From a story on WQOW-TV, Eau Claire:

Eau Claire (WQOW) — A new report shows our area really needs to focus on energy.

The report from the West Central Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission shows how energy consumption has risen 35% in our area over the past three decades. Over the same time our population has only increased about half that.

The new report focuses on Barron, Chippewa, Clark, Dunn, Eau Claire, Polk, and St. Croix counties. It includes several areas that those counties need to work on.

The report showed in 2005, only 4.5% of Wisconsin’s energy came from renewable resources. The commission feels like the region can do better than that. It says the options for conservation exist, but many communities aren’t making that a priority.

There were several issues found by the commission regarding resources. The report shows more farmland is being taken out of production and converted to other uses. From 1990 to 2007, the region lost half a million acres of farmland. From 1987 to 2007, the region lost 58% of its dairy farms.

Water consumption increased 50 million gallons a day between 1979 and 2005. The report found that there is an increase in organic farms and that there is an opportunity for our region to become an organic food and feedstock supplier to the twin cities.