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Wednesday, October 26, 2011

State urged to beef up clean energy policies to create jobs

From an article by Judy Newman in the Wisconsin State Journal:

Two reports show Wisconsin has a significant renewable power industry, but with a stronger state commitment, it could be saving more energy and creating more jobs.

Wisconsin has more than 300 businesses involved in wind or solar energy, providing more than 12,000 jobs, according to a study by the Environmental Law and Policy Center in Chicago.

It found 171 Wisconsin companies that either produce, sell or install wind power equipment or plan wind development.

Another 135 companies are part of the solar energy industry. For example, Cardinal Glass makes solar panels in Mazomanie; Helios recently opened a solar panel factory in Milwaukee.

"These are real jobs; these are real businesses. Many are existing businesses that are branching out into new product lines," said Howard Learner, the center's executive director.
Ten years ago, Wisconsin was considered a leader on renewal energy policy, so companies located here, Learner said. "That policy support has now been eroding, and neighboring states —Minnesota, Illinois and Michigan — now have much stronger renewable standards than Wisconsin does and are exceeding Wisconsin in terms of jobs," he added.

Meanwhile, at a news conference Tuesday, representatives of clean energy businesses made a pitch for more money for Wisconsin's Focus on Energy program, saying it will save energy, cut consumers' costs and create jobs.

In the 10 years since it was created, Focus programs have saved utility customers 6.8 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity, or 6.8 months of the total residential power use in the state, says the report by the Midwest Energy Efficiency Alliance in Chicago. It says the programs also have saved 278 therms of natural gas, or 1.8 years of statewide residential consumption.

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