Today in Cleantech


There’s an interesting angle emerging in the Wisconsin power struggle over state budget and union bargaining rights — and it concerns real power. Tucked into Gov. Scott Walker’s proposed budget bill are a set of paragraphs that would require the state to accept no-bid solicitations to sell several state-owned power plants to private operators. The language would require the state to consider any bid to be in the public interest without review by the state’s public service commission — terms that appear to limit the state’s ability to negotiate financial terms for itself and the taxpayers. The list of facilities that could be privatized includes a coal-fired power plant in Madison, the state’s capital and liberal enclave, currently set to be converted to biomass-fueled power production. Liberal bloggers point to Koch Industries, the conglomerate that backed Walker’s campaign and supports Tea Party groups like Americans for Prosperity, as potential takers of the plants. Koch owns pipelines in the state, and operates a coal company subsidiary with operations in four Wisconsin cities, including Green Bay, where the company recently cut jobs. It will be interesting to see if this public power privatization gambit is repeated in other states — stay tuned for more details.

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