SC Johnson Shows How to Do Wind Right, Despite Lack of Support from Home State

SC Johnson celebrates one year anniversary of wind turbinesConsumer surveys are beginning to show that products manufactured with wind power get high marks, and potentially more customers. That’s good news for startup brands, but you don’t have to be new on the market to reap good value out of wind power. Case in point is SC Johnson, which has been around since 1886 while growing iconic household brands including Windex, Glade, Pledge, Scrubbing Bubbles, Off!, and Raid — all now manufactured with wind power thanks to two 415-foot turbines at the company’s Waxdale plant.

SC Johnson has been putting a lot of eggs in the wind power basket. The company greets visitors to its home page with a top-of-the-page “NOW MADE WITH WIND!” proclamation, and it has just come out with a splashy announcement of the one-year anniversary of the operation of its two massive wind turbines.

All of this makes us wonder, why are legislators in SC Johnson’s home state of Wisconsin still trying to obstruct future wind development in the state?

The SC Johnson Wind Power Anniversary

For SC Johnson, there’s no question that its wind power investment has paid off, big time.

In its one-year anniversary announcement on December 16, SC Johnson starts by noting that just two wind turbines at its Waxdale, Wisconsin plant have cut almost 6,000 metric tons of greenhouse gases from its operations in one year.

The Waxdale facility is no small potatoes, by the way. Though it’s the size of 36 football fields, on an average basis the two turbines provide 100 percent of its electricity.

Partly because of the Waxdale turbines, SC Johnson is well on the way to meeting a five-year goal of using 33 percent renewable energy sources.

Globally, the company’s other ventures into renewable energy include solar power in China, wind power in Mexico and the Netherlands, and systems for replacing diesel with waste palm oil shells and waste rice husks in Indonesia.

Where’s the love from Wisconsin legislators?

Back in 2011 we noted that conservative Wisconsin legislators nipped Wisconsin’s wind power future in the bud, by abruptly shooting down a years-long effort by numerous stakeholders to encourage wind industry growth in the state. Nothing has changed since then.

While other wind-friendly midwestern states like North Dakota and Kansas have been busy creating new green jobs and helping local businesses to boost their green cred, certain legislators (okay, so Republican legislators) have advance bills to impede wind industry development.

Our friends over at Midwestern Energy News note that political pushback in Wisconsin has had a severe impact on wind development in the state, citing an added capacity of only 18 megawatts in 2012 compared to 138 mw for Michigan and 308 mw for Ohio — and both of those states have far less wind power generating potential than Wisconsin.

If you’re wondering why the party of the private sector is so dead set on stalling out economic growth in Wisconsin’s wind industry and making it harder for other businesses to follow SC Johnson’s lead, the answer is close at hand: go ask ALEC.

ALEC, the notoriously conservative American Legislative Exchange Council, has been blocking alternative energy development at every opportunity. The organization got one of its own deep into Wisconsin’s energy policy circles in 2010, when Governor Scott Walker appointed  former ALEC Public Sector Board Treasurer Phil Montgomery to head the state’s Public Services Commission.

[Image (cropped): Courtesy of SC Johnson]

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Tina writes frequently for Triple Pundit and other websites, with a focus on military, government and corporate sustainability, clean tech research and emerging energy technologies. She is a former Deputy Director of Public Affairs of the New York City Department of Environmental Protection, and author of books and articles on recycling and other conservation themes. She is currently Deputy Director of Public Information for the County of Union, New Jersey. Views expressed here are her own and do not necessarily reflect agency policy.

2 responses

  1. Another reason that there is little recent wind development in Wisconsin is that the utilities are already on track to meet the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard of 10% by 2015. Without any new policy drivers such as a higher RPS target, there is little interest (except perhaps on the customer side) of building new wind, because there is excess generating capacity in Wisconsin.

    Interestingly enough, Phil Montgomery, a former state Republican legislator, was a co-author of the 2005 act that established the 10% RPS in Wisconsin.

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