Wisconsin Group Aims To Bolster Conservative Support For Renewables

The Wisconsin Conservative Energy Forum (WISCEF) recently commenced operations as an organization that seeks to be a “long-missing voice” for conservatives in the state’s energy policy discussion.

The forum says it will work to bring conservatives to the table to discuss changes in energy markets, including the development of clean and renewable energy resources, energy efficiency technologies, and the impact these projects can have on jobs and economic development.

Scott Coenen will serve as the executive director of the organization. He says WISCEF launches in a unique moment in U.S. energy history: For the first time, many renewable forms of energy, such as solar and wind, are cost-competitive with fossil fuels.

“Conservatives need to emphasize the development of cheap, reliable and cost-effective energy,” Coenen says. “To do that, we need to recognize that advances in technology increasingly mean renewable and alternative energy fits that description: cheap, reliable and cost-effective. However, for too long, conservatives have not engaged on this issue, and we’ve allowed groups on the left to drive the message.”

WISCEF says the launch of the forum provides the opportunity to “drive a conservative message.”

“We founded WISCEF in order to start to change this dynamic – to bring conservatives to the table to discuss these new technologies and introduce a new conservative message to the renewable energy debate,” adds Coenen.

“As new technologies are developed and the market changes, we need to change our pre-conceived notions, too,” he continues. “Renewable energy can be about job creation, economic development and sustainable, cost-effective energy. That message is a conservative message.”

The WISCEF leadership council currently includes as follows:

• Tommy Thompson, former governor of Wisconsin;

• Ryan Owens, professor of political science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison;

• Mark Honadel, former GOP state representative and chairman of the Assembly Committee on Energy and Utilities;

• Debbie Crave, vice president of Crave Brothers Farmstead Cheese;

• Matt Neumann, president of Neumann Cos. Inc. and Sunvest Solar Inc.;

• Jon Hochkammer, outreach manager of the Wisconsin Counties Association; and

• Jake Margis, chairman of the Wisconsin Young Republicans.

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