Sustainable energy jobs could boost economy, group says
From an article by Tom Content in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
Wisconsin should strive to do more to grow a renewable energy economy that creates jobs in the state, the author of a new sustainability report says.
The report was published by the Wisconsin Sustainable Business Council, the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Business and the state Department of Natural Resources’ green tier program.
The report seeks to emulate reports published by businesses that move beyond the fiscal bottom line to discuss the firms’ environmental and social impact.
Businesses in Wisconsin that have adopted a “triple-bottom line” approach – for social, economic and environmental benefit – include Kohl’s Corp., Johnson Controls Inc., Miron Construction and S.C. Johnson & Son Inc.
The report found opportunity for job creation awaits the state in the renewable energy sector, and emphasizes how much of the state’s energy spending takes place outside Wisconsin.
“Of the $19 billion that we spent last year, 87% of that money went out of state,” said Tom Eggert, the council’s executive director. “That’s going to help people’s economies in places other than Wisconsin.”
The state lacks coal mines and natural gas reserves but has ample opportunity to create jobs through development of wind, solar and biomass power, he said.
One option for the state to consider, he said, would be for the government to give renewable energy – and job creation – a push by expanding the state’s renewable energy standard.
The state Legislature, though, rejected a plan last year to expand renewable energy mandates in the state.
The Legislature last week gave final approval to a bill that would allow large dams such as those planned to be built in Manitoba to qualify for the state’s renewable energy standard.
Supporters said that access to the large hydro projects is good for the state’s economy because it would keep electricity rates affordable and help the state’s businesses create jobs.
But the direct result in terms of energy investment creates an economic impact for the Canadian province rather than here in the state, Eggert said.