We Energies Customers Set to Drive Renewable Energy Market

In approving a new solar tariff, which will take effect October 1 this year, the Public Service Commission (PSC) of Wisconsin cleared the way for We Energies to buy solar power from its customers at 22.5 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh), a much higher rate than customers usually receive for renewable electricity that they produce.

Utility regulators gave the green light to two We Energies initiatives that will promote customer-owned solar power systems and large-scale purchases of renewable electricity from the utility.


In approving a new solar tariff, which will take effect October 1 this year, the Public Service Commission (PSC) of Wisconsin cleared the way for We Energies to buy solar power from its customers at 22.5 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh), a much higher rate than customers usually receive for renewable electricity that they produce.

To qualify for this rate, system owners must enroll in the utility's Energy for Tomorrow program, through which customers can voluntarily source up to 100% of the electricity they use from renewable energy sources.

"This is a remarkably creative way to drive the solar electric marketplace," said Michael Vickerman, executive director of RENEW Wisconsin, a statewide nonprofit group that promotes renewable energy.

"With this new tariff, producers of solar electricity can serve Energy for Tomorrow customers, who place a high value on locally produced clean power," added Michael Vickerman, executive director of RENEW Wisconsin, a statewide nonprofit group that promotes renewable energy.

The price paid for solar electricity will not require a higher premium from Energy for Tomorrow customers, Vickerman said, because the other sources of power supplying the program have become less expensive relative to coal and natural gas.

"This tariff allows We Energies to reap the benefits of this fast-growing renewable energy source without having to raise rates," Vickerman said. "Southeast Wisconsin could very well become the Solar Energy capital of the Midwest."

The PSC also approved a "bulk purchase premium" of 1.5 cents/kWh for Energy for Tomorrow customers who buy more than 70,000 kWh per month. The current premium is 2.04 cents/kWh. The new bulk purchase premium will be become effective October 1 as well.

"Interest in buying renewable power is building among businesses, universities, and state and local governments," Vickerman said. "By offering a discount rate for this customer segment, We Energies should see considerable growth in the amount of renewable electricity sold through Energy for Tomorrow."

In its rate filing for 2006, We Energies proposes to lower the standard premium and the bulk purchase discount by about one-third of the current amount, Vickerman said.

We Energies and the Focus on Energy Renewable Energy Program will hold a one-day conference titled Wisconsin's Solar Decade 2005-2015 on November 3 in Milwaukee. The event will target building owners and businesses interested in entering the solar market, highlighting the benefits of generating electricity from solar energy. RENEW Wisconsin, Milwaukee Area Technical College, Wisconsin Green Building Alliance, and other organizations are co-sponsoring the workshop. More information is available in the calendar on the Web pages of Focus on Energy at www.focusonenergy.com.

For more information about Energy for Tomorrow visit the Web site of We Energies at www.we-energies.com/eft.htm.

RENEW Wisconsin is an independent, nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization that acts as a catalyst to advance a sustainable energy future through public policy and private sector initiatives. RENEW is a member of the Wisconsin Renewable Energy Network, a subcontractor to Focus on Energy. Visit RENEW at www.renewwisconsin.org or e-mail Michael Vickerman at: mvickerman@renewwisconsin.org.

Featured Product

Solar FlexRack - TDP Turnkey Tracker

Solar FlexRack - TDP Turnkey Tracker

Solar FlexRack TDP™ Turnkey Trackers are the next generation, single-axis solar tracker solution, complete with comprehensive services and support. What sets this tracking solution apart is its updated tracking technology bundled with a full suite of best-in-class project services and support for commercial and utility-scale solar customers. The TDP Turnkey Tracker offers the lowest total cost solution by providing the only tracker in the industry that includes full design, installation, commissioning, and support services bundled in one contract. Solar FlexRack's TDP Solar Tracker solution is supported by an in-house team of experts that includes mechanical, structural, civil, electrical and geotechnical engineers and geologists. To learn more about Solar FlexRack's TDP Turnkey Tracker, one of the most cost-effective and comprehensive tracker solutions available, please visit: http://solarflexrack.com/products/tracker.