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'Broad Support' for Increasing Renewable Energy in Wisconsin

PHOTO: Keith Reopelle of Clean Wisconsin says a proposal to boost the amount of clean energy used to generate Wisconsin's electricity would be good for the environment and the economy. (Photo provided by Clean Wisconsin)
PHOTO: Keith Reopelle of Clean Wisconsin says a proposal to boost the amount of clean energy used to generate Wisconsin's electricity would be good for the environment and the economy. (Photo provided by Clean Wisconsin)
February 28, 2014

MADISON, Wis. - Thirty percent of the electricity in Wisconsin would be generated by renewable sources by 2030 under a plan called the Wisconsin Renewable Energy Act, introduced this week by four members of the state Legislature.

The state now is on track for 10 percent renewable energy by 2015.

Keith Reopelle, senior policy director for the environmental group Clean Wisconsin, cited broad public support for this proposal, LRB 4320/1.

"No matter what part of the state you look at, or whether it's men or women or even whether it's Democrats or Republicans or independents," he said, "the public does overwhelmingly support investment in clean energy, developing more clean energy and becoming less reliant on fossil fuels."

Reopelle admitted it will be a tough fight to get the proposal through the current state Legislature, but pointed out that Wisconsin still sends more than $12 billion out of state every year to import fossil fuels. He said arguments that mandating more renewable-energy resources will drive electricity prices up don't hold water.

"The only correlation between states with stronger renewable-energy standards and electricity prices is that those states with the renewable-energy standards have lower electricity prices," he said. "I'm not saying it's a cause-and-effect thing, but it certainly does strongly make the point that just because you have a stronger renewable-electricity standard does not mean you're going to have higher rates."

Reopelle said upping the standard to 30 percent renewables by 2030 is not only an achievable goal but will make Wisconsin more attractive and competitive for families and businesses.

Reopelle said this proposal not only has obvious beneficial effects for the environment but will be a boon to the state's economy as well.

"The clean-energy industry has been one of the fastest-growing sectors of the nation's and the world's economy for several years now," he said, "and Wisconsin's really been missing out on that economic growth. We're falling behind, and it's time we catch up."

As the Environmental Protection Agency prepares to establish carbon pollution rules, Reopelle said it's important for Wisconsin's utility managers to take a serious look at reducing dependence on dirtier sources of energy.

Tim Morrissey, Public News Service - WI