MAILBAG: Clean energy crucial to state’s economy

May 1, 2014 by  
Filed under Solar Energy Tips

Wisconsin does not produce one barrel of oil, not one ton of coal, not one cubic foot of natural gas. We are a state that must regard clean energy policy as crucial to our economy.

Production of wind, solar, biogas and as yet undeveloped energy sources will provide a great number and variety of jobs. Installation, electrical, manufacturing and research jobs will be created. Wisconsin workers from skilled tradesmen to PhD researchers can add value to local energy production.

Clean energy production and energy conservation will provide savings in dollars and fuel. It will spur the economy, and clean up our world. Local production and energy savings would free Wisconsin from being as dependent as it is at present on imported energy.

The price of solar voltaic collectors has dropped 75 percent in the last four years and is competitive with conventional electrical production in many applications. The cost of wind turbines has leveled off in the past four years. This means customers will get more energy production for their money but the clean energy industry will be very competitive.

Geronimo Energy of Edina, Minnesota, for instance, is planning 20 large solar arrays across that state using only federal investment tax credits and no state subsidies. This solar project beat coal and natural gas electrical production in price estimates.

Energy conservation measures can vary from turning off appliances, to changing to LED lighting, to complete home or business energy retrofits. You can begin by borrowing a thermal leak detector from the Baraboo Public Library or reviewing the Sauk County home energy saving ideas web page for home energy savings tips.

State support for local industry is essential to improving Wisconsin’s economic and job outlook. This should include a law allowing clean energy companies to install solar panels on customers’ properties with customers paying for them through their monthly electrical bills. Tax credits should be made permanent for energy conservation and clean energy system installation. A new state goal needs to be set for the production of electricity from clean energy sources. The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation and the Wisconsin Venture Capital Fund of Funds should support our clean energy industry.

Wisconsin voters need to elect a governor and Legislature that will support the long-term growth of our clean energy industry. Wisconsin farmers have been harvesting solar energy in the form of corn, soybeans, wheat, cranberries and carrots for many years. Let us harvest just as much solar energy in the form of electricity in the future.

Bill Dagnon, Baraboo

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