For immediate release
January 31, 2012

Small Businesses Request Resumption of Renewable Energy Support

Over 150 small businesses, organizations, schools, and local officials appealed to the Public Service Commission (PSC) to restore full funding for a nationally recognized renewable energy program that reduces the cost of solar, wind, and biomass installations for Wisconsin utility customers.

In an open letter delivered to the PSC yesterday, the signers asked the PSC to “to exercise its oversight authority over Focus on Energy and restore funding, without delay, for renewables at a level consistent with previous years’ allocations.”

The impetus for the open letter arose from RENEW Wisconsin’s Energy Policy Summit held two weeks ago in Madison. At the summit, the 140 people who participated asked RENEW to make Focus on Energy funding restoration its highest policy priority for 2012.

Focus on Energy suspended its support for customer-sited renewable energy systems last July, when rising demand for renewables outstripped available funds. The program administrator said that incentives will be resumed later this year, but no firm timeline has been set.

“This problem needs to be fixed as expeditiously as possible before the funding interruption permanently damages Wisconsin’s renewable energy marketplace,” said Michael Vickerman, Executive Director of RENEW Wisconsin, a statewide, nonprofit renewable energy advocacy organization.

“A number of renewable energy installers and contractors are already feeling the effects of the funding hiatus, and the result is less new hiring and potential layoffs down the road. However, we remain optimistic that once funding is restored renewable energy development will once again become a dynamic economic sector and a source of new jobs here in Wisconsin,” said Vickerman.

An Open Letter to the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin
January 30, 2012

In 2002, the State of Wisconsin began offering incentives from Focus on Energy to encourage tangible and significant savings with the implementation of distributed renewable energy systems. By employing a small fraction of the funds available to Focus on Energy for this purpose, the vast majority of customer-sited solar, wind, biogas and biomass projects now operating in Wisconsin received critical financial support. In under 10 years, Focus on Energy succeeded in building an in-state marketplace that supported steady growth of new businesses and jobs in manufacturing, distributing, designing, installing and servicing renewable energy systems. It is no exaggeration to say that the renewable energy program run by Focus on Energy was a nationally recognized as a model for other states to follow.

It’s a very different picture today. For the first time since 2002, Wisconsin business and residential customers entered the new year without a functioning statewide renewable energy program in place. Focus on Energy said that it intends to resume offering incentives for renewables later this year, but has not set a timeline for restoration of funding or services. Nor is there any information available as to whether the renewable products and services supported in the past will be supported again, and, if so, at what levels. What was a successful engine for advancing small-scale renewables in Wisconsin is now, for frustrated businesses and customers alike, a source of vague assurances and little else.

Unfortunately, the ongoing lack of support and uncertainty is guaranteed to cause layoffs and business cutbacks. Furthermore, it is contrary to state law, which specifies that Focus on Energy support customer use of renewable energy as well as energy efficiency. Without the products and services to fuel the renewable market, 2012 will usher in a period of contraction that portends significant declines in installations, accelerated job losses, and increased business migration to markets in other states.

In our view, the most economically efficient way to transition Wisconsin to a sustainable energy future is to pair an aggressive conservation and efficiency program with products and services that increase the market drivers for on-site renewable energy production. Both approaches mutually reinforce each other while delivering economic benefits to customers. Adopting energy efficiency enables customers to reduce the size of their renewable energy investments, and on-site renewables allow customers to lower all or part of their energy bills going forward.

We support the conclusions reached by Commissioner Eric Callisto regarding the economic returns to ratepayers and the public generated by Focus on Energy’s programs. As part of a recent proceeding on Focus on Energy, Commissioner Callisto wrote:

Focus programs save energy, help offset the need for new power generation, lower utility bills, create jobs, reduce fossil fuel emissions, and support broad-based economic development in Wisconsin. And in study after study, it is shown that these benefits are produced at a ratio that far exceeds program costs. As the LAB report points out, the benefit-cost ratio for Focus programs is as high as 7.2 to 1, when taking into account economic metrics like job creation and increased business sales. That is more than seven dollars in benefit to Wisconsin for every dollar invested.

The impressive payback from Focus on Energy is sufficient reason for restoring the renewable energy funding that had been a key feature of that program. Given the near certainty of rising electric rates as the price of delivered coal continues to climb, as coal pollution equipment is mandated to meet new regulations, and to pay for new transmission, we cannot afford any more backsliding by not supporting in-state, distributed renewables. The ongoing funding hiatus for renewables is inconsistent with state law. The Commission has a responsibility to fix this problem immediately, before the lack of support for renewables permanently damages Wisconsin’s renewable energy marketplace. We the undersigned call upon the Public Service Commission to exercise its oversight authority over Focus on Energy and restore funding, without delay, for renewables at a level consistent with previous years’ allocations.


  • John Ahles Solar System Owner Neenah, WI 
  • Jeff Anthony American Wind Energy Association Milwaukee, WI 
  • Steve Arndt, Director of Facilities Management UW-Oshkosh Oshkosh, WI 
  • Michael Arney, Green Neighbor, Inc. Wauwatosa, WI 
  • Peter Bakken, Public Policy Coordinator Wisconsin Council of Churches Sun Prairie, WI 
  • Rich Bannen, Owner Prairie Solar Power & Light Prairie du Chien, WI 
  • Bruce Barker, President Chippewa Valley Technical College Eau Claire, WI 
  • Barb Basaj SunSpe, LLC Milwaukee, WI 
  • David Behnke-Seper First Affirmative Financial Network Chili, WI 
  • Rick Bergman Aquilo Wind Development Glendale, WI Oscar Bloch Arboretum Co-Housing Madison, WI 
  • Hans Jr. and Katie Breitenmoser Breitenmoser Family Farms Merrill, WI 
  • Thomas Brown, Architect Stevens Point, WI 
  • Brent Brucker, General Manager Helios Solar Works Milwaukee, WI 
  • Justin Castleman Castleman & Sons Plumbing Franklin, WI 
  • Chris Collins, Marketing Director H&H Solar Energy Services Madison, WI 
  • Becky Comeau Southwest Community Biofuels LaFarge, WI 
  • Lisa Conley, President Town and Country RC&D Jefferson, WI 
  • Lisa Daniels, Executive Director Windustry Minneapolis, MN 
  • Mark Dawson Sand Creek Solar Amherst, WI 
  • Susan De Vos Madison Area Bus Advocates Madison, WI 
  • Tom DeBates, Owner Habi-Tek Geneva, IL 
  • Michael Dearing, Owner Driftless Solar Spring Green, WI 
  • Trang Donovan Unlimited Renewable Energies Prairie du Sac, WI 
  • Thomas Duffy, President Commercial Air, Inc. Madison, WI 
  • Jeff Ehlers, President Renewegy LLC Oshkosh, WI 
  • Jim Erdman Solar Electric and Small Wind Certified Site Assessor Menomonie, WI 
  • James Erickson, Owner Antech Properties Janesville, WI 
  • Brian Evans, Production Manager Associated Housewrights Madison, WI 
  • Jerry Eyler, Executive Dean Fox Valley Technical College Appleton, WI
  • Randy Faller, Owner Kettle View Renewable Energy Random Lake, WI 
  • Jay Farnsworth, Teacher Waunakee School District Waunakee, WI 
  • Pete Flesch, Chair, Crawford County Board of Supervisors Prairie du Chien, WI 
  • Scott Freier Freiers Electric and Heating Ellsworth, WI
  • Greg Fritsch, CEO Clean Energy North America Glendale, WI 
  • Jim Funk, Owner Energize LLC Winneconne, WI Mark Furst Grading Spaces LLC Fort Atkinson, WI 
  • Rex Gillespie Wisconsin Solar Energy Industries Madison, WI 
  • David Goepfert, President Thermal Design, Inc. Stoughton, WI 
  • Grant Grinstead Northern Biogas Fond du Lac, WI 
  • David Hansen, Owner Lake Country Energy Oconomowoc, WI 
  • Daniel Harkins, Manager Trantow Properties LLC Stoughton, WI 
  • Ryan Harkins, Project Manager Synergy Renewable Systems LLC Stoughton, WI 
  • Michael Harvey Able Electric Co. River Falls, WI 
  • Mark Heffernan, President CBT Wear Parts, Inc. Bio-Products Engineering Corp. Richland Center, WI 
  • Charlie Higley, Executive Director Citizens Utility Board Madison, WI 
  • John Hippensteel, President Lake Michigan Wind and Sun Sturgeon Bay, WI 
  • Lou Host-Jablonski, Architect Design Coalition Madison, WI 
  • John Imes, Executive Director Wisconsin Environmental Initiative Madison, WI 
  • Greg Jahnke, Manager, Renewable Energy Pieper Electric Milwaukee, WI 
  • Micah James, General Manager Energycraft Synergy Systems, LLC Stoughton, WI 
  • Jennifer Jenkins, Executive Director Distributed Wind Energy Association Flagstaff, AZ 
  • Brad Johnson, Director, Business Development Green Sky Energetics Manitowoc, WI 
  • James Jozwiak Black Magic Organics Spencer, WI 
  • Andrea Kaminski League of Women Voters Wisconsin Education Network Madison, WI 
  • Roger Kanitz ECOS – Fox Valley Menasha, WI 
  • James Kerbel Photovoltaic Systems LLC Amherst, WI 
  • Duane Kexel Duane Kexel Consulting Madison, WI 
  • Chris Klein Town of Dayton Waupaca, WI 
  • Joe Klein Applied Plastics Oak Creek, WI 
  • Mark Klein Gimme Shelter Construction Amherst, WI 
  • Richard Klemme, Dean and Director UW Extension – Cooperative Extension Madison, WI 
  • Randy Knox Solar PV System Owner Whitewater, WI 
  • Jeff Knutson, Owner A-A Exteriors, com Waupaca, WI 
  • Kurt Koepp, Manager Hot Water Products Milwaukee, WI 
  • Fritz Kreiss Community Green Energy LLC, Lake Geneva, WI 
  • Eco-Vision Sustainable Learning Center, Inc., Lake Geneva, WI Green Leaf Inn LLC, Delavan, WI 
  • Larry Krom, Principal L&S Technical Associates Spring Green, WI 
  • Christopher LaForge, Owner Great Northern Solar Port Wing, WI 
  • Alicia Leinberger, Marketing and Development Manager Seventh Generation Energy Systems Madison, WI 
  • Jesse Lerner Sustain Dane Madison, WI 
  • Doug Lindsey Lakeshore Technical College – Energy Education Center Cleveland, WI 
  • Timothy Linn, Partner/Builder Edge Grain LLC Milwaukee, WI 
  • Vicki Lipinski, Marketing and Sales Coordinator Procorp Enterprises Milwaukee, WI 
  • Jeanne Lisse Madison Computer Works Madison, WI 
  • Mark Lydon Artisan Energy LLC Marshall, WI 
  • Randy Mader Faith Technologies Sun Prairie, WI 
  • Tom Martin, CEO Convergence Energy Lake Geneva, WI 
  • Neil Matthes Duck Creek Engineering, Inc. Helenville, WI 
  • Nick Matthes Midwest Photovoltaics, Inc. Milwaukee, WI 
  • Heather McCombs Wisconsin Green Building Alliance Milwaukee, WI 
  • Natalie McIntire enMac Energy Consulting Viroqua, WI 
  • Christine Merritt, Ph.D TAPCO – Traffic and Parking Control, Inc. Brown Deer, WI 
  • Eric Meyer Werner Electric Wisconsin Neenah, WI 
  • Jesse Michalski Eland Electric Corporation Green Bay, WI 
  • Randy Moberg Werner Electric Minnesota Cottage Grove, MN 
  • Gerd Muehllehner Retgen Solar LLC North Freedom, WI 
  • Ingrid Nahm Appleton Solar Appleton, WI 
  • Dan Nemke US Biogas LLC Mequon, WI 
  • Andy Olsen Environmental Law & Policy Center Madison, WI 
  • Jim Olson E3Coalition Viroqua, WI 
  • Burke O’Neal, Director Full Spectrum Solar Madison, WI 
  • Robert H. Owen, Jr. Consulting Engineer/Meteorologist Middleton, WI 
  • Hon. Joe Parisi Dane County Executive Madison, WI 
  • George Penn Global Energy Options Madison, WI 
  • Katie Peterman, Manager, Cooperative Affairs Organic Valley Family of Farms LaFarge, WI Ted Petith Greenlink Projects, LLC Madison, WI 
  • Greg Phillips American Power, Inc. Electrical Contractors Janesville, WI 
  • Eric Pipkin Pipkin Electric, Inc. Sparta, WI 
  • John Price Access Solar LLC Waukesha, WI 
  • Chris Quandt, Senior Project Manager Bachmann Construction Madison, WI 
  • Bob Ramlow Artha Sustainable Energy Center Amherst, WI 
  • Alex Rein Verona, WI 
  • Kurt Reinhold Solar Connections LLC Madison, WI 
  • Ed Ritger Ritger Law Office Random Lake, WI 
  • Cathy Robinson Chippewa Valley Alternative Energy Chippewa Falls, WI 
  • Rik Rosenlund Midwest Solar Power Madison, WI 
  • Mick Sagrillo Sagrillo Power & Light Forestville, WI
  • Kris Schmid Legacy Solar LLC Frederic, WI 
  • Brian Schwaller EcoManity LLC, Owner The Sustainable Living Group, President Elkhart Lake, WI 
  • Al Schulz, Owner/CEO Safe Work La Crosse, WI Jeff Seidl, President I-Quip Seymour, WI 
  • Roy Settgas, Owner Sunrise Energy Services Washburn, WI 
  • Carl Siegrist Carl Siegrist Consulting Whitefish Bay, WI 
  • Wes Slaymaker WES Engineering Madison, WI 
  • Chuck Smith, President Current Electric Company Brookfield, WI 
  • Judy Spring Sustain Sauk County Baraboo, WI 
  • Zeus Stark, Owner Next Step Energy LLC Eau Claire, WI 
  • Doug Stingle, Development Director Midwest Renewable Energy Association Custer, WI
  • Josh Stolzenburg North Wind Renewable Energy, LLC Stevens Point, WI 
  • Amy Taivalkoski, Principal ALT Energy Sussex, WI 
  • Craig Tarr, President Energy Concepts Hudson, WI 
  • Dave Tebo, Administrator Town of Greenville Greenville, WI 
  • Neale Thompson Janesville Home and Solar Janesville, WI 
  • Todd Timmerman Timmerman’s Talents LLC Platteville, WI 
  • Melissa Van Ornum DVO, Inc. Chilton, WI 
  • Michael Vickerman, Policy Director RENEW Wisconsin Madison, WI 
  • Jerry Viste Door County Environmental Council Sturgeon Bay, WI 
  • Larry Walker Walker Energy Systems Madison, WI 
  • Ray Walter, Ph.D, President MyEnergy, LLC Pewaukee, WI 
  • Michael Ward E & W Heating and Air Conditioning Middleton, WI 
  • David Washebek, President/CEO Lemberg Electric Company Brookfield, WI Frank Weeks 
  • D H Solar Prairie du Chien, WI Robert 
  • Weier, Vice President ELEXCO, Inc. Seymour, WI 
  • Laura West, West Winds Renewable Resources, LLC Plover, WI 
  • Sr. Janet Weyker, Director Eco-Justice Center Racine, WI 
  • Terry Wiggins Earth Justice Ministry of the First Unitarian Society of Milwaukee Milwaukee, WI 
  • Sally Wiley, Gaea’s Farm Walworth, WI
  • Tom Wilson HOME REMEDIES Residential Energy Services, Viroqua, WI 
  • Northern Thunder, Eau Claire, WI 
  • Dona Wininsky American Lung Association in Wisconsin Milwaukee, WI 
  • Dean Wolff Milwaukee Solar Milwaukee, WI 
  • Niels Wolter, Owner Madison Solar Consulting Madison, WI 
  • Mark Yeager Sun & Daughters Solar, LLC Rhinelander, WI 
  • Jim Yockey, CEO Seventh Generation Systems Integration Madison, WI 
  • John Young Resource Solar Madison, WI 
  • Bruce Zahn, Architect Milwaukee, WI 
  • Michael Zander, CEO Biogas Direct Sauk City, WI
  • Ed Zinthefer, President Arch Electric, LLC Plymouth, WI
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