Report: WI Renewable Energy Presents Economic Opportunity
MADISON, Wis. - Solar- and wind-energy companies account for a lot of jobs and economic activity in Wisconsin, according to a new report that says the state has huge growth potential in renewable energy.
Renewables are a big part of the state's economy, said Andy Olsen, senior policy adviser at the Environmental Law and Policy Center, which released the report.
"There's over 6,800 jobs from wind and solar companies alone, in addition to other renewable technologies, and over 500 companies profiting from renewable-energy growth," he said. "So, there's great economic opportunity here, especially for a state like Wisconsin with a strong manufacturing base. And what our report showed is that a lot of small businesses have benefited from renewable-energy growth."
He pointed to advantages such as the state's top university system and research institutes that have helped to develop new technologies and find new ways for them to succeed in the marketplace. The report also cited Wisconsin's central location in the United States as a benefit for the state's renewable-energy companies.
The report made the point that renewable energy is Wisconsin's only domestic energy source; no others are produced in the Badger State. Although the state has made major strides in renewable energy, it said Wisconsin recently has begun to fall behind in terms of wind and solar development.
Matt Neumann, president of the Pewaukee-based solar energy firm SunVest Co., echoed that warning and said the state is at an important crossroads.
"The opportunity is being capitalized on by other states throughout the country, and we have to make a choice of whether or not we're going to stick with a 20th-century energy portfolio or whether we're going to move into the 21st century," he said. "If we as a state are serious about job creation, we'd better get serious about supporting innovation and technology related to the energy sector."
The report is online at elpc.org.