The Bottom Line: Our current regional energy monopolies need to change their business model from supplying energy via coal, gas and nuclear, to mostly providing the infrastructure to deliver energy.
Like the horse and buggy, technology is about to turn We Energy and MG&E out to pasture, and they don’t like it one bit. Big energy is fighting this in other states as well. In Arizona for example, companies actually wanted to charge customers who installed solar panels $100 more a month. That not only kills the green energy market, but penalizes people for trying to save money.
That brings us to Wisconsin:
jsonline: We Energies has dropped its protest of a move by a solar energy coalition and environmental group to get involved in the upcoming fight over its plan to slash payments to customers who generate their own power. The decision means the hearings will become a showdown on questions that could decide how the market for clean energy unfolds in the years ahead.
That already sounds like an outrageous move from a desperate energy company trying to hold onto the past.
We Energies is proposing big changes … say(ing) the move will be more fair for all of its customers. Like We Energies, Madison Gas & Electric Co. wants to pay less to solar power generating customers, as well as add a significant increase in the fixed charge on all customers' bills.
Those in the solar business disagree. They say the utility wants to limit customers' ability to take advantage of falling prices of equipment to generate solar power.
Earlier this month, We Energies … chastised them for … missing a PSC deadline for getting involved in the case. The groups countered that their tardiness should be excused. They claimed that We Energies didn't float its solar proposal and 75% increase in the monthly fixed charge on customers' bills until after that PSC deadline had passed … a customer generating solar power could see the amount paid by the utility drop by more than 34% in 2016.
Scott Walker and the Republican legislature have made it incredibly difficult for green energy to get started in Wisconsin, since big energy contributors call the shots here. That’s not a partisan statement either. Energy monopolies are killing jobs here:
Companies in the solar business, like SunVest Solar in Pewaukee, say the impact will be to spur more clean-energy development — and job creation — outside the state. SunVest develops solar projects in Missouri, New Jersey, New York and Wisconsin. "Unfortunately, 90% or more of that work is being done in other states," said SunVest owner Matt Neumann. "We're creating these jobs in other states and our tax credits are getting invested in other states."
One final note. The following comment is a lie, because rate payers have always paid for utility upgrades and improvements alongside their actual energy costs. The idea that a utility didn't get full compensation from a customer for the power grid is insulting.
We Energies stresses that customers who don't produce their own power are gaining benefits from the power grid that they aren't fully compensating the utility for.