FRI AM News: WisBusiness: the Podcast with Ben Lipari, Alliant Energy; We Energies and Foxconn announce plans for solar project

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

He provides an overview of the Madison-based utility company’s latest proposed battery storage projects and their role in the company’s overall plan for transitioning to more clean energy resources. 

“Reliability is at the forefront of our strategy and how we think about making sure that we’re providing the value and service for our customers,” he said. 

Lipari explained utility-scale battery storage projects can help to “enable” renewable use, because “the wind isn’t always blowing and the sun isn’t always shining.” By locating the storage systems in targeted locations, he said Alliant Energy can minimize related cost impacts on energy customers. 

“It represents a ‘stepping in’ to this technology, although we’ve been operating some of the lithium-ion [battery] technology for a few years now, they’ve been on a smaller scale and they’ve been on the distribution system versus these larger proposals that will be on the transmission system,” he said. 

He shares details on the timelines for these projects, touching on the state’s regulatory approval process, construction plans and eventually bringing them online. 

Listen to the podcast here: 

See the full list of podcasts: 

Check out an earlier podcast with Lipari: 

Register now for a March 16 event on clean energy and the Inflation Reduction Act hosted by and in Milwaukee: 

— We Energies and Foxconn have announced plans for a new solar project that would be located at the Taiwanese company’s Science and Technology Park in Mount Pleasant. 

They plan to submit a proposal this spring to the Village of Mount Pleasant Board of Trustees and Racine County Board of Supervisors for the project, which would include about 2,000 solar panels being installed at the Foxconn campus. 

We Energies would install, own and maintain the solar array, which would be able to produce enough energy to power 300 homes, according to a release. That production is estimated to offset more than 1,200 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions per year, equal to taking 260 cars off the road, the release shows. 

“Foxconn is committed to integrating green and sustainable practices throughout our operations to mitigate the impacts of climate change, thereby further achieving our responsibility of protecting the environment,” the company said in a statement. 

See more project details: 

— Entrepreneurs in Wisconsin raised at least $620 million through 87 deals in 2022, according to preliminary figures gathered by the Wisconsin Technology Council. 

While that falls short of 2021’s record high of nearly $869 million, it would still be the second highest annual investment total for the state. It exceeds 2020’s total of around $484 million, the Tech Council says. 

Speaking yesterday at an event held at UW-Whitewater’s Innovation Center, Tech Council Investor Networks Director Joe Kremer said the organization is still collecting investment data from last year and the total for 2022 will likely climb even higher. 

“These numbers are not solid yet … We know that number is going to go up,” he said. “My vibe is probably another $20 million or so, along with probably another 20 to 30 deals that we’ll end up tracking.” 

He also noted the collective amount for the top 10 deals per year grew from about $330 million in 2020 to $580 million in 2021. That total is expected to be around $480 million for 2022, Kremer noted. 

Plus, while the median deal size continues to grow, the average deal size is remaining more stable — and Kremer says that’s an encouraging mix of trends. 

“We don’t want to see this [average] get too high, because the early companies that are just starting are going to have smaller rounds … To me, this graph tells me everything I need to know,” he said. “Startups are getting the money at the early stage, and as they grow big, they’re getting the larger rounds. So this is really good news for the state.” 

See the Tech Council’s report covering 2021 figures here: 

— Nominal personal income growth in Wisconsin is projected at 1.8 percent for 2022 and 3.5 percent this year, according to the Department of Revenue’s latest economic forecast. 

But when adjusted for inflation, real personal income in Wisconsin is projected to have fallen 4.6 percent last year and to grow 0.4 percent this year, the report shows. 

Meanwhile, wages and salaries are expected to have risen 6.9 percent in Wisconsin last year, compared to 8.4 percent on a national basis due to both inflation and the tight labor market. Looking ahead to 2023, DOR projects 4.6 percent wage growth in Wisconsin and 5.1 percent at the national level. 

The agency also projects total nonfarm employment in Wisconsin to grow 1 percent this year and to decline 0.9 percent in 2024, with job gains driven by “continuous recovery of the services sector as the consumption mix of services and goods” return to pre-pandemic norms. 

And construction employment is projected to remain flat this year and decline 3 percent next year due to the housing sector adjusting to higher interest rates, per the report. 

See the full report: 

— U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics figures show Wisconsin’s January unemployment rate fell to 2.9 percent, just a tenth above the state’s record low and half a point below the national rate. 

The Department of Workforce Development yesterday in a virtual meeting also announced BLS benchmarking data retroactively lowered the state’s December unemployment rate to 3 percent from the earlier reported 3.2 percent. Wisconsin’s 64.5 percent labor force participation rate also outpaced the 62.4 percent national average.

DWD Chief Economist Dennis Winters said Wisconsin’s participation rate likely won’t ever fall below the national average because the state has higher labor force participation rate for women and for young people.

“And that’s kind of what keeps us up,” he added. “The labor force participation rate in men peaked in the 1950’s and has kind of been coming off ever since.”

Wisconsin also added 4,100 nonfarm jobs over the month and 55,800 over the year in January, bringing the state just 8,000 jobs short of the 3 million Wisconsin had before the COVID-19 pandemic. 

But Wisconsin could face even more workforce shortage issues in the future as demographics change and baby boomers move into retirement, Winters added. 

“It’s a global resource that’s in high demand and puts us in the need to try to recruit everybody we can and get them into the workforce, get them scaled up, get them on the job,” he said. “That’s why I say, you know, we have got to find everybody we can and get everybody trained up and into the workforce.”

Winters also noted unemployment insurance claims during the first month of the year are lower than they were for the same month the last two years. 

See the DWD release on the numbers:

<br><b><i>Top headlines from the Health Care Report … </b></i> 

— State health officials are urging BadgerCare Plus and Medicaid members to be prepared to renew their benefits. 

And health officials in Dane County announced they will be closing a COVID-19 community testing clinic on April 14. 

<i>For more of the most relevant news on COVID-19, reports on groundbreaking health research in Wisconsin, links to top stories and more, sign up today for the free daily Health Care Report from and</i> 

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# Wisconsin’s top agriculture official is encouraged with record exports amid industry challenges

# From burger joints to chicken chains: How the pandemic affected restaurant growth

# Wisconsin unemployment rate again below 3%



– Bipartisan legislators introduce DAIRY PRIDE Act 

– Politicians reintroduce bills to expand farmers’ access to precision ag equipment 


– $17 million historic Lake Geneva mansion is being demolished


– Boys & Girls Club partners with Stout to offer health, tech initiatives


– Wisconsin’s phosphorus crackdown a decade later. Has it helped?


– Taqueria Los Atlantes in Verona varies a Madison theme


– Foxconn partners with We Energies for 2K-panel solar project

– Foxconn, We Energies partnering on solar project on Mount Pleasant campus


– Republicans block meningitis, chickenpox vaccine mandates

– New $20 million American Orthodontics facility will help anchor Saukville development

– 1.6 million on Medicaid in Wisconsin need to renew for first time since COVID-19 began


– F Street seeks up to $50M for home lending business


– Irish company files patent infringement lawsuit against Nexus Pharmaceuticals


– Change is the secret ingredient of Dasha Kelly Hamilton’s ‘Makin Cake’


– Wisconsin Republican says Brewers stadium funding plan dead


– Near $10M Homeland Security building sells to MSOE for $1.09M in ‘donation’ to alma mater

– 100 East office buyer provides glimpse of apartment conversion plans: ‘A huge endeavor’

– Apartment developers buy 59 acres at Pabst Farms for $12.3 million

– Mayor Johnson proposes $15.75 million in TIF for Vel R. Phillips Plaza on Wisconsin Avenue downtown


– First floor of Bayshore Town Center’s parking structure re-opens post collapse

– Bayshore partially reopens first level of Silver Spring parking garage


– Neighbors still looking for answers about Dodge County windmill collapse


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

Dept. of Workforce Development: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data show Wisconsin adds 4,100 nonfarm jobs in January, statewide unemployment rate falls to 2.9%

Taylor Johnson: Nicholas & Associates and Wingspan Development Group acquire 59 acres in Pabst Farms in Oconomowoc