Wisc. regulators approve 83% jump in fixed charges
- The Public Service Commission (PSC) of Wisconsin has approved an 83% increase in fixed charges for customers of Wisconsin Public Service Corp., according to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. The Green Bay-based utility had requested a 140% increase.
- The 2-1 decision means fixed charges for customers will be $19 per month, up from $10.40. Wisconsin Public Service sought an increase to $25.
- The approved increase coincides with proposals from Madison Gas & Electric, which wants an 82% hike, and We Energies, which is seeking an increase of 75% in fixed charges.
The fight over increased fixed charges has been simmering for months in Wisconsin. In October, Michael Vickerman, the program and policy director at RENEW Wisconsin, told Utility Dive that We Energies' proposed rate plan would "effectively demolish" rooftop solar in Wisconsin.
“No other utility is trying as hard as We Energies is to deprive small customers of the option to self-generate with solar,” Vickerman said at the time.
It appears that the Wisconsin PSC is siding with the utilities, who say a higher fixed charge is necessary to ensure customers with distributed generation pay their fair share of grid costs. The two commissioners who voted for the increase were both appointed by Republican Governor Scott Walker, and say they mean no harm to renewable energy.
"This is not an attack on wind and solar," Commissioner Ellen Nowak told the Journal-Sentinel. "It's about fairness."
Commissioner Phil Montgomery indicated that his and Nowak's support for increases in fixed charges is strong, and that he would be open to larger hikes in the future.
"Only the principle of gradualism gives me pause from suggesting we adopt the Pub Service proposal in its entirety," Montgomery told the Journal-Sentinel, using a common nickname for Wisconsin Public Service Corporation.
Commissioner Eric Callisto, the sole dissenting vote, argued that the commission should have frozen fixed charge increases and ordered a statewide study of the issue.
Correction: An earlier version of this post incorrectly stated the increase in fixed charges would apply to customers using distributed generation. The increase in fixed charges would, in fact, apply to all customers.
- Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel State regulators approve 83% increase in Green Bay utility's fixed charge
Follow Gavin Bade on Twitter