Wisconsin sees higher electrical rates than Midwest

Wisconsin’s electrical rates are in line with the national average, according to a new report from the state’s Public Service Commission.

And while rates are higher than the average for the Midwest, electric bills for the typical Wisconsin consumer are lower because they use less.

The PSC yesterday afternoon released a draft version of its biennial strategic energy assessment, called “Energy 2022.” The report found the state’s electricity rates last year were 10.97 cents per kilowatt hour, compared to the Midwest average of 9.58 cents per kilowatt hour.

But the average residential ratepayers had a monthly bill of $97.17, compared to the Midwest average of $105.01 and the national average of $118.32.

“Increases to customers’ bills can be mitigated to some extent with energy conservation and efficiency,” the PSC wrote in the report. “For example, energy efficiency and conservation programs such as the statewide Focus on Energy program have helped keep average Wisconsin residential usage flat over the last two decades.”

RENEW Wisconsin Executive Director Tyler Huebner said those findings show customers are trying to “find ways to save energy” because their rates are higher.

The higher electric rates can largely be attributed to utilities building more power plants and transmission facilities in the 1990s. Utilities “are now recovering associated construction costs” through increasing rates on customers, the PSC report noted. It also says federal regulations may be affecting rates, as well, though it’s unclear how much.

The uptick in utilities’ construction during the 1990s has also caused a surplus capacity in the state, which ensures Wisconsin has “an adequate and reliable electric supply.”

The report also found Wisconsin gets about 65 percent of its energy from coal. The second largest source is nuclear at 15 percent, which dropped 3 percentage points after the closing of the Kewaunee nuclear plant. Natural gas accounted for 12 percent, while renewables accounted for most of the rest.

The PSC is hearing public testimony on the draft report in May, and it’s taking public comments until June 22.

See the report

— By Polo Rocha,