UP FRONT: Regional Roundup – February 2015

Posted on Feb 1, 2015 :: Up Front
Sean P. Johnson
Posted by , Insight on Business Staff Writer

» Highway 41 Corridor

Brown, Calumet, Outagamie, Winnebago, Fond du Lac Counties

A boost in power for Northeast Wisconsin

The New North region needs more power.

Wisconsin Public Service is expecting the region to need another 400 to 500 megawatts of power by 2019 and proposes adding a natural gas-fueled generator to the Fox Energy Center near Wrightstown to meet those needs. The company considered other options such as purchasing the power or buying an existing power plant from another company, but determined the new generation unit was the best option.

Applications were filed with the Public Service Commission in January. The new generator will be similar in design to two units already online at Fox Energy Center, and will raise the power plant’s output to about 1,000 MW of electricity.

“The industry is moving toward the use of highly efficient combined-cycle generators,” says Paul Spicer, WPS vice president for energy supply. “We looked at many options and adding a generator to Fox is a good fit for our company and customers.”

Other advantages to adding a similar generator to the Fox Energy facility include:
» Access to natural gas, cooling water and electric transmission facilities already in place at the site.
» Operational efficiencies with the ability to complement the existing plant staff with just a few new full-time employees.
» A location that will improve system reliability. The electric grid in Wisconsin is losing, or has lost, generation facilities in nearby locations of Kewaunee, Green Bay, Wausau and Sheboygan.
» Owning the generation instead of buying power provides much greater opportunity to control costs and reduces risk in the long-term.

Following regulatory approval, WPS is expecting construction to begin in 2016. The company expects about 400 workers to be involved in the installation process. The new generator would also lead to about 10 new full-time positions at Fox Energy Center.

Wisconsin’s sturgeon spearing season gets under way Feb. 14 on Lake Winnebago. The Fond du Lac region has several special events planned in conjunction with the season. Photo courtesy of WI Dept of Natural Resources

Wisconsin’s sturgeon spearing season gets under way Feb. 14 on Lake Winnebago. The Fond du Lac region has several special events planned in conjunction with the season. Photo courtesy of WI Dept of Natural Resources

Celebrating the mighty sturgeon

A lot of the action for this month’s sturgeon spearing season will be taking place above the ice.

The annual sturgeon spearing season opens Feb. 14. The all-out, on-ice party for those who locate their shanty in the Fond du Lac area gets started a few days before.

The Sturgeon Stampede will celebrate its 26th year of parties and races from Feb. 12-15 on the ice off shore of Roosevelt Park on Lake Winnebago. New for the morning the season gets underway are a “Spear the Fatty” Bike Race and “Booty Adventure Obstacle Run” organized by DuTriRun.

For the 10th year, the event will include kiteboarding and kite wing races, as well as traditional activities such as ice bowling and an ice bar.

Adding an international flair to this year’s celebration is the World Ice and Snow Sailing Championship event that will run from Feb. 9-14. Hosted by the Winnebago Association of Kiteboarders, Wind Power Windsurfing Center and the Fond du Lac Area Convention & Visitors Bureau, the event will feature athletes from around the world competing in kiteboarding, windsurfing and wing events.

“While the WISSA event will be a first for the 2015 sturgeon season and the Sturgeon Stampede, the world championship races will resemble what we have been doing for the past 10 years,” says Dan Deuster, president of the Winnebago Association of Kiteboarders. “There is nothing better than being on the ice doing what you love.”

» The Northwoods

Florence, Marinette, Menominee, Oconto Counties

Grant will help Marinette with harbor redevelopment

Efforts to revitalize Marinette’s waterfront received a boost with a $150,000 grant that will help pay for environmental site work on a key property fronting Menekaunee Harbor.

The state grant, which is being matched by the city, will provide funding for an environmental investigation of the parcel, which is part of the south channel of the Menomonee River. Cleaning up the land is a critical part of the city’s effort to redevelop the harbor area.

According to the Menekaunee Harbor Master Plan, the former Jozaitis Distributing property at 828 Ogden St. will be redeveloped into a public boat launch and pavilion.

For more than a century, there have been solvents, oils, petroleum, coal and other chemicals used on the property, which led to contamination. Marinette will spend $250,000 on the demolition of the building on the property and on remediation.

Other improvements include federal and state funded environmental dredging of the harbor, repair of failing seawalls and restoration of native fish and vegetation habitat. The redevelopment is expected to create new interest in the harbor and further economic development.

“We believe this project will bring not only citizens and recreational boaters here, but new businesses and jobs to this area as well,” says Marinette Mayor Denise Ruleau.


» The Lakeshore

Door, Kewaunee, Manitowoc, Sheboygan Counties

energybank qualifies for loan, tax credits from state

Manitowoc-based energybank Inc. received a $250,000 loan from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation to help the company develop its newest lighting technology.
The technology enhances the performance of the LED light engine and could lead to the creation of more than 60 new jobs during the next three years.

The Technology Development Loan from WEDC will augment the company’s ongoing investment in research and development for optimized thermal dynamics, precision optics and application engineering.

energybank also was certified for $1.25 million in Qualified New Business Venture tax credits from the state, a status that makes the company eligible for a 25 percent state tax credit on the amount it invests in the business.

“The team I’ve put together, along with the investments we’ve made in our core competencies, uniquely position us to be a leading technology integration company and OEM component supplier,” says Neal R. Verfuerth, CEO of energybank.

The company recently launched an outdoor fixture designed for auto dealers it has dubbed the “Model T,” and has shown that it can reduce energy consumption by 70 percent. The assistance programs from the state are crucial to energybank as it takes steps to commercialize the Model T, Verfuerth says.

» West Central

Shawano, Waupaca, Waushara, Marquette, Green Lake Counties

Infiniti Metals doubling its workforce in Clintonville

Infiniti Metals is upgrading its facilities and buying new equipment in a $1 million expansion that could create as many as 65 new jobs in the Clintonville area.

Infiniti Metals, which makes specialty trailers and equipment for commercial and military use, will modernize its plant in order to diversify its product line and increase the efficiency of its operation.

The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation is providing the company with a $367,000 loan from its Business Opportunity Loan Fund, a program that provides assistance to businesses that are starting a new operation, expanding an existing operation or upgrading their capabilities. Under the terms of the seven-year loan, Infiniti is required to create 65 new jobs by mid-2017 and to retain its existing 46 employees.

Infiniti Metals was founded in 1935 by Arthur Giersbach, of Clintonville, who created a line of specialty equipment for the telephone and power line industries.

At one time known as Utility Tool & Trailer Inc., the company has since ventured into additional markets, including farm equipment, tree planters and specially-designed trailers for utility, commercial and military use.



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