Bioenergy, Geothermal, Hydropower, Project Development, Solar, Wind Power

Renewable Energy Bill Introduced for Wisconsin

Lawmakers in Wisconsin have introduced new legislation aiming to increase the use of renewable energy in the state. The bill includes renewable energy mandates for utilities and state government.

State Senator Robert Cowles (R-Green Bay) and State Representative Phil Montgomery (R-Ashwaubenon) have introduced the Energy Efficiency and Renewables Act. The bill includes the major recommendations submitted by the Task Force on Energy Efficiency & Renewables. “That means a greater emphasis on energy conservation and efficiency measures because it saves costs and keeps jobs here in the state,” said Cowles. “Comprehensive legislation is necessary to mitigate rising electricity and natural gas costs over the long-term. Cowles said Wisconsin is expected to face spikes in fuel costs this winter and that incorporating renewable energy and energy efficiency would help insulate ratepayers from this increase. First, the bill seeks to promote energy independence by requiring greater amounts of renewable energy consumed in Wisconsin. Second, the bill preserves and reforms the state’s energy conservation program so that it is more cost-effective and that those funds cannot be used for other purposes. Finally, the bill provides greater regulatory certainty in order to boost energy supplies while protecting ratepayers. Some of the major details include: — Increasing utilities’ generation of renewable power to 10 percent by 2015. — Increasing state government’s own purchase of renewable electricity to 20 percent by 2011. — Upgrading state building codes to require more energy efficiency. — Empowering the state Public Service Commission to set targets and funding levels for state energy efficiency spending. — Creating rural energy initiatives such as use of small-scale manure-to-energy devices, known as anaerobic digesters, and wind turbines. — Securing the state’s energy conservation funds. Both lawmakers said any such energy reform bill should not drive up electric rates or increase overall government spending. Cowles and Montgomery intend to move the Energy Efficiency and Renewables Act forward as a committee bill. The Chairs are targeting Tuesday, November 22, 2005 as the day to hold a joint hearing of the respective committees on the bill. After that, the bill will be worked on in the respective committees to be brought before the full Legislature in the coming months. Rep. Montgomery is chair of the Assembly Energy & Utilities Committee. Sen. Cowles is chair of the State Senate Energy, Utilities & Information Technology Committee. Cowles served as a member of the Task Force on Energy Efficiency & Renewables. Courtesy of