25 by ’25 Vision is Only a Dream

As you read this, the fate of the Democrat’s global warming bill is uncertain and the bill is being reshaped without public scrutiny.

Crafted from several of the recommendations of Governor Jim Doyle’s task force on global warming, the bill, which proponents are calling the “Clean Energy Jobs Act,” was loudly and forcefully panned since its unveiling earlier this year. 

As this graphic  notes, a lot of the components within the original proposal would impact your daily life.

And the MacIver Institute has raised several questions  that the bill’s supporters have yet to answer.

Over the last several weeks, the bill’s authors have been conducting closed-door, private meetings with fellow lawmakers and special interest groups to revise the bill.

However even if most of the more inane proposals are stripped out when a new, slimmed down global warming bill emerges sometime this spring, the most egregious element most likely will survive: the 25 by ’25 provision.

The bill proposes that Wisconsin draw 25 percent of its energy by renewable sources by the year 2025. Right now the renewable portfolio standard (RPS) mandate is 10 percent by 2015. Currently it is estimated Wisocnsin gets five to six percent of it’s energy from newable sources

Moving to twenty percent certainly will be expensive for homeowners and manufacturers, and it may not even be possible. 

Howard Hayden is a professor of physics emeritus in the Physics Department of the University of Connecticut. 

I spoke with him recently to get his take on Wisconsin’s global warming bill. 

Despite his academic background and scientific bona fides, Hayden is plain spoken and to the point. Take for example, his initial review of the proposed 20 in 20 RPS Mandate: 

“It appears Wisconsin is trying to follow the stupidity of Colorado,” said Hayden, who also serves as the editor of The Energy Advocate, a monthly newsletter promoting energy and technology.

Earlier this week, Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter (D) signed into law a new requirement calling for Colorado to draw 30 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2020.

No one can doubt that such requirements will increase the cost of energy.

To make matters worse, it is highly debatable that such requirements can actually be achieved.

“In Wisconsin it’s not windy enough, often enough and the sun doesn’t shine strong enough, long enough,” notes Hayden.

As we’ve noted in the past, Wisconsin is not wind-power friendly. Hayden agrees and further notes that neither are we home to enough powerful sunlight for enough of the year to make solar a feasible alternative to the fossil fuel capacity that this state has in abundance.

“They say that solar energy is forever; then why does it get dark at night?” jokes Hayden. 

Turning serious, Hayden particularly derides the Wisconsin bill’s provision that “by 2030 each newly constructed residential or commercial building will use no more energy than is generated on-site using renewable resources.”

Solar requires “A monstrously large storage facility to compensate for loss and you can only store it for a short period of time,” Hayden notes.

An energy neutral, mainly solar-powered home isn’t practical in Wisconsin.

“It isn’t going to be work for a number of practical reasons,” Hayden says. “The economies of scale evaporate when used on a micro level. It would have to be heavily subsidized in order for individuals” to use it.

It may sound nice, but the science doesn’t mesh with the politicians and activists’ dreams.

“To have purely solar powered home [in Wisconsin] would require such a large battery bank, and the juice just isn’t strong enough,” said Hayden.  “For example I certainly wouldn’t want to run a clothes dryer on it.”

All is not lost for Wisconsinites who wish to conserve energy, however. As Hayden points out, we don’t have to rely upon onerous and expensive government mandates to make a difference. 

“The best way to save energy is to have a very-well insulated home and smaller windows, since that’s where the most energy is wasted,” Hayden says. “You can do this at a much lower cost than renewable energy mandates and without government intrusion. People in Wisconsin are smart enough to know this, that’s why they’ve insulated their homes forever.”

Well said.

By Brian Fraley
A MacIver Perspective

You can subscribe to The Energy Advocate or purchase one of Hayden’s many books, here.