The need for additional electricity generation capacity in southeastern Wisconsin cannot be disputed. As Wisconsin’s economy grows and the use of electrical equipment increases in our homes and businesses, the need for additional affordable energy-generating capacity grows as well.
What options do we in southeastern Wisconsin have for meeting the growing need for electricity? We could rely on energy from sources outside of Wisconsin.
However, Wisconsin is already a net importer of energy from other states — specifically Illinois. Unfortunately, when importing energy from other states, some energy is lost in the transmission and the price of the energy can be volatile. In addition, there are significant benefits to keeping as much of Wisconsin’s energy production in Wisconsin — including maintaining and creating jobs and being able to more quickly adapt to the changing energy needs of Wisconsin businesses and residents.
Another possible option would be to use natural gas instead of coal-fired generators or to use other renewable energy sources. However, natural gas or renewable energy sources are not a simple or cost-effective solution. Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan recently raised concerns about the supply of natural gas.
According to Greenspan, efforts to supply natural gas have not kept up with the significant growth in domestic demand for natural gas. As a result, energy produced by natural gas is likely to be a much more expensive option for the end user in the long run. Unfortunately, today’s technology does not allow for the cost-effective use of renewable sources on a scale large enough for this to be the sole solution.
That leaves southeastern Wisconsin residents with the only option left — increasing coal-burning electricity generation to some degree. We Energies is proposing to use the best coal-combustion and environmental-control technology available in its Power the Future plan. These new-generation coal plants will provide sufficient energy supplies to southeastern Wisconsin while operating cleaner than older coal plants. Furthermore, coal is readily available and the price is very stable. As a result, prices for electricity in southeastern Wisconsin should be more stable and more affordable for all of us.
If affordable, reliable and cleaner electricity is the goal, the proposal by We Energies deserves the industry’s support.
Matt Moroney is the executive director of the Metropolitan Builders Association and can be reached at 262-436-1122 or by email.