In a show of support for the state’s energy efficiency and renewable energy financial incentive program, Focus on Energy(FOE), a memorandum signed by thirty-four Wisconsin large companies was delivered to state legislators, asking the Legislature to oppose a $7.2 million funding cut to the program.
Miron Construction Co., Inc., the only Wisconsin-based company named to ENR’s “Top 100 Green Building Contractors” list, has many clients, from large, world-wide food processing businesses to healthcare organizations such as Thedacare, to K-12 public and private schools, who rely heavily on the financial incentives offered by the Focus on Energy program.
“As a leader in sustainability, whose clients rely on the financial incentives provided by the Focus on Energy program, we are very concerned about the effects this funding cut will have on our clients’ ability to invest in high-performance systems, equipment and materials, not to mention renewable energy technologies. This will negatively impact Wisconsin’s economy, the financial position of Wisconsin companies and residents’ pocketbooks,” says Theresa Lehman, director of sustainable services at Miron Construction.
AB 804/SB 654, dubbed the PSC Reform Act, would result in higher energy bills for businesses and homeowners by reducing funding for Focus on Energy, a public program that provides Wisconsin residents and businesses with resources, incentives and support to implement energy efficiency and renewable energy projects. A $7.2 million cut to the program will result in businesses and homeowners paying an additional $60 million on their energy bills over time.
“This is a successful program that encourages and enables companies and residents to implement energy-saving measures and provide services such as energy audits. The Wisconsin Legislature should be figuring out how to support and expand Focus on Energy program, not cut them. I believe if our elected officials were well educated on the benefits and importance of this program, and presented with case studies, they would find a way to support it, not vote to cut it,” says Lehman.
Passed by the Assembly in mid-February, the Senate will vote on the bill in coming weeks. To mitigate the funding cut and associated economic costs and losses, the businesses are specifically asking the Senate to amend the bill to keep the program’s funding at its current level.
“We understand the interest of the investor-owned utilities in changing the basis of how Focus on Energy funding is collected going forward, and we are not opposed to that change as long as the program remains at its current funding level. This change can easily be made by increasing the 1.2% rate of collection to 1.3%. If that change is not made,” says Lehman, “the result of this legislation will be higher energy bills for commercial, industrial and residential customers, the loss of jobs, and the loss of economic development in Wisconsin.”
Focus on Energy generates $3 in energy savings for each $1 invested. To date, the program has created 24,000 jobs and generated almost $2 billion in sales for Wisconsin businesses, such as manufacturers of high-efficiency lighting, appliances and motors as well as wind turbine and solar panel parts. Companies that install energy efficiency controls and equipment for businesses and homes also benefit. All these types of companies are represented in the letter of support delivered to the Legislature today, including Thedacare, Wisconsin’s largest employer, whom has invested significant resources into creating a sustainable campus and culture, and thanks in part to the Focus on Energy program, has been able to reduce their annual energy consumption, thereby reducing emissions and their impact on the environment.