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Is WI Blowing Wind and Solar Job Opportunities?

October 25, 2011

MADISON, Wis. - Wisconsin's recent political and policy shifts might have undermined clean-energy development and job creation. Howard Learner, executive director of the Environmental Law and Policy Center (ELPC), says it's a distinct possibility. The Center's new study of Wisconsin's solar and wind energy supply chains finds that 171 Wisconsin companies are part of the wind energy supply chain, and 135 are part of the solar energy supply chain. But Learner says recent changes in policy under the administration of Governor Scott Walker could cost jobs.

"Wisconsin needs to get its policies aligned, properly and strong, in support of wind power and solar power, in order to keep getting the job creation and economic growth opportunities."

Learner says solar and wind industries provide more than 12,000 jobs in Wisconsin. He adds that such programs as the Renewable Portfolio Standard and Focus on Energy Program have helped boost those numbers, but are in danger of being cut. Supporters of the cuts claim they are needed to balance the state budget.

Learner says other areas of the Midwest are quickly becoming wind and solar hot spots with the help of prudent government investment.

"Wisconsin was, once upon a time, a policy leader and innovator when it came to clean energy and renewable energy development, but Wisconsin's falling behind."

Learner says a good example of policy working is the recent opening by the firm Helios Solar Energy of Wisconsin's first solar panel manufacturing plant in Milwaukee, using low-interest loans from the state and the City of Milwaukee.

The ELPC says that across Wisconsin, Illinois, Iowa, Michigan and Ohio, there are a thousand clean energy businesses employing more than 50,000 people.

The report is at www.elpc.org

Glen Gardner, Public News Service - WI