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Wisconsin nonprofit gets $3.3 million grant for solar training

Madison (AP) — A Wisconsin nonprofit plans to train solar power instructors throughout the Midwest with a $3.3 million federal grant.

The Midwest Renewable Energy Association plans to work with universities, colleges and other groups in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois, Iowa, Indiana and Ohio to train 200 solar instructors in the next five years.

The training is aimed at helping improve the quality of instruction about solar electric and solar heating and cooling technologies.

Executive director Tehri Parker said the improved instruction will help train a clean energy work force.

The association, based in Custer in central Wisconsin, is one of nine organizations to receive such funding from the Department of Energy for similar projects.

Court rules damages contractor owes homeowner are too high

A contractor will pay less in damages to homeowner Gwen Shadley, who claims the company damaged her Wauwatosa house when moving it.

According to the decision, Shadley hired Tim Stys and Pamela Stys, doing business as Tim Stys House Moving, to move her house in Wauwatosa to a different location after the city acquired her property in 1999.

The contractor lifted the house from its foundations in January 2002, and in April of the same year placed it on new foundations.

Shadley claimed the house was damaged during the move, resulting in cracked plaster and tile and broken plumbing. She sued the builders for negligence and breach of contract in January 2005. She rejected a $25,000 settlement offer and asked for damages of more than $100,000.

A Milwaukee County Circuit Court judge ruled that Shadley is owed $14,976 in damages plus $43,975 in attorney fees.

Tim and Pamela Stys and their insurers appealed the decision to the Wisconsin Court of Appeals District I, arguing Shadley should not receive attorney fees. The appeals court judges rejected the argument, but said the attorney fee award is too high.

The court sent the case back to circuit court to determine the amount she is actually owed.

WisDOT plans to open College Avenue Bridge Friday

The Wisconsin Department of Transportation on Friday plans to officially open the reconstructed College Avenue Bridge in Appleton, according to WisDOT.

The ribbon cutting ceremony will begin at 2 p.m.

Some controversy arose in August and September when bicyclists and pedestrians began using the bridge when construction crews were not present.

Plain-based Edward Kraemer & Sons is the project’s general contractor. The cost of the bridge is roughly $10 million, according to WisDOT.

Lake shippers seek exemption from pollution rules

Traverse City, MI (AP) — Shipping companies that haul iron ore, coal and other cargo on the Great Lakes are fighting air pollution regulations they say would be financially ruinous.

The Lake Carriers’ Association has enlisted help from leading congressional Democrats, who are expected to propose a compromise. The issue may come up during a House-Senate conference committee meeting this week in Washington, D.C.

The rule would require large commercial vessels within 200 miles of a U.S. coast to use cleaner — and costlier — fuel and improve engine technology.

Supporters say the requirements are needed to reduce emissions blamed for smog, acid rain and health problems.

But industry representatives said the regulations would ground 13 Great Lakes steamships and boost fuel costs for other freighters by $210 million a year.

Kerry: U.S. leadership is at stake in climate debate

Washington (AP) — Senators tussled over the cost of climate legislation Tuesday with the leading author of the bill maintaining that while energy prices will increase, inaction on global warming would cause even worse economic and security problems.

“Are there some costs? Yes sir, there are some costs,” said Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass. But of the array of studies that show restricting greenhouse gases will lead to higher energy prices, he said, “none of them factor in the cost of doing nothing.”

Kerry was the first witness as the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee began a series of marathon hearings this week on a bill that would cap greenhouse gas pollution from power plants and large industrial facilities. The bill aims to reduce emissions 80 percent by midcentury. Kerry is an author of the legislation.

Germany-based solar company to open plant in Colorado

Denver (AP) — A Germany-based solar company plans to open its first North American manufacturing site in Denver, according to the company.

SMA Solar Technology plans to start production next year with 300 employees and a capacity to expand the work force to 700, according to the company.

SMA produces solar inverters, which convert the direct current generated by residential solar panels into alternating current for the electrical grid.

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