Expanding Focus would help further lower energy bills, create more jobs

MADISON — A long-awaited audit released by the bipartisan Legislative Audit Bureau today confirms that Focus on Energy, the statewide energy program, successfully lowers energy bills and provides benefits that far outweigh the costs of the program.

“The audit released today confirms that Focus on Energy is one of the most cost-effective energy programs in the nation, with benefits more than doubling the costs of the program,” said Keith Reopelle, senior policy director at Clean Wisconsin.

These benefits come in the form of lower energy bills and a cleaner environment.  Businesses and homeowners saved over $264 million on their energy bills as a result of the program last year alone, according to the report. Additionally, reduced emissions from power plants resulted in over $17 million in environmental benefits. These benefits do not include job creation and increased business sales resulting from the program, which the audit acknowledges but does not quantify.

“For every dollar spent on Focus on Energy, homeowners and businesses get more than two dollars back in their pocket in the form of lower energy bills,” said Reopelle. “As an added benefit, Focus on Energy helps create a cleaner, healthier environment, reduces the need to build expensive new power plants to meet our energy needs, and creates thousands of jobs in Wisconsin.”

The audit comes after a decision earlier this year by legislative leaders to significantly cut funding to Focus on Energy. When Gov. Walker signed the biennial budget bill this spring, he cut $320 million from the program over the next three years.

“Since the cuts that occurred this spring, public officials have been patiently waiting for the results of this audit to discuss improvements to Focus on Energy,” said Reopelle. “This audit clearly shows that increasing investments in Focus on Energy will lower energy bills, and help homeowners and businesses save money. We hope that our leaders act quickly to take advantage of this opportunity.”