October 2018 Director’s Note

“Global Investment in Wind and Solar Energy Is Outshining Fossil Fuels” was the title of an article in The Wall Street Journal in June 2018. It’s evident that the clean energy transformation is accelerating rapidly now that it’s cheaper to build renewable solar and wind than to run legacy coal and nuclear plants. Every month I document the power market disruptors occurring in Wisconsin, the Midwest, nationally and globally. Notice that the stories reflect rapid price declines, technology innovations, decentralization, decarbonization, corporate procurement of renewable energy at a large scale, renewable energy integration, electric vehicle proliferation, storage and microgrid systems, and policy adoption.

Now, there is an urgency to the clean energy transformation reinforced by the increasing economic damage to people’s homes, farms, businesses, and health and to our natural resources and infrastructure from the more frequent and severe climate events caused by a warming planet. Wisconsin experienced them in August and September with record flooding, again needing to turn to FEMA for disaster relief assistance. Timely that the Nobel prize in economics was awarded to two economists for their work on the causes and consequences of growth. William Nordhaus focused his work on understanding the economic costs of climate change and how much society should be willing to pay to prevent them.

With the recent release of the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Special Report estimating $54 trillion in damage globally should we not reduce global temperature rise significantly within 12 years, more governments, businesses and communities are taking action.  In Wisconsin we have examples in all sectors, including some of our large investor owned utilities that recently have adopted goals of reducing carbon emissions 80 percent by 2050 as they build utility scale renewables. This transformation is achievable using the technologies we have that are safe, reliable, affordable, and widely available. Commitments to a clean energy economy followed up by actions are good for Wisconsin’s economy, jobs, public health, and the environment. Most importantly, they will help to secure a habitable Wisconsin for our children.

Sherrie Gruder