Ted Bobrow

Renewable energy is good for Wisconsin and America

By - Apr 3rd, 2010 04:00 am
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Smokestacks in Pleasant Prairie WI. Photo by James Jordan, via flickr.com (cc applied)

Remember that adage that if you’re not part of the solution you’re part of the problem?

Well once again our local business lobby, the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce, is proudly broadcasting on which side of that equation it belongs.

The issue is whether Wisconsin should set ambitious goals for promoting the use of renewable sources of energy. Governor Doyle has called on the state legislature to pass the Clean Energy Jobs Act which he claims will achieve the two desirable goals of helping to save the planet while also growing the state’s economy.

photo by Wayne National Forest flickr site (cc).

The bill would raise the standard for the use of renewable sources of energy from the current 10 percent to 25 percent in 2025 (25 in 25, get it?). It would also provide tax incentives for businesses and consumers to reduce their energy use.

Doyle and other supporters of the bill claim its passage would add thousands of jobs to the state as renewable energy sources like wind and solar are developed and expanded. Opponents say the bill will add unnecessary costs to businesses when they are already suffering from the recent recession, making Wisconsin an island of regulation (even though Minnesota and Illinois have already adopted 25 percent renewable standards).

Photo of Wisconsin wind generator, via P^UL on flickr.com (cc)

This issue divides people along partisan political lines, much like the recent debate over health care. One might argue that independence from foreign oil might be a subject that we could all agree on, but one would be wrong.

Doyle has said that the encouraging the use of renewable energy is “where the world is going” and Wisconsin “shouldn’t be sticking our heads in the sand on this.”

MMAC’s government relations director Steven Bass insists that “our economy is constantly reinventing itself” and the question is whether “it should take place at the speed of the marketplace or under the command, control and manipulation of government.”

The past two days have been absolutely lovely in Milwaukee, so I treated myself to a stroll along the downtown Riverwalk. The water looked clean and the air smelled fresh and I couldn’t help thinking back to when the rivers and lakes were gross and polluted. I wonder how long it would have taken the marketplace to clean up our waterways without the intrusion of environmental laws.

Let’s hope that the recent news that Ingeteam, the Spanish company that makes the propeller-like turbines that converts wind into energy, will locate a plant in Milwaukee adds some momentum to the bill.

Or, as a prophetic Minnesota native once said, you don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.

Categories: Gray Matter

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