Day 1: Sunday, October 2

6:00 PM—After checking in to the Hyatt, fellows gather in lobby to head for dinner at iconic Milwaukee German restaurant, Mader’s. (Bring notebooks/ recorders/etc.)

Utilities 101: Current Trends, Future Directions and the Driving Forces of Energy in the U.S.

7:30 PM – Understanding the current state and potential future of energy in the U.S. means wrapping one’s head around infrastructure, market trends, policy and more. Our speakers will first walk us through the energy ecosystem and explain how and why utilities make the decisions they do. Then we’ll discuss what those energy trends look like on the ground and hear concerns about where we might find a place to fit it into an already crowded landscape.

  • Gary Radloff, director of Midwest energy policy analysis, Wisconsin Energy Institute

  • Joe Fargione – lead scientist, North America region, The Nature Conservancy

    9:00 PM – Discussion adjourns and fellows head back to hotel to rest up for our epic adventure.

    Overnight—Hyatt Regency Downtown. 333 W. Kilbourn Ave. Milwaukee, WI. (414) 270-6067

Day 2: Monday, October 3

7:00 AM — Bus departs for Waukegan, IL. (Breakfast aboard)

Coal’s Long Goodbye: A Coal-Powered Community Envisions a Green Energy Future

8:30 AM – In 2014, New Jersey-based NRG Energy purchased a handful of coal-fired power plants in Illinois, including one on the shores of Lake Michigan in Waukegan. NRG spent millions modernizing the plant and reducing emissions. While many in Waukegan see NRG as a job provider and crucial part of the tax base, others are tired of the same old energy source. Outside influences like the Sierra Club’s “Beyond Coal” campaign and the Illinois Clean Jobs Bill, along with Waukegan’s own lakefront redesign project, have brought the issue into the public discourse. A recent poll of residents found 70% of respondents favored transitioning away from coal. Will community leaders and outside advocacy groups push the city toward a different, greener vision of its future?

  • Reverend Eileen Shanley – pastor, Christ Episcopal Church, Waukegan, IL

  • David Villalobos – alderman, 4th Ward, Waukegan, IL

  • Dulce Ortiz – local resident/member, Clean Power Lake County

  • Susana Figueroa – Lake County outreach director, Faith in Place

  • Brian Urbaszewski – director, environmental health programs, Respiratory Health Association

  • Faith Bugel – senior attorney, Environmental Law & Policy Center

  • Julie Contreras – local resident/president, League of United Latin American Citizens

  • Lisa May – alderwoman/mayoral candidate, 7th Ward, Waukegan, IL

    11:30 – Bus heads back to Milwaukee with journalists on board, of course! (Lunch en route)

    Running a Coal Plant in the 21st Century

    1:00 PM – The modern tale of coal-fired power production is one of, well, less coal. For many of the plants that aren’t being shuttered entirely, big changes are under way as the fuel that stokes the fires is moving from coal to natural gas. We Energies’ Valley Plant in Milwaukee recently underwent that change. We’ll learn how that all went down as we tour the plant. We’ll then hear from the company as it discusses another “modern coal” story, that of the beneficial reuse of coal ash, a practice some see as the best way to dispose of a pernicious waste product, but others contend is a public health menace.

  • Bruce Ramme – vice president, environmental, We Energies

  • Other representatives, We Energies, TBD 3:00 PM – Bus heads south (we know, again?)

    toward We Energies’ Oak Creek plant.

    Cleaning up Coal: Beneficial Reuse of Coal Ash

    3:30 PM – The residue left behind by coal combustion, called “coal ash,” is one of the main kinds of industrial waste generated in the U.S. The primary disposal method is still “wet storage” of the ash in large holding ponds. However, issues of these ponds leaching toxic heavy metals into nearby waterways and the occasional catastrophic failure led to the hunt for a new disposal method. Wisconsin leads the nation in the “beneficial reuse” of coal ash, where dry ash is mixed into materials like wallboard and concrete and as fill in embankments and roadways. The US EPA supports the practice and even lists coal ash as “non-hazardous waste,” but some claim that what’s buried with the ash doesn’t stay there.

  • Philip Fauble – mining and beneficial reuse coordinator, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

  • Ruth O’Donnell – beneficial reuse specialist, WDNR

  • Katie Nekola – general counsel, Clean Wisconsin

  • Tyson Cook – director of science and research, Clean Wisconsin

  • Frank Michna – local resident/city engineer, Caledonia, WI

    5:30 PM – Group heads back to Milwaukee
    7: 00 PM – Dinner at Vagabond, 1122 N. Edison

    Overnight—Hyatt Regency Downtown. 333 W. Kilbourn Ave. Milwaukee, WI. (414) 270-6067

Day 3: Tuesday, October 4

7:30 AM—Fellows have stowed all gear on bus and are ready to head to breakfast.

Oil Trains: Can Cities Mitigate Risk and Ease Fears of Grassroots Groups?

8:00 AM – During the recent natural gas boom, companies have raced to get their product to market. With no pipelines serving key areas and with big projects like Keystone shuttered, oil companies turned to the rails. But high-profile derailments, like the one in Lac Mégantic, Quebec that killed 47 people, as well as rising concerns over aging U.S. transit infrastructure, have raised concerns about trains loaded down with potentially explosive crude passing through major population centers. It has also led to higher costs and stricter regulations for companies. While it appears oil train traffic is being replaced by new pipeline capacity, there is still risk on the rails. We’ll talk with the Great Lakes Commission about their recent report on oil transport in the region, meet with city officials tasked with planning for potential emergencies and hear from local residents who are pushing for bridge inspections and revamped emergency management plans.

  • Michèle Leduc-Lapierre – senior program specialist, Great Lakes Commission

  • Cheryl Nenn – Riverkeeper, Milwaukee Riverkeeper

  • David V otsis – deputy chief, Special Operations Division, Milwaukee Fire Dept.

  • Russ Rivard – director, Wisconsin Tier 1 HazMat Team, Milwaukee Fire Dept.

  • Rob Ugaste – chief, Wauwatosa Fire Dept.

Converging at the Confluence: Milwaukee by Boat

10:00 AM—Fellows head to the Milwaukee Kayak Company, don life jackets, grab paddles and get out on the Milwaukee River for a paddler’s-eye view of the city. We’ll head to “Old Rusty,” an elevated train bridge that crosses over the confluence of the Milwaukee and Menomonee Rivers and hear about concerns over aging inner-city rail infrastructure that involves 36 river crossings and dozens of miles of tracks where passing trains come within feet of densely populated neighborhoods.

• Anne Steinberg – local resident/member, Citizens Acting for Rail Safety

• Eric Hansen – local resident/member, Citizens Acting for Rail Safety

11:15 AM – Fellows land their kayaks back at Milwaukee Kayak Company and board bus bound for the S.S. Badger and a three, sorry, four-hour tour.

Crossing an Inland Sea

1:30 PM – The Great Lakes hold one-fifth of all the available (i.e. not frozen) freshwater in the world. We’ll cross mighty Lake Michigan aboard the S.S. Badger, which is part of the region’s energy history in its own right: the last coal-fired steamship on the Great Lakes. In fact, up until the end of 2014 the ship dumped the coal ash produced from its boilers right into Lake Michigan. EPA estimates said the ship was dumping up to 4 tons of a slurry of water and coal ash daily. Today, a series of pipes collects the ash and sends it to metal holding bins where, when it reaches land, it can be removed and “beneficially reused” in road projects.

  • Charles Cart – chief engineer, S.S. Badger

  • Terri Brown-Veen – director, Media

    Relations, S.S. Badger
    6:30 PM – S.S. Badger docks in Ludington, MI, don’t forget this is now Eastern time!

Constant Versus Context: Covering the Environment in the Digital Age

7:30 PM – In the digital world today, journalists have traded their role of gatekeepers for one of sifters and winnowers – finding facts in a deluge of information. We’ll explore the brave new world of digital media and identify some useful tools that can help journalists investigate issues, tell stories better and get the results out to a wider audience. Bring your computers, grab a beverage and settle in for an interactive session on new media platforms.

• Mike Scott – digital media instructor, IJNR

Overnight: Ludington Pier House, 805 W. Ludington Ave. Ludington, MI 231-845-7346

Day 4: Wednesday, October 5

7:30 AM— Bus departs for Ludington State Park

A Morning Amidst Michigan’s Iconic Freshwater Dunes

8:00 AM – The largest collection of freshwater sand dunes in the world is strung along Lake Michigan’s eastern shoreline. Geologically speaking, these dynamic ecosystems are young – first blowing up on shore only 16,000 years ago. Today, these dynamic ecosystems are still in flux. We’ll take a hike with a dune geologist to learn about their formation and conservation.

  • Alan Arbogast – chair, Department of Geography, Michigan State University

  • Ron and Linda Daul – local residents, Ludington, MI

  • Julia Chambers – local resident/founder, A Few Friends for the Environment of the World

    10:30 AM – Group ends hike at the home of Al Henning and, after a quick “comfort break,” settles in to talk about sand mining in the dunes.

Sand Mining in the Dunes: Historic Company Meets Modern Opposition

10:30 AM – Ludington State Park is one of Michigan’s most popular destinations and home to a fantastic example of freshwater sand dunes. It is also home to a 400-acre sand mine run since the 1930s by the Sargent Sand Company. Sargent is still owned and operated by its founding family, and has a long history in the area. It was closely involved in the creation of the park, providing a lot of the land for its creation. For 70 years or so, it was business as usual for Sargent until the oil and gas boom created demand for a particular kind of sand – the kind that’s especially good for fracking. The resulting round-the-clock activity has many residents calling for changes in the mine’s permit – which is up for renewal at the end of this year.

  • Albert “Al” Henning – local resident

  • Ted Auch – Great Lakes program coordinator, FracTracker Alliance

  • Adam Wygant – supervisor, permitting and technical services section, Michigan DEQ Office of Oil, Gas & Minerals

• Jim Gallie – park manager, Ludington State Park

12:00 PM – Bus departs Henning residence for a quick visit to the Big Sable Point Lighthouse.

The Greening of Grand Rapids: A City Charts an Ambitious Clean Energy Future

3:00 PM – Grand Rapids’ ambitious initiative to be powered entirely by renewable energy sources by 2020 was recently revised. But, by purchasing renewable energy from utilities, installing sustainable projects, and aggressively boosting energy efficiency, the city has still made a lot of progress. While the “100% renewable” date was recently pushed back to 2025, Grand Rapids is still considered a model, even named the most sustainable city in America in 2010 by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. And, at the end of last year, a group of downtown businesses announced the creation of the Grand Rapids 2030 District, joining cities across the nation working to reduce energy use, water consumption and transportation emissions in downtown areas. We’ll meet at Rockford Construction Headquarters and talk with city leaders about how they got to where they are and what they need to hit their goal.

• Scott Ferguson – VP of energy and sustainability, Rockford Construction

• Haris Alibašić – director, Office of Energy & Sustainability, Grand Rapids

• Mike Lunn – manager, Environmental Services Department, Grand Rapids

• Joellen Thompson – water system manager, Grand Rapids

• Greg Sundstrom – city manager, Grand Rapids

• Eddie Tadlock – assistant general manager, DeVos Place

4:30 PM – Group heads to Grand Valley State University to meet the man who started Grand Rapids’ sustainability efforts and then to dinner at a brewery with its own sustainability goals.

• George Heartwell – former mayor, Grand Rapids, MI

Overnight: Baymont Inn & Suites, N/Walker – 2151 Holton Ct. NW Walker, MI 616-735-9595

Day 5: Thursday, October 6

7:00 AM— Fellows have taken advantage of the hotel breakfast, lugged their stuff to the bus and are on board and ready to go.

Gas In the Ground: Economic Equalizer, Environmental Question

9:00 AM - Michigan stores more natural gas underground than any other state, a practice that allows for increased distribution during peak times and, according to utility companies, stabilizes energy costs. Of course there are always risks associated with such a system – a year ago, natural gas began leaking from an underground facility at Aliso Canyon, California. Over the next four months more than 97,000 metric tons of methane had been released – the climate equivalent of burning 917 million gallons of gasoline. The incident exposed gaps in regulation and monitoring of natural gas storage across the U.S. We’ll learn more about the process and hear what’s being done to monitor Michigan’s supply and keep gas in the ground.

  • Hal Fitch – chief, Oil, Gas & Minerals, Michigan Department of Environmental Quality

  • Amy Townsend-Small – associate professor, Environmental Science, University of Cincinnati

  • Norman Saari – Michigan Public Service Commissioner (invited)

  • James Clift –policy director, Michigan Environmental Council

11:00 AM – Bus departs for Gaylord, MI

Gas Out of the Ground: Will Antrim Shale Ever Become America’s Next Big Oil Play?

12:00 PM – The low price of natural gas and oil has suppressed exploration, but Michigan’s Antrim Shale is still producing in the heart of the Great Lakes Basin. What can Michigan’s oil and gas industry – and those concerned about it – expect when prices rebound and drills start humming again? We’ll visit an active well pad to talk about the role of natural gas in Michigan’s energy portfolio, how some organizations are preparing for and trying to moderate a potential boom and how the Antrim compares to other shale deposits in the U.S.

  • Brian Dorr – chief operating officer, Balidor Oil

  • Erin McDonough – executive director, Michigan Oil & Gas Association

  • Jennifer McKay – policy director, Tip of the Mitt Watershed Council

2:00 PM – Bus departs for Mackinaw City, MI

3:00 PM – Group arrives at our lakeside hotel for the night and, much to the amazement of weary travelers, learns that they are free to sleep, swim, wander the city or do whatever they want until dinner!

7:00 PM – Dinner TBD.

Overnight—Best Western, 505 S. Huron Ave. Mackinaw City, MI 231-436-5001

Day 6: Friday, October 7

7:30 AM – Fellows have eaten breakfast, lugged their stuff to – yadda, yadda, yadda, you know the drill – we’re heading out!

Out of Sight, but Hardly Out of Mind: Enbridge’s Line 5 and the Straits of Mackinac

8:00 AM – Enbridge’s Line 5 carries more than 500,000 barrels of oil and liquid natural gas a day across Wisconsin and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula before it takes a hard right to the
south – and under the Straits of Mackinac, where Lake Michigan and Lake Huron meet. With each news report of an oil spill somewhere in the country, environmental organizations and area residents worry that a rupture in the 60-year-old pipeline would be calamitous to the Great Lakes. Enbridge assures regulators that the line is sound – and monitors it with state-of-the-art technology. We’ll tour Enbridge’s pump station near Mackinaw City and discuss how they keep an eye on Line 5.

  • Supervisor TBD – Line 5 pump station, Enbridge Inc.

  • Jason Manshum – manager, Community Relations, U.S. Public Affairs Liquid Operations, Enbridge Inc.

10:00 AM – Bus heads out to cross the Straits (via bridge, of course!)

Under Review: Will Studies Shed Light on Spill Response, Pipeline Safety and Alternatives?

What’s at stake if Line 5 breaks? How would Michigan respond? Is there a better way of getting oil across the Straits? These are questions currently under consideration, as a pair of independent studies (that Enbridge has committed well over $3 million to help finance) are exploring both potential damages and clean up requirements of a hypothetical spill as well as alternative means of moving the oil to where the company needs it to go. Those studies aren’t scheduled to wrap up until 2017, however, and some groups have concerns that that’s too long to wait. We’ll gather north of the Straits for a conversation about these issues. We’ll also get a big-picture view of how oil moves across our nation and how pipeline safety and efficiency stacks up against other means of transport, like oil trains and shipping.

  • Josh Mogerman – national media director, Natural Resources Defense Council

  • Jennifer McKay – policy director, Tip of the Mitt Watershed Council

  • Matt Goddard – spill prevention specialist, Water Resources Division, Michigan DEQ

  • Joe Haas – district supervisor, Water Resources Division, Michigan DEQ

12:00 PM – Bus heads off on a journey across the UP. (Ferry schedules just didn’t work out!)

Telling Environment Stories Better

3:00 PM – Natural resource stories are some of the hardest to fit into the usual journalism mold. Or, as our esteemed founder always put it, “they don’t break, they ooze.” We will settle in at a pavilion at Ludington Park in Escanaba, Michigan and explore some of the difficulties of doing “good” environment, energy and resource journalism; brainstorm ideas for how to cover some of the stories we encountered on our trip; examples of clear, nuanced and powerful storytelling; and tips and tricks for getting the most out of our own reporting and writing.

  • Dave Spratt – CEO, IJNR

  • Mike Scott – digital media instructor, IJNR

  • Adam Hinterthuer – director of programs, IJNR

  • Fellows of the Great Lakes Energy Institute

5:00 PM – Bus is back on track for Green Bay.

7:00 PM – After settling in to our hotel for the night, fellows are in the lobby ready to walk to dinner at Titletown Brewing Co.

Overnight—Hampton Inn Downtown Green Bay, WI. 920-265-2818

Day 7: Saturday, October 8

7:00 AM – Last day of too-early alarms! On the bus, fed, caffeinated, ready to roll. (And don’t forget your stuff. We’re not coming back!)

A Blowing Wind Turns All Turbines? Wind Power Manufacturing in a State That Lags on Wind Power Production

8:00 AM – While Wisconsin can brag that it has met its renewable energy target of 10% by 2015, that number lags the national average of 13% and has curbed growth in many renewable energy sectors. Wind turbine manufacturing, however, is not one of them. Responding to demand from states like Illinois and Iowa with more robust renewable energy initiatives, companies that manufacture parts used in wind power are still carrying on the long tradition of a state that prides itself on its manufacturing heritage. We will tour a turbine plant at Broadwind Energy and then gather for a discussion about how policy and politics drive business decisions and what companies hope for the future of renewable energy.

  • Jerry Murphy – executive director, New North, Inc.

  • Mike Lutz – vice president of sales, Basset Mechanical

  • Joni Konstantelos – director of investor relations & corporate communications, Broadwind Energy, Inc.

  • Other executives at Broadwind TBD

10:00 AM – Group heads out to Lakeshore Technical College in Cleveland, WI. Lakeshore Tech is one of only three schools in the country with a wind power technology program that trains students for careers as wind power technicians. We’ll tour the outdoor wind lab and talk with officials at the school about their program, its increasing demand and what it’s like training Wisconsin students for high-tech careers in other states.

  • Peter Thillman – vice president, workforce and economic development, Lakeshore Technical College

  • Wind energy instructor, TBD, Lakeshore Technical College

12:00 PM – Bus departs for the last (and smelliest) segment of the Great Lakes Energy Institute!

Cow Power: Anaerobic Digesters Produce Power and Take Load Off Farmers’ Hands

1:00 PM – The use of anaerobic digesters to produce power from cow manure is a waste disposal issue first and a green energy issue second. Known for its iconic dairy farms (and their resulting milk and cheese), Wisconsin is also home to excessive nutrient pollution. The problem is that, well, cows poop. A lot. And farmers have to put that poop somewhere. For years, that meant spreading manure on fields, where heavy rain events or winter thaws could send all it into nearby waterways. Manure digesters divert those nutrients to a different fate – one that also has the benefit of producing power. But can these small operations scale up to be community power sources? Will the price utilities pay for that power keep the technology dormant? We’ll visit the Vir-Clar Farms and tour their manure digester (hopefully just from the outside) as we discuss these questions.

  • Gary Boyke – owner/operator, Vir-Clar Farms, LLC.

  • Joseph “Joe” Britt – agricultural incentives director, Sand County Foundation

2:30 – After our visit to the farm, we’ll head to nearby fields to explore how projects like digesters help clear up water quality. Then we’ll bring the whole thing full circle as we look at a study on adding gypsum to fields to keep nutrients in the soil and out of the water. Where’s that gypsum come from? Coal ash, of course!

• Greg Olson - Wisconsin field projects director, Sand County Foundation

4:00 PM – Bus heads back to Milwaukee.

IJNR’s Closing Dinner and “Highly Emotional” Award Ceremony

6:30 PM – Fellows gather in lobby and head to their private dinner at Pier 106 restaurant to recap the Institute and enjoy one final night of our forced camaraderie – or, rather, company.

Overnight—Hyatt Regency Downtown. 333 W. Kilbourn Ave. Milwaukee, WI. (414) 270-6067