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No Wisconsin utility graded higher than a B/C on a report card issued by a renewable energy advocacy group, and C was the overall average for the state’s five major utilities.
We Energies, headquartered in Milwaukee, earned a C (2.4 out of 5) on the report card for its renewable energy efforts in 2011 and had the lowest score of all utilities graded. The state’s other major utilities received similar or slightly higher grades: Alliant (aka Wisconsin Power and Light), C (2.6); Madison Gas & Electric, B/C (3.0); Wisconsin Public Service Corporation, C (2.7); and Xcel Energy, B/C (3.0).
“2011 was a year in which Wisconsin’s investor owned utilities cut back on their previous good performance supporting renewable energy,” said Don Wichert, RENEW Wisconsin’s executive director and the report card director. “At this point in 2012, it appears that this poor performance trend continues.”
“It’s surprising because recent opinion surveys indicate that the vast majority of Wisconsin’s population, including utilities ratepayers and stockholders, prefer renewable energy,” according to Wichert.
RENEW graded utilities on six criteria: amount of renewable electricity sold; green energy purchasing programs; ease of connecting to the utility system; prices paid for renewable electricity; legislative activities; and other programs offered voluntarily to customers.
Wisconsin utilities performed best in meeting the state’s renewable electricity standard, the amount of renewable electricity sold to its customers. All of the utilities already meet or expect to meet the 10% standard by 2015, although some have the majority of the power coming from out of Wisconsin.
We Energies scored at the bottom, because it had “agreed with RENEW and other groups to spend $6 million/year over 10 years to encourage the use of renewable energy in its service area. As part of the program, over 100 nonprofit organizations installed renewable energy systems. In 2011, however, WE simply announced the end of the program after only five years,” said Wichert at a news conference in from of a Milwaukee church that had a solar electric system installed as party of We Energies now-discontinued program.
RENEW gave the state’s investor owned utilities the following grades: C Alliant, Madison; B/C Madison Gas & Electric, Madison; C We Energies, Milwaukee; C Wisconsin Public Service Corporation, Green Bay; B/C Xcel Energy, Eau Claire.
This was the first time RENEW conducted a grading system, but RENEW plans to continue the process in the future because people are interested in how well their utilities support renewable energy.
“The annual survey can be used by Wisconsin utilities and others to see which areas are lacking and how they can improve their grades. Adoption of renewable energy supports local jobs, lower emissions of pollutants, and energy security. These are attributes everybody wants. There is no reason that Wisconsin has to lag the rest of the country in clean energy,” said Wichert.
RENEW Wisconsin is an independent, nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization that leads and represents businesses, organizations, and individuals who seek more clean renewable energy in Wisconsin. More information on RENEW’s Web site at www.renewwisconsin.org.