Dear Editor: We Energies wants to raise its rates.
But Wisconsinites are already paying among the highest rates in the Midwest and have been for many years.
We Energies shareholders have been enjoying annual returns of 15% for the past five years. And former We Energies CEO Gale Klappa was being paid an annual salary of over $14 million. But We Energies wants to raise its rates.
We Energies continues to burn coal, the most costly fossil fuel. Instead of purchasing energy from the electricity grid and saving Wisconsin ratepayers a total of $75 million a year, We Energies wants to raise its rates. Instead of transitioning to clean, renewable energy which is now much less expensive than coal, We Energies wants to raise its rates.
Coal is also the dirtiest of the fossil fuels. Coal dust leads to respiratory illnesses such as asthma, bronchitis, emphysema and COPD, which especially affects children and the elderly. The American Lung Association consistently gives a failing grade to the air quality in Milwaukee, Racine and Kenosha counties. And the toxic residue which is expelled into Lake Michigan contains arsenic, lead and mercury, which are well-known carcinogens. Rather than transition to clean, renewable energy for the health of the people of southeast Wisconsin living near their coal plants, We Energies wants to raise its rates.
We Energies and its parent company WEC must stop burning coal. They know that the transition to clean, renewable energy is inevitable. Future profits and public health will compel them to do this. For now they remain determined to squeeze out every dollar of profit, and they ask the PSC for a rate hike to continue their costly and hazardous practices a little longer. But every day the people of southeast Wisconsin inhale the dirtiest air in the state. The rate hike request should not be granted. Indeed, companies that traffic in human health for short-term profit should be prosecuted, not rewarded.
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