Residents tell legislators to pass strong renewable energy policies at Homegrown Energy Day

MADISON — Farmers and owners of renewable energy companies gathered for Homegrown Energy Day at the state Capitol today to ask legislators to pass strong policies encouraging the production of clean, renewable energy in the Clean Energy Jobs Act.

“Homegrown energy is a hidden pot of gold for Wisconsin’s rural communities,” said Jamie Derr, farmer and owner of Derr Solarmass LLC. “By producing our own energy from agricultural waste and natural resources, we can create an important new source of revenue for Wisconsin’s farmers and rural communities.”

By harnessing energy from the sun, wind, crops like switchgrass, and even waste products like manure and crop remnants left on fields after harvest, Wisconsin farmers have become a leader in the production of clean, renewable energy. Unfortunately, current policy prevents farmers from actively competing in the energy market, and, as a result, Wisconsin residents send $16 billion dollars out of state every year out to purchase fossil fuels.

“Passing policies that foster the growth of homegrown energy production will not only help farmers increase revenue, it will also give an economic boost to companies like mine that manufacture renewable energy technologies such as manure digesters, solar panels, and residential wind turbines,” said Dan Nemke, general manager of Clear Horizons, a manure digester manufacturer located in Milwaukee. “Why should we continue to ship $16 billion a year out of state for dirty fossil fuels when we can produce our own clean, renewable energy and keep money flowing right here in Wisconsin?”

The Homegrown Renewable Energy Coalition organized Homegrown Energy Day, which included demonstrations of renewable energy in action with model wind turbines, biomass gasifiers and solar panels located near the Capitol. The coalition is comprised of farmers and renewable energy companies who support four major components of the Clean Energy Jobs Act including a strong renewable electricity standard, a low carbon fuel standard, a biomass reserve crop program, and incentives to use renewable fuels in schools.

“The Clean Energy Jobs Act presents our legislators with the opportunity to pass policies that will boost Wisconsin’s economy, help clean our water, foster greater energy independence and reduce our global warming pollution,” said Keith Reopelle, senior policy director at Clean Wisconsin. “This bill will result in a brighter economic and environmental future for Wisconsin.”