WED AM News: Industry coalition to advocate for expanding community-based solar; DFI Secretary calls on WEDC officials to resume on-site visits for award recipients

— A newly formed coalition of industry groups will advocate for expanding community-based solar energy projects in the state. 

The Wisconsin Community Solar Economic Alliance is supporting a bill from Republican lawmakers — LRB 1902 — that’s meant to “open and allow more robust subscription-based private community solar development,’’ according to a release. The group says an expanded community solar market would give consumers more options while lowering bills and boosting local private investment. 

Solar energy contributed about 4 percent of the state’s renewable net generation in 2020, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. And around three-fifths of the solar power generated in the state was from small-scale customer-sited solar facilities. 

The agency says Wisconsin has “limited solar potential,” but notes that solar power’s contribution to the state’s energy portfolio is increasing. 

The eight founding members of the new coalition are: Associated Builders and Contractors of Wisconsin, Organic Valley, Advocate Aurora Health, RENEW Wisconsin, the Wisconsin Conservative Energy Forum, the Wisconsin Grocers Association, the Land and Liberty Coalition of Wisconsin, and the Coalition for Community Solar Access. 

LRB 1902 was sponsored by Sen. Duey Stroebel, R-Saukville, and Rep. Timothy Ramthun, R-Campbellsport. According to a release from the new coalition, the bill would help create a “stronger and more resilient” electric grid through decentralization of energy resources. 

Ed Zinthefer, owner of Plymouth-based Arch Electric, says many businesses and individuals in Wisconsin are unable to benefit from the “financial and sustainability benefits” provided by solar energy. His company provides and installs solar energy equipment. 

“Allowing private community solar will go a long way to expanding the freedom of choice in energy for Wisconsin residents,” he said in a statement. 

See the release: 

— Department of Financial Institutions Secretary Kathy Blumenfeld is calling on WEDC officials to resume on-site visits to award recipients as soon as possible. 

“The on-site visits are really important, because there’s a lot that you just can’t tell from reading financial statements or the commentary,” she said yesterday during a meeting of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation’s Audit and Budget Committee. “So I would encourage you as soon as you are able to get those back up and running, since it’s been … maybe even two years since you visited a project if it’s a long-term project.” 

Those on-site visits were temporarily suspended during the COVID-19 pandemic under Department of Administration travel guidelines for state employees. 

Also during yesterday’s meeting, WEDC Compliance Director Brooklyn Mashaw said the agency’s IT department is implementing an electronic records management system and cutting out paper documentation going into fiscal year 2022. 

“We have in the past year started to set up those rule sets, so hoping to move forward and getting a more robust system going — especially within our award documentation,” she said. “More to come on that piece.” 

At the same time, WEDC officials are working to “clean up” its records system to resolve duplicate accounts and other documentation issues, Mashaw said. 

Watch a video of the virtual meeting here: 

— The UW School of Medicine and Public Health will receive $750,000 over the next four years for a training program that aims to improve health outcomes for members of the LGBTQ+ community. 

The Madison-based medical school was selected as the inaugural institution for the National LGBTQ+ Fellowship Program by the American Medical Association Foundation. The new fellowship program is meant for early-career doctors in primary care. 

“We envision a future where LGBTQ+ and gender-diverse patient populations experience optimal health and feel accepted and supported by health care providers who are well-versed in both general and unique medical needs of LGBTQ+ patients,” said Dr. Elizabeth Petty, senior associate dean for academic affairs at the UWSMPH. 

The first of the program’s fellows will begin training in July 2022. The program will start by accepting one fellow per year and will ramp up to recruiting three fellows per year by the fifth year. Selected fellows will be able to extend their training to more than a year with “additional scholarship to advance LGBTQ+ health equity.” 

A report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicates that members of this diverse community can often face health disparities due to discrimination and other factors. And a release from the UWSMPH notes that LGBTQ+ individuals experience higher rates of depression and suicide. 

See the release: 

— The Greater Green Bay Convention and Visitors Bureau is rebranding as Discover Green Bay after a year-long consultation process with the De Pere-based marketing firm O’Connor Collective. 

According to a release, the new name is meant to reflect an emerging focus among tourism destinations on how branding can influence the decisions made by tourists. 

“Names have seen a major shift from what the organization does to what the visitor can experience,” said Brad Toll, president and CEO of Discover Green Bay. “Today’s tourism groups lead with an action visitors can do and leverage the largest city’s name in the region to showcase where they can have these experiences.” 

The organization has a new logo designed by O’Connor Collective along with targeted messaging meant to reinforce the revamped brand identity. Discover Green Bay also recently opened a temporary visitor’s center while fundraising continues for the planned Experience Greater Green Bay Visitor Center, first announced in 2018. 

Officials with Discover Green Bay say they’ve secured “most of the funding” for the $6.5 million project, including a donation of $1.5 million from the Oneida Nation. State approval is pending on a $2 million interest-free loan for the project, the release shows. 

See the release: 


# Alliant Energy announces plans to plant 1M trees, progress toward Clean Energy Vision

# First Milwaukee startup selected for prestigious national accelerator that comes with $120,000

# City, county leaders join calls to stop Enbridge pipeline projects in Minnesota, Wisconsin



– State officials consider moving hemp program to USDA as growers, funding decline


– Grace Coffee Co. opens fifth shop in two years, sets sights on Verona, Milwaukee


– Advocate Aurora reports cyberattack impacting Illinois facilities

– UW to start LGBTQ+ fellowship program for doctors


– Raising Wisconsin’s minimum wage would significantly cut poverty. So why is it still $7.25?

– Union representing downtown building janitors wants $15 minimum wage


– Clarios launches roadshow for IPO to raise $1.8 billion


– Wisconsin Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes joins US Senate race


– Affordable apartment development on Milwaukee’s east side wins second city approval over opposition from neighboring condo owners


– Bills would lower concealed carry age to 18, allow permit holders to have guns in cars on school grounds


– How to scale up the Deer District for 65,000 fans: Q&A with Milwaukee Bucks president Feigin


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

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