Wisconsin’s investments in the Focus on Energy program in 2015 and 2016 created $208 million in economic benefits during that period, supporting more than 1,200 jobs each year.
That’s according to a recent report prepared for the state Public Service Commission by The Cadmus Group, an independent analytics firm.
Focus on Energy provides monetary incentives to Wisconsin residents and businesses for energy efficiency and renewable energy projects on behalf of 108 electric and natural gas utilities. The program is funded by the state’s investor-owned energy utilities and participating municipal utilities and electric cooperatives. The PSC oversees the program.
In 2015 and 2016, Focus on Energy invested more than $170 million in incentives and technical assistance for Wisconsin businesses and residents.
The report shows that energy savings from completed upgrades combined with the positive impacts of the program on the state economy led to a $4.77 return for every dollar invested in the program in that period.
“A $4.77 return on investment shows Focus on Energy is one way Wisconsin encourages economic development and grows its favorable business climate,” said Public Service Commissioner Lon Roberts. “When a business saves money by saving energy, it also becomes more globally competitive.”
But the economic benefits of the program aren’t limited to the period in which upgrades are completed, report authors say. They project the investments in that two-year window will lead to economic benefits of $762 million for Wisconsin ratepayers by 2040. And 42 percent of that figure will go toward business and residential customers in rural areas.
The report shows the program annually created more than 1,200 jobs in that two-year window, with most of those in manufacturing. Study authors project that the program’s activities during the two-year window will continue to create an average of 263 jobs per year through 2040, for a net total of 8,769 jobs.
About 46 percent of those jobs are expected to be in rural areas and generally pay more than those in urban areas, study authors say.
Study authors note these findings on positive employment impact are consistent with the results of a 2015 survey of contractors participating in Focus on Energy.
Almost 25 percent of respondents said they had hired more staff as a result of the increased business activity from the program. And 59 percent said their business activity had increased since partnering with the program.
–By Alex Moe