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Monday, June 18, 2012

PSC commissioner: Renewable energy facilities come at a reasonable cost to consumers

From a story by Tom Content in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

A report from the state Public Service Commission tallies the cost of complying with the state’s renewable power standard, concluding that it sent power rates up about 1% through 2010.

The report found that Wisconsin’s renewable projects accounted for more than 7% of sales in 2010, or nearly twice the level of 2006, when the state’s renewable standard was adopted by the state Legislature.

Since 2007, the commission has endorsed proposals to build $1.7 billion for utility-owned renewable projects, primarily wind farms built in Wisconsin and nearby states.

The report doesn’t account for about $500 million worth of projects, which were not completed as of 2010.

Large projects like new power plants are paid off over time, so the cost of adding those to the state’s fleet of generation was about $200 million, or an increase of 1% of utility sales, the report estimated. The estimate is based on a comparison of the cost of the projects with the average market price of power sold on the wholesale Midwest energy market during the period.

Wisconsin’s standard requires increases in the amount of renewable energy that utilities buy or build, so that 10% of utility sales in 2015 will come from renewables such as wind, solar and biomass projects.

The standard was enacted in 2006 with bipartisan and near-unanimous support. The state Assembly co-author of the bill, Republican Phil Montgomery, chairs the state Public Service Commission. . . .

Commissioner Eric Callisto, who was chair of the commission under Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle, said the PSC staff’s analysis “confirms that balancing the state's generation portfolio with clean, renewable energy facilities comes at a reasonable cost to consumers.”

While providing balance for a fleet that relies on fossil fuels for a majority of Wisconsin’s power generation. Callisto said the renewable projects also “act as important risk mitigation tools in a future of increasing air regulation, and provide opportunities for economic development within the four corners of the state."

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