Rep. Barca: Wind energy holds the key to rapid Wisconsin job growth
A news release issued by State Rep. Peter Barca (D-Kenosha):
Last year Wisconsin made great progress on wind energy and there was bipartisan enthusiasm for advancements in this cutting-edge industry. A wind energy bill was approved last session with a two-thirds majority in both houses – including the leaders of both parties. Organizations such as the Wisconsin Energy Business Association praised Wisconsin’s potential for success in wind energy.
We fully expected the bill would be implemented early this year and Wisconsin would begin catching up with its neighbors. Currently Iowa gets nearly 20 percent of its energy from wind, while Wisconsin generates a mere two percent of its energy supply from this renewable, local source. Minnesota and Illinois each currently produce four times as much. Other states in our region are benefiting from cheap and clean energy, huge private investments, and countless high-tech energy and construction jobs.
Wind energy creates jobs. And Wisconsin needs jobs.
When Gov. Walker took office, it was estimated that Wisconsin’s wind industry contributed between 2,000 and 3,000 direct and indirect jobs. There are 171 wind-power supply chain businesses in Wisconsin. And we are home to more than 20 manufacturing facilities that make components for the wind industry. This represents tens of millions of investment in wind-specific manufacturing infrastructure and equipment.
Inexplicably, Gov. Walker and legislative Republicans have used the rules process to cripple wind energy production in Wisconsin, leading to the cancelation of several major wind projects, which RENEW Wisconsin estimated would have produced a thousand jobs and $1.2 billion in investment.
This will also cause Wisconsin to fall further behind our neighboring states.
Democrats pushed to allow the wind siting rules to go into effect – giving more certainty to developers and allowing major wind energy projects to go forward and would have certainly created hundreds, or possibly thousands, of jobs. But Republicans refused, despite the prior bipartisan agreement last session on this issue.
Wisconsin lost more jobs than any other state in October – that’s 9,700 jobs lost. And Gov. Walker’s own administration has predicted he will fall dramatically short of his campaign promise to create 250,000 jobs. Under Gov. Walker, Wisconsin continues to underperform the national economy, yet Republicans continue to push an agenda that sends our jobs out of state.
There have been many opportunities for us to get back on track. During two separate special sessions that were supposed to focus on quickly creating jobs, Republicans failed to address this top priority of Wisconsin citizens. Instead, these sessions were used by Republicans to pass giveaways to special interests and advance an extreme social agenda which has further polarized and divide our state.
At a time when tens of thousands of Wisconsin families are struggling to make ends meet, it is inexcusable that anyone would put up unnecessary hurdles to significant job growth by halting wind energy. Already Wisconsin sends more than $12 billion out of the state each year to power our homes, automobiles and factories. We have a chance to help put our state on the cutting edge of wind energy production, save consumers and taxpayers money – and create good jobs in the process.
Let’s work together again – immediately – to make this a reality.