Wisconsin’s utility company WE Energies not only just raised its electricity rates, but it plans to charge solar customers an added fee. The added $3.80 per kilowatt hour would come to about $220 extra a year, and it would serve to penalize those who have already gone solar and deter others from doing so.
Also discouraging potential solar customers is WE’s proposed ban on third-party ownership of renewable energy systems.
A WE spokesperson says the added fee is because solar customers don’t pay their fair share of grid operating costs, but critics say this reasoning is flawed because solar customers make up only a fraction of 1% of the company’s total customer base.
Others are accusing WE of violating energy freedom - attempting to tax the sun.
If the state’s Public Service Commission should allow this proposal, opponents say it would make “Wisconsin the most anti-renewable energy state in the country.”
Insist the Commission reject this proposal that would punish those who now go solar and discourage others from choosing solar in the future.
We, the undersigned, say WE Energies must not penalize its solar customers.
According to reports, the company already charges the second highest rates in the state, even without the rate increase. And critics of the proposed added fee on solar customers say the small fraction of solar customers poses no serious costs to the company, and there’s no justification for either the increase or the added fees.
The rate hike also punishes customers who have been working hard to decrease their energy consumption. Despite consumer efforts, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports, “We Energies’ residential bills have increased 51 percent” since 2005, “while inflation is up 22 percent.”
WE Energies' proposal represents one of many such clashes between utilities and solar interests that have been brewing across the country. Even if it doesn't pass, the attempt, alone, encourages an unhealthy trend to deter potential solar customers.
This is an issue important to both conservatives and liberals, because it’s not just about climate change, it’s about freedom to choose, free market competition, property rights and economic development.
We request that Wisconsin’s Public Service Commission reject WE Engeries proposal to raise electricity rates and tack on additional fees to solar customer bills.
Thanks for your consideration.