Immediate Release —
In filings submitted to
the Public Service Commission (PSC), most of Wisconsin’s electric providers
reported that they handled far fewer customer requests in 2012 to interconnect
renewable energy systems to the grid than in previous years. Last year’s
decrease followed several years of steady growth in customer-sited renewable
The solar and small
wind energy sectors were hit hardest by this slowdown, while biogas installation
activity remained steady through 2012. Solar electricity systems account for
more than 90% of customer interconnection requests. “These reports confirm
our fears that ongoing utility resistance to customer use of clean energy is
sucking a lot of oxygen out of Wisconsin’s renewable energy marketplace,” said
Michael Vickerman, program and policy director for RENEW Wisconsin, a statewide
renewable energy advocacy organization. According to data
submitted by Milwaukee-based We Energies, the utility processed only 56
interconnection requests in 2012, compared with 120 requests in 2009, 146 in 2010, and 172 in 2011.
Green Bay-based Wisconsin Public Service and
Madison Gas & Electric also reported declines in customer-sited renewable
systems since 2011. According to Madison-based Wisconsin Power & Light,
interconnections involving renewable energy peaked in 2009 and 2010, and have
fallen off since.
“The slowdown in
Wisconsin stands in stark contrast to solar’s rapid expansion in other states.
This contraction is occurring in spite of declining installation costs and
higher electric rates,” Vickerman said.
attributed the fall-off in installation activity to a number of policy changes,
changes adopted by several utilities to make net metering a less economically
attractive option for customer-generators;
elimination of special buyback rates for solar-generated electricity; and
adopted restrictions to the amount and availability of Focus on Energy
incentives for solar and small wind.
“Solar is a proven
generator of jobs as well as electricity. Lately, it seems that utilities are
doing their level best to keep solar out of their resource mix,” Vickerman
“Other states such as
Minnesota and Georgia are warming to solar, because they see how this clean
resource drives business start-ups and investment opportunities. What will it
take for Wisconsin to see the light?” Vickerman asked. The
utility filings were submitted as part of a PSC investigation to determine
whether the state’s interconnection rules should be modified to facilitate more
customer-sited renewable energy systems. The docket number is 05-GF-233.
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.