Solar and wind power are booming industries around most of the country. Nationwide, there was a 27% increase in solar power produced last year, with 4,300 megawatts of energy being generated. But what was Wisconsin’s share of that growth? A measly 2 megawatts.(1) Yes, you read that right. Two megawatts. Walker’s Wisconsin simply isn’t open to solar and wind business.
It’s been clear from the beginning that Governor Walker is in the dark when it comes to clean energy and the jobs associated with it. In his very first budget, the governor eliminated Wisconsin’s Green-to-Gold program which gave money to manufacturers to offset the costs of retrofitting plants to reduce energy costs.(2) This move undermined Wisconsin’s job creators who used the money saved in energy costs to grow their businesses.
Governor Walker gave Wisconsin workers another blow when he eliminated the Renewable Energy Grants and Loans Program,(3) which gave money to in-state companies developing the next generation of technologies to grow our domestic renewable energy industry – and put Wisconsinites to work.
|“This will be the biggest regulatory barrier in terms of setbacks in the country. You’re adding a new regulatory barrier and putting a ‘closed for business’ sign on Wisconsin for wind development.”– Denise Bode, chief executive of the American Wind Energy Association explains the implications of Governor Walker’s wind proposal|
And that was just the beginning. Governor Walker and his administration are creating hurdles left and right to choke Wisconsin’s wind and solar energy industries. In 2011, Governor Walker waged an attack on wind energy that was so extreme, even his own party couldn’t get behind it. Denise Bode, executive of the American Wind Energy Association, said that the proposal was, “adding a new regulatory barrier and putting a ‘closed for business’ sign on Wisconsin for wind development.”(4) The proposal imperiled up to $1.2 billion in renewable energy investments and more than 1,100 jobs by imposing the greatest restrictions to wind turbines in the country.(5) Although the proposal died, the impacts have been lasting. Job creators in the wind industry understood that Walker’s Wisconsin is anti-wind, so companies left the state and took 1,000+ jobs with them.(6)
This devastating proposal took the wind out of an entire industry that includes not only clean energy production, but manufacturing jobs for Wisconsin. It sent a clear message to future investors that this growing industry is not welcome in Wisconsin. Although Governor Walker’s anti-wind proposal never reached the legislature, the threat of the bill lead three wind farms, accounting for more than $600 million in investments, to stop operations in Wisconsin.(7) And a loss of investors means fewer jobs for hard working Wisconsinites.
As if the message that Wisconsin is closed to renewable energy wasn’t clear enough, Governor Walker’s administration actually changed the rules so that industry growth that could have developed in Wisconsin will be diverted to large, international companies. Wisconsin’s Renewable Portfolio standard was intended to allocate 10% of Wisconsin’s energy needs to clean energy industries. But thanks to the Walker Administration, we expect that Wisconsin will outsource much of our clean energy production to, for example, an international hydro-electric company – in Canada. That’s right, instead of supporting homegrown clean energy that would provide jobs to Wisconsinites – some of Wisconsin’s renewable energy needs are being sent across the border to Canadian Manitoba Hydro, which is expected to yield $4 billion for and job growth in Canada.(8)
Walker’s Wisconsin is closed to the jobs that are propelling other states and countries into the new clean energy economy. Renewable energy – and the jobs that the industry brings – are going elsewhere and Wisconsinites are being left behind.
(3) http://legis.wisconsin.gov/lfb/publications/budget/2011-13-Budget/documents/act32/dnr.pdf pg. 46