Solar makes sense for Wisconsin

As we continue to ship billions of state dollars elsewhere to bring in dangerous fossil fuels that threaten our health, Wisconsinites are excited to transition from dirty coal and oil to a clean energy future. We can get there with solar power.

Wisconsin has more potential for solar power than Germany, the world leader in solar energy. By harnessing the power of the sun we can protect clean air, counter fossil-fuel pollution, and lay the foundation for a clean energy economy. In fact, Wisconsin is becoming an example across the country of how solar energy can be a bright spot in a dim economy. All over the state, solar manufacturers, installers and distributors are establishing themselves as engines for job creation — Wisconsin's solar industry ranks fifth nationally in overall jobs.

The time for dirty energy is over

We need to embrace this clean fuel technology. Our collective addiction to fossil fuels is threatening our way of life. Fossil fuel pollution fouls our rivers, lakes and streams; endangers public health; and ships billions of state dollars elsewhere to bring in fossil fuels that aren't native to Wisconsin. Wisconsinites should be able to power their homes without threatening their health. In the face of the problems associated with our addiction to dirty coal and oil, we must embrace solutions that can protect Wisconsinites' health, our air and our water.

The pollutants that come from Wisconsin's current energy portfolio are toxic and dangerous to the health of the state. In 2009 alone, coal plants spewed 2,720 pounds of the dangerous neurotoxin mercury into the air, leading one in every 10 women to have enough mercury in her system to threaten the cognitive development of any children she might have in the future. Scientists estimate that every year the ozone pollution coming from those same coal plants ends 12,000 lives prematurely. When options for cleaner energy, such as wind and solar, are readily available, we must take action to end our addiction to dirty fossil fuels.

The way forward

Unfortunately, the solar industry has been hamstrung by unnecessary red tape and legal ambiguities that have kept solar projects on the shelves, and off of rooftops in Wisconsin. By establishing standards for third-party financing of solar systems through power purchase agreements, raising rates individuals receive for selling solar energy back to the grid, and requiring utilities to generate 10% of their energy from solar, we can ignite a solar energy boom right here in the Dairy State.

Wisconsin, long home to an industrial and blue-collar workforce, has built the cranes that mined coal from the ground for people across the country, and we will be the home to the machines that assemble the solar panels that power us into the future.

Clean energy updates

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