Two of Wisconsin’s major utilities – Madison Gas & Electric (MGE) and Wisconsin Power & Light (WPL – part of Alliant Energy) – proposed increases in their rates for electricity and natural gas, in addition to significant changes to the rules governing sales of energy back to the grid by rooftop solar users (a process known as net metering). 350 Wisconsin remains opposed to MGE’s proposal to eliminate net metering and raise customers’ energy rates. (Read more about the original proposals here.)
Wisconsin Power & Light has modified its proposal, preserving net metering for another two years and making its Power Partnership program for rooftop solar owners more beneficial. The changes to WPL’s proposal are the result of the pressure brought by the intervenors (including 350 Wisconsin), our allies, and members of the public.
Although WPL’s current proposal is more favorable for distributed solar adoption, we strongly believe that the very low solar adoption rates in our state do not warrant changes to net metering at this time. Rather than utility-by-utility decisions, we need a comprehensive, collaborative process to arrive at a consistent statewide policy to address the future of net metering in Wisconsin. The most efficacious strategy for meeting our state’s climate goals and accelerating the adoption of rooftop solar systems is through implementation of a statewide net metering policy.
We remain concerned about WPL’s proposed energy rate hikes and the increased burden on low-income households and communities. As the climate crisis continues to worsen, longer, more severe, and more frequent heat waves will increasingly burden low-income individuals and families with high energy bills. This burden will be even higher if the proposed rate increases are approved. We are urging the Wisconsin Public Service Commission (PSC) to formally endorse the principle that energy burdens (e.g., the percentage of a household’s income spent on energy bills) should not rise above the generally-accepted six percent ‘affordability threshold’ in the state of WI. We are also asking WPL to create new low-income assistance programs to help struggling customers pay their current bills and improve the energy efficiency of their homes in order to reduce both energy burdens and carbon emissions.
Wisconsin’s Public Service Commission will make the final decision whether to approve or deny the proposed changes, and they want to hear from YOU!
You do not need to be a customer of WPL to submit a comment, but we particularly encourage those in WPL’s service territories to make their voices heard. Your comment will carry extra weight if it’s unique, so please feel free to modify the suggested comment as much as you want or draft a completely new one!
- Low-income households already spend a higher share of their income on energy, and heat waves and other effects of the climate crisis will only make this worse. The PSC needs to formally endorse a cap on energy burden (the percentage of a household’s income spent on energy bills) at six percent, and WPL needs to create new low-income assistance programs to help struggling customers pay their current bills and improve the energy efficiency of their homes to reduce energy burden and carbon emissions.
- Net metering (the ability to sell excess energy generated by rooftop solar back to utilities) is a key tool for making rooftop solar affordable and accessible to households, small businesses, nonprofits, and municipalities. Limiting or eliminating net metering may hamper all but the most affluent households and organizations from installing rooftop solar panels.
- Increased barriers to renewable energy access will also worsen the energy burden in low-income households, many of which are BIPOC and are already suffering the worst effects of the climate crisis and of historical redlining and disinvestment from their communities.
- With upfront costs of rooftop solar reduced thanks to the Inflation Reduction Act’s tax credits and rebates, lower income households were anticipating greater access to and affordability of these technologies. However, the proposed changes may prevent access to these programs just as they become more affordable.
- The proposed changes and the PSC’s decision are likely to set a precedent for how net-metering will be addressed by other utilities in Wisconsin, which may have a significant impact on our state’s ability to meet its climate goals.
- While WPL’s new proposal is more favorable for distributed solar adoption than their previous proposal, we still believe strongly that we need a comprehensive, collaborative process to address the future of net metering in our state, and a statewide policy, not utility-by-utility decisions.
- Without affordable and accessible carbon-free energy sources, customers will remain reliant on fossil fuels. The climate crisis is already impacting Wisconsin – heat waves, drought conditions, and other extreme weather events are threatening agriculture, ecosystems, air and water quality, and human health. The transition to solar and other forms of renewable energy is critical to avoid further impacts from the climate crisis.
Submit a written comment here through October 4.
Sample comment (please edit to fit your own voice):
I’m writing in support of fair energy rates and net metering policies for Wisconsin.
As the climate crisis continues to worsen due to the continued burning of fossil fuels, longer, more severe, and more frequent heat waves and other extreme weather events will increasingly burden low-income individuals and families with high energy bills. This energy burden will be exacerbated by the proposed rate increases. I urge the Wisconsin Public Service Commission (PSC) to formally endorse the principle that energy burdens (e.g., the percentage of a household’s income spent on energy bills) should not rise above the generally-accepted six percent ‘affordability threshold’ in the state of WI. I am also asking WPL to create new low-income assistance programs to help struggling customers pay their current bills and improve the energy efficiency of their homes in order to reduce both energy burdens and carbon emissions.
I am also concerned about the longer-term implications for net metering policies in Wisconsin. With solar adoption rates in WPL territories currently very low, we need a comprehensive, collaborative process to address the future of net metering in our state, and a statewide policy, not utility-by-utility decisions.
Net metering empowers Wisconsinites to take control of their energy consumption, reduce their carbon footprint, and contribute to a cleaner, more sustainable future. It is the single most important policy enabling every Wisconsin home, farm, business, nonprofit, faith community, and institution to own solar. By reducing strain on the grid, stabilizing energy prices, and fostering job growth, the benefits of net metering extend well beyond the solar customer.
Changes to net metering could create uncertainty for Wisconsinites looking to go solar. Wisconsin doesn’t need to open the door for other utilities to make harmful changes to their net metering policies, ultimately disincentivizing new solar adoption and hindering our ability to meet our state’s climate goals as laid out in the Governor’s Task Force on Climate Change report in 2020 and Wisconsin’s Clean Energy Plan.
Rooftop solar can be a boon for historically marginalized communities, providing access to clean energy and reducing utility bills for households disproportionately burdened by high electricity costs. These savings free up resources for other essentials like education, healthcare, and better living conditions. Our energy policies should be making it easier for all Wisconsinites to reap the benefits of clean energy.
As Wisconsin is increasingly impacted by the effects of the climate crisis – heat waves, drought, crop damage, threats to water and air quality, and health impacts – we cannot afford to remain reliant on fossil fuels. Now is not the time to derail our progress on distributed solar and renewable energy in Wisconsin!
Thank you for your support on this important issue.