There’s an effort to convince the governor to continue increased funding to the Focus on Energy program.
Saying energy efficiency creates jobs, a coalition of 124 businesses signed a letter asking Governor Scott Walker to veto a portion of the state budget that rolls back previously-approved funding to the statewide energy efficiency and renewable energy program. Keith Reopelle of Clean Wisconsin says without the veto, there will be higher energy bills and job creation will be stifled.
“If the governor is serious about creating jobs in Wisconsin, he will veto this language that cuts the Focus on Energy program. If he does not veto that language, he will simply be adding to the attacks really on clean energy policies in this state and he will actually be eliminating a lot of the jobs that we could see in the future.”
The funding had been approved by a Democrat majority back in December. Reopelle says increased funding was expected to create between 7,000 and 9,000 new family-supporting jobs. He says the cuts have nothing to do with balancing the state budget.
“If the governor allows this language and the cuts to go through, it will not help to balance the budget at all … it is something that absolutely could, and should, be dealt with in separate legislation.”
The Republican-controlled budget-writing committee just last month repealed those funding increases. Reopelle says that’s “A penny wise and a dollar foolish.” He explains energy demands will have to be met somehow — either through energy efficiency, or by building more power plants and transmission lines.
According to Reopelle, the Focus on Energy program, since its inception ten years ago, has already displaced the need for two medium size baseload generating plants. The governor’s office says they’re evaluating the issue.
Approximately $100 million is spent on the energy program annually. Focus on Energy is funded through a surcharge on utility bills and is under the oversight of the state Public Service Commission.