Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers is creating a new state government office with the goal of pushing the state to become 100% carbon-free in the next three decades.
The goal to have all electricity consumed in Wisconsin meet clean energy benchmarks by 2050 is one the first-term governor included in his budget request earlier this spring. The proposal also sought to creates an Office of Sustainability and Clean Energy.
GOP state Rep. Mike Kuglitsch, who chairs the Assembly Energy and Utilities Committee, called the order “irresponsible” in a statement, adding the technology isn’t “available to sustain a power grid 24/7 using intermittent generation.”
“We need to have a reliable energy grid as it is literally the economic engine that keeps moving Wisconsin forward,” the New Berlin Republican said. “To have a goal is one thing, but to mandate it without assurance that the technology will exist is negligent.”
Evers said there wouldn’t be any sanctions for utilities that fail to meet the goals, noting the action is an executive order and “not a mandate.” He said the state would seek to meet the standard by working with utilities and nonprofits to set intermediary benchmarks.
Public Service Commission Chair Rebecca Cameron Valcq acknowledged that utilities’ renewable energy investments could lead to rate increases for customers, something she said the state has to “continue to be deliberate about” as coal power plants are retired.
“Everything that is going to be occurring between now and 2050 will have a customer impact and we are aware of that and we are ready and willing to find all sorts of different solutions,” she said.