From the frequently asked questions (FAQs) on the Clean Energy Jobs Act bill:
Enhanced Energy Efficiency and Conservation
Q: Won’t increased funding for statewide energy efficiency programs come out of the pockets of Wisconsin ratepayers? We shouldn’t be raising energy costs during an economic downturn by adding more fees to our utility bills.
A: Investing more money in energy efficiency has a demonstrable, risk-free payback for Wisconsin residents and businesses. Over the long run we will use less energy, which means we’ll actually be reducing our energy bills.
The cost of conserving energy is far less than the cost of building new power generation. Energy efficiency and conservation efforts are the least-cost means of mitigating carbon pollution.
Investing in energy efficiency also translates into stable, family-supporting jobs, particularly within the building and construction trades and at the 50+ businesses in Wisconsin that manufacture Energy Star appliances, windows, and other products. . . .
Q: Will an Enhanced Renewable Portfolio Standard require the build-out of costly electric generation that Wisconsin doesn’t need, while doing nothing to reduce the demand for electricity? Don’t renewable energy sources cost more than coal and natural gas?
A: Each year, we send over $16 billion out of state to purchase coal, natural gas, and petroleum products to meet our energy demands. Every dollar we spend on these fossil fuels is a dollar that leaves Wisconsin. By increasing our state’s renewable portfolio standards, we are guaranteeing that more of our energy dollars remain here, and creating thousands of jobs for Wisconsin families in construction and building trades work, and, in the longer term, supply-chain jobs in our manufacturing, agricultural, and forestry sectors.
Also, the EPA has moved to regulate greenhouse gas emissions under the Clean Air Act, which means that costs associated with burning coal and natural gas will continue to rise. We cannot continue to pretend that exclusive reliance on fossil fuels for power generation is either sustainable or affordable in the long term. We need to speed our transition to a cleaner energy economy and position Wisconsin as a leader in this growing industry before other states get ahead of us.
As we add renewable sources of energy to our fleet, many of the older and less efficient fossil fuel burning units will gradually be retired, and Wisconsin’s generation capacity will fall in line with demand. Initial infrastructure costs associated with a transition to renewables will be off-set by producing cleaner and reliable renewable energy for Wisconsin over the long-term. Meanwhile, the cost of renewable generation technologies continues to fall when compared to fossil fuel alternatives.
Increased reliance on renewable energy is central to creating a more sustainable Wisconsin. Life cycle costs associated with fossil fuel have a significantly greater adverse impact on public health, quality of life, and the environment.
Advanced Renewable Tariffs
Q: Won’t Advanced Renewable Tariffs simply increase the cost of energy for everyone by subsidizing certain types of renewable technologies at a cost that is higher than the market would otherwise tolerate? Don’t Advanced Renewable Tariffs duplicate the efforts of the Renewable Portfolio Standard?
A: Evidence from around the world suggests that feed-in tariffs lead to faster deployment of renewable generation sources than a stand-alone Renewable Portfolio Standard. Advanced Renewable Tariffs will help harness the power of Wisconsin’s rich agricultural resources by making it easier and more cost-effective for farmers to take farm-waste and generate electricity with it to power their farming operations and deliver clean, renewable energy back to the grid.
Incenting the deployment of smaller-scale, more distributed renewable generation sources cuts down on our state’s transmission infrastructure costs and will reduce our reliance on out-of-state renewable power in the long term.
This policy helps level the playing field so individual homeowners, farmers, and businesses can earn a return on investments in renewable energy that is similar to the returns that utilities earn.