1 March 2010

Wisconsin Bill Favors Local Renewable Energy

Posted by John Freeland

Wisconsin bill would promote small-scale distributed renewable power generation.

While the deeply-divided Congress looks incapable of passing any serious legislation, states are moving ahead with renewable energy initiatives, particularly states that don’t mine coal or drill much oil and gas.

Wisconsin’s Clean Energy Jobs Act (AB 649/SB 450) was introduced January 7, 2010. It proposes major energy reforms recommended by Governor Doyle’s Global Warming Task Force. The bill isn’t just about climate change mitigation, though, it’s about investing in the state. If enacted the bill would:

1. Raise the renewable energy standard to 25% by 2025.
2. Establish renewable energy buy-back rates.
3. Include renewable biogas from Dairy operations
4. Requires 10% of energy production from in-state renewables by 2025.
5. Recommendation for zero-net energy usage in new construction by 2030.

According to a summary prepared by RENEW Wisconsin:

“The legislation would require the PSC to order electric utilities to purchase renewable energy, under certain terms and conditions, from renewable energy facilities that are constructed after the effective date of the PSC’s order. Such ART orders must include the following:

* The price to be paid for the renewable energy, taking into account production cost, rates of return, and existing state and federal financial incentives;

* A schedule of payments over a sufficient period of time to allow for recovery of the construction and operation costs associated with the facility; and

* A maximum limit on the generating capacity for qualifying facilities.
In ordering ARTs, the Commission is charged with meeting the purpose of “maximizing the development of small-scale, distributed, renewable generation technologies without unreasonable impacts on electric utility rates.”

The bill, if passed would be one of the most aggressive renewable energy packages found in the United States and mean building hundreds or even thousands of wind turbines by 2025.