Defying public opinion, Wisconsin legislature ponders new attack on wind, other renewables

Fresh from actions earlier this year that have caused three proposed wind projects in the state to be deferred or abandoned, Wisconsin legislators are now considering a new bill that would dramatically undercut the effectiveness of the state's renewable energy standard.

The latest move flies in the face of public opinion in the Badger State, as expressed in an April poll which found 77% of the state's residents supporting increasing the use of wind power and 69% favoring installation of wind turbines “located close to where you live.”

The new bill, Assembly Bill (AB) 146, added to proposals to import abundant hydropower from Manitoba, amounts to a “stealth campaign” attacking the renewable energy standard, according to renewable energy businesses in the state.

Briefly, AB-146 would end a provision under which renewable energy credits acquired by utilities to comply with the standard expire after four years. That provision is intended to ensure continued construction of new renewable energy projects over time.

The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) denounced AB-146, noting that: “Wisconsin’s existing wind projects bring direct economic benefits to Wisconsin each and every day – not to mention cleaning the air residents of the state breathe. Each year, these operating wind projects provide:

   * “Annual property tax payments by wind project owners of $870,000
   * “Annual land lease payments to property owners of $1.35 million.”

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