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We Energies Proposes Changes to Electricity Rates for 2015-16
We Energies has proposed changing customer electricity rates for 2015-2016. This rate case includes two components: one could impact all residents’ energy bills, and the second introduces charges and restrictions on clean energy system owners. These proposals (i.e., “rate case”) are currently before the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (Docket No. 5-UR-107). Below is a brief outline of the proposal.
1. Changes and new limits for solar owners: We Energies is proposing fees for clean energy generation and limits on solar ownership in its service territory. These changes will impact future and existing solar installations on homes and businesses. These changes could be applied to all solar owners beginning 2016.
a) Changes to Net Metering: We Energies proposes to change how and when solar production is valued on a customer’s energy bill. Net metering of clean energy systems would change from annual netting to monthly netting, while also reducing the price credited for solar retail rate to ‘avoided cost’ rate (roughly 14 cents/kwh to 3 cents/kwh). This change would limit customer optimization of solar system sizing and lengthen subsequent return on investment.
b) New Demand Charge: We Energies is proposing a new charge for any and all clean energy system owners. All customers that have invested in a renewable energy system on their own property will be required to pay We Energies $3.80 per kW per month (based on the size of the system). For example, a homeowner who installed a 4 kW solar system (average system size in We Energies’’ territory) will be required to pay $192 annually to We Energies.
c) Restricting Third-Party Ownership (Leasing) of Solar: We Energies seeks to ban any solar or wind project from interconnecting and net metering with the grid if it is not owned by the customer. The utility proposes to limit the financing mechanism available to private home and business owners as well as non-profit and governmental agencies.
2. Shifts in electricity rates for all residents: We Energies is proposing to increase the fixed cost on residents and small commercial customer bills. A fixed cost is a set cost in a resident’s energy bill, regardless of how much, or how little, electricity a customer consumes. The current fixed cost on a resident’s energy bill is $9/month. We Energies is proposing to increase the fixed rate 75% to $16/month. The variable rate on a customer’s energy bill is the amount paid per kilowatt hour (kwh) for energy consumed. The current rate is $0.139/kwh. We Energies is proposing to reduce the rate one-half cent to $0.1349/kwh.
Residents who have gone through the Me2 and Milwaukee Shines programs, and have reduced their energy use, will have disproportionate increases in energy bills. We Energies has indicated it will continue to seek increases in fixed costs which overtime may continue to disincentive energy efficiency measures.
PROCESS AND INPUT:
The Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (PSC) oversees and approves the rates of the state’s investor owned utilities, like We Energies. The PSC consists of three commissioners that will ultimately rule on We Energies’ proposals. The PSC has a process for ratepayers (individuals, organizations and businesses) to provide input into the rate case.
Submit Your Comments: Public comments are being taken on the We Energies rate case. File a comment online at the PSC website, and refer to We Energies 2014 rate case (Docket No. 5-UR-107). The comment period will run until October 7, 2014.
- Now through October 7, 2014: Submit public comments on rate case
- October 8, 2014: Public Service Commission will host two public hearings in Milwaukee. 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. at Wilson Senior Center, 2601 W. Howard Ave., Milwaukee. NOTE: If you have submitted a written public comment, you will not be allowed to testify at the public hearing. The Public Service Commission allows one of two options to share your opinions on the rate proposal.
- December 2014: Decision expected from PSC
- Does this just impact homeowners? All new and all existing renewable energy systems could be impacted by these proposals. This includes residential, business, and non-profit or government installations. For a list of some of the installations on community facilities that may be impacted, visit the We Energies website.
- More than solar? Yes, the changes will impact all distributed generation in We Energies territory including solar, wind and biogas/bio-digesters. Solar and wind system owners would be charged roughly $4/kW/month. Bio-digester owners would see a new surcharge of $8.60/kW/month.
WE ENERGIES RATE CASE IN THE NEWS: