July 24, 2014

Report stresses need for renewable energy focus

A new report says Wisconsin needs to do more to encourage the growth of wind and solar energy companies.

The report from the Environmental Law and Policy Center shows over 300 companies in the state are part of the wind and solar energy chain and provide nearly 12,000 jobs. Center executive director Howard Learner says that development has created business growth and new jobs the state needs.

Learner says Wisconsin had been working in recent years to encourage growth in solar and wind power. However, recent political pressures have held up those efforts. He says state officials should be taking a closer look at policies that will get things back on track.

Among the problems identified in the study is the state’s delay in adopting permanent statewide wind siting standards, which has already resulted in several canceled projects. Rules were proposed last session, but disagreement in the Legislature has held up their adoption

Learner says federal officials also need to end the cycle of having to reauthorize renewable energy tax credits every few years. He says those delays have also prevented projects from moving forward.

Without action in Wisconsin, Learner says neighboring states will continue to pursue the technologies and the Badger State will get left behind. In fact, he says that’s already started to happen in Iowa and Illinois, where officials have aggressively pursued the development of wind farms.

AUDIO: Andrew Beckett reports (1:06)