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Thursday, August 27, 2009

PSC opens door for more in-state renewable installations

A news release issued by RENEW Wisconsin:

At its open meeting today, the Public Service Commission (PSC) called for the expansion of voluntary utility programs that offer premium rates for in-state sources of renewable energy. Today’s discussion marked the first time the PSC took up the issue of premium renewable energy buyback rates since it opened a docket in January to investigate the viability of a statewide policy governing utility purchases of solar, wind and biogas energy generated by their customers.

“While we would have preferred a policy-driven approach to making homegrown renewable energy a bigger part of Wisconsin’s energy future, we are heartened that the PSC will direct utilities to produce plans for encouraging more customer investments in this market sector,” said Michael Vickerman, executive director of RENEW Wisconsin, a Madison-based sustainable energy advocacy organization.

During the PSC’s investigation, RENEW Wisconsin submitted comments advocating for the establishment of fixed-rate, technology-specific payments pegged at the production cost of the facility. Where offered, these premiums—also known as Advanced Renewable Tariffs—have significantly increased private investment in distributed sources of renewable energy. Earlier this year, the State of Vermont passed a law mandating premium rates for renewable energy, the first in the nation to do so.

Several years ago, RENEW and other organizations helped We Energies design and launch a voluntary program for encouraging customer ownership of renewable energy systems, including the state’s first premium solar rate.

“We hope the state’s utilities will take advantage
of our experience in this area and work collaboratively to develop renewable energy premium plans that will work,” Vickerman said.

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