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Southeastern Wisconsin builders need reliable, affordable power

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.

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