Submit a comment in support of the High Noon Solar Energy Center!

Submit a comment in support of the High Noon Solar Energy Center!

High Noon Solar Energy Center is a 300 megawatt solar project with a 165 MW battery energy storage system proposed in southwest Columbia County, near Portage. As designed, High Noon would supply homegrown, affordable, emission-free electricity to power the equivalent of approximately 58,000 homes. If approved, High Noon would begin producing clean power by the end of 2025. For more information, visit the application here and RENEW Wisconsin’s testimony here.

An exemplary testimony to the benefits this project offers Columbia County comes from PSC comments submitted by Larry Nelson, a 4th generation farmer in Lodi, Wisconsin.

I support High Noon Solar. I am a participating landowner and 4th generation farmer on a century family farm. We grow corn and soybeans on our farm. 100% of our Corn goes to ethanol. With the auto manufacturers transitioning to electric vehicles, I am very concerned as to what this will do to our ethanol market and increased demand for electricity. Since our family started farming in the 1800s, there has been a lot of changes to agriculture and ways to be profitable. Our family has adapted over the years to remain in agriculture and stay profitable. This is not an easy task as many family farms have disappeared over the years. The High Noon Solar project is an opportunity for us to diversify our farm income. In my opinion this is just another way to farm the sun, just as we have done to grow crops over the years. Our farmland in this project does not disappear. This is a temporary use of our land. It will be seeded down and have solar arrays on it. By seeding it down the land will be protected from erosion and runoff. Our land naturally drains and we have NO DRAIN TILE. We use commercial fertilizers on our farm along with chemicals as needed. We do not have any livestock so no manure is spread on our land. The environmental assessment has been done. There are no significant impact. This project will bring beneficial jobs into our community and will have a positive economic impact. This will also bring in 1.2 million in annual tax payments to Columbia County and participating townships. There are many financial benefits from this project in all aspects but the most important one is this is good for our environment and we are doing our part to fight climate change for future generations. Thank you for your consideration.

 

Larry Nelson
Lodi, Wisconsin

Proposed power plants larger than 100 megawatts must gain approval from the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (PSCW) before they can proceed to construction. Along the way, there are opportunities for public comment at the township, county, and state levels. Please help us demonstrate Wisconsin’s enthusiastic support for solar power in general and this project in particular by submitting a comment in support of the High Noon Solar Energy Center. Be sure to specifically reference the project and the benefits that it can bring to Wisconsin. The deadline for submitting comments is March 1, 2023.  

[Note: Your comments need not be as lengthy as the sample below, which was drafted to present various supporting perspectives on health, environmental sustainability, and rural economic development. We encourage you to articulate the points that matter most to you. But it’s OK to frame your comments at a very high level if that’s what you’re comfortable with.]


SAMPLE COMMENT

I write in support of the High Solar Energy Center, presently under review at Docket No. 9814-CE-100. This project, like other combined solar and battery storage projects approved by the PSCW in recent years, would protect human health and the natural environment while strengthening the state’s economy.

 

Consistent with Wisconsin’s Energy Priorities Law, High Noon will provide these benefits by converting locally available, noncombustible renewable energy resource—sunshine—to electricity, and feeding zero-emission into existing power lines and the battery energy storage system onsite. As configured, High Noon will displace fossil fueled generation at all times, which will measurably reduce the volume of airborne pollutants and greenhouse gases discharged from Wisconsin sources.

 

In-state solar projects can be counted on to energize the local economy through increased revenues to local governments while diversifying our resource mix and bringing Wisconsin a step closer to energy self-sufficiency. The economic benefits come in two forms. Initially, High Noon will create between 600 and 700 jobs in Wisconsin during the project’s construction phase. Second, once it has been placed in service, High Noon will provide rental income to participating landowners as well as payments in lieu of taxes to local jurisdictions hosting the project. Projects like these can also provide an economic hedge to farmers and rural landowners whose products are subject to commodity market forces and weather conditions that are beyond their control and can often be unforgiving.

 

In addition to the health and environmental benefits referenced above, High Noon will also deliver benefits to the land within in the project’s footprint. The developer proposes to revegetate the land with a mix of deep-rooted plants under and around the installation. Managing the land in this fashion will improve soil health, reduce erosion, and increase biodiversity. Finally, High Noon will have no measurable impact on local agricultural output, as  crop yields per acre in Columbia County have steadily increased since 1960.

 

I respectfully encourage the PSCW to rule that High Noon Solar Energy Center is in the public interest and issue a permit enabling the project to proceed to construction. Thank you for your consideration of my views.

Submit a comment in support of the Northern Prairie Solar project!

Submit a comment in support of the Northern Prairie Solar project!

Northern Prairie is a 101-megawatt solar project proposed for development in the Town of Cylon in St. Croix County. As designed, Northern Prairie Solar would supply homegrown, affordable, emission-free electricity to power the equivalent of approximately 25,000 homes. If approved, Northern Prairie will begin producing clean power by the end of 2024. For more information, visit the application summary here and RENEW Wisconsin’s testimony here.

Solar projects larger than 100 megawatts must gain approval from the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (PSCW) before they can proceed to construction. Along the way, there are opportunities for public comment at the township, county, and state levels.  Please help us demonstrate Wisconsin’s enthusiastic support for solar power in general and this project in particular by submitting a comment in support of Northern Prairie Solar. Be sure to specifically reference the project and the benefits that it can bring to Wisconsin.  The deadline for submitting comments is January 20, 2023.  

[Note: Your comments need not be as lengthy as the sample below, which was drafted to present a variety of supporting perspectives relating to health, environmental sustainability, and rural economic development. We encourage you to articulate the points that matter most to you. But it’s OK to frame your comments at a very high level if that’s what you’re comfortable with.]


SAMPLE COMMENT

I write in support of the Northern Prairie Solar project, presently under review at Docket No. 9815-CE-100. Like other solar projects approved by the PSCW this decade, this project would protect human health and the natural environment while strengthening the state’s economy.

 

Consistent with Wisconsin’s Energy Priorities Law, Northern Prairie Solar will provide these benefits by converting a locally available, noncombustible renewable energy resource—sunshine—to electricity, feeding zero-emission energy into existing power lines. As configured, Northern Prairie’s output will displace fossil-fueled generation, which will measurably reduce the volume of airborne pollutants and greenhouse gases discharged from Wisconsin and Minnesota sources.

 

In-state solar projects can be counted on to energize the local economy through increased revenues to local governments while diversifying our resource mix and bringing Wisconsin a step closer to energy self-sufficiency. The economic benefits come in two forms.  Initially, Northern Prairie Solar will create more than 150 jobs in Wisconsin during the project’s construction phase. Second, once placed in service, Northern Prairie will provide rental income to participating landowners and payments in lieu of taxes to local jurisdictions hosting the project. Projects like these can also provide an economic hedge to farmers and rural landowners whose products are subject to commodity market forces and weather conditions beyond their control and can often be unforgiving.

 

In addition to the health and environmental benefits referenced above, Northern Prairie Solar will also deliver benefits to the land within its footprint. The developer proposes to revegetate the land with a mix of deep-rooted plants under and around the installation. Managing the land in this fashion will improve soil health, reduce erosion, and increase biodiversity.

 

I respectfully encourage the PSCW to find that the construction of the Northern Prairie Solar project is in the public interest and issue a permit enabling the project to proceed with construction.

 

Thank you for your consideration of my views. 

 

Submit a comment in support of the Saratoga Solar project!

Submit a comment in support of the Saratoga Solar project!

Saratoga Solar is a 150.5-megawatt solar project with a 50 MW battery energy storage system proposed in Wood County, near Wisconsin Rapids. As designed, Saratoga Solar would supply homegrown, affordable, emission-free electricity to power the equivalent of approximately 40,000 homes. If approved, Saratoga will begin producing clean power by the end of 2025. For more information, visit the application HERE and RENEW Wisconsin’s testimony HERE.

Solar projects larger than 100 megawatts must gain approval from the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (PSCW) before they can proceed to construction. Along the way, there are opportunities for public comment at the township, county, and state levels.  

Please help us demonstrate Wisconsin’s enthusiastic support for solar power in general and this project in particular by submitting a comment in support of Saratoga Solar. Be sure to specifically reference the project and the benefits that it can bring to Wisconsin. The deadline for submitting comments is January 6, 2023. 

[Note: Your comments need not be as lengthy as the sample below, which was drafted to present a variety of supporting perspectives relating to health, environmental sustainability, and rural economic development. We encourage you to articulate the points that matter most to you. But it’s OK to frame your comments at a very high level if that’s what you’re comfortable with.]


SAMPLE COMMENT

I write in support of the Saratoga Solar project, presently under review at Docket No. 9816-CE-100. This project, like other combined solar and battery storage projects approved by the PSCW in recent years, would protect human health and the natural environment while strengthening the state’s economy.

 

Consistent with Wisconsin’s Energy Priorities Law, Saratoga Solar will provide these benefits by converting locally available, noncombustible renewable energy resource—sunshine—to electricity and feeding zero-emission into existing power lines and the battery energy storage system onsite. As configured, Saratoga Solar will displace fossil-fueled generation at all times, which will measurably reduce the volume of airborne pollutants and greenhouse gases discharged from Wisconsin sources.

 

In-state solar projects can be counted on to energize the local economy through increased revenues to local governments while diversifying our resource mix and bringing Wisconsin a step closer to energy self-sufficiency. The economic benefits come in two forms. Initially, Saratoga Solar will create more than 200 jobs in Wisconsin during the project’s construction phase. Second, Saratoga Solar, once placed in service, will provide rental income to participating landowners as well as payments in lieu of taxes to local jurisdictions hosting the project. Projects like these can also provide an economic hedge to farmers and rural landowners whose products are subject to commodity market forces and weather conditions that are beyond their control and can often be unforgiving.

 

In addition to the health and environmental benefits referenced above, Saratoga Solar will also deliver benefits to the land within its footprint. The developer proposes to revegetate the land with a mix of deep-rooted plants under and around the installation. Managing the land in this fashion will improve soil health, reduce erosion, and increase biodiversity.

 

I respectfully encourage the PSCW to find that the construction of the Saratoga Solar project is in the public interest and issue a permit enabling the project to proceed with construction.

 

Thank you for your consideration.

Letters of support needed for third-party financed solar docket

Letters of support needed for third-party financed solar docket

The PSC has opened up a public comment period for Vote Solar’s petition (9300-DR-106). Vote Solar, a national solar advocacy organization, seeks a ruling to affirm the ability of individual customers to access electricity generated on their premises from installations owned by third parties. Comments from the public are welcome between now and November 9th.

RENEW Wisconsin is asking supporters and allies to submit comments urging the Public Service Commission (PSC) to issue a ruling in favor of the family at the center of the case. A working-class household, this family would like to supply power to their home with a rooftop solar PV system, but they would prefer to pay for it as a service rather than acquire the equipment upfront.

If we want to broaden solar power’s affordability and make it accessible to low- to middle-income residential customers, small businesses, hospitals, schools, local governments, places of worship, CAP agencies, and other nonprofits, we will need to allow customer use of financing from third-party institutions in the manner described in the petition.

Here are the important details about the solar system desired by the family.

  • The solar system is located on the family’s premises
  • The solar system is installed behind the family’s meter
  • The solar system is interconnected in parallel to the utility’s distribution grid
  • The solar system is sized to offset all or a portion of the individual customer’s load
  • The family would enter into a private, individualized contract with the PV system owner
  • The PV system provides power to the host customer
  • Any unconsumed power from the PV system flows directly to the utility’s system

Whether owned by the customer or a third party, the equipment on that customer’s property would serve only that host customer and operate under the same regulatory framework that a customer-owned system would. RENEW Wisconsin believes such an arrangement should not
trigger public utility regulation.

HOW YOU CAN HELP!

Prepare a letter in support of the petitioner’s request. Your statement should specifically reference the project described in the petition.

The following are suggested talking points highlighting themes that we believe will be helpful to the Public Service Commission as it deliberates on this matter. Thank you for weighing in on this critically important issue!

TALKING POINTS

  • The family at the center of this case would like to access solar power for their home, but they would prefer to pay for it as a service rather than as a capital expense for equipment.
  • Whether owned by the customer or a third party, the equipment on that customer’s property would serve only that host customer and operate under the same regulatory framework that a customer-owned system would.
  • In no way does the financing arrangement desired by the family in the petition alter or threaten the utility regulatory model that exists today.
  • Many families and businesses are in similar financial circumstances. They would like to avail themselves of the reasonable financing option articulated in this proceeding.
  • We ask the Commission to consider the interests of these households and businesses in its deliberations on the petition’s merits.
  • We urge the Commission to rule in favor of onsite solar systems financed in the manner described in the petition and find that such solar systems should not be regulated as public utilities.

EXAMPLES OF COMMENTS IN SUPPORT OF THIRD-PARTY FINANCING SUBMITTED ON THIS DOCKET

COMMENT FILED ON BEHALF OF CATHOLIC MULTICULTURAL CENTER
COMMENT FILED BY JOHN SCHOONENBERG
COMMENT FILED BY CLARK JOHNSON
COMMENT FILED BY CAROL JOHNSON
COMMENT FILED BY CHEQ BAY RENEWABLES
COMMENT FILED BY COUILLARD SOLAR FOUNDATION
COMMENT FILED BY ENERGY CONCEPTS

RESOURCES

If you have questions or need help engaging on this issue, please contact Michael Vickerman at mvickerman@renewwisconsin.org

Supporters Of Clean Energy And Distributed Generation, It’s Time To Weigh In.

Supporters Of Clean Energy And Distributed Generation, It’s Time To Weigh In.

RENEW has assembled a team of experts to develop a comprehensive framework of Distributed Generation (DG) buyback rates as a counter-proposal to utility applications. DG buyback rates determine payments for ALL non-utility-owned electricity generation at the distribution level. For more information, please read this short RENEW parallel generation blog.

The Public Service Commission (PSC) must hear from clean energy advocates in each case. These PSC decisions will impact businesses, local governments, schools, hospitals, organizations, and individuals. We thank all of the clean energy supporters that submitted comments.  

Comment periods are now closed for all cases. 
WE ENERGIES (6630-TE-107)
WPS (6690-TE-114)
MGE (3270-TE-114)
XCEL Energy (4420-TE-109)
Alliant Energy (6680-TE-107)

RENEW appreciates the supporting comments that were submitted in favor of RENEW’s comprehensive framework for buyback rates. We believe this framework values DG, accelerates carbon emission reductions and provides a path for Wisconsinites to participate in building a clean energy future. Once again, more detail is provided in RENEW’s blog, Buyback Rates and the Business Case for Distributed Generation in Wisconsin. 

For additional information on this topic, please contact Andrew Kell, Policy Analyst at RENEW.

Thank you for being a champion of clean energy in Wisconsin!

Join The Conversation About Potential Net Metering Policy Changes

Join The Conversation About Potential Net Metering Policy Changes

Net metering is a billing policy that enables customers who generate electricity from solar energy to receive a bill credit for the excess energy they add to the grid. This arrangement allows residential and business customers to generate their own electricity, reduce carbon emissions, and provide substantial economic benefits to their communities.

In Wisconsin, net metering varies widely by utility. For example, some utilities use a monthly billing period for netting, while others use an annual period. Some utilities cap systems to 20 kilowatts (kW) for net metering purposes, while others have a 100 kW or 300 kW cap. Due to statewide inconsistencies across utilities, there are opportunities for policy improvements to provide clarity and better reflect the value of solar. 

Solar customers and clean energy supporters have an opportunity to submit comments to the Public Service Commission in favor of protecting and improving net metering in Wisconsin. The Commission has asked for remarks on four key questions and shared a 60-page memo from the Regulatory Assistance Project describing net metering policy issues, changes to net metering in other states, and several other aspects for consideration. Comments must be received by 5:00 p.m. on Tuesday, March 22, 2022.

 

 

The PSC’s net metering questions (paraphrased):

  1. Do current net metering tariffs appropriately balance the ratemaking principles?
  2. Do current net metering tariffs align with the Commission’s mission and state energy policy goals?
  3. How could net metering tariffs better align with ratemaking principles and policy goals?
  4. What, if any, further action should the Commission take to review and reform net metering tariffs?

While RENEW is enthusiastic that the Commission is exploring ways to improve net metering, nuances in the memo could undercut rather than accelerate solar growth in Wisconsin. It is critical that any effort to rework net metering in Wisconsin protects the positive features of the current system and carefully evaluates the risks and benefits of any changes. As evidenced by the PSC’s 2021 PV potential study, Wisconsin can expand customer-owned solar, especially with the correct net metering policies. However, opening up the door to changes too quickly may put the current benefits of net metering at risk.

We encourage you to submit comments and share what’s working, what’s not, and why supporting a robust net metering policy is critical for Wisconsin’s clean energy future. 

Thank you for your support!