Governor Doyle: Signs Senate Bill 459, Bipartisan Energy Efficiency and Renewables Legislation

Contact: Anne Lupardus, Office of the Governor, 608-261-2162

GREEN BAY — Governor Jim Doyle today signed Senate Bill 459, the Energy Efficiency and Renewables Act, representing a sweeping overhaul of Wisconsin’s energy policy, and laying the groundwork for greater energy independence.

“The record home heating costs and gas prices this winter really brought home just how important it is to reduce Wisconsin’s dependence on foreign energy sources,” Governor Doyle said. “And while the emergency heating assistance I signed into law two weeks ago will help working families this winter – we all recognize that we must also plan for our energy future. Senate Bill 459 lays out that plan, and I am pleased to sign it into law today.”

Senate Bill 459 is the result of recommendations made by Governor Doyle’s Task Force on Energy Efficiency and Renewables. Governor Doyle tasked this group in 2003 to find commonsense, creative solutions to increase our energy efficiency and use of renewable energy sources to regain Wisconsin’s status as a leader in these areas, and spur on economic growth. The 25 member Task Force represented the entire energy community, including utilities, industry, state government, environmental organizations, and rate payer organizations.

“Groups that many times oppose each other on energy policy came together to develop a consensus on these recommendations,” Governor Doyle said. “And the result was a bipartisan, balanced policy that not only makes sense for our energy future – it makes sense for our environment and our economy.”

The Energy Efficiency and Renewables Act focuses on three areas: increasing the use of renewable energy in Wisconsin, promoting the development of renewable energy technologies, and strengthening the state’s energy efficiency programs to maximize their benefit.

Currently Wisconsin imports all of the fossil fuels we use to generate electricity. Senate Bill 459 requires that by 2015, ten percent of the state’s electricity be generated from renewable sources. This is enough to supply the needs of 850,000 homes each year, and avoid more than 5.5 million tons of greenhouse gases by 2015.

Additionally, by 2011, the state will leverage its buying power to purchase 20 percent of the energy for the six largest state agencies from renewable sources. The new law also requires the state to update building codes to include higher energy efficiency standards, and create special energy standards for state building projects and purchases.

Senate Bill 459 also encourages the development of energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies, jump-starting new industries and creating jobs here in Wisconsin. The bill requires the state to pursue additional funding for the research and development of agricultural digesters, and it also calls for a pilot program to test the feasibility and cost-effectiveness of burning leftover corn plants to heat residential space.

Finally, Senate Bill 459 strengthens the state’s energy efficiency programs and positions Wisconsin as a national leader in spending on energy efficiency efforts.

The law requires Wisconsin utilities to directly support energy efficiency programs, ensuring that $85 million a year is spent to promote energy efficiency. SB 459 also increases funding to local governments for energy efficiency projects, which will also provide relief to property taxpayers.

“This bill takes an important step forward in moving us toward energy independence by encouraging the use of the energy resources we have right here in Wisconsin,” Governor Doyle said. “This will keep more of our energy dollars in our local economies instead of purchasing fuels from outside the state. And investing in new renewable energy technologies will create more good jobs right here in Wisconsin.”

Governor Doyle thanked everyone involved in getting this legislation to his desk.

“I want to thank my task force on Energy Efficiency and Renewables for their work to develop a package of common-sense recommendations. However, without the commitment of the legislators that are with us today, these recommendations would have been only that – recommendations. I want to thank Senators Rob Cowles and Dave Hansen as well as Representatives Phil Montgomery and Tom Nelson worked with me in bipartisan fashion to enact this law.”