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Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Solar Electricity Boom Bypassing Wisconsin

RENEW Policy Summit Aims to Plug Badger State into Surging Market Sector

In a release issued earlier this week, the U.S. solar electric industry reported its second largest quarter ever, adding 930 megawatts (MW) of generating capacity between July and October 2013. Of that total, only an estimated 260 kilowatts, or a mere .02%, were installed in Wisconsin.

Graphic:  Comparing trends for new solar electric system installations in Wisconsin versus the U.S. as a whole, Wisconsin kept pace through 2010 but has fallen sharply off pace since.

Nationally, solar’s surge continued through October. Of the 699 MW of electric generation added that month, solar accounted for 504 MW, or 72%, of the total. All told, more than 99% of the generation capacity added in October is fueled by renewable energy resources.

Taking note of declining system prices, the Solar Energies Industry Association (SEIA) projects that a total of 4,300 MW of new solar generating capacity will come online in 2013, an increase of 27% over the previous year. RENEW Wisconsin estimates that Wisconsin’s contribution to that total will be less than 2 MW, continuing a downward trend that began in 2012 (see graph on page 2).

The question of how to reinvigorate Wisconsin’s coal-heavy electricity sector with renewable power such as solar will take center stage at RENEW’s third annual energy policy summit, set for January 10, 2014, at UW-Madison’s Pyle Center. The theme of the summit is “We Mean Business.”

“Renewable energy is driving economic development throughout the Midwest and the nation. States like Minnesota and Georgia have warmed up to solar energy’s tremendous potential, and our Midwest neighbors are investing heavily in windpower too,” said RENEW Wisconsin’s Executive Director Tyler Huebner. “We hope to apply the lessons they’ve learned through their policy initiatives to Wisconsin’s renewable energy sectors, which once set a shining example to neighboring states but are now languishing in an inhospitable policy environment.”

“Solar energy is taking flight in most parts of the country,” Huebner said. “A 10 MW installation was just commissioned at Indianapolis International Airport, the largest of its kind serving a commercial U.S. airport. Last week, New York City committed to host the largest solar facility within city limits on what was once the largest landfill in the world. And Farmers Electric Cooperative, in neighboring Iowa, just announced plans to build the Hawkeye State’s largest solar generating plant for its owner-members.

“The key difference between the leaders and the laggards is state energy policy,” Huebner said. “Expansive policies like net metering, Clean Energy Choice, and streamlined interconnection can unlock market barriers and unleash the entrepreneurs who will deliver the clean energy that customers all across Wisconsin desire. Our summit will show policymakers and the public that we mean it when we say that clean energy is good for business.”

Visit the RENEW Policy Summit website for more information and to register for the January 10th event. Early registration discount ends December 20th.

View this entire press release, including supplemental reference material.

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