RENEW Wisconsin: Groups Urge Governor and Legislature to Support Energy Task Force Report

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Michael Vickerman, Executive Director

RENEW Wisconsin

608.255.4044

[email protected]

A diverse group of organizations from around the state and country applauded the energy task force report released today by Governor James Doyle.

“The report rightly recognizes that a strengthened commitment to money-saving energy efficiency programs and an accelerated shift to renewable power will lead to a healthier economy and a cleaner environment in Wisconsin,” said RENEW Wisconsin Executive Director Michael Vickerman, a member of the task force. “Every Task Force member fully supports speedy adoption of these recommendations in their entirety.”

After months of study and deliberation, the 25-member Task Force made specific energy policy recommendations to:

ü Raise the current renewable electricity standard on utilities to 10% by 2015;

ü Raise state government’s own use of renewable electricity to 20% by 2010;

ü Provide secure and adequate funding for the state’s Focus on Energy program;

ü Improve the state’s building codes on energy use;

ü Encourage the use of anaerobic digesters and wind turbines in rural Wisconsin.

The task force recommendations are a positive step toward harnessing Wisconsin’s enormous energy efficiency and renewable energy potential. The groups vowed to oppose any attempt to water down or split apart the package to placate a particular interest.

“We arrived at these recommendations after much negotiating and compromise. What we put forward is a package deal,” Vickerman said. “We urge the Governor to support it, and the Legislature to pass it as a package.”

“The value of strengthening Wisconsin’s energy efficiency programs cannot be overstated,” said Charlie Higley, executive director of the Citizens Utility Board. “Energy efficiency programs help consumers reduce their energy bills while creating jobs and protecting Wisconsin’s environment.”

A study completed last year for the Wisconsin Division of Energy found that implementing a renewable electricity standard similar to the standard recommended by the Task Force would have virtually no impact on consumer electricity bills.

A recent study by the Union of Concerned Scientists found that under a national standard, Wisconsin could produce 16% of the state’s electricity with renewable energy by 2020, while creating 4,400 new jobs, generating nearly a billion dollars in new capital investment, providing $400 million in income for farmers and rural landowners, and saving consumers $980 million on their natural gas and electricity bills.

Nearly every constituency affected by electricity policy, including utilities, businesses, industrial and residential customers, unions, and environmentalists, had a representative on the Task Force, which started meeting in November 2003. The Task Force membership also included four key legislators, two from each party, two from each chamber.

To date, eighteen states have adopted renewable electricity standards, with five states adopting standards this year and four states recently increasing or accelerating their standards.

Earlier this fall two states—New York and Colorado–adopted renewable electricity standards on utilities that strongly resemble the recommended policy endorsed by the Task Force.

Colorado’s renewable energy law, which sets a 10% standard by 2015, was approved by voters statewide on November 2nd. In ordering the renewable energy share of New York’s electricity to rise from 19% currently to 25% by 2013, the state’s Public Service Commission found that the law’s impact on utility rates would be negligible.

The Governor’s Office maintains a Web site for the Task Force at http://energytaskforce.wi.gov.

The groups in support of the report included the following (with a quote from a spokesperson for each group):

“Wisconsin farmers and rural communities would benefit greatly from the recommendations of the Governor’s Task Force to increase renewable energy,” said Sue Beitlich, president of the Wisconsin Farmer’s Union. “Wind energy, biomass, and solar energy can be new crops for us.”

“The Task Force addressed energy issues in a non-partisan fashion. The result is that going forward there is consensus that energy conservation and renewable projects are good public policy and good for Wisconsin’s economy and its workforce,” said Forrest Ceel,

President and Business Representative for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local 2150.

“Enacting responsible energy policy is one of just seven of our priorities this legislative session. As a key part of the conservation community’s unified agenda, we are all committed to working with the Governor and the Legislature to help make responsible energy policy a reality,” explained Anne Sayers, Program Director for Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters.

“Adopting the Task Force recommendations would help make Wisconsin a national leader in the development of clean energy technologies,” said Steve Clemmer, Research Director for the Union of Concerned Scientists Clean Energy Program. “We urge the Governor and Legislature to implement the recommendations as soon as possible to help stimulate Wisconsin’s economy and reduce the billions of dollars that leave the state each year to pay for imported fossil fuels.”

Other groups (and their spokespersons) who joined in the support for the Task Force recommendations include: Don Hamm, President, National Farmer’s Organization, Wisconsin Chapter; Bob Karls, Executive Director, Wisconsin Soybean Grower’s Association; John Petty, Executive Director, Wisconsin Agri-Service Association; Tehri Parker, Executive Director, Midwest Renewable Energy Association.

The Task Force report also won additional support in separate comments and press releases from Janet Brandt, Executive Director, Wisconsin Energy Conservation Corporation; David Helbach, Director, Corporate Public Affairs, Alliant Energy; Jennifer Giegerich, State Director, Wisconsin Public Interest Research Group; Bill Moore, Air and Energy Chair for the John Muir Chapter of the Sierra Club.