The 2021-22 legislative session in Wisconsin is now over. It was a busy session for clean energy initiatives with legislation introduced to allow more community solar, clarify the rules for leasing solar equipment, and update the regulations for electric vehicle (EV) chargers. Most of these bills were bipartisan, with support on both sides of the aisle. See the bottom of this article for a summary of this year’s major clean energy legislation.
The session started when Governor Tony Evers introduced his 2021-23 Budget Bill in February 2021. It included 28 provisions (many of them drawn from the Governor’s Taskforce on Climate Change) that would have advanced Wisconsin’s clean energy and energy efficiency. Among those provisions were recommendations to expand Focus on Energy, invest in the clean energy workforce, and support Wisconsin’s electric vehicle infrastructure. Unfortunately, by the time the Governor signed the Budget in July, those provisions were removed from the Budget and did not pass.
On November 15, several Democratic legislators introduced a package of 22 bills called Forward on Climate. The package proposed increased funding for Focus on Energy, on-bill financing of energy efficiency improvements from utilities, and a Wisconsin Climate Corp to provide training and opportunities in clean energy industries for Wisconsin’s youth. The session ended without any of these bills being adopted. Still, it outlined what kinds of initiatives they support to create good, family-supporting jobs, reduce inequality, and fight climate change through Wisconsin-centered policies.
What passed and what progress was made?
The only major clean energy bill that passed this session was a bill to modernize the PACE financing program. However, many clean energy initiatives made in-roads with legislators from both sides of the aisle. The new technology developments and dropping prices for renewable energy over the last few years is an excellent story for reducing emissions, bolstering economic growth, diminishing energy prices, and creating jobs. Even if there are still hurdles to overcome, everyone is interested in learning more.
There is growing interest among a wide range of stakeholders in clean energy legislation. The best example is SB 490, the community solar bill, where many diverse interests have registered in support. While some groups have expressed concerns with the bill, most business and public interest groups who registered support this kind of change.
Even though we didn’t pass them this session, electric vehicle legislation is also getting attention, especially in light of the volatile gas prices this year. As the price of EV battery production falls, the initial price of EVs will get more competitive, making the cost of EV operations compared to petroleum-powered vehicles very attractive.
The EV transition is coming fast, and we need to be ready. We need to finalize the rules and regulations over EV charging, determine how to pay for the roads if the gas tax generates less income, and streamline the buying process for new EVs coming into the market. One of the big things happening in the coming year is the millions in federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act money coming to Wisconsin for EV infrastructure. We need to work with all stakeholders to ensure that Wisconsin can utilize that money efficiently.
What happens next?
Over the summer and fall, RENEW Wisconsin will meet with candidates running for state and federal office. We will be educating them about new developments in clean energy and electric vehicles and discussing essential policy changes we need to make these advances available to everyone in Wisconsin.
You can also do your part by getting involved in your local elections, talking to your local candidates, and supporting the candidates who support clean energy with your votes, time, and financial contributions. This time of year, candidates are especially interested in what you have to say and will take the time to listen. Clean energy can have a big year in 2023, but only if we do the work this year to educate and help elect candidates who will support us!
If you would like information on any clean energy issues or the elections, please contact Jim Boullion, Director of Government Affairs, email@example.com,
2021-22 Wisconsin Legislative Session
Clean Energy and Electric Vehicle Issue Summary
PACE Financing Modernization – (SB 692/Wisconsin Act 175 – Sen. Cowles and Rep. Thiesfeldt)
- Expands type of projects that may be financed: Adds energy reliability improvements, weather-related resiliency projects, electric vehicle charging infrastructure, and stormwater control measures.
- Financing: Defines the term of the repayment period, clarifies that financing may be repaid through a lien, and ensures that mortgage holders provide written consent before the issuance of funding.
- Performance Requirements: Removes the requirement for project savings to exceed project costs and would instead require a third-party assessment of the anticipated energy and water cost savings from the proposed project and confirmation of proper installation after work is completed.
- Excludes Residential PACE: Prohibits PACE financing for residential units of less than five units. PACE loans will remain only for commercial or industrial buildings.
Assembly: Passed on voice vote (2/23/2022) and sent to Governor for signature.
Senate: Passed 32-0 on 2/15/22.
RENEW Position: Support.
EV Charging Rules – (SB 573 – Sen. Cowles and Rep. VanderMeer) Clarify that selling electricity by the kilowatt-hour to electric vehicles (EVs) does not subject EV charging station owners to utility regulation. No city, village, town, county, school district, special purpose district, or state agency may own, operate, manage, lease or control a charging facility. Local governments can authorize a utility or private entity to operate a charger on their property. Requires that all energy come from the local utility, limiting Solar+Storage EV charger availability.
Senate: Passed on vote of 19-13 (2/15/2022). Did not concur with Assembly Amended bill 3/8/22
Assembly: Passed on voice vote, with amendment, (2/24/22). Failed to pass.
RENEW Position: Oppose due to restrictions on non-utility energy sources and restrictions on the State and local governments from owning or operating EV chargers.
Expanded Development of Community Solar – (SB 490 / AB 527 – Sen. Stroebel and Rep. Ramthun) Would authorize the development of non-utility-owned community solar projects, allowing more individuals and businesses to access clean energy, save money and create good-paying jobs. Require local investor-owned utilities (Cooperative and municipal utility territories would be exempt) to provide credits on utility bills of subscribers for the energy generated by the system. Directs the PSC to develop rules that will establish fair credit rates and compensation to utilities for the use of utility infrastructure and billing.
Assembly: Energy and Utilities. Failed to pass.
Senate: Utilities, Technology, and Telecommunications. Failed to pass.
RENEW Position: Support
3rd Party Financing/Leasing – (SB 702 / AB 731– Sen. Cowles and Rep. Cabral-Guevara) Clarify that 3rd party financing/leasing of renewable energy equipment is legal in Wisconsin.
Assembly: Energy and Utilities. Failed to pass.
Senate: Utilities, Technology, and Telecommunications. Failed to pass.
RENEW Position: Support
Energy Storage Sales Tax Exemption – (SB 672 /AB 710 – Sen. Cowles and Rep. Duchow) Clarify that battery storage devices installed as part of a renewable energy system should be included in the sales tax exemption for renewable energy system equipment.
Assembly: Committee on Ways and Means. Failed to pass.
Senate: Committee on Financial Institutions and Revenue. Failed to pass.
RENEW Position: Support
Use $10 million of VW Settlement Funds for EV Charging Station Grants – (SB 663/AB 695 – Sen. Cowles and Rep. VanderMeer) Grants from these funds will be used to install electric vehicle charging stations at key locations throughout Wisconsin. Requires the PSC and DOT to study how the growing number of EVs will impact the transportation fund and determine methods to ensure they contribute to that fund equitably. Grant recipients can only resell electricity obtained from the local electric utility. $5m for EV Corridors; $3m for businesses or multifamily; $2m to be determined by PSC.
Senate: Committee on Transportation and Local Government. Passed committee 5-0. Failed to pass.
Assembly: Committee on Energy and Utilities. Failed to pass.
RENEW Position: Support
Direct Purchase of Electric Vehicles – (SB 462 / AB 439 – Sen. Kooyenga and Rep. Neylon) Would enable electric vehicle manufacturers to deliver and service vehicles in Wisconsin using online sales or manufacturer-owned dealerships without going through a 3rd party dealership.
Senate: Senate Gov. Operations Committee. Passed Committee 4-1. Failed to pass.
Assembly: Committee on Transportation. Failed to pass.
RENEW Position: Support
Create a System to Measure Carbon Emissions for Animal Agriculture Operators. (SB1054 / AB 1072 – Sen. Cowles and Rep. Tauchen).
- DATCP shall establish voluntary and market-driven standards for quantifying the carbon emissions produced directly and indirectly from an animal agriculture operator’s activity.
- DATCP must facilitate trade in products and services related to transactions between animal agriculture operators and other parties for carbon emission offsets and may operate an electronic marketplace for selling and purchasing carbon emission offsets.
- PSC shall develop a statewide master plan for collecting, transporting, and commercializing renewable natural gas produced from animal wastes, biomass, and other organic sources.
- PSC will establish standardized power purchase agreements and standardized agreements for the provision of energy as a service between animal agriculture operators and electric utilities
Assembly: Committee on Energy and Utilities. Failed to pass.
Senate: Committee on Natural Resources and Energy. Failed to pass.
RENEW Position: Support
The Wisconsin State Senate demonstrated unanimous support for clean energy today with the passage of SB 692, which updates Wisconsin’s Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) program. The bill now moves to the State Assembly, where similar bipartisan support could pass the bill before the end of the session.
“We are excited to have bipartisan, unanimous support for this clean energy financing option which will help Wisconsin businesses shift to clean energy and drive economic investment. We thank Senator Cowles for introducing this legislation which demonstrates the broad appeal of common-sense clean energy solutions,” said Heather Allen, Executive Director of RENEW Wisconsin.
PACE financing creates a mechanism for commercial, industrial, health care, agricultural, nonprofit, and multifamily property owners to obtain low-cost, non-recourse financing for up to 100% of the cost of energy efficiency and renewable energy improvements. Financing options up to 30 years yield positive cash flows and increase the net operating income for commercial and industrial building owners. PACE loans are attached to the property, not the person, allowing the remaining cost of those improvements to transfer to a new owner if the property is sold.
SB 692 will improve access to PACE financing in Wisconsin by adding clarity and expanding eligibility.
Among other changes, the legislation:
- Expands the type of projects that may be financed to include energy reliability improvements, weather-related resiliency projects, electric vehicle charging infrastructure, and stormwater control measures.
- Defines the term of the repayment period, clarifying that financing may be repaid through a lien, and ensures that all mortgage holders provide written consent before the issuance of funding.
- Removes the requirement for energy and water savings to exceed project costs and would instead require that the owner obtain a third-party assessment of the anticipated energy and water cost savings from the proposed project and provide confirmation of proper installation after work is completed.
- The bill also prohibits PACE financing for residential units of less than five units. Wisconsin does not currently have a residential PACE program. In the few states that have tried implementing a residential program, problems developed when individual homebuyers did not fully understand the implications of a PACE loan.
“Regular updates to our energy laws and financing programs like PACE allow Wisconsin’s citizens to benefit from the many advancements in clean, affordable renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies,” said Jim Boullion, Director of Government Affairs.
Federal clean energy and climate investments are more crucial than ever. Congress must deliver a deal that includes clean energy investments in the Build Back Better Act.
This is a make-or-break moment to shore up the electric grid and help accelerate renewable energy and energy efficiency adoption in the U.S. These investments will make the difference between leading the global clean energy economy or lagging behind the rest of the world.
According to the Solar Energy Industry Association, the Build Back Better Act would drive $234 billion into the economy over the next four years and require at least 450,000 workers to get it done – double the size of today’s solar workforce!
In the last few weeks of 2021, the Build Back Better Act (Biden’s flagship climate and clean energy proposal) hit roadblocks. Regardless of the political stalemate, the critical importance of the Act’s clean energy and climate provisions cannot be overstated. As Stewart MacKintosh wrote in The Hill, “Achieving global climate change goals depends on the U.S. starting to implement Biden’s net-zero carbon emissions plan today- not two (or god forbid) four or more years from now. We have no extra time.”
The Build Back Better (BBB) Act is the third and most ambitious part of Biden’s original Build Back Better plan, including COVID-19 economic relief, social services, welfare, and infrastructure. Significant portions of the agenda were signed into law with two bills in 2021, The American Rescue Plan Act (March 2021) and the Infrastructure and Jobs Investment Act (November 2021).
BBB is the most powerful tool the Federal Government has in play to curb U.S. emissions and reach the climate and clean energy goals established in the Paris Agreement. BBB provisions would mobilize billions of dollars to expand access to clean energy and electric vehicles, improve the efficiency of buildings, electrify heating and cooling, support American clean energy industry growth, and help American manufacturers and other businesses reduce energy use and emissions. BBB also contains funding for social infrastructure, environmental justice investments, natural climate solutions, and rental assistance.
Image/Figure from https://rhg.com/research/us-climate-policy-2030/
This figure from the Rhodium Group shows that “Joint Action” can reduce emissions by 50% below 2005 levels. Joint Action refers to the collective impact of legislation adopted in 2021, BBB climate and clean energy provisions, and state and local action. BBB is the most critical element in this suite of actions and will accelerate clean energy adoption, save money for consumers, and reduce emissions.
Businesses and Workers Support Build Back Better
Last summer, Wisconsin businesses signed a letter calling on Congress for ambitious clean energy investments. Since that time, an increasing number of companies and organizations have signaled their support for clean energy investment to drive jobs and economic activity.
West Virginia coal miners called on Joe Manchin to support Build Back Better.
Provisions in the bill would support miners dealing with Black Lung Disease, provide incentives to develop clean energy projects on closed mines, and support the right to unionize.
400 companies signed a letter calling on lawmakers to pass Build Back Better.
“The climate components of the Build Back Better package are both fiscally responsible and critically needed to ensure a stable climate for businesses and communities, help companies save money with affordable clean energy, and strengthen U.S. competitiveness by building upon the important measures in the infrastructure package that passed Congress this fall,” said Hugh Welsh, president and general counsel, DSM North America.
Wisconsin’s solar installers, in particular, recognize that Build Back Better will provide greater access to clean energy, especially for farms and low-income families.
“The extension of the business and residential tax credits for solar are critical for our industry. But adding refundability to both 48C and 25D is a game-changer for low and moderate-income households, farms, and other entities that don’t have the tax liability to realize the normal tax credits and finally enables them to go solar. It has the potential to bring the equitable distribution of the benefits of solar to millions.” Josh Stolzenburg, CEO Northwind Solar, Amherst, Wisconsin.
Contact your senator today and ask them to support climate and clean energy provisions of Build Back Better. There is no time to waste.
During its eleventh annual Renewable Energy Summit, titled “All Roads Lead to Clean Energy,” RENEW Wisconsin honored individuals and businesses who have made significant and lasting advances in clean energy development here in Wisconsin. Presented by greenpenny, Invenergy, and NextEra Energy Resources, the summit took place Thursday, January 27, 2022, at Monona Terrace in Madison. Due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, this year’s Summit featured a mix of in-person and online attendees and speakers.
In keeping with the program theme, summit presenters spotlighted the intertwining pathways leading Wisconsin closer to the zero-carbon goals embraced by state and local leaders, influential businesses, schools, and nonprofit organizations. Featured speakers included Commissioner Tyler Huebner (Wisconsin Public Service Commission) and Kari Lydersen (author and journalist).
During the summit, RENEW presented awards to a trio of clean energy businesses and champions in recognition of the leadership they’ve demonstrated in the years leading up to the present occasion. They are:
Clean Energy Business of the Year: Arch Solar, Plymouth
Arch Solar, a Plymouth-based company, founded in 2003, has become the largest full-service solar contractor in Wisconsin, with about 90 employees. Arch connects veterans to solar energy, primarily through its efforts to place them in its workforce. It is also a certified Women’s Business Enterprise, one of the few in the clean energy field.
Clean Energy Educator of the Year: Kenneth Walz, Madison Area Technical College
Kenneth Walz is a nationally recognized leader in developing coursework and training materials to help post-secondary students acquire skills for entry into the renewable energy workforce. As director for the Center for Renewable Energy Advanced Technological Education, Ken has enabled Madison Area Technical College to become the state’s preeminent energy education center and laboratory. Ken has also been an effective internal champion for “solarizing” all Madison College’s campuses. With the recent installation of a 133-kilowatt array at its Watertown branch, the Madison College system now hosts more solar generating capacity than any other school or local government in Wisconsin. In 2020, U.S. EPA bestowed a Green Power Leadership Award to Madison College for incorporating clean energy into its curriculum and operations.
Clean Energy Trailblazer of the Year: Susan Millar, 350 Madison
Susan Millar is a member of 350 Madison, a local citizens group catalyzing meaningful public and private actions to address climate change threats. She recently launched an ambitious effort to re-engineer her 90-year-old house to become an all-electric residence. Susan converted her conventionally heated house to one that runs on an all-electric, solar-assisted energy platform. She disengaged from a convenient but carbon-intensive heating source to rely on electric heating appliances and technologies instead. Susan’s house has been gas-free since September 2021.
This year’s Summit program also drew attention to other milestones and notable achievements in 2021, including the following:
- The Public Service Commission (PSC) approved six large solar projects—Wood County, Grant County, Onion River, Darien, Springfield, and Apple River—that will add 950 megawatts (MW) of solar power to Wisconsin’s electric generation portfolio.
- The PSC also approved applications from Alliant-Wisconsin Power and Light and Xcel-Northern States Power of Wisconsin to add a combined seven solar farms totaling 764 MW to their respective power plant fleets.
- Madison Gas and Electric completed its largest Renewable Energy Rider project to date. Located in Fitchburg, the 20 MW O’Brien Solar Fields project serves seven customers, including the State of Wisconsin and the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
- In partnership with the Couillard Solar Foundation, RENEW’s Solar for Good program issued grants for leveraging the installation of 1.27 MW of solar capacity serving 26 nonprofit-owned entities across the state.
- The first combined solar and microgrid project, serving the Bad River Tribal reservation in Ashland County, was placed in service. Project partners included a local nonprofit, Cheq Bay Renewables, and Menasha-based EnTech Solutions, the contractor that designed the project for the tribe.
- Employing the group purchase model, solar contractors teamed up with nonprofits and local governments to install 1,887 kW of solar capacity to 260 residential customers across the state.
This annual event featured an exposition hall, breakout sessions, and industry professionals discussing the current and future opportunities for advancing renewable energy in Wisconsin.
Click here for more information on the 2022 Summit program agenda, speakers, and registration.
This year’s Summit was supported by over 100 sponsors including greenpenny, Invenergy, NextEra Energy Resources, Alliant Energy, Arch Electric, ATC, Couillard Solar Foundation, Eagle Point Solar, OEI (Wisconsin Office of Energy Innovation), Savion, Stantec, Boldt, CED Greentech, EDF Renewables / Distributed Solutions, Foley & Lardner LLP, Generac, Michael, Best and Freiderich, MREA, Northwind Solar, OneEnergy, REC Group, SC Johnson, Steigerwaldt Land Services, SunPeak, Focus on Energy, AVID Risk Solutions, Carlson Electric, Braun Intertec, Current Electric, Dane County Office of Energy and Climate Change (OECC), Endries Solar and Electric, Entech Solutions Inc, Full Spectrum Solar, Glow Solar, Good Steward Consulting, HellermannTyton, Ingeteam, JCG Land Services Inc, WI K-12 Energy Education Program, Keyes & Fox, Madison College, Milwaukee Shines, muGrid Analytics, National Grid, Nautilus Solar, Pines Bach, PRC Wind, Ranger Power, Ruekert- Mielke, Stone House Development, SunBadger Solar, TRC, Werner Electric, WIDRC, Xcel Energy, Ayres Associates, Chint Power Systems (CPS), Michael J. Allen, EOR, Kapur & Associates, Legacy Solar Cooperative, McKinstry, Midwest Solar Power, Northeast Wisconsin Technical College, Oconomowoc Realty, Organic Valley, PACE, Sustain Dane, Trillium Construction, Vanguard Real Estate Solutions, Westphal & Company, Inc., Wisconsin Clean Cities, Wisconsin Conservative Energy Forum, All Energy Solar, Audubon Great Lakes, Aurora Solar, City of Madison, Clean Fuel Connects, Clean Wisconsin, Construction Business Group (CBG), Convergence Energy, Eland Electric, EMCS, Energy Analysis and Policy – Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies, Energy News Network / Midwest Energy News, Ethos Renewable Energy, Equix, Inc, GDS Associates, Gundersen Health System, HGA Architects and Engineers, JDR Engineering, Local 139 Operators, North Central States Regional Carpenters Council, Nokomis Energy, Samsung Renewable Energy, Solar Connection, Summit Ridge Energy, UA Local 400 Plumbers & Pipefitters, UW Office of Sustainability, WES Renewables (Engineering), Westwood, Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters, Wisconsin Energy Institute, Wisconsin Health Professionals for Climate Action, WI Sustainable Business Council, and WPPI Energy.
About RENEW Wisconsin
RENEW Wisconsin is a nonprofit organization that promotes renewable energy in Wisconsin. We work on policies and programs supporting solar, wind, biogas, local hydropower, geothermal energy, and electric vehicles. More information can be found on RENEW’s website: www.renewwisconsin.org.
A 28-turbine wind power project in Grant County will soon become a utility-owned source of clean electricity, thanks to a Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (PSCW) approval.
With this approval in hand, construction of the Red Barn Wind Energy Center should commence this spring and proceed quickly to completion before the year’s end. Once Red Barn’s 28 turbines begin generating power, Green Bay-based Wisconsin Public Service Corporation (WPS) and Madison Gas and Electric (MGE) will assume ownership of the project. WPS’s project share will be 90%, while MGE will own the remaining 10%.
With a generating capacity of 91.6 megawatts (MW), Red Barn is expected to produce approximately 300,000 megawatt-hours annually. That quantity of clean electricity will rival the annual output from Badger Hollow 1, a 150 MW solar farm located 10 miles east in neighboring Iowa County. WPS and MGE also co-own Badger Hollow 1, which began operating in December 2021.
“The evidence presented by both utilities and project supporters was powerful and unambiguous. Red Barn will be an economically attractive source of zero-fuel cost, zero-emission electricity that will produce savings for Wisconsin ratepayers and reduce power plant emissions, including greenhouse gases for years to come,” said RENEW Wisconsin Policy Director Michael Vickerman.
Red Barn’s original developer, Minnesota-based Project Resources Corporation (PRC), secured a conditional use permit from Grant County in July 2019. The siting permit granted to Red Barn was the first issued by a local government in this state since the Wind Siting Rule (PSC 128) took effect in 2012.
PRC subsequently sold the rights to develop Red Barn to ALLETE Clean Energy, another Minnesota-based energy company, which will build the wind farm before transferring it to WPS and MGE for an estimated $162 million.
Vickerman added: “RENEW commends Project Resources Corporation for blazing the trail here, working with willing landowners as well as accommodating neighbors and local officials to assemble and shepherd a wind power project from conception to siting approval, sparking no discernible opposition in the process.”
Red Barn will also be the first Wisconsin-based wind energy power plant to be added to the generation portfolio of any Wisconsin investor-owned utility since We Energies’ 162 MW Glacier Hills project started producing power in late 2011. Since then, only one utility-scale wind farm, the 99 MW Quilt Block project in Lafayette County, has come online. Quilt Block has been generating power for sale to Dairyland Power Cooperative since 2017.
Throughout Red Barn’s operating life, Grant County and the Towns of Wingville and Clifton will receive a combined $368,000 in utility local aids each year.
In 2020, wind projects located in Wisconsin accounted for 2.4% of the state’s electricity supply, according to the PSCW.
In 2019, Governor Evers issued Executive Order #38 to establish a goal for carbon-free electricity in Wisconsin by 2050. As the state regulator of utilities, the Public Service Commission (PSC) is tasked with regulating the number one sector source for greenhouse gas emissions in Wisconsin. As a result, PSC decisions play a key role in determining whether Wisconsin will be able to achieve a zero-carbon grid by 2050.
The PSC reviews utility proposals for construction projects, rate increases, and new utility programs for their customers. However, the PSC reviews these proposals separately from one another, and historically without the integration of other utility plans, carbon reduction goals, and cross-sector emission-reduction strategies. The good news is that the PSC has begun to explore how to incorporate these factors within its decision-making processes going forward.
In keeping with a recent trend of investigating policy issues (such as Electric Vehicles and Parallel Generation), this past spring the PSC opened a docket (5-EI-158) to pursue a “Roadmap to Zero Carbon.” As described in the Notice of Investigation, the PSC intends to evaluate government and utility goals to reduce carbon emissions to zero by 2050, recommendations from recent Wisconsin reports on clean energy and climate change, and the development of partnerships to achieve carbon-free electricity by 2050.
The Zero Carbon Roadmap docket garnered much interest from active PSC intervenors (such as RENEW), with participation from environmental, health, and business advocates as well. Members of the general public also participated with input and suggestions. PSC staff issued a memo for public comment on scoping of priorities. After gathering public input, PSC staff issued a follow-up memo to the Commissioners in August that summarized stakeholder input and provided the Commissioners with options on the next steps. The Commissioners then discussed the memo and issued an order in September to take some initial actions.
In short, the PSC decided to leverage ongoing planning processes and to investigate a potentially new approach to utility ratemaking. Below is a summary of these initial steps:
- The PSC will gather more robust carbon-reduction planning information from utilities during the current biennial Strategic Energy Assessment (SEA). Utilities will soon respond to the PSC staff’s initial data request, and PSC staff will issue a draft report by next spring for public comment;
- Additionally, the PSC will seek public input on ways in which the state’s Focus on Energy program (Focus) can better incorporate beneficial electrification, programs for low-income customers, demand response, and other utility voluntary programs into its program design over the next four years. This is called the Quadrennial Planning Process, and a PSC staff recently issued a memo for comment on scope; and
- Finally, the PSC will organize a workshop on Performance-based Regulation (PBR). This workshop will gather information and perspectives on how rethinking utility goals and investment incentives can lead to a more equitable clean-energy future. The PSC will also consider customer affordability issues in relation to the transition to a zero-carbon grid.
Even with these planning processes already underway, the book is not closed on the Roadmap to Zero Carbon docket. RENEW recently reached out to Joe Fontaine, PSC Policy Advisor, to get a better sense of next steps for the investigation docket itself. Fontaine said:
“Commission staff is excited to kick off the Roadmap by addressing four of the highest priorities identified by commenters and approved by the Commission. Each of these four areas — more transparent resource planning, development of performance-based regulation concepts, and further analysis of affordability and energy efficiency issues — can help us develop a strong general foundation to address a wider range of issues related to the clean energy transition, in this investigation as well as in other Commission dockets. Future decisions in the Roadmap will be well-informed by the analysis and stakeholder input we’re receiving at each step in the investigation. Potential next steps will be determined as we make progress on these initial priorities over the next few months.”
The PSC’s Roadmap to Zero Carbon activities is running in parallel with the Office of Sustainability and Clean Energy’s (OSCE) Clean Energy Plan drafting process. Beyond the electricity sector, the Clean Energy Plan will assess, and make recommendations on, strategies cutting across all economic sectors statewide. The OSCE recently gathered public input during several public listening sessions, focusing on 1) economic and environmental justice, 2) infrastructure and industry, 3) transit and transportation, and 4) clean energy and energy efficiency. The OSCE continues to gather written comments through its website.
RENEW is also proactively partnering with Clean Wisconsin and GridLab to conduct a zero-carbon grid study for the PSC’s consideration. While the scope is still being finalized, the study will use modeling designed to answer important policy questions, such as:
- What is the right mix of renewable resources in-state and out-of-state?
- What is a good balance between utility-scale and distributed solar resources?
- How much transmission is needed in a zero-carbon future?
- What will be the health, jobs, and economic impacts as we make this clean grid transition?
Stay tuned on these zero-carbon planning activities and upcoming study developments. RENEW plans to organize presentations and panel discussions on these topics at our Renewable Energy Summit on January 27, 2022.
 See the Department of Natural Resources’ Wisconsin Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory Report of August 2020. Figure 1, on page 3, presents emissions by sector. Electricity generation is the highest emitting sector and represents 33 percent of all Wisconsin emissions.