FRI AM News: WisBusiness: the Podcast with Ben Lipari, Alliant Energy; Bankers report shows increases in farm loans, bank assets

— This week’s episode of “WisBusiness: the Podcast” is with Ben Lipari, assistant vice president of resource development for Alliant Energy. 

Lipari discusses the company’s renewable energy transition plans. The plans are outlined in Alliant Energy’s Clean Energy Blueprint, which includes cutting all coal from its generation fleet by 2040. 

“Clean energy has become more cost-effective and delivers critical economic and environmental as well as financial benefits to the customers and communities that we operate in,” he said. “Investing in solar energy means reducing our long-term reliance on coal-powered generation as we work toward achieving our carbon reduction goals.” 

The company’s recently completed Bear Creek Solar Project is the first of 12 utility-scale solar projects being developed across Wisconsin. Lipari said three more are expected to come online later this year. 

“That would leave eight additional projects that are in various degrees of construction, and we expect most of those to be completed by the end of ‘23 with potential for some of the projects to be completed in early ‘24,” he said. 

Lipari also discusses how the company has been navigating supply chain challenges, and shares his thoughts on other industry trends such as the rise of community solar generation. 

Listen to the podcast here: 

See the full list of podcasts: 

— A report from the Wisconsin Bankers Association shows farm loans increased 19.27 percent in the second quarter of this year. 

Over the year, farm loans saw an increase of 4.09 percent, the WBA report shows. 

“Farmers who had financed their own expenses in recent years — due to stimulus packages and strong balance sheets — are increasingly looking to borrow with high input costs such as fuel and fertilizer and less favorable outlooks for 2023,” report authors wrote. 

Meanwhile, total assets at Wisconsin banks increased 5.54 percent over the 12-month period ending June 30, and 1.81 percent over the quarter. Total deposits rose 5.76 percent over the year and dropped slightly — by 0.28 percent — over the quarter. 

At the same time, noncurrent loans and leases fell 21.33 percent year-over-year and 11.04 percent over the quarter. WBA says this represents a significant downward trend and shows consumers are able to pay down debts despite inflation concerns. 

At the same time, the group says a 7.8 percent quarterly increase in commercial and industrial loans shows business owners are focused on growth. 

“Bankers understand the changing economy coming out of the pandemic and are working with their customers who are looking to purchase homes and grow their businesses,” Rose Oswald Poels, WBA’s president and CEO, said in a statement. 

See the report: 

— The Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee has voted to redirect $3 million to law enforcement that the state is receiving from a multi-million-dollar opioid settlement.

The GOP-run committee yesterday approved changes to how the Department of Health Services had originally proposed to use the $31 million in funding the state will receive in 2022 as part of a settlement with three drug distributors and one manufacturer.

In all, the GOP motion changed how the state will allocate $5.75 million.

The $3 million will go toward a competitive grant program for law enforcement to treat jail inmates, treatment education and awareness training, and community drug disposal programs. One-third of that money will be reserved for law enforcement agencies in counties and municipalities with 70,000 or fewer residents.

One of the biggest changes to the DHS plan was cutting $2 million that the Evers administration had proposed go toward support centers for those who have family members actively using drugs or have overdosed.

Sen. Jon Erpenbach, D-Middleton, knocked the change, as well as the more than three weeks it took Republicans to approve their changes to the plan after an anonymous committee member objected to the DHS proposal.

Erpenbach said his 27-year-old daughter is homeless and dealing with addiction. Erpenbach said he’s received conflicting messages from law enforcement, counselors and others on how to help his daughter. Sometimes, Erpenbach said all he feels he can do is drive around looking for her.

Erpenbach, who isn’t seeking reelection this fall, urged the committee to consider funding family centers in the future.

“I’m a victim, not to the extent my daughter is. But I’m a victim, and I don’t even know what to ask,” Erpenbach said. “I don’t know what to do other than get in the car and drive around.”

Republicans called the revised proposal a thoughtful plan that incorporated input from important stakeholders, particularly law enforcement.

Rep. Shannon Zimmerman, R-River Falls, seconded Erpenbach’s call to continue working on the issue. He said his sister has struggled with addiction and lost job opportunities because of it. Zimmerman called for reintegration programs to help those in recovery.

“Let’s not make this the last time that we do something on this very important subject,” Zimmerman said.

The Wisconsin Counties Association is applauding the committee for its plan. 

“From our jails to child welfare, counties have been hit hard and are fighting the opioid battle on the frontlines,” WCA President and CEO Mark O’Connell said in the release. “We greatly appreciate this ongoing commitment to partner with counties.” 

The committee first voted along party lines to reject the DHS plan before unanimously approving the changes.

See more details at 

— A federal judge has ruled Enbridge can continue operating its Line 5 pipeline that passes through a tribal reservation in Ashland County as it continues work on a new route around the reservation. 

That’s according to a report from the Associated Press on Western District Judge William Conley’s decision. The company has been developing a new 40-mile route to circumvent the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa’s reservation after the tribal group sued Enbridge in 2019. 

The decision comes after the state Department of Natural Resources recently investigated a small oil spill near the reservation, which resulted in the line being temporarily shut down in early August for an inspection. Enbridge told state officials at the time the spill came from a “historical discharge” rather than an ongoing release. 

The lawsuit from the Bad River Band centered on concerns that an oil spill from the pipeline could impact drinking water on the reservation. 

See more in Top Stories below. 

— Applications are now open for the latest round of Wisconsin Fast Forward grants, which help fund training programs for employers. 

A total of $5 million in funding is available, with individual awards ranging from $5,000 to $400,000. 

According to a release from the state Department of Workforce Development, applicants can include public agencies, private companies in any industry, coalitions or partnerships, and tribal organizations. 

The deadline to apply for this round of grants is 3 p.m. Sept. 27.  

See the release: 

See more program details: 

— The nomination period for the “Coolest Thing Made in Wisconsin” contest ends today at 4:30 p.m.

This annual contest, hosted by Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce and Johnson Financial Group, puts a spotlight on the top products and companies that define the state’s manufacturing sector. 

After the nomination period ends, a popular vote will be held to select the top 16 nominees, who will then go head-to-head in a bracket-style competition. This year’s winner will be announced Oct. 19 at WMC’s Business Day in Madison event.

Nominate a product here: 

Listen to a recent podcast on the contest: 


# Judge: Pipeline can operate on northern Wisconsin reservation amid reroute work

# Milwaukee Regional Medical Center sees $800 million in new development

# Audit highlights concerns with COVID broadband grants in Wisconsin



– Staller inducted into Alpha Gamma Rho Hall of Fame


– Building blocks: Freedom Storage in Hartford

– Burlington’s Echo Lake Dam must be removed or modified. Voters will decide themselves what they want this November.


– Search to begin for MPS Foundation leader, as Willis takes role with Froedtert, Bucks

– Appleton students missed a lot of school last year. Here’s how the district hopes to improve that.


– Froedtert tells employees opposed to Pfizer, Moderna they must get Novavax

– Wisconsin lawmakers approve opioid settlement spending plan

– Parisi proposes $740,000 initiative to address opiate, fentanyl crisis


– Union, business leaders voice support for Line 5 relocation as judge makes ruling

– Candy maker Maud Borup to boost gummy production in Delafield, employ 100


– This historic Oconomowoc Lake home recently sold for $3.3 million

– Atlanta company acquires downtown Milwaukee Fairfield Inn & Suites in sheriff’s sale

– Blatz Wash House office building sold for $4 million


– Madison names grocery for big mixed-use project on South Park Street


– Golf outing raises $32,000 for farmers with disabilities

– Ironman Triathlon means road closures for Madison on Sunday


– CCB Technology names new president


– 12th Annual Oktoberfest celebration returns to Old Settlers Park on Sept. 10

– A bigger All Bands on Deck music fest returns this weekend with 100 free shows, nearly 75 local acts


– Federal judge finds Enbridge trespassed on Bad River lands, but stops short of shutting down Line 5


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

Wisconsin Jobs and Energy Coalition: Line 5 relocation project supporters join Safest Way Tour in Milwaukee

Lou Malnati’s Pizzeria: Welcomes school teams and clubs to schedule special fundraising events