Empower Wisconsin | Jan. 27, 2020
By M.D. Kittle
MADISON — Wisconsin Public Service Commission Chairwoman Rebecca Valcq sounds conflicted. She wants to lead the climate change-fighting dreams of the liberal governor who put her in power while having to acknowledge the limitations of alternative energy.
Valcq spoke Thursday morning at a renewable energy conference in Madison, announcing her goal of creating a roadmap to make the Badger State carbon-free by 2050.
That afternoon at a PSC hearing, the regulator said she doesn’t believe clean energy offers a viable solution to on-demand generation.
“I’m not convinced our needs in the near term can be met with only wind, solar and conservation,” Valcq said before casting her vote against a $700 million natural gas generator in Superior. The PSC voted 2-1 to approve the permit for Dairyland Power Cooperative of La Crosse to build a 625-megawatt Namadji Trail Energy, to be co-owned by Duluth-based Minnesota Power.
Environmental groups and the state Department of Natural Resources registered their opposition to the power plant, arguing it will produce millions of tons of heat-trapping gases, according to the Wisconsin State Journal.
Valcq isn’t necessarily against the plant; she’s against the proposed site.
PSC commissioners Ellen Nowak and Mike Huebsch said the facility’s benefits offset any potential environmental risks.
“This is not the perfect solution to our energy needs, but it is the best solution available to us today,” Huebsch said.
At the core of the debate is the admission from the state’s top energy regulator that renewables aren’t a panacea for meeting Wisconsin’s power needs. There’s a simple reality that radical environmentalists refuse to accept: that northern climates can’t rely exclusively on alternative sources.
Experience also shows us that going completely carbon-free by 2050 will be exponentially more difficult than climate change alarmists claim it will be.
“Cutting carbon use and emissions is far easier than going completely carbon free. In fact, even when a city can be designed from the ground up, reaching zero-carbon is both difficult and expensive,” wrote Erin Mundahl for Inside Sources.
She pointed to the United Arab Emirates’ plan to build the world’s first sustainable city — in 2006. Masdar was not only supposed to be carbon-free, it was to be a waste-free home to 50,000 residents. The future, according to developers, included streets filled with driverless electric cars powered by alternative energy, desalinization plants, and green everything.
By 2016, after sinking an estimated $22 billion and ten years into the city, the project was scrapped. Only five percent the original roughly 2.5 square-mile urban area had been completed,” Mundahl reported. “Although offices and even university buildings have been completed, they are run by skeleton crews and the city is a shadow of its planners’ dreams.”
But Gov. Tony Evers, like so many other green dreamers, really, really wants Wisconsin to be carbon-free by 2050. He’s even created a committee and a new government office in pursuit of that goal.
Valcq is one of the top shepherds of Evers’ dream. She’s putting together her roadmap.
“Which is why my goal for 2020 is to come up with this roadmap. To identify where we’re going to need innovation and technology to help get us there. But I have no doubt that we will get there,” Valcq told attendees at the renewables conference.
Unless the “roadmap” includes returning to the Stone Age or technology that currently doesn’t exist, carbon-free will remain a dream.