Advancing Wisconsin's Clean Energy Future: 2014 & Beyond
Shahla Werner, Sierra Club – John Muir Chapter
222 South Hamilton St, #11, Madison, WI 53703
How Clean Energy Can Create a
Brighter Future for Wisconsin
Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Climate
Change: 2013 IPCC Report
• Concentrations of carbon dioxide (CO2), methane, and nitrous oxide
are at their highest levels in 800,000 years.
• Each of the last 3 decades has been warmer than any preceding
decade since 1850
• The Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets have been losing mass over
past 2 decades; sea level is rising; oceans acidifying
Climate Change: A note of Urgency
“We have at most ten years—not ten years to
decide upon action, but ten years to alter
fundamentally the trajectory of global
If instead we follow an energy-intensive path of
squeezing liquid fuels from tar sands, shale oil, and
heavy oil, and do so without capturing and
sequestering CO2 emissions, climate disasters will
- James Hansen, Adjunct Professor, Columbia University,
Dept. of Earth and Environmental Sciences; Former
Director, NASA Goddard Institute for Space Science
US Greenhouse Gas Sources
• Fossil-fuel based Electricity (used to power and heat our homes, hospitals, and
schools) is the Largest Source of GHG
• In 2011, the US emitted 6,702 million metric tons of CO2 Equivalent
(6.9% below 2005 levels)
- EPA Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks: 1990-2011
Local Climate Change Impacts
Not just an environmental problem, but also an economic
and public health issue
Lautenbach's Orchard in
Fish Creek reduced yields
from 8-10 million pounds to
500,000 lbs in 2012 due to
the extreme drought
Early spring blossoms and late freeze
caused WI apple crop to decrease by
31 million pounds in 2012
Gov. Scott Walker sought
federal disaster aid for 11
Wisconsin counties after
June 2013 flooding caused
more than $9.2 million in
damage to roads and
Sierra Club’s WI Clean Energy Victories
• Blocking Alliant Energy’s proposed 300 MW coal plant
• Prompting UW Charter Street and We Energies’ Valley
power plants to Move Beyond Coal
• Retiring old coal plants at Dairyland’s Alma Plant, &
Alliant Energy’s Nelson Dewey and Edgewater Plants
• Supporting uniform wind turbine siting across WI,
needed to overcome conflicting local ordinances
• Garnering approval for SC Johnson’s to supply 15% of
electricity at their Waxdale facility with local wind
• Blocking bills to allow utilities to buy outdated clean
energy credits, enact extreme wind siting setbacks, &
lower energy rates for high volume users
Wisconsin’s Clean Energy Policies
Act 141, passed in 2006
Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS): Requires utilities to
get 10% of electricity from renewable sources (wind, solar,
biomass) by 2015.
Energy Efficiency: Requires Wisconsin utilities to invest 1.2%
of revenues in Focus on Energy in 2001.
Wisconsin’s Clean Energy Challenges
• Wisconsin’s utilities have already nearly met current
renewable energy standards. Little new development
is likely unless new goals are passed.
• Tough political climate. Legislators temporarily
suspended wind siting rules last session, prompting loss
of at least 4 major wind projects (150 MW Ledge Wind
Energy Project; 98 MW Stony Brook; 100 MW Green
Lake; 50 MW Chilton). Other bills have been introduced
that allow exemption from wind standards, freezing RPS
at 10%, and encouraging neighbors to sue wind
• WI has surplus of power as a result of new coal plants
Renewable Energy Policies Needed to
Move Wisconsin Forward
Improve Wisconsin’s Renewable Energy Standard: require utilities to
generate at least 25% of electricity from renewables by 2025
Clean Energy Choice: Allows property owners to lease roof space to 3rd party
renewable energy system owners, removing up-front solar costs. 22 other
states allow (Support Resolutions have passed in Crawford, Dane, Eau Claire
La Crosse, Polk, Rock and Waupaca County).
Net metering: Customers feed extra electricity they generate into grid; sell to
utility. WI should raise 20 kW net-metering cap and annually average credits.
5880 MW by 2015
ME 10% by 2017
NH 24.8% by
MA: 15% by 2020
RI: 16% by 2020
CT: 27% by 2020
PA: 18% by 2021
NJ: 20% by 2021
MD 20% by 2022
DE: 25% by 2026
DC: 20% by 2020
NV: 25% by 2025
NY: 29% by
OH: 13% by 2024
MT: 15% by
KS: 20% by 2020
HI: 40% by 2030
NC: 12.5% by 2021
Wisconsin Lags Behind Other States
with Renewable Standards
29 states (+ DC and 2 territories) have a renewable portfolio standard,
including 18 which require a percentage to come from solar.
Wisconsin is Lagging Behind Our
Neighbors in Wind Energy
Closing Wisconsin for Clean Energy
Business has Consequences
Hooray for the
Highland Wind Farm!
The Highland Wind Farm is a clean energy project
proposed for the Town of Forest (St. Croix
County). The proposed farm would include 41 turbines
and generate 102.5 megawatts of electricity, enough to
supply clean energy to 25,000 homes.
An organized group of opponents pressured the Public
Service Commission to deny the project twice. The
PSC decided to reopen the case this summer. Sierra
Club, RENEW, & Clean WI encouraged 100’s to the
attend the public hearing & submit positive
comments to the PSC. The PSC APPROVED the
Wind Farm by a vote of 2-1 on September 26, 2013!
The Highland Wind Farm will create over 100 jobs
during construction and up to 8 permanent jobs. Over
the next 30 years, it will provide over $6.8 million in
revenue to St. Croix County.
An Enhanced Renewable Electricity Standard
would Revitalize Wisconsin’s Economy
• A 2009 Blue Green Alliance report found that Wisconsin could create
35,000 new manufacturing jobs by 2025 with an enhanced renewable
• Over 200 Wisconsin companies currently provide products and
services to the wind industry.
• 1,000 MW of new wind development in Wisconsin would create:
3,041 construction & 425 operation and maintenance jobs.
• Current wind developments provide Wisconsin farmers $1.3 million in
income and $1.6 million in tax revenues to local governments annually.
Sources: Wind Today, 2009. Vol. 4, No. 3, at 34-38. http://www.bluetoad.com/publication/?i=21463; The New North,
2009. Wisconsin Wind Works Directory. http://www.thenewnorth.com
Can WI Learn More From our German
Heritage Than Beer Brewing?
Germany’s renewable tariff program has
helped it become a world leader in renewable
More than 20% of the solar energy generated
in the world is produced in Germany, who had
32,643 MW installed by 2012 (WI: 13 MW)
As the largest producer of renewable energy in
the world, Germany has 280,000 people
employed in the renewable energy sector.
Germany has a climate similar to Wisconsin.
We can generate renewable energy
from a diverse array of resources, including
wind, solar, biomass, and hydropower.
Source: National Journal, April, 2009, Stokes, Bruce.
Let the Solar Shine In.
Solar Gets more Affordable Every Year
Solar energy costs have
dropped dramatically since
the 1970’s, when the cost was
At the same time, solar panel
efficiency has been getting
better and better.
The cost of a solar system
dropped by 27% in 2012
Sierra Club’s new Clean
Energy Video (Click to View)
Wisconsin’s Policies Threaten Solar
Jobs, Hurt Homeowners
• Focus on Energy Rebates for
residential renewable energy
systems were suspended in
Wisconsin in September 2013
• Homeowners will no longer get a
rebate of $1,200 or more to help
offset the cost of residential solar
• This hurts Wisconsin’s 135 solar
An Enhanced RPS Reduces
Dependence on Fossil Fuels
Since 1990, greenhouse gas emissions
have increased 22% in Wisconsin.
4 million metric tons of greenhouse
gas emissions have been avoided due to
renewable energy and energy efficiency
measures already in place in WI.
Increasing our use of renewable energy will
keep more money within local economies,
which reduces the $16 billion sent out-of-state
annually to pay for coal, petroleum, and
Source: Wisconsin Office of Energy Independence, 2008. 2008 Wisconsin Energy Statistics, at 3.
Wisconsin Environment, June, 2006. Madsen, T., Wholschlegel, K., Kohler, D. Wisconsin’s
Clean Energy Future: How Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Protect our Environment
and Create New Jobs.
The costs utilities will incur serving their retail
customers from now until 2025 – keeping the
RPS at 10% – is $66.2 billion. Under an
Enhanced RPS, that cost would be $67.9
billion, less than a 3% difference.
Wisconsin’s RPS includes a credit trading
system, which provides a market-based
mechanism to allow electric service providers
to meet their obligations under the RPS in the
most cost-effective way.
Enacting strong energy efficiency goals at the
same time as we enact an enhanced RPS will
cause energy bills to go down.
The Minimal Cost of an Enhanced RPS
Source: Public Service Commission of Wisconsin, April, 2009. Strategic Energy Assessment, at 21.
Take Charge with Sierra Club’s Solar
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Solving it is our greatest
Climate Change is the greatest
challenge facing our generation.
Shahla Werner, Director
Sierra Club – John Muir Chapter
222 South Hamilton St, #11,
Madison, WI 53703