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April 12, 2006Client Alert

Governor Doyle Signs Energy Efficiency and Renewable Act

On March 17, 2006, Governor Doyle signed Senate Bill 459, the Energy Efficiency and Renewables Act, (Wisconsin Act 141) into law. This landmark legislation integrates energy efficiency and renewable energy into Wisconsin's energy policy. Not only will it assist the state in reducing its dependence on foreign energy sources, but it will also stimulate Wisconsin's economy.

Under the new law, by the year 2015, Wisconsin's electric utilities must increase the amount of power produced from renewable energy sources to 10%. The old requirement was to produce 2.2% by 2011. Renewable energy sources include such things as biomass, wind, hydroelectric and solar power. The law also requires state-owned facilities to purchase 20% of their energy from renewables by 2011.

This new law will be a boon to Wisconsin's emerging leadership both in biomass technologies and in biomass power production. The law requires the Department of Agriculture ("DOA") to submit a budget request to fund research and development of anaerobic digesters (manure-to-energy devices). The law also requires DOA to conduct a pilot program to determine the feasibility and cost-effectiveness of using equipment that burns corn plant matter for residential space heating.

Wisconsin's public utilities will be looking for ways to comply with the new 10% requirement. Given the length of time needed for permitting and constructing larger facilities, it is likely the state's utilities will immediately begin developing their plans for compliance. Businesses who build renewable facilities should consider approaching the state's utilities with information on their product. Those developing new renewable technologies should investigate whether any state (or federal) funding is available for research and development. Lastly, those agribusinesses producing the raw materials used in biomass facilities, should investigate how best to position themselves in this emerging marketplace.

For more information regarding the Energy Efficiency and Renewables Act and its possible implications on your business, please contact David Crass at 608.283.3501, or dacrass@michaelbest.com.

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