Wisconsin’s Energy Future Looks Bright
Wisconsin’s clean energy economy is growing every day, and locals are benefiting in meaningful ways. The Badger state receives over $2 billion in private investment from the renewable energy industry, enabling capacity to grow. With these investments, citizens are getting the full package: drought-resistant income for landowners, an influx of well-paying jobs, and low-cost, reliable, clean energy.,
Despite a difficult year, 40 percent of U.S. power generation was carbon-free in 2020. Currently, renewables provide one-fifth of the country’s energy needs. Thankfully, the pandemic had little to no impact on construction activity, allowing 2020 to see the highest number of renewable energy installations ever. Wisconsin has 951 megawatts (MW) of installed wind, solar and energy storage capacity powering 363,000 homes. That translates to $8.9 million in property, state and local taxes paid to local homeowners and communities every year. Plus, $7.6 million in annual land lease payments for rural landowners.
Wisconsin’s solar capacity has made significant strides over the last year. The solar industry has already invested over $643 million in Wisconsin, and the state currently has 450 MW of operating solar power. That’s enough to keep the lights on in over 70,000 homes. In addition, solar is the largest clean energy employer in Wisconsin, with 3,798 people working in the state’s 152 solar companies, including 37 manufacturers, 71 installers and developers and 44 other related companies. There’s even more good news! Nearly 2,500 MW are projected to come online over the next five years.
As the U.S. energy sector undergoes a major transition to a clean energy economy, the country is already benefitting from this effort. According to Clean Jobs Midwest, more than 76,600 people were employed in a clean energy job prior to COVID-19 in Wisconsin. These jobs grew 1.5 times faster than the state’s overall employment in 2019. Renewable energy, which includes wind, solar and storage, is the second largest clean energy employer in Wisconsin, with 5,958 workers.
While renewable energy capacity didn’t decline last year, significant policy wins will further development. At the end of last year, Congress passed the Energy Act of 2020, a $900 billion COVID-19 recovery package that could stimulate $34 billion in new spending on decarbonization over the next decade. This legislation also extends tax credits for renewables, energy efficiency and other clean energy technologies. In addition, 19 billion will be used for energy research and development over the next 10 years, including $1 billion for energy storage alone.
Wisconsin benefits from embracing our energy future – one that is powered by wind and solar. Renewable energy is low in cost and high in demand, local businesses will thrive off of the economic ripple effect that comes from development, farmers will receive a diversified income with land-lease payments and citizens will have unique job opportunities and a plethora of new tax revenue.
Wind and solar are the way to go – it’s just smart!