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Monday, February 1, 2010

Energy bill reflects science, consensus

From a letter by Rob Nelson to the editor of the Baraboo News Republic:

If anyone is guilty of espousing "ideology, not reality," and taking a stand based on "politics rather than science or economics," it is clearly Rep. Jeff Fitzgerald in his recent column attacking the legislature’s Clean Energy Jobs Act (AB-649).

The bill is based largely on the 2008 report by the Governor’s Task Force on Global Warming. After 14 months of research, discussion, and compromise, this diverse group suggested more than 60 wide-ranging policy recommendations in order to enhance Wisconsin’s energy independence and reduce our state’s greenhouse gas emissions.

Reflecting an extraordinary amount of consensus, 26 members of the Task Force ultimately endorsed the entire document, while three members objected to individual components of the plan.

Keep in mind that this was no mere collection of tree-huggers: The 29 members of the Task Force included representatives from six utilities (MGE, We Energies, Alliant, Xcel Energy, WPPI, and Integrys Energy Group); two of the state’s largest unions (International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, United Steel Workers); several of Wisconsin’s most prominent manufacturers (Ariens, SC Johnson, General Motors, NewPage, General Electric, and Plum Creek Timber); plus the Dairy Business Association, the Wisconsin Federation of Cooperatives, and a Democratic senator.

A member of Mr. Fitzgerald’s own party, Rep. Phil Montgomery, (R-Ashwaubenon) was included in this bi-partisan effort and agreed with the Task Force’s recommendations.

Not all of the steps outlined by the Task Force are found in the Clean Energy Jobs Act, but many are, including:

— enhancing statewide energy efficiency and weatherization programs;

— requiring that 25 percent of Wisconsin’s energy come from renewable source by 2025;

— offering incentives for producers of agricultural energy crops;

— promoting carbon sequestration in Wisconsin forests; and

— a guarantee that utilities purchase electricity from small-scale generators at fair, reliable prices.

The Wisconsin Office of Energy Independence estimates the Green Energy Jobs Act "will create a minimum of 15,000 new jobs for Wisconsin by 2025, and more than 1,800 of those jobs will be realized in the first year."

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