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Wisconsin unveils its first clean energy plan

The plan includes a series of recommendations, including the implementation of an integrated resource plan, clean energy standard, and the consideration of a carbon market.
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Wisconsin officials released the state's first-ever clean energy plan, which is billed as putting the Badger State on the path to achieving the carbon reduction goals of the Paris Agreement, and reaching 100% carbon-free electricity by 2050.

The plan includes a series of recommendations, including the implementation of an integrated resource plan, clean energy standard, and the consideration of a carbon market. Significant pieces of the plan, however, would need to be considered and passed into law by the Republican-controlled state legislature.

Gov. Tony Evers, a Democrat, said "bold and urgent solutions" are needed to address the climate crisis. Wisconsin's Clean Energy Plan, he said, would do so while also bolstering clean energy opportunities and jobs.

Wisconsin's Office of Sustainability and Clean Energy identified four areas to achieve the state's goal: accelerate clean energy deployment, maximize energy efficiency, modernize buildings and industry, and support the transition to low-to-no-emission vehicles.

By prioritizing and incentivizing the deployment of clean energy, Wisconsin said it is attempting to reduce its reliance on out-of-state energy resources, and insulate itself from volatile oil and gas prices that are influenced by geopolitical events, like Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

The Center of Wisconsin Strategy determined in 2019 that the state sends more than $14 billion out of state for energy.

Source: Wisconsin Clean Energy Plan

Decarbonizing the power sector is the most crucial piece of the Wisconsin Clean Energy Plan. Power generation accounted for nearly a third of the state's greenhouse gas emissions in 2018.

The plan recommends updating greenhouse gas emissions goals that were set out in a 2019 executive order to reach 100% carbon-free electricity by 2050. The power sector should reduce net carbon emissions to at least 60% below 2005 levels by 2030, the report advised, and to 100% by 2050.

Source: Wisconsin Clean Energy Plan

Additionally, an integrated resource plan process, which exists in other states, could be developed to help Wisconsin better understand how generation sources interact with the state's climate goals. The IRP could also feature a clean energy standard to mandate an increase in renewable energy generation.

Interconnection, the source of headaches for renewable energy developers in seemingly every state, could also have an outsized impact on meeting clean energy goals.

Wisconsin's interconnection standards have not been updated since 2004, and are not aligned with advancements in clean energy and energy storage technologies. The Public Service Commission of Wisconsin is currently working on the issue.

Researchers at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory reported that the amount of new electric capacity in interconnection review queues nationally is “growing dramatically,” with more than 1,400 GW of total generation and storage capacity seeking connection to the grid.

The plan claimed that utilities can, and should, lead a collaborative distribution planning and grid modernization process to facilitate these goals.

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