Energy fared well in the Congressional budget deal preserving funding for important programs that save energy and create jobs and economic growth. The budget continues essential programs of the Department of Energy, Advanced Manufacturing Office, Weatherization Assistance and the Vehicles Technologies Office. For example, weatherization assistance, which performs home energy upgrades for low-income families, provides thousands of skilled construction jobs; and, Advanced Manufacturing develops new products and markets that improve American business competitiveness. Deep cuts to the US Environmental Protection Agency were avoided too keeping programs like Energy STAR (see ENERGY STAR trainings under events) that save consumers and businesses money on energy costs.
The State Energy Program that supports Wisconsin’s Office of Energy Innovation (OEI) and its myriad of statewide energy efficiency programs, including the grants to local governments to be awarded in 2017, was funded as well. OEI will spend $59,800 on 6 local government sustainable energy planning grants with $22,685 in match, and $246,251 with $429,440 in match on 11 clean energy implementation grants.
Also in the bill related to energy is a policy rider on forest biomass energy (10 sec. 428) that directs several agencies to define forest biomass for energy as carbon neutral. This might impact Wisconsin’s biomass industry in the future.