Clean Energy Takes Political Hit In Wisconsin

The Midwest Energy Efficiency Alliance unveiled a new report demonstrating the cost-savings and job-creation potential of Focus on Energy, Wisconsin’s energy efficiency program. According to this report – recently announced at the Wisconsin Energy Expo in Madison – expanding funding for this program to levels recommended by the state’s Public Service Commission (PSC) in 2010 could create as many as 14,600 new jobs and save Wisconsin homeowners and businesses as much as $946 million on their energy bills.

This report comes at at time when renewable energy and energy efficiency policies have faced significant setbacks in Wisconsin, as a legislative committee voted in March to suspend PSC 128, a rule package that creates uniform statewide standards for the development of safe wind farms in the state. This suspension has created a climate of regulatory uncertainty that drove several wind developers out of the state, costing Wisconsin an estimated 950 jobs, clean energy advocates say. And – as if that weren’t enough bad news – the state legislature’s Joint Finance Committee voted in May to eliminate a previously approved funding increase for Focus on Energy that was expected to create thousands of green jobs.

wind turbine

image via Wikimedia Commons

“Clean energy and energy efficiency businesses hold the potential to create thousands of new jobs and be a bright spot in today’s otherwise sluggish economy. Unfortunately, we’ve been moving in the wrong direction this year,” said Keith Reopelle, senior policy director for Clean Wisconsin, in a statement. Reopelle said that if Gov. Scott Walker and legislative leaders are serious about creating 250,000 new jobs, they need to strengthen clean energy and energy efficiency policies.

The Wisconsin Energy Expo featured Wisconsin-based wind turbine and solar product manufacturers, utilities and companies that specialize in making homes and businesses more energy efficient. It took place across from the Wisconsin State Capitol in Madison, and legislators were invited to attend.

Susan DeFreitas has covered all manner of green technology for EarthTechling since 2009. She is a graduate of Prescott College for the Liberal Arts and the Environment, and has a background in marketing green businesses. Her work on green living has been featured in Yes! Magazine, the Utne Reader and Natural Home.