March 8, 2006

MADISON - The Citizens Utility Board (CUB) highly commends the Wisconsin State Assembly, which unanimously passed legislation last night that will strengthen efforts to save energy and utilize renewable energy resources.

"This legislation will boost Wisconsin's economy by reducing energy bills, creating jobs, and reducing pollution from energy use," said Charlie Higley, CUB executive director. "CUB appreciates the leadership of Representative Phil Montgomery (R-Ashwaubenon) for working with Senator Rob Cowles (R-Green Bay) to draft the legislation and to get the bill through the Assembly."

The legislation, SB 459, reflects many of the recommendations of Governor Jim Doyle's bipartisan Task Force on Energy Efficiency and Renewables. CUB was a task force member along with Democrats and Republicans from the Senate and the Assembly, as well as utilities, labor unions, environmental groups, and business associations.

SB 459 will strengthen Wisconsin's statewide energy efficiency program known as Focus on Energy. Over the past several years nearly $100 million has been diverted from Focus on Energy to reduce the state's budget deficit, even though these funds were collected from utility ratepayers specifically for energy efficiency efforts. SB 459 will protect the funds for Focus on Energy, which means that Wisconsin citizens can receive all the benefits of making our homes and businesses more energy efficient: Each dollar invested in energy efficiency returns nearly 6 dollars to Wisconsin in economic and environmental benefits.

SB 459 will also increase the amount of electricity used in Wisconsin that is derived from renewable energy resources, such as wind, solar, and bioenergy systems. The bill calls for 10 percent renewable electricity by 2015, up from a current amount of about 4 percent. As with energy efficiency, investments in renewable electricity will create jobs in Wisconsin, reduce pollution, and keep dollars in the Wisconsin economy.

The bill is now on its way to Governor Doyle. CUB urges the governor to sign this legislation.

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The Citizens Utility Board of Wisconsin is a member-supported nonprofit organization that advocates for reliable and affordable utility service and that represents the interests of residential, farm, and small business customers of electric, natural gas, and telecommunication utilities before regulatory agencies and the courts.