Governor Walker started his first term’s budget eliminating renewable energy programs in Wisconsin. One of his first legislative goals – that thankfully failed – was to throw wind farm development out the window by imposing extreme restrictions that would have suffocated Wisconsin’s clean energy future.
And now he’s at it again, directing our money to big energy companies rather than wind power, solar power, and bioenergy.
|“The proposals are designed to do one thing: to stop solar, to stop competition.”– Bryan Miller, president of the Alliance for Solar Choice|
When the profits of energy companies matter more than reducing energy use and investing in renewable energy, we all pay the price – literally.
And that’s exactly what’s about to happen across Wisconsin. Hang on to your hats, folks because this one is something else.
Three of the state’s largest energy companies – WE Energies, Wisconsin Public Service, and Madison Gas & Electric – are proposing new billing strategies that will penalize customers for using less energy.(1) As if that’s not bad enough, the new proposals will also penalize energy produced by renewable resources that customers have already invested in, thwarting renewable energy growth in Wisconsin.(2)
Nationwide, states are benefitting from the growing renewable energy industry. But not in Walker’s Wisconsin. We’re already falling behind our neighbors in clean energy, ranking only 9th in the Midwest in capacity to produce wind energy. We are able to produce a measly 648 megawatts – compare that to Iowa’s 5,133 megawatts and Illinois’ 3,568 megawatts.(3) And Governor Walker’s administration is prepared to make matters worse.
With our wallets and our clean energy future on the line, we should be able to count on decision makers to pull the plug on such a bad proposal. The Wisconsin Public Service Commission – comprised primarily of Governor Walker appointees – are poised to greenlight this plan.
Now Wisconsinites across the state must brace themselves for some very real changes:
- Higher fixed fees mean that customers will pay more than their fair share when they reduce energy use or supplement with renewable energy sources.
- Customers who have already invested in solar power, wind power, and bioenergy will be penalized with taxes.
- Renewable energy companies will stop investing in Wisconsin and we will lose out on a growing industry.
- Wisconsinites will have limited options to manage growing energy costs and the state of Wisconsin will have an energy portfolio with limited diversity.
And while Wisconsinites will be feeling the pinch from increased fixed fees and taxes on renewable energy, Governor Walker’s pockets are filling up with donations from the three energy companies. Since 2009, Governor Walker has received $230,522 from Madison Gas & Electric, WE Energies, and Wisconsin Public Service – showing us once again that his friends matter more than the citizens of Wisconsin.(4)
Conveniently, we don’t expect the commission to make a final decision until after the election, but all signs currently point to the utilities making out like bandits, while all of us pay more each month.
What does this all add up to? The people Governor Walker wants making decisions are helping to put more of your money in the pockets of the energy companies and less investment in renewable energy, which has been a growing sector of the Wisconsin economy. Other Midwest states are clamoring to take the lead in the new clean energy economy, while in Walker’s Wisconsin we aren’t just standing still– we are victim to regressive policies that are sending our state backwards.
(4) Wisconsin Democracy Campaign: http://www.wisdc.org/