30 percent renewable energy requirement by 2030 proposed

Written By: Judy Newman

Thirty percent of the electricity used in Wisconsin would have to come from renewable sources by 2030 under terms of a bill, called the Wisconsin Renewable  Energy Act, being introduced in the Legislature.
Sen. Mark Miller, D-Monona, and Reps. Katrina Shankland, D-Stevens Point, and Cory Mason, D-Racine, are introducing the proposal, saying it would reduce the state’s dependence on out-of-state fuel and would create jobs.
Miller said he does not expect the bill to pass during the current legislative session. “Realistically, there is not any likelihood” of that, Miller told a telephone news conference. But he said the state needs to work toward a plan for a “strong, viable energy policy.”
Current state rules require 10 percent of Wisconsin’s power use to come from renewable sources, such as solar, wind, hydro and biofuel, by 2015.
Shankland said Wisconsin has the second-highest electric rates in the Midwest; neighboring states that are more dependent on renewable energy are paying less, she said.
A spokeswoman for EDF Renewable Energy, a San Diego company that builds solar and wind power projects nationwide, said if the bill were to pass, it would provide a long-term, stable policy that could attract EDF’s interest.
“We believe a policy like this ... really will be the driver for us to invest millions of dollars into the state,” Shanelle Montana said. “Our projects include massive economic development for the communities they are in.”
The bill’s provisions include net metering, which requires that customers producing their own renewable power would receive full credit for it. It also calls on state regulators to require Wisconsin’s electric utilities to set up a system of specific prices for renewable energy generation.
Two Madison utility companies, Madison Gas & Electric and Wisconsin Power & Light, said it is too soon to determine if a 30 percent standard is realistic for Wisconsin.
“We’re supportive of renewable energy, and Alliant Energy (WPL’s parent company) was one of the first utilities to comply with the current Wisconsin renewable portfolio standard,” said Alliant spokesman Scott Reigstad. He said Alliant officials are still reviewing the details of the proposal.
Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce, the state’s largest business trade association, said it will oppose the bill. “These lawmakers are proposing expensive energy mandates and subsidies that will drive up energy bills and cost our families jobs,” said Eric Bott, WMC environmental policy director.
Supporters of the legislation said Wisconsin has fallen behind other states in its renewable energy standards.
“This bill puts our state back in the game,” Shankland said.