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Poll: Wisconsin Voters Want Renewable Energy

PHOTO: Clean Wisconsin says Democratic, Republican, and Independent voters in their recent poll showed strong support for clean and renewable energy. Photo courtesy of Clean WI.
PHOTO: Clean Wisconsin says Democratic, Republican, and Independent voters in their recent poll showed strong support for clean and renewable energy. Photo courtesy of Clean WI.
November 3, 2014

MADISON, Wis. - There are many important considerations when voters in Wisconsin go to the polls Tuesday, but the state's largest environmental organization, Clean Wisconsin, says party affiliation makes essentially no difference to voters when it comes to Wisconsin's energy future.

Keith Reopelle, senior policy director of the state's largest environmental organization Clean Wisconsin, says Democratic, Republican, and Independent voters in their recent poll showed strong support for clean and renewable energy.

"If you give voters in a poll like this options of whether they'd like to see more use of solar or wind power, or coal or nuclear power, inevitably energy efficiency and renewable energy are at the top of the list," he says.

Clean Wisconsin hired both a leading Democratic polling organization and a leading Republican polling organization to conduct the poll. The results showed overwhelming support by all voters that utilities should diversify beyond coal and other fossil fuels to provide more power from solar, wind, biomass, and other sustainable sources.

Reopelle says Wisconsin sends more than $12 billion out of state each year to purchase what he calls "dirty fossil fuels."

According to Reopelle, there are 35 wind farms under construction in the Midwest, but none in Wisconsin. He says between 2010 and 2012, the state Legislature was considering a bill that would have effectively banned wind farms from the state, even though the poll showed strong voter support.

"During that time is when so many of the wind development companies in Wisconsin simply picked up shop and moved across the border and started building wind farms in Illinois, where they are inviting and they live wind farms, and so really the damage was done and a lot of that industry simply left the state," says Reopelle.

In 2013, Wisconsin hit the target of having 10 percent of electricity generated from sustainable sources by 2015. But that early lead has evaporated and Reopelle says neighboring states are now doing better than Wisconsin in using renewable resources.

"At Illinois, they're requiring 25 percent by the year 2025," he says. "You look at Minnesota, their largest utility, Excel Energy, is required to get 30 percent renewable energy by the year 2020. So a lot of the states around us have put policies into place that will take them well beyond Wisconsin."

Tim Morrissey, Public News Service - WI