Foxconn leaders understand environmental concerns, Evers says

Gov. Tony Evers says he’s confident Foxconn’s leaders understand his concerns around the manufacturer’s environmental impact in Wisconsin.

Addressing RENEW Wisconsin’s Renewable Energy Summit yesterday in Madison, the guv said he spoke with Foxconn’s Louis Woo Wednesday night. The special assistant to Foxconn CEO Terry Gou told Evers about the company’s plans to keep the waters of Lake Michigan clean.

“I know we’re always concerned about the environmental issues as it related to Foxconn,” Evers said. “I feel confident going forward that they get it, and that we’ll have a good partnership there.”

Still, he said, “we have some things to check up on though.”

Evers told attendees yesterday it’s time for the state to stop “ignoring science” in the utilities space. To reach his vision of a “clean economy,” he said the state will need to produce more of its own energy, “to reduce reliance on non-renewables.”

“For too long, we’ve been kicking the can down the road as it relates to science and innovation in this area,” he said, repeating his campaign claim that “science is back in Wisconsin.”

Evers also highlighted his commitment to affordability and accessibility for clean energy. He said he’s looking forward to “getting our state on track to compete with other states” in terms of clean energy production and use.

“Whether it’s using data to make policy decisions, or acknowledging that climate change is real and it’s an imminent threat to our state and our economy,” he said. “Here in Wisconsin, we have to do more to incorporate science into those decisions.”

He pointed to several “exceptional” large-scale solar projects happening in the state, but said Wisconsinites “pay some of the very highest rates of electricity across the country.”

The guv also said Wisconsin is “far behind” other states in the clean energy race.

Public Service Commission Chairwoman Ellen Nowak, who spoke after Evers as part of a panel, pushed back on the idea of Wisconsin falling behind.

“We are one of the few states that have a statewide mandated energy efficiency program, and of those states we are the only state that includes renewables in that program,” she said.

Nowak, who was appointed chair by Walker and whose term ends March 1, said she wants to “dispel the myths that somehow we are behind other states.”

–By Alex Moe