Judge orders more work on PSC’s renewable energy decisions

A Dane County Circuit Court judge has ordered the Public Service Commission to do further fact-finding to support two of its decisions regarding how Wisconsin Public Service Corp. compensates small producers of renewable energy.

Judge Rhonda Lanford’s Feb. 5 rulings require the PSC to do additional fact finding for both decisions. But neither decision was changed by the rulings.

The lawsuit by RENEW Wisconsin involves two PSC decisions dealing with net metering, a policy through which customers receive credit for power they generate beyond what they use. Those customers can recoup an equal amount of power when they are producing less.

Those who do not qualify for net metering are instead paid directly for excess power they produce at below-retail rates, resulting in longer time periods to recoup investments, said Tyler Huebner, executive director of RENEW Wisconsin.

The first PSC decision covered under Lanford’s ruling allowed Wisconsin Public Service to restrict net-metering for new systems to 20 kilowatts from the previous 100 kilowatts. The second allowed WPS to continue using a 30-day netting period instead of an annual period. After 30 days, customers are paid 3 cents per kilowatt-hour of excess energy they produce, instead of that amount being reconciled annually. This, Huebner said, prevents small producers from banking excess power produced in summer for use in the winter.

A PSC brief cited in Lanford’s ruling states that WPS argued the pricing structure was needed in order to ensure WPS was reimbursed for fixed costs included in variable electricity rates and to avoid having other customers subsidize those who produce their own power.

PSC spokesman Nathan Conrad said the agency is reviewing the decision.

Read Lanford’s decision and order

Read a RENEW Wisconsin release on the ruling