring more clean energy to the Chequamegon Bay area.

Bill Bailey

Cheq Bay Renewables

Bill Bailey recently retired from the wholesale greenhouse business and now is President of Cheq Bay Renewables, a 100 percent volunteer, local nonprofit advocating for more clean energy in the Chequamegon Bay area.

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