Homegrown power fuels energy debate
From an article by Paul Snyder in The Daily Reporter:
Lawmakers, unions and utilities agree they want Wisconsin’s renewable energy goals to create more jobs in the state.
But the common ground crumbles when the sides consider ways to make sure that happens. Utilities want trust. Lawmakers want percentages. Unions want work.
“Look, we’re in it for jobs,” said Tom Fisher, president and business manager of the Wisconsin Laborers’ District Council. “We don’t want to drive jobs away from Wisconsin.”
Utilities in Wisconsin agree in principle, but building outside of the state sometimes is the best option for the best price, said Dave Donovan, manager of Wisconsin regulatory policy for Xcel Energy.
“It’s not that renewable energy is not available in Wisconsin,” he said. “The question is: at what cost?”
Xcel is crunching the numbers, and its answer to that question could determine the utility’s support or opposition to local power requirements in a recently released draft bill based on recommendations by the Governor’s Task Force on Global Warming.
The bill would require utilities generate 25 percent of their electricity from renewable sources by 2025. The bill breaks down the requirement further by directing utilities to generate 40 percent of that renewable electricity in Wisconsin.
“I think it’s a reasonable request,” said state Rep. Jim Soletski, D-Green Bay, a co-author of the bill. “The idea is to make the business more homegrown and not have utilities just going out and purchasing power from elsewhere.”
Utilities such as Alliant Energy are tapping out-of-state renewable resources, such as the company’s planned Bent Tree Wind Farm in southeastern Minnesota.