11 Jul Wisconsin can lead the way to energy independence
From the gas pump to the air-conditioning bill, middle class families in Wisconsin – and across the country – are getting squeezed by the skyrocketing cost of energy. It’s simply outrageous that it now costs $40 or $50 to fill up your car, and Washington continues to allow the oil companies to rack up record profits at the expense of average people.
America is facing an energy crisis. It’s a crisis of affordability for middle class families, a crisis for our economy, and increasingly, a crisis for our national security.
There is no question that America’s energy crisis presents Wisconsin with a major challenge, but it presents us with a tremendous opportunity as well. I wish we had a federal government that was as focused on supporting renewable energy as they are on subsidizing the big oil companies. But I believe that Wisconsin has not only an opportunity, but an obligation to provide leadership at this crucial time.
With our great research institutions, strong agriculture, forestry, and manufacturing base, and tremendous renewable resources, we are well positioned to become America’s leader in the drive toward energy independence. For the sake of our environment and our economy, we must seize this opportunity.
Last week, we made a commitment to do just that. Joined by education, industry, and environmental leaders, I signed Wisconsin’s “Declaration of Energy Independence,” an ambitious, long-term plan to make Wisconsin America’s leader in the drive toward energy independence. Our goals are:
To generate 25 percent of our power and 25 percent of our transportation fuels from renewable sources by the year 2025.
To capture 10 percent of the emerging bioindustry market by 2030, using our biomass resources to produce fuel, power, and products.
To become a national leader in groundbreaking research that will make alternative energies more affordable and available, and to turn those discoveries into new, high-paying jobs in Wisconsin.
This declaration is not merely a set of goals – it is a call to action for state government, our universities, the private sector, and a broad coalition of environmental and energy organizations. And it comes with an action plan for achieving those goals.
First, we’ll identify at least three University of Wisconsin campuses that will be moved “off the grid” within five years, producing enough energy on their own to be completely independent, with a strong focus on renewable fuels. I have directed the Department of Administration to work with the University System over the next few weeks to identify which campuses will be involved and how the work will go forward.
Second, we’ll provide grant funding to Wisconsin businesses and entrepreneurs who are developing and commercializing new technologies in the fields of bioenergy, bioproducts, and biofuels.
Third, we’ll aggressively promote new incentives, including as part of the upcoming budget process, to encourage the production and use of renewable fuels.
Fourth, we’ll encourage additional research efforts at the University of Wisconsin system to make Wisconsin the nation’s leader in renewable energy development.
Additionally, we’ll create a Wisconsin Biobased Industry partnership, building research and development capacity at the UW system and technical colleges, developing specialized business support programs, and building markets and demand for bio-products.
The bioeconomy is the economy of the future. In this new economy, we will use our vast biomass resources and cutting-edge research to develop sources for fuel, power, and products.
Our country’s dependence on foreign energy poses a great challenge for the country, but it also presents an opportunity for Wisconsin.
Our state will be the nation’s leader in the drive toward energy independence through efficiency, conservation, and renewable fuels. From ethanol production to solar panels to wind and hydro power, Wisconsin is ready to lead the way.
When it comes to our nation’s energy future, let’s build an economy that depends less on the Mideast and more on the Midwest.
The opinions expressed herein or statements made in the above column are solely those of the author, & do not necessarily reflect the views of Wisconsin Technology Network, LLC. (WTN). WTN, LLC accepts no legal liability or responsibility for any claims made or opinions expressed herein.