State lawmakers opened hearings Wednesday on legislation aimed at reshaping Wisconsin’s energy policies.

The bill being considered seeks to increase the use of renewable fuels and lower carbon emissions in the state. The measure is based on the recommendations made by the Governor’s Task Force on Global Warming.

Task Force co-chair, Roy Thilly, testified before a legislative panel set up to review the bill on Wednesday. He says the recommendations were a compromise and a balance among many differing views. They’re also designed to help Wisconsin prepare for possible federal regulations in the future that could restrict the use of coal to generate electricity, a resource the state currently requires on heavily for most of its power.

Thilly says the task force also stressed the importance of energy conservation, which the bill would help to accomplish. He says it’s the lowest cost alternative to any other solutions, and it will help the state and businesses save money.

Opponents argue Wisconsin will lose thousands of jobs and billions of dollars, if the changes are put in place. However, Thilly says these efforts are needed to help the state deal with rising energy costs. He says Midwestern states are facing significant challenges because of their reliance on fossil fuels.

Regardless of what direction the state heads in, Thilly warns that the cost of building new facilities to generate electricity will see large increases in the future.

AUDIO: Andrew Beckett reports (1:11)


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