Guest Blog: Net Metering and Wisconsin’s Clean Energy Future

WI Green Fire, September 27, 2023

Solar panels in Wisconsin. Credit: Mark Asplund
Solar panels in Wisconsin. Credit: Mark Asplund

The following blog post was written by Mark Asplund, a member of Wisconsin’s Green Fire’s Energy and Climate Change Work Group. Here, Mark describes two proposals currently under consideration by the Wisconsin Public Service Commission affecting net metering – a utility billing policy that supports customers with self-generating electricity sources like rooftop solar panels.

You can learn more about net metering in Wisconsin at RENEW Wisconsin’s website here.

There are currently two proposals before the Wisconsin Public Service Commission (PSC) that would limit consumers’ ability to invest in rooftop solar through net metering policies. According to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), net metering is a utility billing policy that “allows residential and commercial customers who generate their own electricity from solar power to sell the electricity they aren’t using back into the grid.” The proposals from Madison Gas and Electric (MGE) and Alliant Energy would drastically overhaul or eliminate net metering for new solar customers, creating barriers to Wisconsinites in achieving clean energy goals.

Net metering rates encourage distributive energy generation as a path to achieve Governor Evers’ goal of net zero carbon by 2050. Fair and economical net metering and buy back rates encourage expanding distributive generation of electricity and storage, ultimately leading to lower electric bills and cleaner production. According to RENEW Wisconsin, “Net metering empowers Wisconsinites to take control of their energy consumption, reduce their carbon footprint, and contribute to a cleaner, more sustainable future. It is the single most important policy enabling every Wisconsin home, farm, business, and institution to own solar.”

As a Wisconsin citizen and father, I am concerned by rapid climate change and global warming and how they will affect my children and grandchildren. I wanted to act towards a cleaner future, so I became involved with the energy systems process and invested in the conversion and technology to support green energy. The technology is rapidly improving and becoming more affordable, and I now have three solar arrays: a 7.5-kilowatt (Kw) system in Chippewa County, a 7 Kw array in Wausau, and a 20 Kw array with battery storage at my home by Norrie Lake.

Three energy systems for me and my family means I contract with three different power utilities for energy services.  All my systems utilize net metering. When I put in my first system, I had a very favorable net metering contract which encouraged more rooftop solar. However, high facility charges have been less encouraging. Alliant Energy’s net metering policy credits any excess electricity produced by my solar arrays to me at about 7 cents per kilowatt hour, which is less than 50% of retail value.

Net metering is an essential part of a resilient and diverse energy future for Wisconsin. If you are interested in learning more or submitting written comments to the PSC, visit RENEW Wisconsin’s page on net metering.  The comment period for the Alliant Energy proposal is open until October 4th.

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