Wisconsin now has its first clean energy plan aimed at promoting energy independence, lowering fuel prices and reducing the adverse effects of global warming, Gov. Tony Evers’ office said Tuesday.

The plan, written in conjunction with the Governor’s Office for Sustainability and Clean Energy, identifies dozens of strategies intended to reduce Wisconsin’s reliance on outside energy sources and, at the same time, create thousands of jobs in new industries and technologies.

One of the goals is 100% carbon-free electricity by 2050, while some of the other goals are more immediate.

“There are historic opportunities presented by an influx of federal dollars to invest in once-in-a-generation efforts,” Evers’ office said in a press release.

For the most part, Wisconsin does not have its own oil and gas. Instead, the state spends more than $14 billion annually on out-of-state energy, according to Evers.

“It’s money we could use to invest in clean, made-in-Wisconsin energy to reduce energy bills while creating well-paying job opportunities and apprenticeship training in technologies and innovative industries,” the governor said in a news release.

A study released in March by the Midwest Economic Policy Institute found that if Wisconsin meets its goal of transitioning to 100% clean energy over the next 30 years, it could grow the state’s economy by $21 billion. dollars and create more than 34,000 jobs.

Jadine Sonoda, campaign coordinator with the Wisconsin chapter of the Sierra Club, said it’s becoming clear that clean energy isn’t just for the environmentally conscious, which will benefit everyone in the future.

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“It’s for people who care about the economy and care about their health, which is encouraging,” Sonoda said. “Economically, it’s a very good decision. As it becomes even clearer, it just broadens the base even wider in terms of people interested in investing in clean energy or hosting it. , like farmers.”

As the cost of clean energy goes down, solar and wind power are becoming more affordable. At the same time, the new plan warns that without urgent and meaningful action to address climate change, Wisconsin residents will see their utility bills rise as they use more energy to heat and cool their homes in response to extreme weather conditions.

By investing in clean, renewable energy now, when costs are low, Wisconsin can reduce the burden of future energy costs, according to Evers.

Updating commercial building codes, using local building products, protecting forests, developing low-carbon building materials, and scaling renewable heating and cooling in industrial buildings are part of the objectives.

The plan also calls for a transition to electric vehicles and the mobilization of federal funds to add charging stations.

According to figures from the US Department of Transportation, Wisconsin now has roughly the same number of electric vehicles as Indiana and more than three times as many as Iowa.

There were 7,521 electric vehicles registered in Wisconsin as of mid-2021, according to the most recent numbers from the state Department of Transportation. This represents an increase of 156% compared to 2018 and more than eight times more than in 2016.

The White House has an EV strategy that includes a nationwide network of charging stations and $5 billion for states to build them. Last summer, President Joe Biden set a goal to make half of all new cars, trucks and SUVs sold in the United States zero-emission vehicles by 2030, including electric vehicles and cars. hydrogen fuel cell.

The majority of electric vehicle owners do most of their charging at home, where it’s cheaper and more convenient. But it’s getting easier to find public charging stations, said Eric Powers with EV Powers Hybrid Battery Service and Repair in Madison.

Grocery stores and gas stations have added chargers.

“There are still challenges in rural areas,” Powers said, but charging is readily available in cities and suburbs.

Some of the larger dairy farms have installed anaerobic methane digesters that convert manure gas into fuel used to run vehicles like buses and trucks. Digesters have become a profitable side business for farms looking for additional ways to utilize millions of gallons of livestock waste.

According to data from the US Environmental Protection Agency, Wisconsin has more methane digesters than almost any other state.

Digesters work by sealing manure in a pit or giant tanks to keep oxygen out while microbes feed on the contents and produce methane which is captured and refined into renewable natural gas or burned to produce fuel. ‘electricity.

The liquid and solid materials that come out of the process can be applied to fields as fertilizer in a more precise and targeted way than raw manure, reducing but not eliminating the risk of phosphorus and nitrate pollution that trigger the proliferation of algae in waterways and contaminate drinking water. water from private wells.

Some farms can create a future from scratch with industrial-scale photosynthesis that captures carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and, with sunlight, converts it into ethanol, a fuel additive.

“Wisconsins should have the ability to make their own decisions about their energy use,” Evers said in announcing the clean energy plan.

“By expanding and accelerating the production of cheaper, cleaner energy…we can keep our money here at home rather than relying on unpredictable markets often disrupted by foreign leaders and conflict,” he said. -he declares.