New billing scheme would punish customer
investments in efficiency, solar energy
In testimony pre-filed
today with the Public Service Commission, a former utility regulator and
utility executive criticized Wisconsin Public Service Corporation’s proposed restructuring
of electric rates and service charges.
the Environmental Law & Policy Center in September. Mr. Rábago stated
“the Company proposals reduce the value of energy savings and create a new,
unavoidable charge that punishes most those customers who have made the
greatest investments in clean and renewable energy options.”
small commercial customers, WPS seeks to sharply increase their base service
charges and lower their variable energy rates. For residential customers, the fixed
monthly fee would rise from $10.40 to $25. For small commercial customers, the fixed
monthly fee would climb from $12.50 to $35.
The energy rate would decline between 10% and 13%.
“This is effectively a ‘Robin Hood
in Reverse’ pricing model,” said Tyler Huebner, executive director of RENEW
Wisconsin, citing a term used by energy consultant Bill Marcus of JBS Energy. “It
would unfairly raise bills for customers who use relatively little electricity
over a year, including apartment dwellers, people on fixed incomes, and
hikes sought by WPS would be the highest allowed for a regulated electric
utility in the Midwest. “The increase is so steep as to be literally off the
charts,” said Huebner.
would exact a financial penalty on customers who invested their savings in
clean energy systems that yield benefits to all WPS customers. A lower energy
rate creates a longer payback period for solar. It would dramatically lower
interest in solar self-generation by residential and small commercial customers
in 2015 and beyond. It could very well slam the door on solar for WPS’s customers,”
surfaced this spring as part of the Green Bay utility’s request for an overall 8%
increase in electric revenues over the next two years. The rate proposal is
under review by the Public Service Commission. We Energies and Madison Gas & Electric
have proposed similar changes, which would put their fixed monthly fees at 80%
and 113% above the Midwest average of $8.91, while WPS’ proposal would put it
181% above that average (see below).
searching for docket number 6690-UR-123.
Center. Data for both graphics comes
from OpenEI.org, an open-source data-sharing platform supported by the National
Renewable Energy Laboratory, and the U.S. Energy Information Administration at eia.gov. The
dataset included monthly fixed charges besides the “customer charge,”
such as a monthly distribution charge that is labeled separately on the bill,
to report the total monthly fixed rate.
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