Filtered by tag: Newsletter Remove Filter

HEATING BILLS COULD JUMP AS MUCH AS 54 PERCENT THIS WINTER

With prices surging worldwide for heating oil, natural gas and other fuels, the U.S. government said it expects households to see their heating bills jump as much as fifty-four percent compared to last winter. Nearly half the homes in the U.S. use natural gas for heat, and they could pay an average $746 this winter, thirty percent more than a year ago. Those in the Midwest could get particularly pinched, with bills up an estimated forty-nine percent and this could be the most expensive winter for natural-gas heated homes since 2008-09, according to the forecast by the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

The federal estimate follows a forecast issued by the state’s largest utility, We Energies. That analysis assumes “average” winter weather compared with the federal forecast which says the winter will be slightly colder than normal. That analysis done by We Energies predicts the typical residential customer will pay $25 more a month this winter compared to last year, assuming an average winter weather. That would increase the typical residential customer’s monthly bill about thirty percent from $80 last winter to around $105.

JUDGE PAUSES CONSTRUCTION OF CARDINAL-HICKORY CREEK POWER LINE

A county judge has agreed to temporarily halt construction of a power line through southwest Wisconsin, provided opponents of the project can come up with millions of dollars to cover potential costs of a delay. Utilities had planned to begin building the $492 million Cardinal-Hickory Creek transmission line between Middleton and Dubuque, Iowa, on October 25, according to court documents.

Judge Jacob Frost granted a request Monday for an injunction to put the project on hold while the courts consider challenges to its permit, agreeing that clearing land would result in damage that could not be easily repaired if the line is ultimately stopped.

Read More

DNR SAYS WISCONSIN’S AIR QUALITY CONTINUES TO IMPROVE

Wisconsin residents are breathing cleaner air than they were 20 years ago according to a new DNR report. The report covered the state’s air quality over the last two decades. According to the annual report, concentrations of most pollutants regulated under the Clean Air Act have been decreasing in all regions of the state.

Experts said Wisconsin continues to meet federal standards for particulate matter, nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide and lead, meaning it’s either at or below the level of air pollutants that should not be exceeded during a specified time. Some may wonder how air quality can continue to improve when there have been multiple wildfires around the country and in neighboring Minnesota. Experts said it’s because the report has data trends through 2020, and this year’s wildfires are not factored in.

Read More

XCEL ENERGY TO INCREASE WATER LEVEL IN CHIPPEWA FLOWAGE

A habitat-based drawdown conducted six of the last eight years, aimed at managing aquatic vegetation and improving fishery habitat will not occur this fall on the Chippewa Flowage. Local residents, property owners and users of the flowage will notice a more historical operation, where the reservoir level increases throughout the fall until freeze-up and then the water level will drop gradually throughout the winter.

ROOFTOP SOLAR COULD MEET 2/3 OF WISCONSIN’S ELECTRICITY NEEDS

A new study done for the Wisconsin Public Service Commission predicts that although solar could meet two-third of the state’s electric needs, fewer than two percent of those panels are likely to be installed under current market conditions. That’s because many people can’t afford the upfront costs of solar panels and lack financing options or don’t control their roofs — either because they rent or live in multifamily housing, according to the report. The study by the consulting firm Cadmus is designed to inform how regulators determine what utilities allow their customers to do and how they compensate them for excess electricity as well as how to allocate resources within the state’s $100 million energy-saving program.

PARIS SOLAR FARM CONSTRUCTION UNDERWAY

Construction of one of the largest solar farms in the state of Wisconsin has begun in Paris Township, Wisconsin, with the utility-grade project expected to begin generating power by early spring or summer of 2023. Paris Solar Energy Center LLC, a subsidiary of Chicago-based power generation company Invenergy, has begun groundwork to prepare 1,400 acres of farmland for solar arrays. The 200 megawatt system will generate enough electricity to power 60,000 homes annually.

WE ENERGIES JOINS EFFORT TO EXPAND ELECTRIC VEHICLE CHARGING

We Energies is joining utility companies across the Midwest to expand electric vehicle (EV) charging options for drivers. The company has signed on to a multi-state effort to build and grow EV infrastructure. As part of the collaboration, We Energies parent company WEC Energy Group has pledged to expand the EV charging network within the service territories of its electric utilities — We Energies, Wisconsin Public Service (WPS) and Upper Michigan Energy Resources. WEC Energy Group joins 12 other utilities in a unified effort to make EV charging convenient and widely available throughout the Midwest.

LADIES AND GENTLEMAN, CHILDREN OF ALL AGES

It was such a delight to see so many of you in person at our 2021 Annual Meeting of Members in Baraboo, WI! Held at the Baraboo Arts, Banquet, and Convention Center, a historic Circus World building located across the street from the Circus World Museums, this year’s attendees traveled in time from the history which surrounded them to the future which is being aggressively pursued by Wisconsin utilities.

WUI Executive Director, James Buchen, and Chairman of the Board, Roger Cole, opened the Annual meeting with a look back at this past year and a look forward to the work and issues in the coming year. The Treasurer’s report, presented by director Charles Clarke, confirmed that though the past year was a challenge as the pandemic pushed our outreach to membership through virtual meetings and mailed literature, financially we stayed within our budget and, in some areas, cut costs.

Read More

SB490: CONTACT YOUR LEGISLATOR!

At the 2021 Annual Membership meeting members heard from Kristin Gilkes, Executive Director of the Customers First Coalition. Kristin spoke to the members about Senate Bill 490

Gilkes explained that the bill would authorize community solar programs that could be developed outside of the normal scheme of utility regulation. This would disadvantage the non-participating utility customers who would see their utility bills increase to subsidize those who participate in this unregulated program. She noted that “our neighbors in Minnesota are currently experiencing this preventable disparity.”

Read More

REGULATORS APPROVE DODGE COUNTY SOLAR FARM

Wisconsin regulators have approved a Dodge County solar energy project over the objections of some area residents and two neighboring municipalities.
The Public Service Commission has voted unanimously to authorize construction of the 100-megawatt Springfield Solar Farm, a decision that highlights the growing tensions around land use as Wisconsin phases out fossil fuels. The state’s major utilities are pursuing plans to invest billions of dollars in clean energy generation. Since 2019, the PSC has approved 10 utility-scale solar projects with a cumulative footprint of more than 13,000 acres, which amounts to a little less than 0.1% of the state’s farmland.

XCEL ENERGY NAMES BOB FRENZEL NEW CEO

Xcel Energy has named Bob Frenzel President and CEO of the company. Ben Fowke, the current Chairman will remain at Xcel Energy as Executive Chairman of the Board of Directors. Tim O’Connor was also named Executive Vice-President and Chief Operations Officer.

“I am humbled and honored today to take over as CEO of Xcel Energy. It’s been a privilege to work alongside Ben for the last five years. I am grateful for his leadership, vision and careful stewardship of this great company. This is an exciting time to be in the energy industry, and I look forward to leading us into the future with a focus on our strategic priorities, including being an agile and innovative company and our commitment to elevating the customer experience,” according to Frenzel.

Read More

COMPETITOR ALLOWED TO JOIN CASE IN SALE OF KEWAUNEE NUKE PLANT

A demolition contractor who says it could save Wisconsin utility customers hundreds of millions of dollars will be allowed to participate in a review of plans to sell one of the state’s two nuclear power plants.

Dominion Energy is seeking regulatory approval to sell the Kewaunee Power Station to EnergySolutions, a Utah company that specializes in nuclear waste disposal and decommissioning. The sale price has not been publicly disclosed, but according to applications filed with regulators, EnergySolutions would assume ownership of the plant and about $780 million set aside to cover the cost of decommissioning, estimated at nearly $724 million. But NorthStar Group Services of New York says it could do the job for no more than $550 million, returning any remaining money to ratepayers.

GRANT COUNTY SOLAR PROJECT OFFICIALLY TRANSITIONS TO ALLIANT ENERGY

Ownership of the 200-megawatt Grant County Solar Project, located in the Town of Potosi within Grant County, is officially transitioning from a subsidiary of NextEra Energy Resources, LLC to Alliant Energy. This milestone follows recent approval from the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (PSCW) on Alliant Energy’s filing for 675 megawatts of solar.

MGE ENERGY: NEWS

REDUCES FLAT CHARGES AS PART OF SETTLEMENT
Madison Gas and Electric has agreed to reduce the flat monthly fees charged to all electricity customers. Those customers will now pay slightly more for the electricity they actually use, according to an agreement filed in early September that sets rates for the next two years.

MGE agreed to trim the monthly residential customer service fee by $2 in each of the next two years, bringing it to $15 in 2023. That’s the lowest it’s been since 2014, when regulators approved an 82% increase.

Read More

ALLIANT ENERGY NAMED A TOP UTILITY IN ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

For the third year in a row, Alliant Energy has been named on Site Selection magazine’s Top Utility in Economic Development list. The annual list recognizes the company for its contributions to community development and job creation.

In its September issue, Site Selection credits Alliant Energy’s economic development team, in collaboration with local, regional and state partners in Iowa and Wisconsin, for delivering more than $906 million in new capital investment and more than 2,200 new jobs in 2020. Alliant Energy is one of 20 companies nationally named to the list and the only one in Iowa. In all, there are 3,300 utility companies, including 900 electric cooperatives, in the United States.

XCEL PREPARES TO RAISE RATES

Xcel Energy is preparing to raise electricity and natural gas rates for its Wisconsin customers during the next two years. Increases planned in 2022 and 2023 are on the path to approval later this year so Xcel can pay for a variety of projects, including new solar power arrays and wind farms.

As a result of the proposed increases, the average residential customer will see monthly electric bills increase by $5.50 in 2022 and then another $4.25 in 2023, according to Xcel. Average household natural gas customers will see $4.65 more on their monthly bills in 2022 and then another $1.20 in 2023. If the state Public Service Commission approves the proposed rates, it will be the first increases Xcel customers have had in four years.

MAJOR CHANGES AT WE ENERGIES WITH OAK CREEK COAL PLANT SHUTDOWN

When We Energies retires its oldest coal-fired Oak Creek power plants, the company will eliminate 150 or more positions and save about $35 million per year while beginning to analyze natural gas as a possible future energy source for its remaining coal-fired Power the Future plants.

WEC ENERGY GROUP TO ACQUIRE NINETY PERCENT OF SAPPHIRE SKY WIND ENERGY CENTER

WEC Energy Group has announced that the company has agreed to acquire a ninety percent ownership interest in the Sapphire Sky Wind Energy Center. Located in McLean County, Illinois, the project is being developed by Invenergy — a leading global developer and operator of sustainable energy solutions. The Sapphire Sky site will consist of 64 wind turbines with a combined capacity of 250 megawatts. Commercial operation is expected by the end of 2022. Sapphire Sky will generate renewable energy that will be sold under a long-term power purchase agreement with a Fortune 100 global, high-tech company.

WEC Energy Group’s investment is expected to total $412 million for the 90% ownership interest. With this project, the company’s Infrastructure segment has planned investments in eight major wind farms totaling more than 1.5 gigawatts of capacity.

REGULATORS REJECT CLAIMS TRANSMISSION LINE REVIEW WAS TAINTED

State regulators deny they were tainted or biased in their decision to approve a controversial transmission line nearly two years ago. Members of the Public Service Commission have defended their review of the Cardinal-Hickory Creek transmission line as the project’s owners are asking them to revoke that decision and file a new application. The  request follows the discovery of communications between officials linked to companies building the $492 million transmission line and former commissioner Mike Huebsch.

American Transmission Company, ITC Midwest and Dairyland Power Cooperative asked the PSC to file a new application. PSC Chair Rebecca Cameron Valcq spoke strongly against rescinding the order. She rejected claims from project opponents that she and Commissioner Ellen Nowak were tainted in their decision.

XCEL PLANS TO ROLL OUT 10,000 MW OF RENEWABLE ENERGY BY 2030

Xcel Energy is pushing ahead with plans to add 10,000 megawatts of renewable energy generation in Minnesota and Colorado, the utility said during an earnings call with investors. The company plans to continue to advance Xcel’s transition away from fossil-fuel fired plants to renewable sources of energy, having slashed carbon emissions by fifty-one percent in2020 compared to 2005 levels.