(WisBusiness) THURS News Summary — 7 Aug. 2008

From WisBusiness.com …

— We Energies has agreed to shut down two coal-fired plant in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan by 2012, make a series of commitments to alternative energy generation and address water quality issues in Lake Michigan in exchange for environmental groups dropping their lawsuit opposing the system the utility built to cool its new coal plant in Oak Creek.

DNR Secretary Matt Frank said in a statement the agreement — with $105 million in commitments from We Energies — will allow the agency’s permit for the plant’s cooling system to become final without further hearings.

The system, in which water is pulled from Lake Michigan to cool the plant with warmer water returned to the body of water, was the source of the lawsuit filed by Clean Wisconsin and the Sierra Club.

Mark Redsten, executive director at Clean Wisconsin, said the agreement has benefits for both the lake and the fight against global warming.

“These environmental protections help ensure Lake Michigan is a healthy natural resource for generations to come,” Redsten said in a statement.
In a statement, We Energies Chairman Gale Klappa said his company, Madison Gas & Electric and Wisconsin Public Power were making a “significant new commitment to environmental initiatives.

“Coupled with other initiatives we have under way, our three utilities are taking a leadership role in providing cost effective energy, maintaining fuel diversity and protecting the environment,” Klappa said in a statement.

*See the Clean Wisconsin release:
*See the DNR release:
*See the Sierra Club release:
*See the We Energies release:

— Though they might have had a few reservations, most of the 29 members on the Governor’s Global Warming Task Force found the suggestions to cut carbon dioxide emissions acceptable.

But three representatives, all from industry, dissented in the final vote.

GM didn’t like the tough California-style tailpipe gas restrictions. And two members of the panel — representing the Wisconsin Paper Council and Ariens, a Brillion lawnmower and snowblower manufacturer — said they found the regional cap-and-trade proposal unworkable and too expensive.

Moreover, they said a regional plan is unnecessary because Congress may pass a national cap-and-trade plan to reduce CO2 emissions.

Since the votes were cast late last month, Gov. Jim Doyle has pushed forward with a Midwest plan, which could kick in as early as 2012 and possibly be linked to the Canadian province of Manitoba. He wants it, in large part, to put pressure on Congress.

See the story:

— Nearly $21 million in U.S. Small Business Administration Disaster Assistance Loans have been approved for residents and business owners in Wisconsin who were affected by the severe storms, tornadoes and flooding that hit the state in June.

“Currently, 906 home and business disaster loans have been approved in the amount of $20,980,000 for affected victims,” said Frank Skaggs, Director of SBA Field Operations Center East. “We are pleased to be able to get these loans approved so the residents and businesses of Wisconsin can start rebuilding and begin resuming their normal lives.”

Disaster loans up to $200,000 are available to homeowners to repair or replace damaged or destroyed real estate. Homeowners and renters are eligible up to $40,000 to repair or replace damaged or destroyed personal property.

See release:

— Doyle has given $389,985 to Madison Area Technical College in four Workforce Advancement Training Grants to train skilled manufacturers in the state.

“We are producing the kinds of high-end products that require highly skilled workers,” Doyle said. “That is where Wisconsin’s future will be in manufacturing.”

Doyle said the WAT Grants, now in their third year, have attracted positive feedback from the business sector. Doyle added that state businesses are now working together to determine a set of skills valued by employers that will be promoted through the WAT Grant program.

Doyle touted the grants for maintaining a strong manufacturing industry in Wisconsin, calling manufacturing “central” to the state’s economic history and future.

“As the national economy slumps it has significant effects in Wisconsin as well,” said Doyle. “But it is important even in these down times that we make the kinds of investments that are necessary to assure that we get through these times okay and to assure that we prosper during the good times.”

Doyle also answered questions about the search for a new Commerce secretary, saying he wanted to find someone who has a background in economic and business development and can be “a really good, strong leader and cheerleader for Wisconsin.” He said he was working on the appointment and hoped to soon fill the spot, left vacant by the resignation of Jack Fischer.

Listen to the news conference and Q&A:


WISBUSINESS LUNCHEON: Global Warming Task Force Co-Chairs
Tuesday, August 12, 11:45 am, The Madison Club

WisBusiness.com, The Madison Club and Madison Magazine present “The Madison Business Luncheon” on Tuesday, August 12, with featured guests Global Warming Task force Chairs Roy Thilly of the Wisconsin Public Power and Tia Nelson of the Board of Public Land Commissioners.

Learn more about the Global Warming Task Force: http://dnr.wi.gov/environmentprotect/gtfgw/

Sponsored by Xcel Energy.

This event is open to the public, and the price for lunch is $19. Call the Madison Club to register at (608) 255-4861. The luncheon starts at 11:45 a.m. and ends at 1 p.m.



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Press Releases
· $105 Million Settlement Reached in Power Plant Cooling System Dispute
· AirTran Airways Scores Partnership with Donald Driver
· Alliant Energy Announces Second Quarter 2008 Results
· Alliant Energy Corporation Announces Second Quarter 2008 Earnings Release and Conference Call
· Astec Industries, Inc. to Acquire Dillman Equipment, Inc.
· Author Avoids Travel Cost and Hassle Using Mediasite to Webcast Virtual Book Tour
· Governor Doyle Names Thomas McAdams as Tax Appeals Commissioner
· Governor Doyle Presents $389,985 in Workforce Training Grants to Madison Area Technical College
· Johnson Controls Serves as the Largest Provider of Sustainability Solutions for the Olympics
· SBA Disaster Assistance Tops $20 Million; Urges Return of Disaster Loan Applications
· Sub-Zero’s New Line of Built-In Refrigeration Helps Families Reduce Food Waste
· We Energies, Madison Gas & Electric, Wisconsin Public Power commit to additional environmental initiatives

For these and more releases visit http://www.wisbusiness.com/index.iml?Content=82


Utilities settle environmentalists’ suit for $105M: Three utilities have settled a lawsuit filed by two environmental groups for $105 million worth of water quality improvements over 25 years. Clean Wisconsin and the Sierra Club filed a suit challenging the Department of Natural Resources’ permit for the cooling system at a coal-fired power plant in Oak Creek. They argued the plant relied on old technology that would damage Lake Michigan fish. The agreement calls for the plant’s owners, We Energies, Madison Gas and Electric, and Wisconsin Public Power Inc., to pay $4 million per year from 2010 through 2035 to address water quality issues in Lake Michigan.

– Utilities, opponents reach $105 million deal over Oak Creek power plant

Appleton: Push on for advisory referendum on health care: An advocacy group is targeting several communities across the state with a petition to get a health care reform advisory referendum on their November ballots. Citizen Action of Wisconsin, with its “Got health care?” campaign and voter registration drives, has reached out to local groups in Appleton, who today at 11 a.m. plan to deliver a petition at the city clerk’s office with 5,000 signatures. The referendum asks the Legislature to guarantee health care comparable to what is provided to state lawmakers. Petitions have been filed in Green Bay, Oshkosh, Eau Claire, Altoona and Viroqua, and are pending in Neenah, Menasha, Milwaukee suburbs and communities in western Wisconsin.

Wisconsin farmland value rises 18 percent: The total value of agricultural land and buildings in Wisconsin rose by 18 percent to nearly $58 billion in 2007 according to information released Monday by the National Agricultural Statistics Service, the highest growth rate since the service began reporting total land and building value in 2003. This is the third consecutive year the value of farmland has risen by double digits, a fact industry watchers attribute to the overall health of Wisconsin’s $51.5 billion a year agricultural industry.

Spinning gold into bigger sales; State bike-makers hope worldwide audiences notice their products at Olympics: Three Wisconsin bicycle companies are hoping that their products will help athletes bring home Olympic medals and millions of dollars in marketing exposure. Trek Bicycle Corp., based in Waterloo, has a total of 26 bikes entered in the mountain-bike and road cycling competitions. The Hayes Bicycle Group of HB Performance Systems, based in Mequon, has built the wheels that will be used on 35 of the 48 bikes entered in the BMX races. Also, Madison-based GT Bicycles has six bikes entered in the BMX races and two bikes entered in the mountain-bike competition.


GREGG HOFFMANN: Contributor, WisBusiness.com

TOM STILL: President, Wisconsin Technology Council

JENNIFER SERENO: Senior manager, Wood Communications Group

STEVE JAGLER: Executive editor, Small Business Times

TOM BURZINSKI: IT executive and consultant

TECHNOLOGY (back to top)
– Time Warner reports growth

– Digital boxes in demand

– Can U-Verse break cable’s grip?

– American Superconductor expands into Turkey

– DISH, DirecTV mum on merger report

BIOTECH (back to top)
– Pfizer biotech unit plans San Francisco relocation

– GPC Biotech says Celgene cancels contract over cancer drug satraplatin

ECONOMY (back to top)
– Madison: City Council Approves Economic Development Plan

MANUFACTURING (back to top)
– Actuant opens new facility in China

– Quad/Graphics forms partnership with Polish printing company

– R.R. Donnelley rebounds in second quarter

– Orion Energy reports lower sales, profits

– NewPage will pay $40M for mill closure

LABOR (back to top)
– Appleton reaches labor deal with mill

– NewPage workers seeking answers from lawmakers

SMALL BUSINESS (back to top)
– Soho Biztube links entrepreneurs

INVESTING (back to top)
– Freddie Mac slashes dividend 80%

REAL ESTATE (back to top)
– Former Northridge property sold

– State makes new bid for Rainbow Springs

– Appleton: Development group moves to new offices

– Madison: ‘Lucky’ Apartment Complex Opens In University Square

– Lake Lawn Resort condo project approved

AGRIBUSINESS (back to top)
– Bid for top steer lowest in 16 years

– McCain opposes farm policies popular in Midwest

TRANSPORTATION (back to top)
– Passenger Count At Mitchell International Airport Reaches All-Time High

RETAIL (back to top)
– Madison: Future uncertain for new Whole Foods at Hilldale

TOURISM (back to top)
– Waukesha museum to have sneak preview of Beatles exhibit

– National water ski tournament fills Rapids-area hotels fast

– Milwaukee Talks: State Fair Director Randy Prasse

UTILITIES (back to top)
– Doyle favors lifting nuclear moratorium

– Alliant utility earnings down, but income tops analysts’ outlook

– WPPI buys more wind power

HEALTH CARE (back to top)
– ProHealth facility in Mukwonago is latest in hospital boom

– National City moves state HQ downtown, adding Milwaukee branches

MANAGEMENT (back to top)
– Effective expertise helps people look good on paper

BUSINESS COLUMNS (back to top)
– Burkee column: Sensenbrenner is not delivering for his district

Media Partners
Small Business Times
Madison Magazine

National Business Roundups ( back to top)
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–CNBC BUSINESS NEWS: http://www.cnbc.com
–ABC BUSINESS NEWS: http://abcnews.go.com/sections/business/
–GOOGLE NEWS: http://news.google.com/news/en/us/business.html

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