Evers unveils climate plan to be ‘carbon free by 2050’

The governor released his Clean Energy Plan after two year's work by the Office of Sustainability and Clean Energy

MADISON, Wis. — Gov. Tony Evers introduced his Clean Energy Plan Tuesday, setting the goal to have Wisconsin use only renewable energy sources by 2050.

The plan is the culmination of a little more than two years of work from the Office of Sustainability and Clean Energy, which the governor created through executive order in late 2019. Evers said he wants to act quickly.

“I think time is the thing that will concern me the most,” Evers said in an interview with News 3 Now. “It takes time because we were so far behind the curve.”

Evers’ plan lays out climate goals in four broad categories: accelerating clean energy technology, maximizing energy efficiency, modernizing buildings and industry, and innovating transportation.

The Office of Sustainability and Clean Energy will solicit public input this year, and assess the feasibility and timeline of some of Evers’ specific goals.

Evers said that Wisconsin will continue to fare worse if the state stalls on those goals.

“If we slow down, we will continue to have floods and we will continue to have really bad outcomes with people’s health,” he said.

Tony Evers

Gov. Tony Evers tours Madison’s fleet garage, know for its sustainable design, after announcing his Clean Energy Plan April 19, 2022.

The 172-page report outlines some specifics to achieve broader environmental goals — for example, pushing to have homes heated with electricity, which can come from renewable sources instead of natural gas. The plan does not set any enforceable policies, however.

“Tony Evers’ ‘plan’ is an election year wish list that would hurt farmers, kill blue collar jobs, and gut Wisconsin’s energy industry,” said Republican Party of Wisconsin spokeswoman Anna Kelly. “Republicans want to protect the planet without leaving farmers or energy workers behind.”

Evers said his plan would work to create clean energy jobs in Wisconsin. He also pushed back on the notion that the plan is just a wish list, saying there are practical pieces of the policy being implemented right now.

“The main things, making sure that we’re expanding solar in the state of Wisconsin and other nonrenewables that’s happening now,” he said. “Helping our utility partners to scale that up even more, that’s going to happen.”

The problem for Evers, though: the climate goals he sets out will almost certainly exceed his time as governor — if he stays in office until 2050, that will mark 32 years, far eclipsing former Gov. Tommy Thompson’s 14 years as governor.

He called the policies “common sense,” adding that he hoped the next person in his chair would pick up the reigns.

“Once we get ramping it up and we see a different slope on the chart that shows us that we’re heading in the right direction, that will that will build excitement,” he said.