FRI AM News: PSC approves Alliant Energy solar project; ‘WisBusiness: The Podcast’ features Retham Technologies

— The PSC has approved permits for Alliant Energy to undertake a massive solar project.

With the commission’s unanimous vote in hand, Alliant will start on the first four of six solar farms totaling 675 megawatts. This will take the company two-thirds of the way toward its goal to integrate more than a gigawatt — 1,000 megawatts — of solar capacity into its portfolio over the next four years.

RENEW Wisconsin is calling it “the most significant advance yet towards a zero-carbon future in Wisconsin.”

The projects, two of which still need PSC approval for construction, will be located in Rock, Grant, Jefferson, Sheboygan, Richland and Wood counties. The PSC unanimously approved the Wood County solar project in January. The Grant and Sheboygan county projects are still under review due to the size of their generating capacity, PSC noted in a release.

This first wave of projects will be fully operational in 2023. Then, roughly 13 percent of the electricity sold to Alliant customers will come from a solar farm, according to RENEW. This puts Alliant on course to own and operate almost one-half of the state’s solar capacity by 2024. Solar accounts for 16 percent of the state’s electricity sales.

Read the full story at 

— Last month, Alliant submitted an application for authority to build and operate a second wave six solar farms totaling 414 megawatts, according to RENEW.

Approval of that application would increase Alliant’s solar portfolio to over one gigawatt.

“A solar buildout of this magnitude would have been unthinkable five years ago,” Allen said. “Only a handful of utilities then were thinking about replacing their aging coal plants with carbon-free energy sources like solar. But with these two back-to-back solar applications, Alliant appears to be off to the races.”

See the RENEW Wisconsin release:

— The new “WisBusiness: The Podcast” features Dr. Anand Padmanabhan and his Milwaukee area startup Retham Technologies. 

Padmanabhan, an expert on blood clotting, founded the company to work on a better test for the condition Heparin-induced thrombocytopenia or HIT. 

Spontaneous HIT occurs when patients don’t take the drug heparin but somehow develop clots that can be very severe. This is a very rare side effect of the Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines. 

If these rare cases are not diagnosed and treated quickly, they can lead to strokes, amputation or death. Currently, it’s challenging to quickly diagnose and treat this condition, Padmanabhan explained.

“Right now, making an accurate diagnosis of HIT or Spontaneous HIT in some cases can take several days because not a lot of hospitals are equipped to run that testing that is needed to make the diagnosis,” he said.

Retham Technologies is developing an easy-to-use test to more quickly diagnose the blood clots. The company is in advanced stages of research and development. Padmanabhan anticipates that in two years after performing the FDA mandated clinical studies that it would become available in 2023. 

Listen to the podcast, sponsored by UW-Madison: 

See more on Retham Technologies: 

— COVID-19 cases are starting to fall, but the state’s chief medical officer warns Wisconsin still needs to remain cautious.

The state reported 732 new COVID-19 cases coming into today, up from 626 new cases the day before, according to data from the Department of Health Services. But the seven-day average of confirmed cases fell to 641 cases per day from 671. That figure is on its eighth day of decline. 

Wisconsin’s neighbors Minnesota and Michigan are experiencing among the highest case rates in the country in the last week. Michigan ranks No.1 in the country with 449 cases per 100,000 people. Minnesota ranks No. 4 in the country with 236 per 100,000 people. Wisconsin is seeing a fraction of that with about 96 cases per 100,000 population. 

Dr. Ryan Westergaard, the state’s chief medical officer, speculates that one reason for Wisconsin being in better shape than its neighbors is the timeline of variants. Michigan, he explained, is about a month ahead of Wisconsin in terms of the more transmissible variants becoming the predominant strains in the state. Both Michigan and Minnesota are seeing higher proportions of variant outbreaks. 

The U.K. variant B.1.1.7 makes up about 60 percent of the diagnosed cases in Michigan, Westergaard said. Wisconsin is seeing about half that. Overall, Michigan is seeing levels resembling its fall surge. Wisconsin is nowhere near that — a daily case average of 641 yesterday compared to a peak average of 6,563 in November.

“Looking to Michigan I think is important. The climate is the same, the population is similar, the landscape is similar enough that I think we ought to be concerned,” he said. “Don’t do anything less rigorously than we’re currently doing … because the short answer is we’re definitely not out of the woods, and the Michigan experience is something that I think about and that I’m concerned about quite a bit.”

<i>For more of the most relevant news on the coronavirus outbreak, reports on groundbreaking health research in Wisconsin and links to top stories, sign up today for the free daily Health Care Report from and

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— The state is giving up to $420 million to small businesses affected by the pandemic through a new grant program.

The Wisconsin Tomorrow Small Business Recovery Grant program is a collaboration between WEDC and the Department of Revenue. The effort is funded by the federal stimulus. It could help about 84,000 Wisconsin small businesses that have an annual gross revenue between $10,000 and $7 million. Businesses would be eligible for $5,000. 

“The new grants are intended to support those small businesses who were hardest hit by the pandemic and through savvy planning, grit and sacrifice are poised to make a strong recovery, and we are committed to being a strong partner in helping these businesses on the road to recovery,” said WEDC Secretary and CEO Missy Hughes. 

See a release: 

— In honor of Earth Day, this week USDA is highlighting over $44 million in rural wastewater and biofuel infrastructure investments in Wisconsin.

The city of Waupun will celebrate the groundbreaking of a $36 million wastewater treatment plant upgrade on May 6.

The project is funded through a USDA $28 million loan and $8 million grant. The local utility commission is upgrading their plant to meet strict nutrient reduction requirements for their wastewater discharge permit, serving about 9,000 residents.

To comply with the DNR’s recent implementation of ultra-low phosphorus discharge limits in Waupun, the city will use an algae-based Advanced Biological Nutrient Recovery system from CLEARAS Water Recovery. 

The ABNR system uses algae to uptake phosphorus from the wastewater and then processes the phosphorus-rich algae into a marketable product. This dried algae product will be sold as an industrial feedstock to offset some ABNR system expenses, with an initial customer planning to make shoe inserts from the dried algae.

— Meanwhile, Bulk Petroleum Corp. is getting $3.2 million to replace 165 dispensers and 30 storage tanks at 36 fueling stations in Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana and Iowa. 

This project increases the amount of ethanol sold by over 12 million gallons per year.

And Kwik Trip Inc is getting $4.8 million to replace 65 dispensers and 10 storage tanks at six fueling stations, as well as install 298 dispensers at 25 fueling stations in Wisconsin, Minnesota and Iowa. This project will increase the amount of ethanol sold by over 45 million gallons per year.

“Through our programs, USDA continues to fund rural infrastructure projects that support communities by providing greater economic opportunities while protecting natural resources for future generations,” Wisconsin Rural Development Director Michelle Wallace said.

— For more developments in green energy, environmental issues and related policy proposals, visit WisBiz Green in the right-hand column at

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— Wes Schroll, founder and CEO of Fetch Rewards, will speak June 3 during the virtual Wisconsin Entrepreneurs Conference, produced by the Wisconsin Technology Council.

While a student at the UW-Madison in 2013, Schroll launched Fetch Rewards, a Madison-based consumer loyalty and retail rewards app. Fetch Rewards recently raised $210 million in Series D financing, which pushed the company’s total valuation to $1 billion. The $1-billion plateau for a privately held, emerging company is what constitutes a unicorn.

Fetch Rewards allows shoppers to earn free rewards on their everyday purchases simply by snapping photos of their receipts or submitting electronic receipts.

The company has raised $328 million in angel and venture capital over time and is one of the few startups with headquarters outside of Silicon Valley or New York to reach the unicorn valuation milestone.

See more and register: 

— Edge Dairy Farmer Co-op. applauds the reintroduction of federal legislation to stop labeling imitation dairy as dairy. 

The DAIRY PRIDE Act, reintroduced in the Senate by U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Madison, and Idaho Repubican U.S. Sen. Jim Risch, would require non-dairy products made from nuts, seeds, plants and algae to no longer be labeled with dairy terms such as milk, yogurt or cheese.

The bill also would require the FDA to issue guidance for nationwide enforcement of “mislabeled” products. Current regulations define dairy products as being from dairy animals, but the FDA has not enforced the rule, according to Edge Dairy. 

A companion bill is being introduced in the House. 


<b>TUESDAY: ‘Dealing with China’ virtual event </b>

<i>Join us for a Technology Council panel discussion on U.S.-China relations under a Biden administration, focusing on national security, economics, and higher education

The program is set to run via webinar from noon to 1 p.m. on Tuesday, April 27.

Panelists include:

* U.S. Rep. Ron Kind, D-La Crosse

* U.S. Rep. Mike Gallagher, R-Green Bay

* Bonnie S. Glaser, director of the Asia program for The German Marshall Fund of the United States

* Steve Ackerman, vice chancellor for research and graduate education at UW-Madison


See trade resources and other upcoming trade events here: </i>



# Minnesota Supreme Court Finds Environmental Review Unnecessary For Superior Gas Plant

# Downtown Fairfield Inn and Suites ready to rejoin Milwaukee hotel market as occupancy hits 45%

# Independent venues face delays in $16 billion grant program



– Economist says the dairy sector is “walking on a knife’s edge” 

– Cropp: Various Factors Contributing to Stronger Dairy Prices 

– Dairy Partnership Returns Dividends 


– UW chancellors hesitant on student debt forgiveness


– Gov. Tony Evers Pledges To Plant 75M Trees By End Of Decade 


– Wisconsin Making Headway Vaccinating Teens Against COVID-19 


– Evers Vetoes Republican Plans To Spend Federal COVID-19 Aid, Announces Small Business Grants

– Green Bay City Attorney Releases Report Defending 2020 Election Administration


– The Avenue redevelopment expands to $23M rehab of historic apartment tower 


– Wisconsin businesses watching governor’s marijuana legalization proposal 


– Bucks eyeing 250,000-square-foot commercial building and hundreds of residential units as next Deer District projects 


– Beloit company reaches ‘major milestone’ in medical isotope production 


– Dave Matthews Band to play American Family Insurance Amphitheater in September 


– Regulators OK Alliant plan to spend $925M on solar; state’s largest renewable energy investment

– ‘We Need To Act Now’: This Small Wisconsin City Is Boosting Its Use Of Renewable Energy To Fight Climate Change 


– Viewpoints: Wisconsin’s economy would benefit from railroad merger 

– Young companies leading the way on clean technologies 


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

– PSC: Approves 675 MW of new solar generation in Wisconsin

– RENEW Wisconsin: With PSC approval, Alliant set to become Wisconsin’s premier solar-powered utility

– The Unapologetic Voice: Milwaukee author casts off “Sweetwater Sailors” with compelling, untold stories of merchant mariners on the Great Lakes

– AbbyBank Foundation: Donates $1,500 to Compassionate Home Health Care Inc