Public Service Commission Approves We Energies' Rate Hikes & “Solar Tax”
RELEASED FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 14, 2014
MADISON, WI – With a 2-1 vote voiced at an open meeting Friday afternoon, the Wisconsin Public Service Commission approved a 75% increase in monthly fixed charges and sweeping changes that will pile additional charges on customers who choose to install solar energy panels starting in 2015. The vote was split down partisan lines with Gov. Scott Walker appointees Chairperson Phil Montgomery and Commissioner Ellen Nowak supporting the changes; and Commissioner Eric Callisto, an appointee of Gov. Jim Doyle, opposed.
“Under this decision, customers who use more will see lower bills and customers who use less will see higher bills. It sends the wrong price signals on energy efficiency because it makes it harder for customers to control their monthly bills,” said Robert Kelter, senior attorney with the Environmental Law & Policy Center.
“The Public Service Commission has effectively approved a new tax to be collected from residential and small business customers that would like to create some of their own energy, such as with solar panels,” said Tyler Huebner, executive director of RENEW Wisconsin. “This decision is bad for job creation, bad for energy independence, bad for the environment, and bad for customers. Today our Republican-appointed Commissioners approved a new tax, killed jobs, and restricted energy choice in Wisconsin.”
“The commission has ignored the facts in this case and decided whether you embrace energy efficiency, or want to generate some of your own electricity with solar panels, you should pay more,” Kelter said.
“It also ignored a record level of over 1,900 public comments, 89% of which were opposed to these changes,” Huebner added.
The Public Service Commission decision will:
• Increase monthly fixed fees from $9.13 to $16.00
• Impose a $3.79 monthly tax on every kilowatt of a solar installation (a 4 kilowatt system would pay $181.97 a year)
• Transfer about 40% of the value of solar installation from the homeowner to We Energies through changes in payments and charge
• Pay just 4.2 cents for every kilowatt-hour of energy generated by customer renewable energy systems