Move will result in higher energy bills, fewer jobs

MADISON — In a move that promises to result in higher energy bills and stifle the creation of thousands of jobs, the Joint Finance Committee voted along party lines today to eliminate funding approved last year for Focus on Energy, a statewide program that helps homeowners and businesses reduce energy use.

“Today’s vote will cost our state thousands of family-supporting jobs and result in higher energy bills for homeowners and businesses,” said Keith Reopelle, senior policy director at Clean Wisconsin. “Focus on Energy is a highly successful program that creates jobs, saves energy and reduces electricity bills for everyone. Cutting funding for Focus is a monumental mistake that will hurt the people of Wisconsin.”

Focus on Energy has saved homeowners and businesses $2.50 for every $1 invested in the program. Since 2001, more than 2 million Wisconsin businesses and residents have participated in Focus on Energy, and participation has been steadily rising. Those residents and businesses have saved over $900 million as a result of the programTo date, Focus on Energy has created 24,000 jobs. When the Public Service Commission (PSC) issued its approval for the increased funding in November of last year, it referenced an energy efficiency-potential study showing that a similar level of investment would create between 7,000 to 9,000 new jobs.

“Focus on Energy has a demonstrated history of reducing energy bills, creating new jobs, and strengthening the local economy,” said Reopelle. “Energy efficiency is a win-win that moves our state closer to energy independence. Today’s vote moves our state in the wrong direction by entrenching our dependence on expensive out-of-state fossil fuels.”

In anticipation of the vote, nearly 100 businesses signed a letter delivered to the Joint Finance Committee yesterday asking members not to cut funding for Focus on Energy.

The cuts in funding are entirely unrelated to the state budget and will not help reduce the state’s deficit.

“At a time when residents and businesses are feeling the pain from the high cost of fossil fuels, it makes no sense to cut funding for a successful program that provides relief by reducing energy bills,” said Reopelle. “Today’s vote was the wrong choice for Wisconsin, and legislators should know that their constituents are watching.”