Announcement of new solar installation on Capitol draws huge audience

MADISON — Setting the stage for increased renewable energy and energy efficiency throughout Wisconsin today, Governor Jim Doyle announced a solar panel installation on the roof of the State Capitol.

“We have no natural gas, coal or oil of our own and send nearly $17 billion out of state for imported fossil fuels every year. Wisconsin can make real environmental gains and increase our energy independence through renewable energy and efficiency energy, as the Governor demonstrated today,” said Amber Meyer Smith, program director at Clean Wisconsin, the state’s largest environmental advocacy organization.

In the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy’s 2009 State Efficiency Scorecard, Wisconsin ranks 11th most efficient of the 50 states. A report issued in May, “Energy Efficiency and Customer-Sited Renewable Resource Potential in Wisconsin,” noted that a $340 million annual investment in energy efficiency would create 7,000 to 9,000 family-supporting jobs in the state and reduce energy use 1.6 percent by 2012.  This would save residents, businesses, and the state an estimated $900 million annually by that year.

The solar installation, which is being completed during the month of December, includes 48 panels that will produce almost 11,800 killowatt-hours of renewable energy per year and reduce the Capitol’s carbon emissions by 12 metric tons. The project was paid for and is being maintained by Madison Gas & Electric.

Doyle also announced that the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) building has achieved LEED Silver certification for an existing building.

“It has been said before that energy efficiency isn’t just ‘the low-hanging fruit; it’s the fruit laying on the ground,’” says Smith. “Together renewable energy and energy efficiency can help our state make huge environmental and economic gains with the valuable natural resources and talent we already have at hand.”