THU AM News: Madison Green Cab transitioning to electric Tesla fleet; Building Commission approves We Energies solar project

— Tech entrepreneur Shree Kalluri wants to make Madison the most sustainable city in the world — starting with its taxi cabs.

“We can reach to the disenfranchised. We can provide new employment opportunities. There is so much that can be done if you solve the transportation problem,” he said. “We want to solve it.” 

Kalluri, who founded a Madison startup called Zerology earlier this year, was joined yesterday by Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes and company leaders from Green Cab of Madison. They announced Green Cab is replacing its Madison hybrid vehicle fleet with fully electric Tesla Model 3s.

He says the partnership combines two significant business trends: the nationwide push toward zero-emission vehicles; and rapid adoption of ride-sharing apps. 

“If you can put more people in a car, and if that car is zero emmisions, then we are taking so many vehicles off the street,” Kalluri said.

Through the new effort with Zerology, Green Cab will lower its emissions to zero as it swaps out its existing hybrid vehicles with the electric fleet, starting Oct. 23. Green Cab of Madison was launched in 2010, and has since driven more than 30 million miles with over 8 million riders. 

Jodie Schmidt, co-founder and president of Green Cab, said yesterday the company’s hybrid fleet has saved 1.9 million gallons of fuel compared to traditional cabs in the past decade or so. 

Kalluri noted emissions have risen nearly 50 percent in Madison over the past 30 years, and Barnes added the majority of those emissions come from the transportation sector.

“This is going to kill our city, which is a beautiful city, which is our home,” Kalluri said. “We cannot just wait for some rescuer to come and save us. We’ve got to act — we’ve got to act now. Emissions are real. The impact on climate is real.”

See more: 

— The state Building Commission has approved a We Energies solar project at UW-Parkside. 

A release from Gov. Tony Evers’ office shows this is the first renewable energy project approved by the commission since the guv created the Office of Sustainability and Clean Energy and set the carbon-free 2050 goal.  

“I am pleased to see approval of this renewable energy project at UW-Parkside, because it is through partnerships like this that we are going to reach our goal and build a sustainable future in Wisconsin for generations to come,” Evers said in a statement. 

Including the solar project, the commission has approved about $131 million in projects around the state. 

See the release: 

— Families of fallen state and local law enforcement officers can now continue to receive health insurance after Gov. Tony Evers signed SB 266 into law.

Under 2019 Wisconsin Act 19, municipalities and Marquette University are required to continue paying health insurance premiums for the spouse and children of fallen officers. The municipalities and Marquette would then be reimbursed by the state.

“These folks put their lives on the line every day to serve and protect the people of Wisconsin,” the guv said after signing the bill yesterday. “Ensuring that their families will continue to have health insurance coverage after a tragedy is the least we can do for fallen heroes and their families.”

Similar provisions for surviving families of fallen firefighters already exist in state law. The bill passed a Senate floor vote on Oct. 8 and an Assembly floor vote on Oct. 10.

Listen to an earlier podcast on the issue with Sean Marschke, president of the Wisconsin Chiefs of Police Association: 

— The USDA is providing more than $6.5 million in loans and grants to two rural villages in the state: Maine in Marathon County; and Sister Bay in Door County. 

Sister Bay is getting about $3.4 million in loans and $1.6 million in grants to upgrade its wastewater treatment facility, which is nearly 30 years old. A release from USDA shows the facility is becoming more difficult to maintain as spare parts for equipment are difficult to find. 

Facility upgrades include replacing electrical power distribution, new HVAC equipment and data acquisition systems. A service building will get a new garage, electrical room, maintenance room, high speed internet and other improvements. The upgraded facility will serve the village as well as the nearby town of Liberty Grove. 

Meanwhile, the village of Maine is getting over $500,000 in loans and nearly $1 million in grants for its own wastewater collection system. The release shows older sections of the system — made of clay piping as well as brick and other materials — have sprung leaks due to cracks and underground roots. 

The release shows manholes need to be repaired or replaced, while an aging pumping station also is due for replacement. The funding will support replacing sewers on the village’s east side with new PVC piping, and will relocate a lift station to a safer location. 

Funds going to the two villages are part of more than $201 million in grants and loans announced by USDA, aimed at improving rural water infrastructure in 31 states. 

See the release: 

— The Southwestern Wisconsin Community Action Program is raising funds to increase awareness about farmer suicides in the state, as part of its upcoming People Helping People Gala. 

The annual event aims to raise awareness and money for a specific cause of poverty or related subject. This year’s goal is to raise $40,000 to fund suicide prevention programs for the agricultural community. 

Wally Orzechowski, executive director for SWCAP, says recent historic rains, ongoing trade disputes and declining global dairy markets are causing uncertainty among farmers. He notes farmers in Wisconsin have led the nation in bankruptcies for the past three years, and the state has lost nearly half of its dairy farms in the past 15 years. 

“Studies show that these sorts of stressors can increase the risk for suicidal ideation,” Orzechowski said in a statement. “Creating resilient rural communities in light of these challenges takes all of us working collaboratively to build strong networks of support in the face of seemingly overwhelming obstacles.” 

The upcoming gala will be held Oct. 24 in Barneveld, located in Iowa County. 

See more on the event and the fundraising drive: 

— The Wisconsin Technology Council announced recently that it will honor Anne Smith with the annual Excellence in Entrepreneurial Education award during the Wisconsin Early Stage Symposium taking place Nov. 6-7 in Madison. 

According to a release, the “Triple E” award highlights the importance of teaching and mentoring entrepreneurs. As an attorney, Smith launched the University of Wisconsin Law & Entrepreneurship Clinic and is a co-founder of Madison Seed Accelerator Inc.

“We’ll hear from Anne about the important work of the Law and Entrepreneurship Clinic over time, as well as entrepreneurs who benefited by going through the process,” Tech Council President Tom Still said in a statement.

Terry Sivesind, a co-founder of Merlin Mentors, won the award in 2018.

See more at Madison Startups: 


# Percentage of women on Wisconsin corporate boards reaches all-time high, at 21%

# Milwaukee-area Harley-Davidson dealers confident in LiveWire despite shipment delay; one delivery confirmed

# While millions are spent to fight opioid epidemic, a meth crisis quietly grows in Wisconsin

# Natural gas price fixing case headed to trial; billions sought for Wisconsin businesses, institutions



– Penzeys turning $435,000 in new customer orders into pro-impeachment Facebook ads


– Wisconsin’s harvest progress still stuck in the mud


– Building Commission OKs $77.6M plan for Camp Randall

– Report: Windfalls won’t do much for Milwaukee County’s infrastructure backlog


– Lou Malnati’s eyeing Brookfield for second Milwaukee-area location


– Medical College of Wisconsin, Froedtert Hospital go public with $225 million campaign

– Astronauts help Froedtert, Medical College kick off $225M public campaign: Slideshow


– MSO makes final push in $139 million Warner Grand Theatre project campaign


– Chris Abele won’t seek re-election as Milwaukee County executive


– Regency Builders to expand following acquisition of Carstensen Homes


– Bill aims to save lives in Milwaukee, with help of traffic cameras


– Ryder Cup 2020 tickets sell quickly as process leaves frustrated fans


– Wisconsin’s stimulus rail funding grew from the great recession

– Madison Green Cab goes electric; to be nation’s first all-Tesla cab fleet


<i>See these and other press releases: </i>

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Medical College of Wisconsin, Froedtert Hospital: Announce “Hope to Health” campaign

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