Packers vs. Bears: Not the Only WI-IL Game Being Played
January 18, 2011
MADISON, Wis. - As Green Bay gets ready to play Chicago this weekend, the football field isn't the only place Wisconsin is looking to best Illinois. Conservation groups in Wisconsin say Gov. Scott Walker is proposing a measure that would effectively send the state's wind energy business packing, while sending money south to buy more Illinois coal.
Walker's proposal would increase the amount of space required to site a wind turbine. Groups like the Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters say the measure is so restrictive, it could potentially kill most future wind projects and result in the estimated loss of $1.8 billion in new wind power investments. League Executive Director Kerry Schumann says the governor has been talking about luring jobs from Illinois to Wisconsin, but this measure does an about-face.
"If Governor Walker's proposal goes through, we're basically going to remain dependent on places like Illinois for our dirty coal habit."
The governor says the new rules would give local communities more control, but Schumann says Wisconsin currently ranks fifth in the nation in the portion of its electricity derived from imported coal, and sends more than $850 million out of state every year to places like Illinois, Indiana and Wyoming to purchase that coal.
Schumann claims the bill would jeopardize an entire manufacturing base that has grown in Wisconsin to supply the equipment needed to turn wind into clean power.
"Wind was one of our best opportunities to become more energy independent; to invest our dollars at home."
The bill has been introduced for consideration in the special legislative session currently underway.