Madison Gas & Electric is not the only Wisconsin utility company drawing fire from nationwide opponents for its rate proposals.

We Energies of Milwaukee, is proposing an even more aggressive plan, one “as drastic as any proposal nationally,” said Tyler Huebner, executive director of RENEW Wisconsin.

We Energies is asking for an increase in its fixed monthly charge, from $9 to $16 next year. That’s smaller than MGE’s request to up the basic monthly charge from $10.50 to $19.

But more dramatic are the Milwaukee utility’s proposals affecting customers with their own renewable power systems, Huebner said. We Energies is asking for a change in the credit that solar households get for the power they send to the grid. The utility wants to impose a new fee that will cost about $24 a month for the average 6-kilowatt solar system, he said.

Solar-equipped customers currently are credited about 14 cents per kilowatt hour; the new proposal calls for a buyback rate that would be “a more comparable market rate” of 3 to 5 cents per kilowatt hour, We Energies spokeswoman Cathy Schulze said.

“Customers with their own generation enjoy the same benefits from the reliable electricity grid but currently do not pay for their fair share of the grid costs. They are selling that power at a retail rate which is paid for by all of our other customers,” she said.

Huebner calls the plan punitive. “These proposals will very likely completely shut down the local clean energy marketplace in We Energies’ territory,” he said.

We Energies provides electricity to much of eastern Wisconsin, to as far west as eastern Dane County, as well as to part of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

Wisconsin Public Service Corp. (WPS), Green Bay, also is proposing a rate structure change that would raise the fixed monthly fee from the current $10 to about $25 in 2015.

WPS has said, though, that its actual expenses would translate to about $66 in fixed costs, said Steve Kihm, principal and chief economist for the Energy Center of Wisconsin. “There’s no promise they won’t ask for more, later,” he said.

Wisconsin Power & Light (WPL), the local subsidiary of Alliant Energy Corp. of Madison, is proposing a change in the buyback formula from customers with small generation systems of all types. It will impact “a handful of customers,” about .05 percent of them, spokeswoman Annemarie Newman said.

But WPL is not asking for a revised rate structure. “Alliant Energy is under a base rate freeze until 2017, so the fixed charges for our customers will not change during that time,” she said.


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