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Next January, WI. State Sen. Glenn Grothman (R-West Bend) will introduce legislation to freeze Wisconsin’s renewable portfolio standard.
Under current law, 10% of the state’s power must come from renewable sources of energy (such as wind, wood-burning, hydroelectric, etc.) by the year 2015.
Sen. Grothman’s bill would freeze that requirement at 2012 levels. Sparing utilities from having to meet the 2015 mandated goal. Grothman explains:
“The ten percent renewable portfolio standard imposed on Wisconsin utilities in 2006 was a mistake. Wisconsin utilities are primarily meeting this standard through windmills. This is raising the cost of electricity at a time Wisconsin families are struggling to make ends meet. Worse, it is tearing at the fabric of Wisconsin communities when new windmills are proposed. Credible cases of health problems are brought forth together with stories of lower property values.”
Similar concerns over health effects and lower property values have been raised in nearby Manitowoc county. But the consequences of rising energy costs affect all Wisconsin residents. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, Wisconsin is ranked 18th in highest average retail price of electricity at 9.78 cents per kilowatt-hour. Policies driving Wisconsin toward greater reliance on renewable energy will raise costs for Wisconsin families due to renewable electricity generation being significantly more expensive than electricity from conventional generation. Research from the Institute for Energy Research found states with renewable energy mandates have on average 40 percent higher electricity rates than states that do not have such mandates.
The economic and environmental drawbacks of renewable electricity generation – particularly windpower, which Wisconsin relies on heavily to meet the standard – are well-documented and enough to warrant an outright repeal of the renewable portfolio standard. But a bill freezing the state’s renewable portfolio standard could still be enough of a productive first step to once again make Wisconsin a national leader in responsible, market-oriented policy, that if passed, could inspire other states to introduce similar legislation.