An editorial from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

The economic stimulus package approved last week gives Wisconsin and other states an opportunity to ease the financial crisis by doing more than just making ends meet. Money in the package aimed at energy projects provides an opportunity to move from an economy too reliant on fossil fuels and toward an economy based on sustainable green energy.

As the Journal Sentinel’s Thomas Content detailed in an article last week:

Wisconsin businesses and governments should receive at least $276 million, and possibly more, in energy-related funds from the economic stimulus bill, according to the state agency in charge of the recovery. Energy provisions in the stimulus package include funding for efforts to make buildings more efficient and to boost the use of renewable energy sources such as wind turbines and solar panels.

Also included are tax credits for manufacturers of energy technologies and for consumers who improve the energy efficiency of their homes or buy plug-in hybrid cars. For instance, homeowners will get credits of up to $1,500 for energy upgrades, such as purchases of qualified furnaces and insulation.

Wisconsin is likely to receive $146 million to weatherize some of the most inefficient buildings in the state. An additional $130 million or so is expected under two kinds of grants for energy-efficiency and other projects.

And Johnson Controls, the state’s largest company, is in a great position to take advantage of the stimulus money for its own work in energy efficiency.

There are opportunities here, too, for governments and their taxpayers. Making school buildings more energy efficient, for example, would reduce energy bills, allowing districts to spend money on textbooks or teachers or to reduce taxes, and put people to work retrofitting buildings. That kind of spending is a real win-win.

Times are hard. But using the stimulus money to help foster a greener economy could position Wisconsin for a healthier and more prosperous future.