May 23, 2012
608.255.4044, ext. 2
Another example of company backsliding on renewables
In documents filed in conjunction with its pending rate case, Green Bay-based Wisconsin Public Service Corporation (WPS) proposed several rollbacks to its net metering service that would, if approved, sharply restrict a customer’s ability to generate electricity from renewable energy resources and sell a portion of it back to the utility.
Net metering allows customers to sell the unused output from their solar electric or other renewable energy system back to the utility at the full retail rate from month to month, so long as the surplus electricity is less than or equal to the customers’ usage in a 12-month period.
Currently, WPS customers may install solar or wind energy systems on their premises up to 100 kilowatts (kW). Beginning in January 2013, WPS would roll back that capacity limit to 20 kW.
WPS has also proposed to cap the overall size of its net metering offering at one-half of one percent of 2011 summer peak. No other Wisconsin utility has ever sought to impose capacity-based limits to its net metering service.
“What WPS proposes would be a really bad deal for customers installing small renewable energy systems serving their homes or businesses,” said Michael Vickerman, program and policy director for RENEW Wisconsin, a nonprofit advocacy organization promoting renewable energy use in Wisconsin.
“These service changes are clearly intended to discourage its customers from investing in solar and small wind energy systems,” Vickerman said. “If WPS gets its way, the renewable energy marketplace in that part of Wisconsin will slow down significantly.”
“At a time when the customers and communities in WPS territory are looking to renewable energy to support new jobs and manage their energy costs, the company is doing its level best to take that option away from them,” Vickerman said.
As an intervenor in WPS’s rate case, RENEW Wisconsin will ask the Public Service Commission to:
• Reject WPS’s proposal to impose a system-wide cap on net metering service;
• Maintain the current maximum system size at 100 kW; and
• Base WPS’s calculation of net energy on annual usage instead of monthly usage.
“What we will ask for is a standard of service that is already offered by two Wisconsin utilities: Madison Gas & Electric (MGE) and Xcel Energy,” Vickerman said. “WPS’s proposal is a particularly egregious example of company backsliding.”
Vickerman noted that MGE, which also has a pending rate proceeding before the Public Service Commission, did not propose any changes to its net metering service for 2013 and 2014.
“We urge the PSC to work toward a uniform net metering policy for the state using MGE’s and Xcel’s service as a template,” Vickerman said.
Vickerman added: “WPS, it should be remembered, was the driving force behind the “Outsource Renewable Energy to Canada Act,” which was signed into law in 2011. That law lets utilities apply the energy they purchase from large Canadian hydropower sources toward their renewable energy requirements, at the expense of in-state renewable energy providers. Within that context, WPS’s net metering proposal constitutes another slight to Wisconsin’s renewable energy marketplace.”
RENEW Wisconsin is an independent, nonprofit 501(c)(3) that leads and represents businesses and individuals who seek more clean, renewable energy in Wisconsin. More information on RENEW’s Web site at www.renewwisconsin.org.