May 3, 2011
MADISON - Today the Joint Committee on Finance unfortunately voted to reduce funding for Focus on Energy, Wisconsin's statewide energy efficiency program.
On a party-line vote, the Republican members of the Joint Finance Committee rolled back the budget for Focus on Energy to about $100 million annually.
In November 2010, the Public Service Commission proposed new energy savings goals for Focus on Energy, along with proposed budgets to meet those goals. The energy savings goals and budgets were approved by the Joint Finance Committee in December 2010, when the Democrats were in the majority. The approved energy savings goals and budgets, along with estimates of savings to consumers, were:
With today's vote, the finance committee is essentially imposing an energy tax on consumers by cutting investments in energy efficiency. Because every dollar invested in Focus on Energy reduces energy bills for consumers by at least $2.50, these cuts will likely increase future energy bills by at least $800 million.
In addition, these cuts in investments in energy efficiency will also reduce the number of jobs that would otherwise be created by Focus on Energy. Focus on Energy will not be able to serve all the customers that desire energy efficiency improvements. More than 2 million residents and businesses have saved nearly $2 billion on their energy bills since Focus was created in 2001.
The vote to cut investments in Focus on Energy is another step backward for Wisconsin households and businesses, who will face higher energy bills if these cuts are ultimately included in the biennial budget for 2011-2013.
The Citizens Utility Board of Wisconsin is a member-supported, nonprofit organization that advocates for reliable and affordable utility service. CUB represents the interests of residential, farm, and small business customers of electric, natural gas, and telecommunication utilities before the Legislature, regulatory agencies, and the courts.