We Energies drops proposed solar charge

Reaches settlement agreement with Renew Wisconsin

Solar installations completed by Neumann Cos.

We Energies will drop a proposed charge for customers installing their own solar energy panels after reaching a settlement with Madison-based nonprofit Renew Wisconsin.

The utility, a subsidiary of Milwaukee-based WEC Energy Group, had proposed a $3.53 per month per kilowatt charge for residential customers with their own solar generation as part of its pending rate case. The company said the charge would allow it to recover certain fixed costs that customers avoid by generating their own energy. A typical customer would pay $15 per month.

Critics argued the charge would cut into the potential savings people would see from installing solar. The company proposed a similar charge as part of its 2015 rate case with the Public Service Commission, but the approach was ultimately rejected by a circuit court judge.

“At a time when citizens and businesses across the country are dramatically increasing their reliance on solar power and renewable energy, allowing a utility to discourage solar is the wrong direction for Wisconsin,” Tyler Huebner, executive director of Renew Wisconsin, wrote in a May 23 blog post on the organization’s website.

The agreement reached by Renew and We Energies calls for the utility to drop the fixed-rate recovery charge while Renew will support “an upcoming We Energies utility-scale solar project.” The utility did not provide any details on the future project.

The two parties also agreed to engage in good-faith discussions for at least two years “with the goal of finding potential areas of agreement on renewable energy and distributed generation as We Energies continues the transition to a clean energy future.”

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Arthur Thomas
Arthur covers manufacturing for BizTimes. He previously was managing editor at The Waukesha Freeman. He is a graduate of Carroll University and did graduate coursework at Marquette. A native of southeastern Wisconsin, he is also a nationally certified gymnastics judge and enjoys golf on the weekends.