Letters signed by nearly 100 businesses delivered to Capitol
MADISON — Letters signed by nearly 100 businesses as well as faith, low-income and environmental advocates were delivered to members of the Joint Committee on Finance today, asking them not to eliminate the funding approved last year for Focus on Energy, a statewide program that helps homeowners and businesses reduce energy use.
“Focus on Energy is a successful program that creates thousands of family-supporting jobs and cuts energy bills,” said Keith Reopelle, senior policy director at Clean Wisconsin. “Cutting this funding would increase electricity bills as homeowners and businesses would lose the opportunity to reduce their energy bills by a combined $2 billion.”
Joint Finance Committee co-chair Robin Vos has stated his intention to eliminate the funding approved last year several times. That move is likely to happen as early as tomorrow through the committee’s consideration of the state budget, despite the fact that Focus on Energy funding is unrelated to the state budget.
“We urge you to protect the PSC’s investment increase for the program and allow our businesses to grow, add new jobs, and strengthen the local economy,” reads a letter addressed to members of the Joint Finance Committee. “With a proven track record of delivering cost-effective energy savings and driving local business, Focus on Energy should be allowed to grow.”
To date, Focus on Energy has created 24,000 jobs and saved homeowners $2.50 for every $1.00 invested in the program, according to an independent evaluation. When the PSC issued its approval for the increased funding in November of last year, it referenced an energy efficiency-potential study that showed 7,000 to 9,000 new jobs would be created with a similar increase of Focus on Energy funding.
“The Focus on Energy program contributes significant resources to help businesses and residents save energy, create jobs and stay competitive in the marketplace,” said Randy Johnson, president of US Lamp, Inc. “Reducing or eliminating Focus on Energy funding would take away our state’s competitive energy advantage and position us in the bottom, not the top, of states to consider for residence or locating a business. I would urge legislators to keep the Focus on Energy funding in place for the vitality of Wisconsin.”
Newly appointed Public Service Commission Chairman Phil Montgomery issued a statement two weeks ago, on Earth Day (April 22), lauding the program and pointing out that it saved Wisconsin ratepayers $380 million on their energy bills in 2010 alone.