Renewable energy policies would benefit farmers

Posted on October 27, 2009. Filed under: General |

From a column by Margaret Krome in The Capital Times:

President Obama toured renewable energy research facilities recently at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He wanted to drive home the point that homegrown, low-carbon energy sources and energy conservation strategies are crucial to steer the planet toward a safer climate and the nation toward greater energy security. In addition, policy based on renewable energy and conservation creates jobs.

The president could just as well have toured Wisconsin to make his point. Wisconsin’s researchers are forging ahead on many fronts, such as ways to grow biomass crops in a sustainable manner; economically viable processes to convert biomass into transportation fuels; and the siting, processing, and transportation protocols associated with using biomass for heat and power. Given the state’s large biomass capacity in forests and crops like switchgrass, researchers are making an investment in the state’s future.

But more is happening. The Legislature will soon consider recommendations from the Governor’s Global Warming Task Force, some of which offer opportunities for new jobs across the state, in small towns as well as cities. Inevitably, vested interests always fight even obviously necessary change. So it should surprise nobody when coal companies and others who depend on fossil fuels mount campaigns to oppose renewable energy policies. But many objections are borne of fear and misinformation.

For example, some farm groups express concerns about the low carbon fuel standard, a policy that is actually likely to benefit Wisconsin’s farmers. This policy uses a market mechanism to require fuel providers to reduce the total carbon content of fuels sold in the state. Rather than deprive farmers of fuels currently available, it would diversify farmers’ fuel options and reduce volatility. And because the state does not produce fossil fuels but does produce biomass-based energy, this policy plays to the state’s agricultural strengths.

Another policy being considered that supports farmers and rural communities as well as municipalities is the renewable energy buyback program. To meet demand for renewable energy, Wisconsin needs many people to become small-scale renewable energy producers. Some have already done so by installing wind turbines, methane digesters, or solar panels and selling the extra energy back into the grid. But the amount these small-scale producers get paid varies greatly, often making that energy unprofitable to produce.


Make a Comment

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s


    A statewide nonprofit dedicated to promoting economically and environmentally sustainable energy policies and practices in Wisconsin.


    Subscribe Via RSS

    • Subscribe with Bloglines
    • Add your feed to Newsburst from CNET
    • Subscribe in Google Reader
    • Add to My Yahoo!
    • Subscribe in NewsGator Online
    • The latest comments to all posts in RSS


Liked it here?
Why not try sites on the blogroll...

%d bloggers like this: