Clean Energy

Twenty-five Years Later: On the cusp of a clean energy grid

On June 21, Fresh Energy executive director Michael Noble gave a keynote address at the Midwest Renewable Energy Association’s 25th Energy Fair in Custer, Wisconsin.

Slide1Twenty-five years is a long time to be working for clean energy. Congratulations to all of you on your anniversary—it’s one year longer than Fresh Energy has been pursuing the same goal. Our job is to shape and drive practical and visionary energy policy that benefits all. But let me break that down a bit.  At Fresh Energy, “shaping” policy requires learning and analysis of best practices in public policy; “driving” policy requires working in legislatures and with governors and regulators, and building the coalitions to forge action. “Practical” means we focus on passing policy into law and making sure that it stands up to scrutiny. And “visionary” means we keep our eye on the long view, a prosperous world not powered by carbon polluting technology. And finally, by “all,” we mean the families like yours, economy, workers, businesses, plants, animals, and nature.

Asking the questions you asked as pioneers

At Fresh Energy, we stand on the shoulders of giants like BJ and Carol Welling, who founded this event 25 years ago. You were pioneers, those of you who gathered here first in 1990. Out front, on the leading edge, taking risks—the wind and solar industries of today owe you so much. You were asking the hard questions then: How do I reduce my reliance on fossil fuels? Can I build a home that’s not on the grid? What does it mean for my home, my business, my co-op, and my community to be self-reliant? What does it mean for my energy to be reliable? And how can I be secure and have long-term affordable energy?

We face the same hard questions today. But now, we’re asking these questions of the whole of the American economy and ultimately, the world’s economies. Now is the time for the electricity system to expand its central role in our energy future, as we commit ourselves to purge oil from our transportation system. Now is the time for the whole electricity system to be transformed as the foundation of a clean, resilient, reliable, and affordable energy economy.

Thoughts on the public’s confusion about climate change

I’m told by communications professionals that I should never lead with the topic of global warming—it divides the audience and polarizes the clean energy issue. It highlights our political differences rather than pulling us together. But I say to hell with it: I need to offer a few thoughts about climate change before I talk about how we are on the cusp of a clean energy grid.

First of all, it’s important to understand that solving global warming and avoiding its worst consequences will be a primary driver of our path forward to a clean energy future. What the science is telling us is that we need to largely purge carbon pollution from our electricity system over time. Just last week, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced the first-ever plan to limit carbon pollution in the electricity system. Some will say that it’s not enough, or not fast enough. However, it’s important to highlight the fact that carbon pollution in the U.S. electricity sector has finally begun to decline, and this policy guarantees that we continue that favorable trend. This Clean Power Plan can be a foundation for reducing carbon pollution to a safe level.

$900 million per year to confuse the public on global warming

There’s good reason for why global warming is a hot button topic. There’s good reason why a small fraction of Americans passionately believe that the climate change scientific record has been faked and that some of the best minds of the academy have manipulated the evidence to advance an agenda. There’s good reason that Americans are more confused about climate change than people in most other advanced industrial countries.

New research shows that there are at least 91 nonprofit organizations and trade associations and political action groups committed to confusing the public on global warming. Together, they have more than $900 million in annual income. You’ve heard a lot about the Koch Brothers and their spending in order to distort the public debate on energy and climate change. Among funders of global warming denial, they aren’t even the largest on the list. They’re number four. There are three groups who spent between $29 million and $79 million from 2003 to 2010, including the Milwaukee-based Bradley Foundation. The largest of all has the wonderful name of Donors Trust—doesn’t that sound great? Donors. Trust. The purpose of Donors Trust is anonymity. You see, some people want to help the campaign to confuse the public about global warming, but don’t want publicity. Donors Trust grew from 3.3 percent of the total anti-science climate funding in 2003 to 23.7 percent of the total in 2010.

Slide3Polls: Is global warming evidence solid?

This onslaught on reason and science worked pretty well for several years as polls showed Americans losing confidence in the science of climate change, but it’s starting to look like a bad investment now. Despite the deluge of funding of doubt, denial, and misinformation, the public is starting to believe their own eyes that the climate is changing, and increasingly, the public agrees that fossil fuel combustion is the main reason why. Look at this data over the past several years on how Americans increasingly accept that the evidence for global warming is solid. There is a pronounced partisan split on this issue, and while almost 90 percent of Democrats say that the evidence of global warming is solid, the important news is that now more than half of Republicans do too.

Slide4So when you hear a Republican politician say “I am not a scientist” when asked about climate change, you can translate that to mean: “Of course I understand the science, but if I admit it, I’ll be challenged by the far right of my own political party.” Imagine that you are a mainstream conservative Republican elected official. You don’t want to be targeted by some shady anonymous donor group enforcing the orthodoxy that Republicans cannot admit that global warming is real, so you just say “I am not a scientist” as have Marco Rubio, Rick Scott, and John Boehner this year.

This same cabal of shady funders and nonprofit and political groups is also working in 34 states to discourage solar energy, prevent or roll back renewable energy standards, and promote fossil-based energy. But we’re not here to talk about global warming, are we?

A new energy economy

Today, I’ll limit my discussion to a couple of leading technologies: solar and wind. So you know that I haven’t forgotten it, I won’t be discussing energy efficiency, which should always be first priority in any clean energy plan. I also won’t be discussing solar thermal, biomass combined heat and power, advanced biofuels, biogas at industrial scale or farm scale, geothermal heating, or hydro power. They all have niche roles to play, but the twin engines of the clean energy economy will be solar and wind.

Next generation wind

Wind power has enjoyed a five-fold increase since 2006, a rapid expansion that has driven some remarkable innovations. The cost of new wind energy from wind farms built in 2014 is 43 percent less than that from wind farms built in 2009 at a comparable site. Wind energy is already cheaper than new coal, which is one of the reasons no new coal is being built. This turbine, for example, is the Siemens SWT 2.3-108. Other manufacturers like GE and Vestas make awesome turbines too, but I’m highlighting this turbine as an example. This is a 2.3-megawatt turbine. Its rotor diameter—the circle covered by the blades tip to tip—is 108 meters. Think of the Green Bay Packers football field plus one of the end zones. Why are new turbines better? They have lighter materials, taller towers, longer blades, less friction, and less maintenance; they kick in at lower wind speeds, like 7 to 9 miles per hour, and shut down at higher wind speeds, like 56 miles per hour.

Slide6An Iowa utility named MidAmerican Energy made the biggest wind energy purchase of 2013, buying 1,050 megawatts of these babies—an approximate $2 billion capital investment installed. That company has now changed its name to Berkshire Hathaway Energy, and is owned by the epic investor Warren Buffett. It is the primary investor-owned utility in Iowa, and it also owns the main utility in Nevada too.

My own electric company is Xcel Energy. Xcel has consistently said that wind energy makes economic sense and has had a downward pressure on their electric rates, not upward. CEO Ben Fowke is bullish on wind, and in 2013, bought 1,918 megawatts of wind power to serve customers in Colorado, Texas, and Minnesota/Wisconsin. This wasn’t driven by mandates but by economics. The details of the deals are trade secrets, but Xcel confirmed they were “quite a bit” below $30-per-megawatt hour.

Let’s estimate that the deals were at $25-per-megawatt hour, that’s equal to 2.5 cents per kilowatt. The Midwest general manager of a major renewable energy developer told me that the best deal he’d heard was 2.3 cents per kilowatt hour, with a fixed price for 30 years. Wow. Fixed price, 30 years, 2.3 cents. Now admittedly, that price does not count the Federal Production Tax Credit at also about 2.3 cents per kilowatt hour, but still, it’s amazing.

Wind prices: Soon cheaper than existing coal and gas

Being cheaper than new coal and gas isn’t good enough. Wind energy needs to be cheaper than existing coal and gas, without the Federal Production Tax Credit. This next slide shows that it’s getting close. This is produced by Bloomberg New Energy Finance, arguably the best analyst in the clean energy space. The way the chart works is the blue area is the cost of the mix of electricity on the grid—I like to call it “plain vanilla,” i.e., whatever mix of coal, nuclear power, gas, hydro, and renewable is out there. The bubbles represent the all-in cost of wind power in various countries. The bubbles drift to the right as the cost of wind power goes down as turbines get better, and the blue area creeps left as cost of grid power goes up as rates increase. I bet you all know about rate increases, right?

Slide7In countries with higher-priced electricity and windier landscapes, wind power is already cheaper than business as usual. That’s true on this graph in countries like Brazil, Argentina, the United Kingdom, Italy, Portugal, and Canada. You can see that the behemoths of China and the United States are not far behind.

But it’s important to understand how big a difference it is between costing a little more than grid power and costing a little less. To borrow a metaphor from Al Gore in the current issue of Rolling Stone, it’s like the difference between 31 degrees Fahrenheit and 33 degrees. It sounds like a small difference, but it’s all the difference in the world. It’s the difference between capital markets frozen up and markets that are liquid. When wind power is less than business as usual, then capital flows and assets retire. As the bubbles of China and the U.S. cross over the golden line of cost-effectiveness without subsidies, expect a tsunami of private capital flowing.

Wind power requires transmission upgrades

Now here’s my toughest slide. This slide shows the windiest places in the Upper Midwest where existing wind farms operate and proposed wind farms are waiting to connect to the electric grid, but have no transmission path to population centers. It shows the existing transmission lines that support the existing power supply of mostly coal, gas, and nuclear power. Slide8A decade ago, the folks who own and operate the electric grid in this area, the Midcontinent Independent System Operator, or MISO, asked an interesting “what if” question. What if we added a lot of wind energy to the MISO system? What improvements to the transmission system would we need? In December 2011, the board of directors approved the 17 new lines shown here and agreed that everyone who buys electricity in the MISO footprint would help pay the way for the new lines. All of these lines will total an investment of $5.1 billion, but they are absolutely essential to meet the renewable energy standards approved in the Midwest states—totally 23,500 megawatts of wind so far. That’s roughly a $50-billion capital investment. So it is true that wind power needs transmission, especially if your goal is to locate wind power at the locations that are most cost-effective. And because procurement of wind energy is a fiercely competitive market, every actor is seeking to build the lowest-cost wind farm and is dependent on decisions about where new power lines will be built.

Engaging rural communities on new transmission

We fully understand that the siting and routing of these new wind energy transmission lines is deeply controversial, and that there are important social, ecological, and human factors that must be weighed. We want to deeply engage with the communities affected by these lines, to make sure that they are routed in the best possible way with the least impact. We know that there are folks here who have heard conflicting information about the LaCrosse to Madison line, but we also know that it’s one of the very most critical lines on this map, tying together one of America’s most populous and energy intensive areas within 200 miles of Chicago with some of the windiest lands in America in Minnesota, Northern Iowa, and the Dakotas. We welcome the invitation to engage communities in a dialogue about how to maximize benefits and minimize negative impacts from new transmission lines.

We often hear that if we concentrated more on local distributed generation like solar and local power, then we wouldn’t need so much transmission. It’s true we could reduce some transmission, but the bigger truth is that we are going to need all of the distributed generation we can get our hands on, and we’ll still need big wind farms and a strong electric transmission grid to support both distributed and centralized renewables working together. Solar power’s big advantage over wind power is that it can be delivered right where it’s needed so it’s less dependent on the grid, but solar customers often appreciate being connected to a strong grid for cloudy days, night times, and backup.

Solar power is inevitable


We all need to tip our hat to the people of Germany. Who of you have hats here? I do; let’s all tip our hats to the Germans. On June 9, just 12 days ago, it was a holiday in Germany, so electricity demand was light. But when demand for electricity reached its peak that day, fully 50.6 percent of all the power was supplied by solar energy. Remembering that at midnight that day, the percent was 0 percent—50 percent of peak demand from solar is a remarkable accomplishment! There were 23,100 megawatts of solar electric panels operating that day. At current costs of about $2.50 per watt, that’s over $50 billion in solar.

Actually though, the Germans paid more than that because costs have been falling fast, and much of the solar energy of Germany was installed when solar cost a lot more. Now the Germans are rethinking their “feed-in tariff” for solar power, the policy requiring utilities to pay whatever it costs to get solar onto the grid. That’s why I tip my hat. The world has cheap solar power primarily because the German people bought solar when it was expensive. They are pushing up against the point where adding more solar may make the electric system unreliable, so now every new megawatt of solar power in Germany is looking at teaming up with electricity storage to help manage the ups and downs of solar output. Watch the Germans in the coming years to see if they drive the world markets for energy storage next. Sales of storage will soon skyrocket, analysts say.

Solar power has an infinite supply

Slide11Solar energy can work anywhere there is enough sunlight for plants to grow. The total amount of solar energy that falls on Earth in one hour is sufficient to supply all of our energy for one year. Our friends in the natural gas industry constantly remind us that natural gas is abundant. Indeed, gas is so abundant, it’s flared off as a waste product in North Dakota as oil drillers tap gas fields while fracking for oil. Gas is so abundant that America may have a 100-year supply. But according to scientists, the sun won’t begin to burn out for 5 billion years, so it’s safe to say that for utility resource planning horizons, solar is infinitely available.

Solar power has rock-bottom running costs

Slide12Solar energy’s other big advantage over wind is simplicity. With no moving parts, there’s less that can go wrong. Think of it: an energy source for 25 years with no moving parts. Fuel cost: zero. Carbon tax cost: zero. Air pollution control costs: zero. Risk of rising costs: zero. Operations and maintenance cost: so low, it’s close to zero.

Solar power has unparalleled reliability

Slide13In its first 40 years, solar electricity showed its stuff in the world’s most hostile operating conditions. Remote mountainous locations, buoys at sea, industrial sites far from the nearest transmission line, houses and cabins in the wildest locations, and outer space where the only feasible alternative was the world’s longest extension cord.

Solar electric panel prices have fallen 99 percent

When I graduated from Carleton College in 1977, solar panel costs were more than $75 per watt; today they are less than 75 cents per watt—a 99 percent reduction. In the 25 years that the Energy Fair has met here in Custer, prices have fallen by 90 percent. But what’s truly incredible and what’s driving utilities to distraction today is that panel prices have fallen more than 80 percent since 2008 and more than 60 percent since 2011.

Slide14The following is my most data-dense slide so I apologize in advance. I love this slide because it shows that all the experts were wrong in underestimating how fast solar energy panel prices would fall. The gold bars represent the wholesale price of solar electric panels on the world market, in each quarter beginning in 2008. Solar panels are a commodity, like eggs. Okay, some eggs are organic and free range, and some solar panels are better too, but you get the idea. Price forecast estimates are grouped by year, and the studies are done by companies like Barclays, Goldman Sachs, Lazard, Citigroup, Deutsche Bank. Not only does this chart show that prices fell from $4.25 per watt to $0.75 per watt, it also shows that in 2008 and 2009, the analysts dramatically underestimated how fast prices might fall.

Slide15Let’s again tip our hats to the people of Germany who kept putting up solar energy as fast as they could: of the 23,100 megawatts powering Germany on June 9, 90 percent are on homes and buildings, and only 10 percent are ground mounted. Here’s a hopeful insight: within five or eight years, these same analysts (who underestimated how fast prices might fall) now predict that installed solar energy will be cheaper than the coal and gas power on the electric grid for 80 percent of the people of the world.

Fresh Energy’s solar energy accomplishments in Minnesota

Fresh Energy began to work on solar energy policy when we formed a partnership with the Minnesota Department of Commerce to seek a U.S. Department of Energy SunShot grant, looking at what policy and market tools could reduce the so-called “soft costs” of solar in Minnesota. In Wisconsin, the Midwest Renewable Energy Association was a lead group on the same SunShot program. Soft costs are the costs of a solar system other than the solar panels themselves—the cost of acquiring a customer, the cost of permitting, labor and racking, and the hassle of dealing with the electric company to interconnect your solar system to the electric grid. Along with our partners in the solar industry, labor unions, and environmental advocacy, Fresh Energy made solar energy issues a main focus of the Clean Energy Jobs Campaign in Minnesota in 2013. The result was that several major solar energy policies were passed by the state legislature and signed into law by Governor Dayton.

  • Minnesota created a guaranteed market for solar electricity, establishing a 1.5-percent solar energy standard. It will require Minnesota’s investor-owned utilities to increase solar power in their mix by a factor of more than 30 by 2020.
  • By 2030, Minnesota’s goal is to get 10 percent of all electricity from solar.
  • Minnesota increased its 1981 net metering law from 40 kilowatts to 1000 kilowatts, allowing you to “net out” the solar electricity you supply to the local distribution company against the electricity it supplies to you.
  • Minnesota adopted a landmark law for community shared solar—it’s optional for other electric utilities, but required for Xcel Energy. Whether you are a large corporation, a small business, a nonprofit, a local government, or just a household with an electric meter, Xcel Energy is required to offer you the chance to “go in together” with as few as four other Xcel customers and put up a solar system at any location that’s most convenient or cost-effective. Then Xcel gives you a bill credit for your own portion of the solar output of the community solar project on your own electric bill.
  • A Minnesota law launched an effort to make a complete analysis of all the economic benefits and value streams that solar offers, so that utilities can propose a special “value of solar tariff.” The idea is to compensate solar producers the full value of the solar electricity produced: the value of the energy, the value of solar as a peak power resource, the value of avoiding new transmission lines, the value of solar strengthening the local grid, the value of avoided carbon pollution.

Slide16The future of solar is huge, but it’s too early for the victory lap

Using these policies, Minnesota is moving ever closer to the day when solar energy will be cheaper than the “plain vanilla” electricity that the electric grid supplies. When that happens, watch how fast private capital moves into solar. Remember again, when thinking of private capital, there’s a huge difference between solar costing a little more than regular power versus solar costing a little less. And we are soon approaching the day when it costs a little less. Experts expect a big wave of investment at that point, a tidal wave really, maybe even a tsunami of investment in solar. It’s a tough time until then, and both solar and wind face some serious headwinds in the near term as the Production Tax Credit expires for wind in 2014, and the Investment Tax Credit for solar expires in 2016. But other forces, like the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan, should be a strong driver for renewables beyond 2016 once fully implemented.

So there you have it, you clean energy pioneers began meeting here in Custer, Wisconsin 25 years ago with a vision for your home, your business, your co-op, and your community building to “go renewable.” Now we are on the cusp of the whole electric grid moving fast in the direction of renewables. So is our story is complete? Can we declare victory?

Well, don’t forget the problem that wind and solar are variable in their output, up and down, and sometimes off. So how much of our total electric supply could wind and solar provide? Half? Two thirds? This is a problem getting serious analysis, as the Minnesota legislature and state government contemplate raising our renewable energy standard. How do wind and solar fit with other renewables like biogas, biomass combined heat and power, hydropower, and industrial efficiency. Will we still need natural gas to balance the system? And how much can we rely on it and still reach our ultimate need for very, very low-carbon electricity? How fast will battery power and other electricity storage methods grow, and how fast will the high costs come down? Can all these technologies live alongside nuclear power or will that phase out when current reactors reach the end of their useful lives? With the carbon reduction goal first and foremost, many commentators, including me, have criticized the Germans for closing nuclear plants before the coal is gone.

A mostly renewable electric system: Balancing all the factors is a wicked problem

In reality, these problems are more than tricky; they are more than hard. They are called wicked problems. Lena Hansen of the Rocky Mountain Institute has talked about how difficult the challenges are, comparing it to rebuilding an airplane in mid flight. If you only read one book about the hope of a highly efficient, mostly renewable, low-carbon prosperous economy, I recommend Rocky Mountain Institute’s Reinventing Fire. Lena is a co-author, and I want to credit her with this idea that the challenges ahead add up to a wicked problem. Here are her thoughts:

Wicked problems have ill-defined boundaries and include many—often conflicting—technical, economic, and social dimensions. They are novel and unique, have not been solved before, and do not have a “right or wrong” answer. They are not conducive to trial and error—every action has real consequences, and there is no immediate test of whether a solution works.

Slide18So now I’ve discouraged you all. How quickly we moved from the idea that a tsunami of investment was ready to move into wind and solar to the idea that integrating that much wind and solar into the grid may be a problem that’s different than the kind of technical problems we usually face.

What can we do? How can we learn the answers to such hard questions? What would help us make progress? What, oh great oracle, is the answer to how humankind moves our electric system fully to clean energy? How do we move the most magnificent invention of the 20th century—our modern electric system—to a better system that isn’t destroying species and the prospects of a happy and prosperous life for our children? How can it be that a clean energy future is both inevitable and wickedly problematic at the same time?


In a word, the answer is deployment. As we deploy hundreds, and then thousands, and then tens of thousands of megawatts of solar energy, we learn by doing. As we deploy wind turbines and towers similar to how our grandparents deployed ships and tanks and aircraft in 1941, we will learn by doing. The problems will emerge and we will solve them as we go.Slide20I met Geoffery Cushman today who is volunteering with the Energy Fair—Geoffery, raise your hand. He’s an electrical engineer looking for his dream job to help tackle these wicked problems. We have the best engineering minds in the world, and I have no doubt that as we deploy clean energy, we will craft solutions at scale to the challenges of integration, system performance, and affordability. By deploying clean energy at scale, we will explore the mix of micro-grids and clean energy transmission investments, we will explore the dozens of competing technologies for storage of electricity and breakthroughs will emerge, and as we learn and explore we will continue to drive down costs and increase efficiencies, and the 99.99 percent reliability of the grid will not be compromised. For companies needing higher reliability than that, those solutions will emerge too.

The clean energy sage of Omaha

Who believes in deployment as the path forward? As he doubled his firm’s investment in renewable energy and clean technologies from $15 billion to $30 billion, Warren Buffett of Berkshire Hathaway said this: “We’ve poured billions and billions [into renewables] and we’re going to keep doing that as far as the eye can see.” Let me read that again, because I heard that Warren Buffett is a pretty smart guy. “We’ve poured billions and billions [into renewables] and we’re going to keep doing that as far as the eye can see.” To me, that’s a pretty good working definition of deployment.

Slide21A word about electric vehicles

I want to offer a few thoughts about electric vehicles as we close. I love the idea of transportation powered by electricity. Bikes, motorcycles, pedicabs, cars, light rail, commuter rail, and freight trains: it all makes sense because electric motors are three times more efficient than internal combustion engines. What’s not to like about filling your car up with electricity at the equivalent of 50 cents to 1 dollar per gallon? We passed a law in Minnesota in 2014 that requires our investor-owned utilities to offer a nighttime off-peak charging rate that’s all renewable, so by 2015, we’ll need to print up the bumper stickers: “This car is CO2 free.” “This car is powered by wind.”

You see, even as the electricity mix gets cleaner every year, the oil supply gets dirtier every year. Ten years before Deepwater Horizon blew out and spewed oil into the Gulf of Mexico for days, drilling was considered “deep water” at 700 feet of ocean depth. Deepwater Horizon could operate in waters up to 8,000 feet deep, to a maximum drill depth of 30,000 feet. No wonder oil rigs blow out: we are operating at the outer edge of our technical ability.

Conventional oil has declined so much that we now rely on shale oil and tar sands oil with questionable environmental pedigrees. Tar sands oil can be surface mined or dug from deep wells, but we must heat the earth or boil solvents with natural gas to get the oil into a viscosity that will actually flow. No wonder the carbon footprint of oil keeps rising as the carbon footprint of the grid keeps falling. I think we need a grand bargain with our utility friends that they drive the carbon out of the grid while we increase investment in infrastructure, cars,  and trains to run our transport economy on electric power.

Considering all these benefits, and especially how innovation can change an industry, yesterday, Morgan Stanley said that Tesla Motors was “arguably the most important car company in the world.” That’s quite a statement about a start-up company, but even a BMW executive admitted that innovation at Tesla was making all car companies better.

Iconic American motor corporation goes electric?

So just for fun, what iconic American motor company surprised everyone on Thursday by announcing a prototype electric vehicle? If you guessed Harley Davidson, you’re right. The LiveWire demo bike has 74 horsepower and such great torque that it goes from 0 to 60 in four seconds. It may not be the Open Road, Dennis Hopper kind of Harley you expect to hear growling past you on the highway, but it’s cool. Do people agree with me that a Harley that runs on solar and wind with great styling like this is cool? If you do, call Harley Davidson and tell them.

Slide23In closing, Fresh Energy is anxious to stay engaged with you. You can give us your email and we’ll sign you up for our publications. You can sign up for our daily news journal at Follow me on Twitter. We welcome you as members or supporters of Fresh Energy, and if you want to make a more substantive investment, suggest a coffee date and we’ll show you our business plan.

As an organizer, I believe you never convene a meeting without a call to action. My call to you is for you to look into the new proposed electric rate plan that Madison Gas and Electric (MGE) has offered. By reducing per-kilowatt-hour charges, and strongly raising the fixed charge to be grid-connected from 10 dollars to 70, MGE is discouraging efficiency and conservation and making solar untenable. Here are the contacts for key officers of the company, and you can use email or voicemail to reach them. If you are from Madison, you have an extra high burden to be outspoken and engage civic leader. Be polite and direct, but make sure you highlight the fact that the proposed new energy rate structure is bad for energy efficiency and worse for solar.Slide25Wallace Stevens, in closing. I’m sure there are poets here or people who love poems. Let’s finish with him: “After the final “no” there comes a “yes.” And on that “yes,” the future of the world depends.”

Our children will one day ask us if we did everything we could do to slow global warming. We want to apologize for the slow start over 25 years, but in 2014 when the path was clear and it was finally evident that we were on the cusp of a clean energy grid, we changed course dramatically, and did all that could be done. And it turned out to be enough—we will have avoided the worst of the climate predictions because we committed here today to a full embrace of clean energy.


On June 21, Fresh Energy executive director Michael Noble gave a keynote address at the Midwest Renewable Energy Association’s 25th Energy Fair in Custer, Wisconsin.

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