Clean Energy Legislative Update • January 2024

Clean Energy Legislative Update • January 2024

Wisconsin’s state legislature has acted swiftly this January to move legislation impacting electric vehicles (EV) through the legislative process. The Senate version of the proposed EV bill, SB 791, has already passed through the Senate Utilities & Technology Committee with a recommendation for passage. Similarly, the Assembly version of the bill, AB 846, cleared the State Assembly Committee on Energy & Utilities.

The legislation also passed through the Joint Committee on Finance and Joint Survey Committee on Tax Exemptions, gathering favorable votes. Most recently, the full Senate passed their version of the bill in a 30-2 vote. The next step is a vote by the full Assembly after which the bill will go to the Governor’s desk.

As with all legislative bills, amendments and tweaks along the way are common. There have been three amendments added so far, and we are analyzing the impact of these on the original bill.

The focus of the bill is to allow non-utilities to seek payment from EV drivers based on the amount of electricity they use to charge their vehicles rather than the time it takes for the vehicle to charge. This qualifies Wisconsin public and private entities to receive federal dollars to help build charging infrastructure while also establishing operational and maintenance requirements for the chargers.

National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (NEVI) funding would be available for up to 5 years, which is especially beneficial for areas where the market is not yet ready to support EV infrastructure but could in a few years. This allows the areas that currently have less EV traffic to build EV charging infrastructure to support a growing user base.

RENEW initially raised concerns about the impact the bills would have on existing EV charging facilities and the need for the state to have similar opportunities for infrastructure that local governments would. Those concerns have been addressed in part within the proposed amendments.

SB 791 and AB 846 bring Wisconsin in line with 48 other states while providing uniform access, pricing, accountability, and standards for EV Charging. We expect to see the bill become law.

Clean Energy Legislative Update • December 2023

Clean Energy Legislative Update • December 2023

Though the year is coming to a close, RENEW Wisconsin’s efforts to support electric vehicle (EV) charging and community solar will continue into 2024. RENEW staff recently had the opportunity to testify before the Senate Committee on Utilities and Technology to share our support for SB 791.

We are also working with the Community Solar Coalition to get a hearing on the community solar bill. The Coalition is reaching out to leadership in the state legislature along with the chairman of the Senate Committee on Utilities and Technology to advance the bill to the next step.

EV Charging – SB 791

RENEW Wisconsin staff testified before the Senate Committee on Utilities and Technology on December 19, 2023. In our testimony we shared our support for SB 791, explaining that it will align the state of Wisconsin’s laws with the National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (NEVI) Standards and Requirements set by the Federal Highway Administration and qualify for NEVI funds.

NEVI requires that the payment for charging your vehicle be based on kilowatt hours of electricity used rather than time. In Wisconsin, making electricity available by the kilowatt hour (kWh) is restricted for non-utilities. As it stands, the EV stations operating in the state have consumers pay by the amount of time it takes to charge rather than the amount of electricity used.

Allowing private entities to sell electricity by the kWh to charge an electric vehicle without being regulated as a utility will grant Wisconsin $78 million in NEVI dollars. These dollars are needed to fund the build-out of electric vehicle charging infrastructure and establish operational and maintenance standards.

This bill will bring Wisconsin in line with 48 other states and provide uniform access, pricing, accountability, and standards for EV Charging. More importantly, establishing the kWh standard for Wisconsin is time-sensitive as the deadline to qualify for the NEVI funds is the end of February 2024.

During our testimony, we recommend two improvements:

First, we ask for the grandfathering of all existing EV charging facilities up to the date when this new law becomes effective. We believe that early adopters of EV charging should not be forced to make costly changes to their existing systems and investments. Additionally, allowing the current economic and ownership arrangements to continue would not compete with the new systems but rather continue serving the market.

Second, we asked that the bill be modified to allow state government entities to lease land for charging or that they be able to partner with a private entity to host facilities. This change would allow charging stations to be placed in remote places that private businesses may not find suitable.

 

Clean Energy Legislative Update • November 2023

Clean Energy Legislative Update • November 2023

RENEW Wisconsin is monitoring several new bills relating to solar and wind project siting, reforms aimed at the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (PSCW) and utilities, and a slew of proposals from the Forward on Climate legislative package. We are reviewing these bills to determine our position on these proposals. We are also continuing our work to support EV charging infrastructure and bills that would allow Wisconsin residents to participate in community solar projects.

Bills to Watch

On November 16, Wisconsin Democrats reintroduced their Forward on Climate legislative package. In all the package contains 20 bills, which address issues ranging from job creation to inequality. This includes bills that focus on job training grants, racial disparity impact studies, a funding increase for Focus on Energy, on-bill financing, biodigester planning grants, transportation planning, and changes to the energy building code.

RENEW is also monitoring a group of bills that would create reforms for the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin and state utilities. Some of these bills would impact how utilities notify customers of rate increases, alter procedures for complaints filed with the PSCW, impact the closure of large electric generating facilities such as coal plants, and allow the PSCW and interested parties to learn what public utilities are planning for future energy generation.

A final group of bills under review by RENEW staff would directly impact large-scale solar and wind projects. Some of the potential impacts of these bills include requirements to assess agricultural land for productivity before a project is approved, limit ownership of agricultural or forest land by foreign entities, and require notification of neighboring property owners of projects before they are deemed viable.

RENEW staff is reviewing and monitoring all of these bills and will provide regular updates on their progress.

Electric Vehicle Charging

Better access to charging stations to support the electric vehicle industry is a top priority for RENEW. We continue to support efforts to remove some of the barriers in Wisconsin. Current state law limits private companies’ ability to build charging stations by only allowing electric utilities to sell electricity to the public.

  • RENEW anticipates legislation (likely led by Sen. Howard Marklein) to be introduced this fall to remove some of these barriers.
  • RENEW is hoping the proposed legislation would allow non-utilities to provide electricity at charging stations by using the national standard of charging by the kilowatt hour rather than by the time it takes to charge.
  • RENEW staff have been in regular communication with various interested parties and we hope to see movement on this proposal soon.
  • To support these efforts, we also have preliminary plans to host educational, lobbying, and test-driving electric vehicle events through the fall.

Community Solar

Wisconsin state law limits solar installations to larger utility-built projects and smaller rooftop installations on individual homes or businesses. This leaves a gap in the options available for some Wisconsinites. Allowing community-based projects for individuals to participate in solar energy generation even if they do not own the building or have adequate sun exposure would create more equity as it relates to solar generation.

RENEW Wisconsin is part of a coalition of groups that support community solar projects, along with two bills introduced earlier this year that would allow Wisconsin residents to participate in community solar projects. SB 226 was authored by Sen. Duey Stroebel, and AB 258 was authored by Rep. Scott Krug.

  • RENEW is encouraging the chairman of the committee, Sen. Julian Bradley, to schedule a hearing in the fall in the Senate Committee on Utilities & Technology.
  • More than 30 organizations are listed as lobbyists on the proposal, with an almost equal number for and against.
  • Utility groups have strongly opposed the bills.
  • Supporters along with RENEW include the Alliance of WI Retailers, NAIOP Commercial Real Estate Association, League of WI Municipalities, WI Property Taxpayer Association, and Fieldworks Power. New supporters continue to join the effort.

 

Clean Energy Legislative Update • October 2023

Clean Energy Legislative Update • October 2023

RENEW Wisconsin remains focused on net metering and the two rate cases before the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (PSCW). The comment periods for both cases have closed and we can expect a decision from the PSCW in early November. In the meantime, we are continuing our work to support EV charging infrastructure while also pursuing bills that would allow Wisconsin residents to participate in community solar projects.

Net Metering

In most states, when you generate electricity from solar panels on your property, you get a credit for the energy you produce, reducing your electricity purchases from the utility and some compensation for sending any excess electricity from your system back to the grid. The Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (PSCW) is nearing a decision in two net metering rate cases.

In the Alliant Energy rate case, RENEW and Alliant have agreed to preserve net metering for two years and have created a clear pathway for future rooftop solar installations. At the end of the two-year period, new Alliant solar customers will shift away from net metering and into Power Partnership, a proposal that will support the sustainability of the solar industry. The PSCW will determine if this agreement is the best path forward when they deliver their decision in November.

RENEW still believes that net metering is the best policy for Wisconsin’s current solar industry, and we remain opposed to MGE’s proposal. We look forward to a positive outcome in both cases.

  • RENEW staff has testified in both rate cases before the PSCW.
  • RENEW has encouraged and empowered our members and the public to support net metering through the public comments process.
  • RENEW staff is engaged with state legislators, making them aware of how these rate cases will affect their constituents and the solar industry in general.

Electric Vehicle Charging

Better access to charging stations to support the electric vehicle industry is a top priority for RENEW. We continue to support efforts to remove some of the barriers in Wisconsin. Current state law limits private companies’ ability to build charging stations by only allowing electric utilities to sell electricity to the public.

  • RENEW anticipates legislation (likely led by Sen. Howard Marklein) to be introduced this fall to remove some of these barriers.
  • RENEW is hoping the proposed legislation would allow non-utilities to provide electricity at charging stations by using the national standard of charging by the kilowatt hour rather than by the time it takes to charge.
  • RENEW staff have been in regular communication with various interested parties and we hope to see movement on this proposal soon.
  • To support these efforts, we also have preliminary plans to host educational, lobbying, and test-driving electric vehicle events through the fall.

Community Solar

Wisconsin state law limits solar installations to larger utility-built projects and smaller rooftop installations on individual homes or businesses. This leaves a gap in the options available for some Wisconsinites. Allowing community-based projects for individuals to participate in solar energy generation even if they do not own the building or have adequate sun exposure would create more equity as it relates to solar generation.

RENEW Wisconsin is part of a coalition of groups that support community solar projects, along with two bills introduced earlier this year that would allow Wisconsin residents to participate in community solar projects. SB 226 was authored by Sen. Duey Stroebel, and AB 258 was authored by Rep. Scott Krug.

  • RENEW is encouraging the chairman of the committee, Sen. Julian Bradley, to schedule a hearing in the fall in the Senate Committee on Utilities & Technology.
  • More than 30 organizations are listed as lobbyists on the proposal, with an almost equal number for and against.
  • Utility groups have strongly opposed the bills.
  • Supporters along with RENEW include the Alliance of WI Retailers, NAIOP Commercial Real Estate Association, League of WI Municipalities, WI Property Taxpayer Association, and Fieldworks Power. New supporters continue to join the effort.

 

Clean Energy Legislative Update • September 2023

Clean Energy Legislative Update • September 2023

The 2023-24 legislative session in Wisconsin is nearing the halfway point. Much has happened in the last year, and we are hoping to make great strides by the end of the current legislative session.

This year’s biennial budget bill for 2023-25 had several provisions we were monitoring — however, most of them were removed from the final version. The budget did ultimately include a $75 increase to annual registration fees for electric vehicles.

Despite the outcome of the budget bill, there are still opportunities in several key areas. One of our main focuses of late has been net metering and the two rate cases before the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (PSCW). We are also working to remove barriers in the effort to build EV charging infrastructure while also supporting bills that would allow Wisconsin residents to participate in community solar projects.

Net Metering Proposal

In most states, when you generate electricity from solar panels on your property, you get a credit for the energy you produce, reducing your electricity purchases from the utility and some compensation for sending any excess electricity from your system back to the grid. RENEW Wisconsin has been active in two net metering rate cases before the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (PSCW).

In the Alliant Energy rate case, RENEW and Alliant have agreed to preserve net metering for two years and have created a clear pathway for future rooftop solar installations. At the end of the two-year period, new Alliant solar customers will shift away from net metering and into Power Partnership, a proposal that will support the sustainability of the solar industry.

RENEW still believes that net metering is the best policy for Wisconsin’s current solar industry, and our opposition to MGE’s proposal continues. The comment period for MGE’s rate case before the PSCW has closed. A final decision from the PSCW in both the MGE and Alliant rate cases is expected in late October or early November.

  • RENEW staff has testified in both rate cases before the PSCW.
  • RENEW has encouraged and empowered our members and the public to support net metering through the public comments process.
  • RENEW staff is engaged with state legislators, making them aware of how these rate cases will affect their constituents and the solar industry in general.

Electric Vehicle Charging

Recognizing the need for better access to charging stations to support the electric vehicle industry, RENEW is working to support efforts to remove some of the barriers created by restrictions in state law. State law limits private companies’ ability to build charging stations by only allowing electric utilities to sell electricity to the public.

  • RENEW anticipates legislation (likely led by Sen. Howard Marklein) to be introduced this fall to remove some of these barriers.
  • RENEW is seeking a proposal that would allow non-utilities to provide electricity at charging stations by using the national standard of charging by the kilowatt hour rather than by the time it takes to charge.
  • RENEW staff have been in regular communication with various interested parties and we hope to see movement on this proposal soon.
  • To support these efforts, we also have preliminary plans to host educational, lobbying, and test-driving electric vehicle events through the fall.

Community Solar

Current Wisconsin state law limits solar installations to larger utility-built projects and smaller rooftop installations on private property of individual homes or businesses. What is lacking is the option for community-based projects for individuals to participate in solar energy generation even if they do not own the building or have adequate sun exposure or roof space to accommodate solar installations.

RENEW Wisconsin has joined a coalition of groups that support community solar projects that would provide new opportunities for the industry and customers. Two bills were introduced earlier this year that would allow Wisconsin residents to participate in community solar projects. SB 226 was authored by Sen. Duey Stroebel, and AB 258 was authored by Rep. Scott Krug.

  • RENEW is encouraging the chairman of the committee, Sen. Julian Bradley, to schedule a hearing in October in the Senate Committee on Utilities & Technology.
  • More than 30 organizations are listed as lobbyists on the proposal, with an almost equal number for and against.
  • Utility groups and labor representatives have strongly opposed the bills.
  • Supporters along with RENEW include the Alliance of WI Retailers, NAIOP Commercial Real Estate Association, League of WI Municipalities, WI Property Taxpayer Association, and Fieldworks Power.

 

RENEW Wisconsin at the 32nd MREA Energy Fair

RENEW Wisconsin at the 32nd MREA Energy Fair

Last weekend, the Midwest Renewable Energy Association (MREA) hosted the 32nd Annual Energy Fair, bringing people together to learn about sustainability and clean energy, connect with others, and take action toward a sustainable future. The Fair featured workshops, exhibitors, live music, inspiring keynote speakers, family fun, great local food, and more. 

RENEW staff presented some compelling workshops and you can download slides from their presentations below.

Zero Carbon by 2050—A Path for Wisconsin

Andrew Kell, RENEW Policy Director, discussed zero-carbon goals and ongoing planning efforts in Wisconsin. Andrew also was a guest on a live podcast, focused on Wisconsin’s Net Zero future. 

MadiSUN Workforce Training

Lauren Cohen, RENEW Program Coordinator, held a workshop regarding career growth opportunities within Wisconsin’s clean energy industry, focusing primarily on opportunities within the solar industry. 

Vehicle-to-Grid: Opportunities and Challenges

Francisco Sayu, RENEW Emerging Technology Director, discussed how Vehicle-to-Grid technology unlocks the energy stored in electric vehicles and opens opportunities for energy trading, energy management, and grid resiliency. 

Farming Sunshine: Solar and Ag Land Use 

Nolan Stumpf, one of RENEW’s Interns, presented a session regarding solar farms and the opportunities and challenges of using the land for farming purposes and advancing clean energy. 

Can Clean Energy Overcome Local Opposition? 

Michael Vickerman, RENEW Clean Energy Deployment Manager, discussed the opposition clean energy faces at the local level and how to overcome those barriers.