Last week, environmental advocacy group Clean Wisconsin showed its hypocrisy in the energy debate by advocating for a high-cost, low-production energy source over a proven high-capacity, high-reliability option.
On January 9, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that environmental groups Clean Wisconsin and the Wisconsin Citizens’ Utility Board filed a motion with Nuclear Regulatory Commission to halt a proposed expansion of the the Point Beach nuclear plant in Two Rivers, Wisconsin.1 The proposed expansion would boost power output 17 percent on the 40-year-old reactor. Clean Wisconsin opposed the expansion claiming “we don’t need the power” despite a one-to-two percent annual increase in demand.
At the same time, Clean Wisconsin published an op-ed decrying Governor Walker’s proposal to prohibit the construction of wind turbines within 1800 feet of the nearest property line claiming that “Governor Walker would close Wisconsin’s doors to clean, renewable wind power and cost our state thousands of jobs.”2
It is evident that when Clean Wisconsin claims “we don’t need the power,” it is only if that power is nuclear, coal, or any other source that does not fit their political agenda. Clearly, Clean Wisconsin isn’t a nonpartisan resource on energy policy, but rather an environmental special interest group that is supporting its own political agenda.
When comparing wind energy to nuclear energy consider that the largest wind turbine in the world stands “65 stories tall- roughly the height of New York’s Trump Tower- and produces only six megawatts, or about 1/200th the output of a conventional power plant.”3 According to a recent Atlantic article, energy expert Julio Friedman acknowledges that “solar and wind power are going to be important, but it is really hard to get them beyond 10 percent of total power supply.”4 Given that Wisconsin power supply is currently 70 percent coal and 20 percent nuclear, renewable energy sources could perhaps fill that final 10 percent. But it requires a suspension of belief to think that wind power will replace coal and nuclear power output.
“We encourage groups like Clean Wisconsin not to play a zero sum game where expensive wind farms are created on the backs of Wisconsin taxpayers and nuclear power plants are shuttered,” said Dena Rochwerger Braun, Communications Director for Media Trackers. “The facts don’t lie-wind power can’t account for the same power output as nuclear plants.”
Point Beach nuclear plant employs about 800 workers and the proposed upgrade would create up to 1,900 temporary jobs. Last month, federal regulators determined that there would be “no significant impact” on the environment for the proposed upgrade that would boost power output by 17 percent.5
Clean Wisconsin and other environmental groups are not dealing with real-world electricity demand. Their goal is to force wind power on consumers regardless or cost or efficiency.