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This is a tale of two states, Iowa and Wisconsin. These states border each other, and they have many similarities.

Both are milk producers and corn producers. Both are composed of people with solid Midwestern values. Both have Republican governors, at least one Republican U.S. senator and at least one part of the state Legislature controlled by Republicans. But there are big differences in their approach to renewable energy.

Iowa Republicans see renewable energy as a way to lessen reliance on foreign oil and create jobs. Wisconsin's elected Republicans see it as a threat to their alliance with the American Legislative Exchange Council, an influential lobbying group composed of big businesses that support oil and coal production.

Wind energy provides 27 percent of Iowa’s electrical energy. Wind energy provides a little over 2 percent of Wisconsin’s electrical energy. Iowa Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley has said, “Wind energy will stand up next to any other form of energy when it is given a fair shake.”

But in Wisconsin, prospective wind energy companies have withdrawn plans to build wind farms because of lack of support by the administration of Gov. Scott Walker. That means a loss of low-cost, renewable energy and a loss of skilled, good-paying jobs.

A resource assessment conducted by the National Renewable Energy Lab found that Wisconsin’s wind resources could provide over four times the state’s current electricity needs. The Stevens Point Journal reports that “growing American wind power enhances U.S. security and strengthens U.S. energy independence. It’s the patriotic thing to do.”

A recent article in the Des Moines Register compared the effect on energy cost and provision of jobs between construction of a power line carrying wind energy versus a pipeline carrying crude oil from North Dakota. The article states that the wind energy proposal would produce more long-range employment and have no negative environmental impact. The wind energy proposal “offers an economic boost healthy in all respects. Wind and solar energy create none of the pollutants that contribute to climate change, drain our reserves of resources, and poison our wells and drinking water.”

In May, Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad signed Senate File 2340, a key tax incentive bill for solar energy. The law triples the size of Iowa’s successful solar tax incentive program and makes additional improvements to the program. The legislation received support at the statehouse, with the Iowa Senate passing it with a unanimous vote of 46-0 and the Iowa House passing it with a vote of 88-4.

And the Iowa Supreme Court has approved, without penalties, the rooftop installation of solar panels. Deutsche Bank recently released a report concluding that solar will reach grid parity (meaning it will be more cost effective than traditional electricity sources) in states such as Iowa by 2016. But in Wisconsin, the Walker-controlled Public Service Commission approved a 75 percent increase in monthly fixed charges and changes that will pile additional charges on customers who choose to install solar energy panels starting in 2015.

According to the Wisconsin Gaze, “an effort is currently underway by WE Energies and Madison Gas & Electric to impose prohibitive fees on solar panel users in order to discourage the growth of clean energy.” This is an effort that might very well be successful because of Walker’s stand against clean energy. And Wisconsin’s Republican Sen. Ron Johnson, a climate change-denier, is part of a group of legislators who support legislation that includes penalizing individual homeowners for installing solar panels.

In contrast, Midwest Energy News reports that Matt Neumann, son of former Republican candidate for governor Mark Neumann, is a big supporter of solar energy. “Neumann uses conservative touchstones to describe the state of things. For him, it’s a lack of ‘liberty’ that prevents a property owner from choosing how to power his or her home or business.”

Governing should be focused on the common good, not on promoting the interests of big oil companies. The common good in this regard is insuring that we have clean water to drink, clean air to breathe, good sustainable jobs and a healthy environment for future generations.

Unfortunately, Republican elected officials in Wisconsin have lost sight of the common good.

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Digital news editor

Digital news editor

(22) comments


Think local...starting with how much energy you could save if your home or workplace used LED lights, turned off things when not in use, and the like. Think about the energy that could be produced with manure and food wastes, and the myriad of other problems this could solve. Think of turning the top of your roof into instant energy and keeping an eye out for battery technology advances that could store the power you don't consume. Environmentally and financially energy solutions can be green...for the environment and your pocket book...but we need to stop the dependence on same-old-same-old, which means centralized energy transferred to distant loads using property and dollar guzzling transmission. I agree with so much of what was written, and look forward to the day when energy will power our lights and grow jobs in our communities, rather than allowing an arcane monopolistic industry paradigm to block transformative technologies.

668 The Neighbor of the Beast

Wind turbines kill birds, tell me again how this is good for our enviroment?

668 The Neighbor of the Beast

Two wind turbines that were built on Cape Cod are now being considered for removal because local residents are getting sick from their impact on the environment.


Republicans won't be happy until the environment is irreparably damaged, the food supply is jeopardized and they have ALL the money. They won't be able to eat or drink it and they'll be gasping for breath with the rest of us.

668 The Neighbor of the Beast

I was going to say how you drink the kool-aid, but I will change that to a Harvey Wallbanger.


Another partisan attack by a partisan hack. Harvey is a recallista.

Harvey and Patricia Witzenburg, 550 21st Ave. S. Onalaska. Public record


Jqa, so WHAT if someone signed the petition or not? Is this the newest Repugnant again version of McCarthyism? YOU are the partisan hack with the Bircher, McCarthy mentality and all the sickness that THOSE kind had.. Sick.

668 The Neighbor of the Beast

Renewable energy 'simply WON'T WORK': Windmills, solar, tidal - all a 'false hope', say Stanford PhDs

By Lewis Page, 21 Nov 2014

Whenever somebody with a decent grasp of maths and physics looks into the idea of a fully renewables-powered civilised future for the human race with a reasonably open mind, they normally come to the conclusion that it simply isn't feasible.

Ross Koningstein having trained in aerospace engineering and David Fork in applied physics. "We had shared the attitude of many stalwart environmentalists: We felt that with steady improvements to today’s renewable energy technologies, our society could stave off catastrophic climate change. We now know that to be a false hope ..."

"Renewable energy technologies simply won’t work; we need a fundamentally different approach."


Here is a website outlaying the costs and return on investment for wind turbines, Turbines are designed to last 20 yrs. So many of you are saying that a 1000kw turbine running at 66% production can't pay back the energy? Sorry, the numbers don't add up. Plus, newer turbines are putting out more energy at lower costs.

668 The Neighbor of the Beast

Tower, pictures don't lie:*HI4GfWnk9PqAfzo1lhogzwmF*vSCS/Title.jpg


Nice article! I predict Wisconsin will increasingly be left behind and then wake up and race to catch up. Smart companies and citizens are rapidly adopting efficiency, renewables, electric transportation and clean cradle to cradle certified products and industries. People want solutions to: climate change, acidifying oceans, pollution, bills, energy security and poverty, profits, revenue, jobs, creation care, clean water and hope for their children. Question: is your house efficient and well insulated with an R40 attic, R25 walls and R35 floor? Efficiency shrinks your bills; freeing up money for you to move faster.


So well written, I hope we will hear more from you!
Also, wonder how much dirty energy we could be weaned from using air and water based heat pumps, have them at 2 sites and use no oil or gas, primary back ups are electric heaters or a wood stove.


"Harvey Witzenburg: Not all Republicans run from clean energy." True. But most of them do, a least in Washington, and that's why oil and coal will continue polluting our country.....and many others, as well. Even if people don't believe in climate change, how can they miss the screamingly obvious affects of pollution on our air and our water? I just don't get it. What is it about facts that conservatives simply cannot grasp? Oh, wait. I just thought of the answer: The thing about facts is that they don't pad politicians pockets. That could be it. Better to be in the black than to be in the know.


There is no form of energy humans currently produce/consume/create that is more efficient at "making" energy than the energy required to produce it. Simple fact: we can't even make a device that can perpetually power itself. Let alone actually be self sustaining once you include the energy to create said device. Not even nuclear fusion would be that efficient. Clean energy is a joke, perhaps slightly cleaner? We do not need to find a way to make more energy to sustain us, we need a paradigm shift in the ungodly amount of energy consumed on a daily basis. Power production is not the issue, simple human laziness, greed and ignorance is.


"Power production is not the issue, simple human laziness, greed and ignorance is." Power production is VERY MUCH an issue, Lax. And so are the other things you mention.


The answer is not to make more, but to consume less. No energy system ever created by man is green or even clean. If you take it all into account the fact that every device will consume more energy in its production, distribution and use than it will ever actually generate. In reality all that really happens is the exploitation of resources VIA currency because some forms of energy are cheaper and/or more readily accessible than others.

668 The Neighbor of the Beast

Top Google Engineers Say Renewable Energy ‘Simply won’t work’

A research effort by Google corporation to make renewable energy viable has been a complete failure, according to the scientists who led the program. After 4 years of effort, their conclusion is that renewable energy “simply won’t work”.

According to Google engineers. "solar and other renewables will never in the foreseeable future deliver meaningful amounts of energy."


Sorry, "wattsupwiththat" is little more than a clown show of whacky climate change deniers, and the author of the piece you link to is "one of the nuttier nutters to run the nuthouse at wattsupwiththat".

Your link is to an article by a writer with no credibility, on a site with no credibility, with no links to original sources. Googling the title of this smear-piece only reveals to links of the usual suspects from the Kook Brothers' circus of science deniers.

Funny thing, they all include a screen shot that links to here....
...where there is NOT ONE WORD on the "shocker" you tout.

I say to go stick your head where the sun doesn't shine, but it seems to be firmly planted there already, and has been for a long time.


That's a pretty stupid statement by wattsupwiththat. 668, didn't you read the portions of the article about how Iowa has embraced wind turban power and how well it works for them and how well it could work for Wisconsin? Seriously. Did you read those parts? If you can read and write well enough to comment on this site a lot, how come you can't read well enough to learn the truth? I do NOT understand that about conservatives. It absolutely escapes me.

668 The Neighbor of the Beast

Unfortunatly it appears you do not understand the true costs in both money and "carbon footprint" to realize you gain nothing by these alternative energy sources.

When you pollute more to manufacture and assemble these systems than what you can elimiate in pollution by using them and the when the cost to produce these systems exceeds the rate of return, it becomes a loser idea.

Surely you don't expect us to believe that you, GrandpaS (or should we call you oldhomey), have a greater grasp of understanding and higher intelligence than the Stanford Phd's???


Excellent article, Mr. Witzenburg. I'm glad you have the guts and took the time to write it.

Tim Russell

So your "solution" is to just keep doing the same things we have been doing for 50 years? Brilliant!
And we are all just supposed to ignore what other Engineers are saying because the one Google engineer says otherwise? Also brilliant.

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