WISCONSINREPORT.COM (04/19/2010) - The Wisconsin Farmers Union is urging the Wisconsin legislature to pass legislation that will create jobs in the state, boost farms and support a foundation for clean energy. The Wisconsin Clean Energy Jobs Act (CEJA) is scheduled for a vote in the state Assembly Tuesday. A Wisconsin Public Service Commission study shows that there would likely be a 1.4 Billion dollar savings for the state if the legislation is enacted, contrary to what opponents of the bill have been saying, according to a Farmers Union spokesperson.
Wisconsin’s Clean Energy Jobs Act should be passed by the state Assembly and scheduled for a vote in the state Senate, family-farm organization and environmental organization leaders have told reporters.
In a Monday-morning media teleconference, Wisconsin Farmers Union, Organic Valley Cooperative, and Environmental Law and Policy Center representatives said the CEJA would benefit family farmers. The act is scheduled for an Assembly vote on Tuesday, but hasn’t been scheduled for a Senate vote.
“The legislation’s opponents have been using an outdated study to say the act would raise utility rates,” WFU President Darin Von Ruden said.
“That study was rebutted already in February. We believe Public Service Commission figures released last week more accurately show what would happen when the act is passed,” Von Ruden said.
The PSC study shows there would be a $1.4 billion savings for the state if the legislation is passed.
Agriculture will benefit because it opens farm-revenue streams through renewable-energy sources such as manure digesters, Wind Turbines and solar power, Von Ruden said.
Grants and loans will be available as a result of the Act for small-scale generation facilities, and there will be incentives for power companies to purchase renewable energy from small-scale projects.
The Act also pushes for the state to have 25 percent of its power coming from renewable sources by 2025, which Von Ruden said would create more farm-based renewable-energy opportunities.
Utilities’ threats that rates will increase if the CEJA is passed don’t make sense, according to Von Ruden.
“Utility rates are going up, even if this legislation isn’t passed,” Von Ruden said.
Aaron Miller of Organic Valley said farmers also would benefit from CEJA provisions that would give farmers more opportunities for on-farm energy audits that would help farmers find ways to save energy in their farming operations.
“We have first-hand examples of how that benefits farmers,” Miller said.
Andy Olsen, senior policy advocate at the Environmental Law and Policy Center, said there’s plenty of evidence that the Assembly can use to approve the CEJA, and for the Senate to schedule a vote and also approve the act.
Wisconsin has no coal mines or oil wells, so $16 billion annually leaves the state to pay for coal and other fossil fuels for power generation, Olsen said.
“We can’t afford to not have the Clean Energy Jobs Act pass,” Olsen said.
"The Legislation needs to pass it tomorrow, and the Senate needs to get a vote scheduled and get it passed, too," Olsen insisted.