The newest member of the of the state Public Service Commission was asked about his views on climate change, during his confirmation hearing at the Capitol on Tuesday. Mike Huebsch left his post as Secretary of the Department of Administration in February before being named to the PSC by Governor Scott Walker.
Huebcsh told members of the Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Energy that his interest in energy policy began during his sixteen years of service in the state Assembly. “This sector is one of the most important for not only keeping our homes lit and heated, but also critical to advancing economic development by attracting and retaining job creators,” he said.
Huebsch said the combination of aging infrastructure and new federal regulation could prevent huge future challenges to affordability and reliability. “To maintain reliable, affordable energy, we must have a diversified energy portfolio,” he said, adding that Focus on Energy and other programs will also help sustain the state’s energy needs over the long-term.
Wisconsin’s Renewable Portfolio Standard requires all Wisconsin electric providers to provide their customers with a certain percentage of electricity from renewable sources, with an overall statewide goal of 10 percent renewable electricity by 2015. “I’m not certain that policy is necessarily required in a law,” Huebsch said when asked about the future of the RSP. “Everybody recognizes the value of making sure that we have renewables available to us in a cost-effective way, and doing it in a way that’s going to maintain the grid and the infrastructure available for everyone.”
State Senator Mark Miller (D-Monona) asked the last question of Huebsch. “The fossil fuel industry has invested a lot in trying to debunk the science of human contributions to climate change,” said Miller. “What are your views on whether or not our activities in terms of energy generation are contributing to climate change?”
“I believe that humans can have an impact to climate change, but I don’t think it’s anywhere near the level of impact of just the natural progression of our planet,” Huebsch said. “You know, the elimination of essentially every automobile would be offset by one volcano exploding. You have to recognize the multiple factors that go into climate change.”
Huebsch said efforts to curb the effects of climate change need to make economic sense. “I think that climate change is one of those areas that we will continue to discuss for as long as science continues to explore it,” he said. “When we’re taking a look at the energy issues that we face in this state and in this country, it’s more important for us to recognize the value of cost efficient energy efficiency programs and diversification of our energy resources.”