One Step Forward, 10 Steps Back?

Posted on October 4, 2011. Filed under: Economic development, Energy Efficiency, Focus on Energy/Public Benefits, Jobs, Wind |

From an article by Ronnie Garrett in Corporate Report Wisconsin:

Reduce. Reuse. Recycle.

Those are words my kids hear a lot. We think about what we buy, opting for recyclable materials or recycled content instead. We think about what we throw away, opting instead to find someone who can use it or a place to recycle it. And we think about the energy we use. In our home you don’t get air conditioning 24/7 during the summer — even when it’s 98 degrees outside — and you don’t get to jack up the heat to 80 because you’re cold during the winter.

So it frustrates me a great deal when I hear about things that show our state legislature isn’t taking conservation efforts as seriously as it should.

Take for instance the fact that in the past six months, three wind farm developers with a combined investment of more than $600 million, have stopped operations in Wisconsin. The developers cited regulatory uncertainty and a perception that Wisconsin offers a hostile business environment for “green” energy as the reasons why.

And while Gov. Scott Walker’s effort to end Wisconsin’s recycling as we know it was denied by the state Legislature, the budget bill did cut funding for local recycling by 40 percent, which will result in communities making cuts to their services or charging fees to make up the lost revenue.

In June a coalition of 124 businesses signed a letter asking the governor to veto the portion of the state budget that rolled back funding to Focus on Energy, a statewide energy efficiency and renewable energy program. In spite of this grassroots effort, that claimed the focus also created jobs for the state, the cuts remained in the state budget.

Ironically, these things came to fruition around the same time that a report issued by The Brookings Institution reported Wisconsin’s clean energy jobs at nearly 77,000. Among the clean energy jobs categorized in the report were those in energy efficiency, renewable energy, and recycling and reuse. The report also cited Focus on Energy for the attractive buyback rates offered by utilities for renewable energy and the innovative incentives that encourage customer installation of renewables.


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