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Thursday, January 7, 2010

Group says to ignore flawed energy analysis

From the introduction to a report issued by Wisconsin Environment:

Madison – As the state of Wisconsin begins to consider the Clean Energy Jobs Act, legislation aimed at reducing the state’s dependence on fossil fuels and creating new jobs in the clean energy economy, Wisconsin Environment Research & Policy Center released a new report today debunking recent claims made by special interest groups attacking the initiative.

In the last month, opponents of the initiative have relied on a November 2009 paper by the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute [WPRI], “The Economics of Climate Change Proposals in Wisconsin,” to suggest that transitioning the state to a clean energy economy would result in massive economic disruption. Wisconsin Environment RPC has provided a new, detailed analysis of the flawed methodology used in the WPRI report.

“Wisconsin decision-makers need well-thought-out analyses of economic and environmental challenges –- including from those who, like WPRI, bring a libertarian perspective to the debate -– if the state is going to address those challenges in the most effective way,” said Dan Kohler, Director of Wisconsin Environment. “Unfortunately, WPRI’s analysis does not meet even the most basic standard of accuracy, and, as such, makes no useful contribution whatsoever to the ongoing policy debate.”

Wisconsin Environment RPC, in its new report “Flawed from the Start: How the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute Gets the Economics of Energy Policy Wrong”, found that the WPRI report fails to acknowledge the many obvious economic and other benefits that would result from a broad effort to repower Wisconsin with clean energy. Among the long list of benefits (apparently) not considered in the analysis are the following:

• Avoided costs of electricity generation, transmission and distribution infrastructure resulting from reduced energy demand or the incorporation of on-site renewable generation.

• Increased income for Wisconsin farmers resulting from increased use of biofuels and the potential to lease lands for wind turbines and other forms of renewable energy development.

• Health benefits (including reductions in absenteeism, early mortality and possibly health care costs) from avoided fossil fuel-related pollution, including reductions in pollutants that form smog and soot, and mercury deposition in waterways.

• Avoided economic impacts of global warming in Wisconsin, including predicted changes that threaten to reduce the productivity of agriculture, increase the possibility of dangerous floods, shift the composition of Wisconsin forests, affect the winter recreation industry, and more.

• Reductions in the risk to individuals, businesses and government posed by sudden shifts in fossil fuel prices. Energy efficiency improvements and renewable energy both have hedging value as insurance against sudden spikes in fossil fuel costs.

Previously, the coalition for Clean, Responsible Energy for Wisconsin’s Economy (CREWE) and RENEW Wisconsin issued similar critiques of the WPRI report.

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