Scott Walker is doing what he can to slow or stop green energy progress in the state.
Renewable energy businesses that want to develop projects in Wisconsin are having success in other states … DVO, a Chilton-based company that is the state’s leading builder of waste-to-energy digesters, is actively pursuing projects in places like Serbia, Chile and Vietnam … Vermont and other states … less demand in Wisconsin after utilities increased the price they would pay to buy the electricity generated by the dairy farm digesters in the state.
Matt Neumann, son of former Republican Rep. Mark Neumann, of Sunvest Solar in Pewaukee, said his company has been actively installing solar projects around the country … Of more 212 projects the company has in the pipeline this year, just one is in Wisconsin, he said.
While other states have been moving quickly into solar, giving Americans the freedom to create their own energy and save money, Walker is trying to protect energy companies from losing their market monopolies. For example, in far off Arizona the power company wanted to charge solar customers and extra $100 a month to discourage the spread of solar panels. That didn't exactly work, but others are trying to do the same.
Nationwide, 80% of new solar installations last year came in states like New Jersey, California and Arizona that have given the go-ahead to third-party ownership.
It’s what Walker and the Republicans won’t allow to happen here:
Wisconsin needs to open the door to more solar through allowing third-party ownership of solar projects, which enable solar developers to own the panels and homeowners and businesses to lease the panels on their rooftops.
What’s the holdup?
Utilities have concerns about allowing too many solar projects, and the ripple effect on other customers if large businesses and other customers shift to generate their own power. Utilities have fixed costs that need to be paid for and policymakers need to be measured to assure that utility finances aren't upended by distributed generation, he said.
Walker is cutting taxes so you can spend more on your energy bills:
The state is falling behind its neighboring states, speakers at the conference said. Michigan built more wind power in 2012 than Wisconsin has built over the past 15 years … In Minnesota and Iowa, where utility costs are less expensive than Wisconsin, utilities are well on their way to hit 25% to 30% of their power from renewable sources.
It’s a market driven green energy movement, pure “economics, it’s cheaper:”
In Minnesota, Xcel Energy is moving to build more wind farms in a bid to meet the renewable energy standard as well as reduce its overall emissions, said Mike Bull of the Center for Energy and Environment in Minneapolis. In addition, the new wind farms are projected to reduce costs for customers over time because there is no fuel price that needs to be paid when the wind blows, Sullivan said. As a result, Xcel’s aggressive move to add wind power in 2013 represents an investment of more than $3.5 billion, said Michael Noble of Minnesota-based Fresh Energy.
“None of that was driven by mandates. None of that was driven by renewable energy standards, none of that was driven by state law,” he said. “That was all driven by economics: it’s cheaper.”
“We must always push the bar up a little higher to see how much we can do because this is a competitive world,” said Sen. Dale Schultz, R-Richland Center.
Oops, scratch Walker’s line about moving Wisconsin forward:
Schoenherr, of the Department of Administration, said the time isn't necessarily right to move forward … because utility sales are flat … time to consider it would be when the state is looking to add more power plants.
The state should move first to expand funding for renewable energy projects through the state Focus on Energy program – which has suspended funding for renewables twice in recent years, said Rep. Katrina Shankland, D-Stevens Point.