Churches and other nonprofits in We Energies’ service area will have difficulty
following the renewable-energy example of the Unitarian Universalist Church
West in Brookfield,
because the utility unilaterally ended the incentive program which helped the
church absorb the cost of a solar system installed in 2008.

end of the utility program resulted in WE receiving a C on a renewable energy
report card issued by RENEW Wisconsin,
a statewide renewable energy advocacy organization.
Energies 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 Don Wichert, RENEW’s executive
director and the report card director, at a news conference in front of the church.  
money was critically important to our ability to install a solar system and was
needed because nonprofits are not eligible for the federal tax credits” said
Amy Taivalkoski, a congregation member who headed up the project along with
Dennis Briley, another member.  “The
grant of $27,500 covered about a third of the total cost.”

were very thankful to receive the grant, which allowed us to show other
congregations how to fulfill a vision for a just, sustainable world.  It’s unfortunate that the WE program won’t be
there to help them as it helped us,” added Rev. Suzelle Lynch, minister of the more
than 700-person congregation.
earned a C (2.4 out of 5) overall on the report card for its renewable energy
efforts in 2011, but had the lowest score of all utilities graded.  The state’s other major utilities’ grades
ranged from C to B/C — Alliant, C (2.6); Madison Gas & Electric, B/C
(3.0); Wisconsin Public Service Corporation, C (2.7); and Xcel, 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 Wichert.  “At
this point in 2012 it appears that this poor performance trend continues.”
 “It’s surprising and disappointing 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.
utilities performed best in meeting the state’s renewable electricity standard.  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.
scored gave WE the following grades for 2011:
     B    Amount
of renewable electricity sold (also called renewable energy standard)
B   Green energy purchasing program for customers
B   Ease of interconnecting to the utility system
F    Price paid for electricity purchased from
renewable energy systems
F    Legislative
activities on renewable energy policy
C-  Other programs offered voluntarily to
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. 

annual survey can be used by Wisconsin utilities and others to see which areas
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 utilities should be performing at
average levels in clean energy,” said Wichert.

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