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.

Public Service Commission Decides to Preserve Net Metering

Public Service Commission Decides to Preserve Net Metering

The Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (PSCW) unanimously voted to keep net metering for Wisconsin Power and Light (Alliant) customers yesterday. Last week, PSCW denied Madison Gas & Electric’s proposal to eliminate net metering. These two decisions create certainty for Wisconsin’s solar industry and customers.

Traditional net metering is currently the most important policy tool Wisconsin has to fairly compensate rooftop solar owners and incentivize future solar installations. This model supports Wisconsin’s thriving solar industry, offers good-paying jobs, and helps Wisconsin reach its decarbonization goals. When the time comes to transition away from net metering, collaboration between clean energy advocates and utilities will be essential to ensure that the transition is equitable and values each customer’s solar installation.

The revised version of the Power Partnership would have preserved key aspects of net metering while creating new benefits. The adjusted proposal offered a durable framework that recognized the value of each customer’s solar installation to Alliant’s infrastructure. Power Partnership limited the risk to installers, ensured a steady revenue stream to solar customers, and provided a solid growth path for solar and storage.

We stand behind our work with Alliant to create a viable solution for the solar industry. We believe there is a path forward for a collaborative effort to ensure the benefits of clean energy are shared throughout the state. And we are grateful for the successful advocacy work of other intervenors and clean energy advocates in defending net metering. We look forward to continuing our collective work to ensure the benefits of clean energy are shared throughout the state.

Public Service Commission of Wisconsin Decides to Keep Net Metering

Public Service Commission of Wisconsin Decides to Keep Net Metering

The Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (PSCW) delivered a unanimous decision on Friday to keep net metering in the Madison Gas & Electric (MGE) territory. This action is a win, not just for MGE customers but for all of Wisconsin.

“It almost felt as though it was a half-hearted proposal, and so I didn’t feel like there was enough information to support authorizing it [MGE’s proposed net metering change],” said PSCW Chairperson Rebecca Valq. “… for Wisconsin to have a consistent approach to net metering, I would not approve this proposal.”

There was overwhelming support to keep net metering in MGE’s service territory. There were 500 members of the public and 14 intervenors, including RENEW, who opposed MGE’s proposed net metering changes. This collective effort played a vital role in ensuring rooftop solar will remain financially viable for MGE solar customers.

This decision from the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin represents a major win for rooftop solar and the solar industry in Wisconsin. Net metering is fundamental in ensuring that rooftop solar owners are properly incentivized and compensated for their energy generation. We look forward to working with other utilities to ensure residential rooftop solar and large-scale renewable projects remain viable tools for meeting Wisconsin’s decarbonization goals.

Net metering has a direct impact on the local economy. The installation, maintenance, and servicing of rooftop solar systems creates employment opportunities, providing long-term benefits for Wisconsin communities and businesses. RENEW is celebrating the decision made by the PSCW today to ensure equitable access to solar for all Wisconsin families and create certainty for local solar installers.

The collective efforts of our members, partners, and the general public were crucial in the effort to protect net metering. Thank you to everyone who made their voices heard in the MGE rate case. We look forward to hearing from the PSCW again later this November when they deliver their decision for the Alliant Energy rate case.

The Power of Partnership

The Power of Partnership

RENEW Wisconsin and Alliant Energy 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.

Power Partnership preserves key aspects of net metering while creating new benefits. The agreement is a compromise that offers a durable framework that recognizes the value of each customer’s solar installation to Alliant’s infrastructure. Power Partnership limits the risk to installers, ensures a steady revenue stream to solar customers, and provides a solid growth path for solar and storage.

Additionally, after net metering is fully phased out, Power Partnership will continue to provide customers and installers with the information they need to estimate payback periods for new installations. This was a non-negotiable aspect of RENEW’s agreement with Alliant.

This is a win for the solar industry and wouldn’t be possible without the incredible grassroots efforts of every person and organization who submitted public comments and testimony to the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin. This unified action helped bring Alliant to the table.

These collective efforts gave us the opportunity to bargain from a strong position and have a voice in crafting what a net metering transition in Wisconsin looks like. This agreement creates certainty for the solar industry and the customers who support it, in both the short and long term.

Key Aspects of the Proposal:

  • New customers with installations under 20 kW will be able to choose between net metering and Power Partnership until Dec. 31, 2025.
  • Net metering customers will receive legacy treatment until 2032.
  • Bill credits earned under Power Partnership will carry over on a monthly basis for one year.
  • Power Partnership will expand access to installations between 20 kW and 75 kW.
  • Alliant will create a payback calculator to help customers plan financially for their solar installations.
  • Customers will have a minimum charge of $10 per month for installations up to 20 kW and $15 per month for installations between 20-75 kW. This charge will not apply to current net metering customers.

Transitions away from net metering are rarely this favorable to solar customers, and we are grateful for Alliant’s collaboration and the organized support of clean energy advocates. RENEW still believes that net metering is the best policy for Wisconsin’s current solar industry, and our opposition to MGE’s proposal continues. We hope that we can depend on your support in that effort.

Elk Creek Solar Project Approved!

Elk Creek Solar Project Approved!

The Elk Creek Solar project, located in the Township of Spring Brook in Dunn County, was approved this month by the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (PSCW). The 300-megawatt (MW) solar project is paired with a 76.6 MW battery energy storage system and is expected to go online by the spring of 2026.

As designed, Elk Creek Solar would supply homegrown, affordable, emission-free electricity to power the equivalent of approximately 60,000 homes for at least 30 years. RENEW Wisconsin submitted testimony in support of the project, and we are excited for construction to begin.

The developer of the project, TED Renewables, has been engaged and transparent with the Springbrook community throughout the approval process by providing detailed information on the benefits and timeline of the project. Beyond generating revenue for local schools and government services, the project is expected to create upwards of 650 jobs during the construction phase and 3-4 highly skilled long-term jobs.

According to TED Renewables, the annual tax revenues for all taxing districts will exceed $1.2 million. As stated in the La Crosse Tribune, “Spring Brook township of $500,000, Dunn County of $700,000 and the Elk Mound Area School District of $60,000.”

Construction is projected to start in the fall of 2024. Throughout the life of the project, the landowner will retain the title to the land and sign a 30-year lease, with the option for a five-year extension. At the end of its operational life, the equipment will be recycled or reused, and the land will be restored. By giving the soil time to rest and planting deep-rooted plants, the quality of the soil will be improved substantially by the time it is once again ready for agricultural use.

Elk Creek Solar is the 17th project larger than 100 MW the PSCW has approved since 2019, totaling 3,249 MW for Wisconsin. Several other projects, including Silver Maple Solar, are awaiting approval.

Submit a Comment in Support of the Silver Maple Solar Project

Submit a Comment in Support of the Silver Maple Solar Project

A 200-megawatt (MW) solar project, Silver Maple Solar, has been proposed in Fond du Lac and Winnebago Counties. If approved, Silver Maple Solar is expected to begin producing enough clean energy to power 35,000 Wisconsin homes by the end of 2025.

Solar power projects larger than 100 MW 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, including at the PSCW. Earlier this summer, RENEW Wisconsin submitted testimony in support of Silver Maple Solar to the PSCW. Now that the public comment period is open, you can share your support for this project as well.

Silver Maple Solar represents a significant economic investment in rural southeastern Wisconsin, providing steady revenues to area landowners and communities while generating emission-free renewable electricity for more than 30 years. The developer of the project, Leeward Renewable Energy, has provided a high-level overview and a map of the project to help the public better understand its benefits.

Since 2019, the PSCW has issued approvals for 17 solar power projects across Wisconsin, totaling 3,249 MW. With the addition of Silver Maple, solar energy will make up 10% of Wisconsin’s electricity production, the highest share for a state in the Upper Midwest.

Help us demonstrate Wisconsin’s enthusiastic support for projects like this by submitting a comment in support of Silver Maple Solar. Be sure to specifically reference the project and the benefits that it can bring to Wisconsin. The deadline to submit comments is October 13, 2023.

We’ve included a sample message to help you get started. Please keep in mind that the PSCW allows one comment per case and that customizing your message will have a greater impact.

Sample Comment

I’m writing in support of the Silver Maple Solar, under review in Docket No. 9813-CE-100. This project would support local economies and keep energy dollars in state by producing homegrown, renewable energy right here in Wisconsin.


Beyond the economic benefits, the Silver Maple Solar project will also help to displace carbon dioxide, support grid stability, and provide Wisconsinites with an affordable source of electricity. With available land and appropriate infrastructure, projects like this make sense for Wisconsin.


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