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Friday, July 25, 2014

Obstacles for Distributed Solar Generation in Wisconsin

Stevens Point City-Times ran an article this past Wednesday that articulates the current obstacles distributed solar power generation faces in Wisconsin, particularly from the major utility companies in the state. 

MREA Column: Will Wisconsin Utilities Be Left in the Dark?

July 23rd, 2014

Solar power is a shining American success story. In 1954 the modern solar cell was developed by Bell Labs, and over the past 60 years as solar installations have grown, the prices have dropped dramatically – making solar affordable for more Americans. In fact, a solar electric system is installed an average of every 4 minutes in the U.S. today. Solar is popular close to home as well. According to a recent survey by UW- Milwaukee, 68% of Wisconsin residents support using more renewable energy. Solar and renewable energy (while currently a small percentage of our energy generation mix) continue to grow in deployment and have an incredibly bright future.
One group who does not share in the excitement for solar is Wisconsin’s electrical utilities. Many of our modern conveniences run on electricity, and utility companies in Wisconsin have maintained a steady, reliable electrical grid that keeps the lights on and our gadgets charged. Wisconsin currently has a regulated and monopolized utility market, and most residents are served by utilities that are investor-owned. This means the utilities need to generate revenue to keep shareholders happy; the more electricity they produce and deliver, the greater their profit. Other Wisconsin residents are served by either cooperatives (led by a member-elected board), or by municipal utilities that are run by local governments.
Read the rest of the article here...

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