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WUWM’s Chuck Quirmbach reports on innovation in southeastern Wisconsin.

More Solar Farms, Energy Efficiency Projects May Be In Store For Wisconsin In 2021

Energy efficiency and sustainability are top of mind for the Evers' administration, including projects like $30 million in ready to-go energy conservation projects at UW system buildings and other state properties.

More solar energy proposals, more energy efficiency projects, and more sustainability — that's what two top Wisconsin officials are predicting for this year.

One of them is Tyler Huebner, appointed by Gov. Tony Evers to the Public Service Commission (PSC) of Wisconsin last year. Huebner told RENEW Wisconsin's annual conference Tuesday that six large solar farms, totaling 1,049 megawatts, have received PSC approval over the last 20 months, including one in the Town of Paris in Kenosha County.

Huebner said more proposals for large solar farms are seeking PSC approval.

"In front of us, there are eight more projects that have been filed. Some of them are really far advanced. Some have just filed their first pieces with us. But those represent another 1,575 megawatts of solar and, I think, we'll have five of those definitely come before the Commission in 2021.” Huebner outlined.

By way of comparison, the We Energies Valley Power Plant near downtown Milwaukee provides about 270 megawatts of electricity.

Credit Screengrab by Chuck Quirmbach
Wisconsin Public Service Commission member Tyler Huebner, during a session at the RENEW Wisconsin conference.

Also this year, one of the Evers' top lieutenants is promising a major step toward energy efficiency. Department of Administration Secretary Joel Brennan said consultants have identified $30 million in ready to-go energy conservation projects at UW system buildings and other state properties, and tens of millions of dollars in projects backlogged since Republican Scott Walker was governor. 

"So, I think what you will see when the governor introduces the capital budget is a continued focus on that as being one area, kind of a low-hanging fruit if you will, for the state to be able to do that,” Brennan said.

Credit Screengrab by Chuck Quirmbach
Wis. Dept. of Administration Secretary Joel Brennan speaks during the RENEW conference.

Brennan said Evers will announce his capital budget close to when the Democrat announces his state budget proposal next month. He declined say much about the overall budget plan, other than that it will reflect Evers' priorities of equity and sustainability. 

Evers's spending proposals will have to get past Republicans who control the state legislature.

Brennan also expected the state Office of Sustainability and Clean Energy to formally announce a clean energy plan for Wisconsin by late spring.

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