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Wednesday, April 9, 2008

States Taking Lead on Energy Independence

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Frustrated by lack of leadership at the national level, more states are turning to energy efficiency initiatives to secure their own futures. Wisconsin recently entered the fray with Clean Energy Wisconsin, which is aimed at making the state a leader in alternative energy research and development.

“Clean Energy Wisconsin is a plan that saves us money, creates jobs, helps secure our world and improves our air and water,” said Gov. Jim Doyle. “These initiatives will provide a clear direction for the businesses, people and communities that will help Wisconsin become the leader of renewable fuels.”

The governor’s program includes $15 million a year in research grants and loans to complement $1 billion in private investment to develop and use energy innovations, and create an anticipated 20,000 related jobs. “Wisconsin will use its considerable natural resources and manufacturing expertise to develop new businesses focused on reducing our dependence on foreign oil,” Doyle announced.

States now spend about three times as much on energy efficiency programs as the federal government, and are leading the way on appliance standards, building codes, energy efficiency resource standards and other key policies that drive energy efficiency investment, according to the American Council for an Energy- Efficient Economy (ACEEE), a Washington, D.C.-based coalition of businesses, trade associations and advocacy groups. The ACEEE ranks Wisconsin 12th among the 50 states in eight energy efficiency policy categories.

Vermont is first. Doyle’s plan for energy independence includes “generating 25% of our electricity and 25% of the fuels for our cars and trucks from renewable sources by the year 2025; capturing 10% of the market share for renewable energy and bioproducts; and utilizing Wisconsin’s tremendous capability for research to become the country’s leader in making alternative energies more affordable and available to all.”

This is the first publication of our New Economy column. The next column will appear in the April 24 issue.

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