2014 RENEW Wisconsin Activities & Action Plan

Mission Statement

RENEW's mission is to lead and accelerate the transition to Wisconsin's renewable energy future through advocacy, education, and collaboration.

Our 2014 Activities and Action Plan reflect our mission and our members' best interests in advancing and defending bioenergy, solar power, wind power, and hydropower in Wisconsin.

"We Mean Business" 2014 Energy Policy Summit

Summit logo

RENEW Wisconsin hosted its third annual Energy Policy Summit, We Mean Business, on Friday, January 10, 2014, at the Pyle Center on the UW-Madison campus. Although our previous summits pulled in large audiences and sparked many lively discussions, by all accounts RENEW’s We Mean Business summit topped them all. The Summit kicked off our year with tremendous keynote presentations, panelists, networking, and motivation to continue pressing for renewable energy solutions.

Read more about the Summit at the RENEW Wisconsin blog, watch videos of the keynote presentations, or browse through the powerpoints and speeches.

Organize stakeholders to articulate a public policy message on clean renewables

Policy decisions are made in a variety of legal, administrative, and institutional settings. RENEW will represent renewable energy supporters and stakeholders in these settings to convey formulated positions on policies that can potentially advance or weaken Wisconsin’s renewable energy marketplace. RENEW will provide the organized voice on renewables in Wisconsin through public advocacy and social media campaigns.

Advance Clean Energy Choice

For economic reasons, most small-scale renewable energy facilities in the country are owned and installed by third parties. It is often easier for third parties to take advantage of federal credits and business depreciation, while relieving the property owner of the responsibility of financing the system and building it.  One attractive financing tool for third-party ownership is called "power purchase agreements." Currently 22 states allow these financing agreements, but in Wisconsin the law is unclear. RENEW Wisconsin will continue to gather supporters and educate legislators on this issue, which we've branded Clean Energy Choice in Wisconsin. RENEW Wisconsin believes not allowing these agreements infringes on property rights of customers like you and limits your options when considering sourcing energy from a renewable system on your own property. Learn More or Join as a Clean Energy Choice supporter.

Presentation "Third Party Ownership Assessment "

Improve the Focus on Energy program

Focus on Energy (Focus), the statewide energy efficiency and renewable energy program, has been a critically important driver for local clean renewable energy production with over $75 million of incentives driving at least $300 million in total investment into renewable energy installations since the statewide program's inception in 2003. However, over the past two years, funding has been interruped numerous times and other programmatic decisions have pigeon-holed renewable energy funding. Throughout 2014, RENEW Wisconsin will participate in the once-every-four-year Quadrennial Planning process conducted by the Public Service Commission, as well as continue the themes of 2012 and 2013 that the Focus on Energy program needs to be consistent, predictable, and well-communicated to installers as well as customers.

  • Available annual renewable resource incentive funding for each of 2013 and 2014 is $10 million, inclusive of incentives that will be paid out for previously approved projects.
  • In 2013 and 2014, 75 percent of the renewable resource incentives will be available for biomass, biogas, and geothermal technologies, and 25 percent will be available for solar thermal, photovoltaic, and wind technologies.
  • In 2013 and 2014, the $10 million renewable resource incentive funding is contingent upon maintaining a Focus on Energy program portfolio benefit-to-cost ratio of at least 2.3 and a reduction in energy savings of the portfolio of programs due to the inclusion of renewable resource measures of no more than 7.5 percent.

Implement the Badger-Coulee Transmission Line

Neighboring states in the Midwest, such as Minnesota, Iowa, and the Dakotas, are reaching exceptional levels of wind production. The proposed Badger-Coulee Transmission Line would direct some of that wind power into Wisconsin, locking in a source of clean energy and low-cost electricity for our state for years to come. Learn more about this project!

Defend and Upgrade Wisconsin's 10% Renewable Energy Standard

RENEW formulated, and helped mobilize support for, a 10% renewable energy standard on electric utilities by 2015. Adopted in 2006, this modest standard has largely been met and achieved it's purpose in expanding renewable energy. RENEW estimates over $2.3 billion worth of investment into Wisconsin was driven by this law. However, despite our early leadership, our 10% standard is now tied for the lowest in the country among states that have a target like this, and is outpaced by our neighbors Minnesota (25% by 2025), Iowa (already gets 25% of electricity from wind), and Illinois (25% standard by 2025) among other states. RENEW will continue to tout the benefits of an expanded renewable energy standard and an upgrade to include a target for in-state distributed renewable applications.

Taking the lead on wind permitting rules and issues in Wisconsin 

The Wisconsin legislature passed the Wind Siting Law (2009 Act 40) to create one overarching siting law for all wind turbines subject to local review (≤ 100 MW). The law directed the Public Service Commission (PSC) to develop administrative rules that would establish certainty and consistency in the way local governments review and regulate wind energy systems. The PSC adopted a compromise rule in December 2010, called PSC 128. Throughout 2014, the Wind Siting Council will be meeting to discuss health impacts related to wind energy development, and RENEW's Michael Vickerman will continue to represent the interests of reasonable permitting to encourage investment in wind power in Wisconsin.

"Net Metering" and Interconnection rules

Net energy billing allows utility customers who produce clean renewable energy on-site to sell excess output back and receive the full retail rate for it up to the customer’s full usage. Codified in 1992, Wisconsin’s net energy billing policy has become woefully out-of-date, lagging behind other states that actively encourage customer generation of clean renewables. In fact, Wisconsin currently grades a "C" on net metering, and a "D" on another critical policy for renewable energy: interconnection rules governing how distributed generation systems are connected with the utility grid. Where these issues are threatened, RENEW will press for sensible net metering and interconnection policies in the investor-owned utility rate cases.

Promote attractive renewable energy buyback policies

Nearly 50,000 utility customers in Wisconsin support clean renewable energy through paying higher rates each month for their electricity. As confirmed in recent polls, more than 75% of the population supports a greater commitment to clean renewable energy development.  RENEW is working with partners to translate that demand for renewables into buyback policies and rates that encourage additional supplies of renewable energy from local producers.