In another victory for the regional solar industry Wisconsin’ Dane County Circuit Court Judge Peter Anderson on Friday (Oct. 30) struck down charges that We Energies, a Wisconsin utility, wanted impose on solar users. The action follows similar moves in other states where utilities have tried to impose—to varying degrees of success—to impose fees on customers with solar power.
Most of these fees are decided by the state’s utility commission, as was the fee in Wisconsin. We Energies wanted to levy a monthly fee of $3.79 per kilowatt of solar power installed on its customers with solar power. For residents that would amount to roughly $19 per month.
What will not go forward for now is a $3.79 per kilowatt monthly charge for solar customers. “For a typical 5 kilowatt solar installation on a home, that would have amounted to about $19 a month, or $227 per year, and a 27 percent reduction in energy bill savings,” said Renew Wisconsin. “Customers using biogas or hydropower would have faced a higher fee, $8.60 per kilowatt of power capacity.”
Renew Wisconsin and The Alliance for Solar Choice (TASC) filed the appeal. “This is a critical victory for Wisconsin electricity customers that sends a signal to utilities everywhere trying to stop solar competition. After three years of constant attacks from monopoly utilities, not a single state has stopped rooftop solar,” said TASC spokesperson Amy Heart.
“The judge today determined that there was not sufficient evidence to support the decision made by the Public Service Commission, and ruled that he is vacating these fees,” said Renew Wisconsin Executive Director Tyler Huebner. TASC and Renew argued that the commission didn’t require an independent study of the costs and benefits of solar. As such, in its ruling the court found that there wasn’t enough evidence to support the commission’s decision to impose the fees.
TASC is active in other states where utilities are trying to push back against rooftop solar. For instance, it recently filed a suit in Hawaii in opposition to a similar utility commission decision. “Hawaii will be reversed for the same reason that Wisconsin was reversed today – trying to bail out utilities from rooftop solar competition without conducting a study of the costs and benefits of solar,” Heart said.Tweet