Clean Energy Gets a Mixed Reception From State Legislatures

Jun 11, 2013

As we've heard on our Project Milwaukee: Power Switch coverage, Wisconsin utilities are required to generate ten percent of their electricity from sustainable sources, such as solar, wind, or biomass.  They're standards that were created by the state legislature.

Inside Wisconsin's State Capitol building.
Credit bcdixit, Flickr

But an energy and environment journalist says clean energy standards face an uncertain future in many states.  Maria Gallucci writes about the industry for the website InsideClimate News, which won a Pulitzer Prize for its environmental reporting this year.

Gallucci says there is activity in state legislatures across the country regarding those states' renewable energy mandates.

"At last count there were about forty that are seeking to water down or repeal these renewable portfolio standards, but then you also see about twenty or so that are aiming to strengthen the standards, and it's really kind of across the board." - Maria Gallucci

Gallucci says there are a variety of reasons for the efforts to roll back renewable portfolio standards.  "I think, maybe, the majority come from an ideological standpoint," she says.  "Legislators who don't think necessarily that the state government should be dictating where these utilities get their energy supplies."  

But she says some come at it from economic motives.  "You're also seeing policymakers who are interested in supporting the energy industries in their own districts.  Companies may be concerned that they don't have the money or the resources to develop renewable energy as the mandates require."