Bill preserves Wisconsin’s environment while strengthening the economy

MADISON — Diverse supporters are applauding today’s rollout of the Clean Energy Jobs Act, legislation that will save state residents and businesses money on their utility bills and create new, family-supporting jobs in Wisconsin, for Wisconsin. At the same time, this legislation will reduce Wisconsin’s contribution to global warming by curbing our $16 billion-per-year dependence on imported, dirty fossil fuels.

“This bill is critical to Wisconsin and could not come at a better time,” says Keith Reopelle, senior policy director, Clean Wisconsin, the state’s largest environmental advocacy organization. “This legislation helps state residents and the state economy by increasing job rolls and reducing energy costs. In fact, making investments now to reduce greenhouse gas emissions will continue to save Wisconsinites money well into the future by mitigating the high costs associated with floods, droughts, reduced agricultural and forestry yields and the other negative effects of global warming.”

The Clean Energy Jobs Act is based on recommendations of the Governor’s Task Force on Global Warming, which convened in July 2008 and included representatives from major in-state corporations, all five investor-owned utilities, state forestry and agriculture interests, tribes, labor and environmental groups and others.

“The Task Force brought together a diverse group of people and organizations to work together with one goal in mind: Preserving Wisconsin’s environment while strengthening our economy,” says Reopelle. “And the Clean Energy Jobs Act does that. We need this legislation now and for our future.”

While the Governor’s office also released a report today showing the substantial number of jobs expected as a result of this legislation, analyses from other organizations have long shown Wisconsin stands to thrive in the clean energy economy. To ensure that workers will be ready to fill these jobs, technical colleges around the state are increasing training programs in renewable energy technology.

“At Lakeshore Technical College and other schools across Wisconsin, we are training the next generation of wind energy technicians and renewable energy experts,” says Lakeshore Technical College president Mike Lanser. “Passing strong renewable energy policies, like those included in this bill, are essential to making sure there will be a job market for our students.”

The cost savings of this legislation will be a welcome relief to homeowners, businesses and industries. Modeling by the Technical Advisory Group to the Governor’s Task Force on Global Warming and Department of Energy statistics shows the average monthly residential utility bill will drop $10; commercial and industrial customers will also realize savings thanks, in large part, to the bill’s energy efficiency and conservation policies.

“Energy efficiency investments such as home weatherization programs have proven to be effective at reducing consumer’s energy bills. In times of economic uncertainty, these cost savings can be more valuable than ever,” said Bob Jones, public policy director, Wisconsin Community Action Program Association, whose member agencies specialize in weatherizing homes for low-income households.