State official highlights goals of clean energy plan

The head of the Wisconsin Office of Sustainability and Clean Energy says the office is leaning toward executive and agency actions as it develops the state’s clean energy plan.

“So we recognize that legislative might be a bit of a challenge, but we’re not totally pushing away legislative opportunities,” Director Maria Redmond said yesterday during Renew Wisconsin’s 2022 Renewable Energy Summit in Madison.

She said the state office, created in 2019, is identifying actions that can be taken “right away” by the executive branch and state and local agencies to accomplish initial phases of the plan. Still, she added “everything’s on the table right now.”

As the office develops the plan following the Governor’s Task Force on Climate Change issuing its recommendations in late 2020, Redmond highlighted a number of strategies to meet some of the state’s top goals. These goals include reaching 100 percent carbon-free electricity by 2050 and playing a role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions economy-wide to 52 percent below 2005 levels by 2030.

“2030 isn’t really that far away,” she said. “It’s around the corner, and what are we going to do in Wisconsin?”

She pointed to strategies aimed at reducing emissions such as: tapping into biodigestion, solar and wind for energy generation; supporting new energy storage options; supporting relevant innovation, research and business development; optimizing energy efficiency programs and opportunities to rescue energy bills; leveraging available federal funding and more.

She said the plan will seek to formalize how the state will approach these goals and collaborate with stakeholders “while thinking about workforce, economy and racial justice.” She noted minority communities shoulder more of the burden for climate change impacts, typically living in areas with the “highest projected labor-hour losses” related to weather-exposed industries like construction and agriculture.

“We really need to look at our communities, we need to really look at the data and figure out who is impacted and how we reduce those impacts,” she said.

With millions of dollars slated to come to Wisconsin through the recently passed federal infrastructure law, Redmond said “the Clean Energy Plan will be a great tool to be able to define what Wisconsin is going to do … and be able to react to what will be coming federally.”

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–By Alex Moe