Senate passes bill relaxing emission regulations

MADISON — The Wisconsin Senate has passed a bill that would relax Wisconsin's sulfur dioxide emission regulations and rework utilities' obligations to pay into the state's renewable energy program.

The bill, which already cleared the Assembly, would eliminate requirements that major utilities submit annual plans to state regulators for complying with sulfur dioxide emission goals. It would also remove a requirement that if regulators believe emissions will exceed 325,000 tons annually, they must recommend whether legislators should adopt an enforceable limit.

Under the bill, utilities would also have to pay 1.2 percent of their retail sales into the state's renewable energy program, Focus on Energy, instead of the 1.2 percent of their operating revenues they currently pay.

The Senate approved the bill 31-1 Tuesday. It goes next to Gov. Scott Walker.