A wind farm near Fond du Lac, Wisconsin. Renewable energy advocates are expecting another challenge to the state’s wind siting rules. (Photo by Digidave via Creative Commons)
Will changing political winds in Wisconsin mean another new direction for wind energy policy in the state?
Wisconsin Republicans reclaimed control of the state’s senate last week, five months after recall elections tipped the balance to Democrats. Republicans will now hold power by a wider margin in 2013 than they held in 2011.
Wind energy advocates are worried that might mean another attempt to repeal the state’s wind farm siting rules, which limit restrictions that local governments can place on proposed wind developments.
And one Republican state senator has already announced plans to seek a repeal of the state’s renewable electricity standard, though a renewable advocacy group doubts the bill will gain enough support to pass.
Hopes for bipartisanship
Overall, RENEW Wisconsin program and policy director Michael Vickerman expects less hostility and more acceptance of the fact that renewable energy plays a growing role in the state’s economy.
Wisconsin solar installers want to know why they’re being squeezed out of a state renewable energy incentive program.
A month after utility regulators voted to shift funding from solar to biogas projects instead, the state’s solar industry still has unanswered questions about the methods and numbers used to make the decision.
“From the outside looking in, it does appear that the numbers are skewed to benefit biogas,” said Jesse Michalski, a solar installer with Eland Electric in Green Bay.
Michalski and other members of a solar listserv have spent weeks discussing the theories, which range from politics to the use of outdated data.
Others say it makes sense for Wisconsin to focus on biogas, given the large potential for its dairy industry to convert manure into energy.