The sun is the source of all energy on Earth. Yet, here in Wisconsin, the direct use of the immense energy of the sun is not considered a renewable resource. Most people do not believe this when the concept is first introduced to them because they know – intuitively – there is nothing more renewable than the sun … at least for the next 5 billion years.
But it’s true.
It will take a majority vote of both the Assembly and the Senate at the state Capitol and the signature of Gov. Jim Doyle to make the sun’s direct energy a renewable resource in Wisconsin.
The good news is that a broad list of business, trade and environmental groups, including Orion Energy Systems Inc., are working with the governor and the legislature to make this happen.
“Direct-use” renewables such as solar hot water heating, geo-thermal heating and “light pipe” technology would soon be included in Wisconsin’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) as a result of the passage of either the Clean Energy Jobs Act (LRB-3883/1), or independent legislation authored by Sen. Jeff Plale and Reps. Jim Soletski and Ted Zigmunt (SB273/AB401).
The Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) identifies those technologies defined as “renewables” in our state.
Why is this good for the people of Wisconsin? Well, the new law will create jobs, reduce our dependence on fossil fuels (Wisconsin imports all of its fossil fuel resources from out of state) and dramatically reduce the emission of greenhouse gases and other health threatening pollutants.
Let’s take a look at the Clean Energy Jobs Act and the independent Senate and Assembly Bills uniquely in regard to the impacts of the direct use technologies being included in Wisconsin’s RPS and particularly, light pipe technology.
As a result of the passage of the direct-use legislation, Orion’s Apollo Solar Light Pipe will be included in Wisconsin’s RPS. Once included, Renewable Energy Credits (RECs) will be developed for the installation and use of this innovative, “direct-use” renewable, which directly converts solar energy into the light used to illuminate the interiors of large commercial and industrial buildings. Due to the advent of the “tradable” RECs – which can be used to meet their renewable generation requirements – utilities will provide incentives for the installation of light pipe and other direct-use technologies spurring jobs creation in both the manufacturing and construction sectors of our economy.
It is estimated that the passage of these bills would provide as many as 1.4 million person-hours of work for unemployed Wisconsinites for the installation of the Apollo® Solar Light Pipe alone.
In regard to reducing Wisconsin’s dependence on fossil fuel, light pipe technology provides extreme energy savings by allowing major facilities to operate “off the grid” for their lighting needs for eight to thirteen hours per day. Thirty-five percent of commercial energy consumption is dedicated to lighting building interiors.
The installation of light pipe technology across the state would also drastically reduce the demand for electricity, which in turn reduces the need for generation and therefore causes a reduction in the emission of greenhouse gases and other pollutants. Reducing emissions would have a positive impact on Wisconsin’s environment and the health of our citizens.
Orion’s Apollo Solar Light Pipe is customarily installed with Orion’s highly efficient lighting technology and energy control system, known as Intellite II.
When this fully integrated lighting system is installed, including the Apollo Solar Light Pipe, the total annual CO2 reduction for Wisconsin would amount to 732,237.9 tons.
Passage of either the Clean Energy Jobs Act or the independent legislation that will include light pipe and other “direct-use” renewable technology in Wisconsin’s Renewable Portfolio Standard will create at least 1.4 million person-hours of work for our state’s unemployed, help rid our dependence on fossil fuels and create a healthier environment for all by limiting the emission of carbon and other pollutants. These bills speak to Wisconsin’s most critical needs: jobs creation, energy independence and a healthy environment.
Neal Verfuerth is founder and chief executive officer for Orion Energy Systems Inc. Based in Manitowoc, Orion designs, manufactures and deploys energy management systems.