Tuesday Trends sample: Solar power rising, Bucyrus mixed and ethanol falling

Below is an excerpt from the most recent edition of WisBusiness Tuesday Trends. The full version of this weekly look at the state of Wisconsin business is now available for free to anyone who signs up for the Tuesday Trends mailing list. The full product includes several items in each of the rising, mixed and falling categories plus a look at upcoming business events across the state.

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RISING

Solar power: The state’s solar industry gets a boost under an agreement between Milwaukee-based Helios Solar Works — a maker of solar power panels — and Arista Power Inc., a Rochester, N.Y., renewable energy firm. The deal means Helios’ panels will supply power to a host of government consumers, including the U.S. Army and the FBI. Helios was already making solar panels for military bases in Arkansas, California, New York and Virginia, and the company says increased demand from the defense sector led to the addition of a second shift at its Milwaukee plant. Meanwhile, although a California solar firm has delayed a decision on building a Wisconsin facility, a spokesman for W Solar says the company remains “iron-clad committed” to Wisconsin — along with the 600 jobs it’s expected to produce here.

MIXED

Bucyrus: The Milwaukee-based mining equipment manufacturer watches its run of more than 130 years come to an end with its acquisition by construction giant Caterpillar, which ends the Bucyrus brand. Caterpillar officials say the decision wasn’t made lightly, while analysts say investors are largely optimistic about the deal. The official acquisition also results in Bucyrus CEO Tim Sullivan leaving the company. As rumors swirl about his possible political future, Sullivan tells “UpFront with Mike Gousha” he’s still weighing his options — including those with companies outside Wisconsin. If he were to stay and run for the open U.S. Senate seat, Sullivan says he’d run as an independent candidate rather than join either party, saying, “I think both sides right now have their issues.”

FALLING

Ethanol: Following a U.S. Senate measure that would eliminate a $5 billion annual tax credit for ethanol producers, state industry leaders are calling for a gradual phasing out of the federal subsidy as it moves to a House vote. Ethanol backers say abrupt repeal could hurt a $1 billion per year state industry that produces 470 million gallons annually at nine Wisconsin plants. The measure, which passed the Senate by a 73-27 vote June 16, would end the 45-cent-per-gallon Volumetric Ethanol Excise Tax Credit immediately, though the status of the larger federal economic development renewal bill containing the measure is still uncertain. The credit will expire at the end of the year, even without repeal, unless Congress renews the subsidy. Farmers and producers say they’re open to repeal, but disagree with the abrupt nature of the measure and its singular focus on ethanol. Meanwhile, the Supreme Court rules that creditors who lost millions of dollars in the now-defunct Olsen’s Mill — a grain company with a substantial stake in a failed ethanol plant in Rock County — should receive more compensation.