Clearing up a renewable questionRenewable energy advocates are seeking a clarification in state law that they say would help boost the use of clean energy.
By: By Chuck Quirmbach, Wisconsin Public Radio, Superior Telegram
Renewable energy advocates are seeking a clarification in state law that they say would help boost the use of clean energy.
The group Renew Wisconsin says when a business wants to put up its own solar panels, biodigester, or wind turbines, it's a pretty straightforward legal process. But most small renewable energy systems in the U.S. are owned, installed, and operated at companies or homes by third parties. Renew says in Wisconsin, when a third party is involved, it may be regulated as a public utility. Renew policy director Michael Vickerman says those regulations can be an administrative nightmare.
"Utility rates are reviewed by the PSC," he says. "But we're trying to promote a private transaction between a customer and a third party."
Vickerman says other states that have what he calls a clean energy choice are moving ahead more quickly on renewables, as customers can lock in on energy prices for a decade or longer. But Bill Skewes, the Executive Director of the Wisconsin Utilities Association, opposes renew's plan.
"Third parties should not be able to hook up to the poles and wires and get a free ride," he says.
Skewes says the state Public Service Commission is already on the right track, approving money for renewable energy incentives where it's cost effective. But Renew Wisconsin plans to promote clean energy choice at a forum in Madison today, and encourage state lawmakers to introduce a bill later this year.