Biomass, biogas to receive 75% of Wisconsin's Focus on Energy renewable resource program funding, recognizing agriculture, forestry as two of state's largest, most important industries

MADISON, Wisconsin , April 13, 2012 (press release) – Emphasis on biomass and biogas a smart investment for Wisconsin

Technologies such as biomass and biogas will receive seventy-five percent of the Focus on Energy renewable resource program funding under a scenario approved on a 3-0 vote by the Public Service Commission today. The remaining percentage will go to eligible wind and solar projects.

The Commission will continue to allow the current Focus on Energy program administrator to follow through on the $8 million in 2012 commitments approved by the previous program administrator, of which $2.7 million have already been paid out in the first quarter.

The Commission also established an annual budget for spending on renewable resources of up to $10 million provided the renewable component helps to maintain the program's overall 2.3 percent benefit/cost ratio in 2013-2014, and does not reduce energy savings by more than 7.5% compared to an efficiency-incentives-only program.

"The new mix in the Focus on Energy program recognizes where our state's strengths in renewables are," said Commission Chairperson Phil Montgomery. "The agricultural and forest products industries are two of the largest and most important industries in the state. Weighting the renewables component of Focus on Energy towards biomass and biogas technologies, which have higher overall benefits, makes sense for Wisconsin."

The Commission agreed to a level of funding which allows renewables to continue to be a significant part of the Focus on Energy program, but does not jeopardize the overall benefit/cost ratio of 2.3 found by a Legislative Audit Bureau audit last year.

"It is important that Focus on Energy continue to support cost-effective renewable energy applications for all utility customer classes," said Commissioner Eric Callisto. "Today's decision ensures that result, and I plan to closely monitor its implementation so that funding levels remain strong, offerings continue to be cost-effective, and a reasonable breadth of technologies remains available to customers."

"Today's action takes the Focus on Energy program in a positive direction and on a path to fiscal sustainability that will provide certainty and stability in the marketplace," said Commissioner Ellen Nowak. "As a Commission, we demonstrated our commitment to having a fiscally-healthy energy efficiency and renewables program in Wisconsin."

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