Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Walker whittles away at money saving "Focus on Energy" program, costing us all more.

It's an amazing game of words coming from the the Walker administration. Walker says we should stay with fossil fuels because that will keep prices down, all the while the PSC is raising prices, all the while solar and wind energy generation is now competitive and costs less.

It always seemed odd to me that utility companies that made money from energy use, would tell their customer how to save energy. That charade has ended:
Wisconsin's electric utilities back the bill, which would cut funding for the Focus on Energy program by $7 million at a time when electricity costs in Wisconsin have risen above the national average.Utilities and state regulators say the proposed cut would return money to ratepayers, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported. 
Since really big business took control of Wisconsin's legislature, the muscle flexing has begun, at the expense of it's citizens and smaller businesses:
But the program's supporters cite its savings, pointing out that the program has delivered $3 of savings to customers for every $1 spent. Theresa Lehman, director of sustainable services at Miron Construction.  said at a time when capital spending budgets are tight, the program offers incentives that help customers cut their costs by allowing them to afford the upfront expenses of switching to more efficient LED lighting.

St. Elizabeth Hospital in Appleton is saving $30,000 a year by upgrading the lighting in its corridors, Lehman said. Another client, Lake Mills Elementary School, received $100,000 in incentives from the program and is now saving $85,000 every year on its energy costs, she said.
Families and businesses will now pay more, and not save energy. Hey, we're just trying to save the utilities money!!!
Supporters of the cut, including Wisconsin utilities and manufacturing groups, say it fixes a problem that effectively charges some utilities twice for the program. Investor-owned utilities are paying into the program based on a percentage of sales, and then municipal utilities — which buy power from investor-owned utilities — are paying into the program separately, at a rate of $8 per meter. The proposed change would collect program funding by retail rather than total utility electric sales, so investor utilities aren't paying for both their customers' and municipal customers' contributions to Focus on Energy. "Our concern is the formula and getting rid of the double charge," We Energies spokesman Brian Manthey said. Total funding for the program would increase over time as utility power sales rise, he said.
And that savings will go right back to the customer, so they can pay for the increases by the PSC. Not a bad scam;
Madison-based Alliant Energy and Milwaukee-based WEC Energy Group, parent of We Energies and Wisconsin Public Service, are backing the bill. All three of the utilities estimate they would see savings of about $2 million a year. PSC spokeswoman Elise Nelson contends the change is about equity and fairness and "would put $7 million back in ratepayers' pockets."
In Walker's way from the beginning: Keep the following in mind, since it's directly related and is another example of Walker outsourcing Wisconsin jobs. Scott Walker's first victim was a 30 year old Wisconsin company, replaced by one from Baton Rouge, La.
WSJ: Focus on Energy, a statewide program that promotes energy efficiency … new management by an out-of-state corporation, suspension of a popular rebate program, and sharp funding cuts in the pending state budget … Nearly 20 people already have lost their jobs … In the past 10 years, more than 91,000 businesses and more than 1.7 million residents used the program and saved $2.20 for every dollar spent.

The nonprofit Wisconsin Energy Conservation Corp. (WECC) has handled the program since 2001 … grew to 235 employees, with clients in 12 states and a building in University Research Park that’s a showpiece for energy efficiency.

But a panel decided in May (2011) to award the contract to Shaw Environmental & Infrastructure, part of The Shaw Group, a publicly traded Baton Rouge, La., corporation
I wonder why….
Other divisions of Shaw design and build power plants, erect pipelines and manage radioactive waste.
Hey, didn't Republicans end the nuke plant moratorium? Coincidence? And so Walker’s war on green energy began:
Since taking over Focus on Energy on May 9, one of Shaw’s first decisions, with PSC support, was to suspend payments to businesses that install renewable-energy systems, as of June 30.

Contractors like Seventh Generation Energy Systems were stunned. “It’s pretty devastating,” said James Yockey, chief executive officer. “It probably took out six to 10 projects that we were looking to close ... for work in the fall and the coming spring.” Several of the projects were wind turbines for farmers. “I think the incentives are decisive in people saying yes,” Yockey said.

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