TUE AM News: Utilities running EV charging pilot programs; Evers says state could get up to $1.1B from feds for broadband

— Several utilities in Wisconsin are running pilot projects for electric vehicle charging infrastructure to gather data. 

Mark Bender, special counsel for the law firm Godfrey & Kahn in Madison, gave an overview of several of these projects yesterday during a webinar. He explained the state Public Service Commission in late 2020 laid out a framework for utilities to propose such pilot programs as part of an ongoing docket focused on EV policy and regulation.  

When that order came out, Xcel Energy had already been operating a pilot program with several options for various customers. For residential charging, the utility would install and own the EV charger in the home, with the customer paying on a time-of-day or time-of-use rate, Bender said. 

“Essentially your rate changes depending on the time of day and how much you’re charging,” he said. “This is aimed to get at balancing the grid, balancing energy production … charging gets a little bit cheaper at night, or a little bit cheaper in the early morning.” 

Along with a similar option for customers with other assets like a rooftop solar array, Xcel also has a commercial charging pilot program for fleet owners. 

“These are all aimed at figuring out what’s the best way for the utility to own infrastructure, how do we charge for it, how are customers using these,” he said. “So these are all pretty small programs — 15 to 50 either people, residents or businesses — so the utility can gather a lot of data and figure out how they’re going to go forward.” 

Meanwhile, Madison Gas & Electric also already had a residential EV charging pilot program that the company has moved into a permanent program. Bender explained it’s similar to Xcel’s program, as the utility owns and operates the charger and can change the rates that customers pay. 

MGE has also created a new pilot called the “Managed Rewards” program. The utility installs the charger and can then manage the customer’s charging through tracking technology in the charger and the customer’s vehicle, Bender said. Participating customers get gift card rewards each month, he added. 

And MGE has proposed a charging program for apartments, multi-family housing units and workplaces, where the company sets up a charger in a parking lot and “then they can figure out how best to recoup” the cost of operating it, according to Bender. 

“Usually what will happen is the customer will sign up with an account … charge their vehicle, pay at the charger, and then the building owner or the employer then recoups costs from that account and pays the energy cost to the utility,” he said. “So a pretty interesting program. We’ll see how that works out.” 

Watch the full webinar here: https://wiseye.org/2022/12/12/autonomous-and-electric-vehicle-legal-landscape-in-wisconsin/ 

— Gov. Tony Evers announced Wisconsin could see as much as $1.1 billion from the federal government to expand high-speed broadband internet access.

Evers at a Milwaukee news conference yesterday said the state is set to receive nearly $5 million in federal funds as part of the broadband expansion planning process. Once the planning process is complete, Wisconsin could see $700 million to $1.1 billion from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment Program to implement the plan.

“The fact of the matter is high-speed internet is no longer a luxury,” Evers said. “It’s a necessity of how we live, work, learn in the 21st century, and we’re going to keep leveraging state and federal resources until folks in every corner of our state have access.”

The Public Service Commission is also slated to receive $952,197 to create a five-year state digital equity plan. The money comes from the federal government’s Digital Equity Act, which is meant to help communities access and use affordable, reliable broadband.

“We know digital divides are holding our communities back in more ways than one,” he said. “If we want every Wisconsinite to be connected, we have to break down barriers in access and affordability.”

A PSC spokesperson told WisPolitics.com the commission does not have an estimate for how much it would cost to provide broadband to everyone in the state who does not have access right now.

See Evers’ release:

— Darin Von Ruden has been re-elected president of the Wisconsin Farmers Union at the group’s 92nd annual State Convention. 

Ruden, a dairy farmer in Westby, says he wants to see “systemic changes” included in the next federal farm bill to benefit small and medium farms. 

“Farmers Union is positioned to make a real difference and bring power back to family farmers and small businesses,” he said in a release. “We must persevere, because we know the system we’re currently in is not structured to help the small and medium-sized farmer.” 

See the release: https://www.wisbusiness.com/2022/wisconsin-farmers-union-von-ruden-re-elected-wfu-president/ 

— Marti Wronski, the newly appointed COO of the Milwaukee Brewers, is the only woman to currently hold the title across all of Major League Baseball and is the highest-ranking female executive for the Brewers since Wendy Selig-Prieb.

“I think we can look at this two ways,” Wronski said on WISN’s “UpFront,” which is produced in partnership with WisPolitics.com. “We can focus on that piece and the lack of progress or the numbers. They seem small, they are small. Or we can take a look at what we’re seeing in pro sports and across sports in general in terms of women that are entering the career path, that are thinking of sports as something where they can fit it.”

Wronski is entering her 20th year with the Brewers and was previously the team’s longtime general counsel while also in recent years overseeing the team’s HR and IT departments.

“The economy, COVID, you name it, it’s forcing all of us to look at our businesses in an interesting way and to sort of fill some gaps and make some changes that we might not have anticipated a few years ago,” Wronski said.

One of her top priorities as COO, Wronski said, is ensuring the team stays competitive across the league.

“I have every faith and every confidence that we can handle this without an issue,” Wronski said. “But ensuring that we are making sure we are on the cutting edge of everything that is coming next in these areas, that we’re not missing anything so we can continue to put the best show on for our fans, to be entertaining on the field and off.”

See more from the show: https://www.wisn.com/upfront 

— The Wisconsin Technology Council is taking applications for next year’s Wisconsin Governor’s Business Plan Contest through the end of January. 

This annual contest aims to foster entrepreneurship in the state with a focus on early-stage technology startups. It’s open to state residents aged 18 years and older, as well as teams from Wisconsin-based companies, schools and other organizations. School teams must include at one least adult member. 

Businesses and teams from outside the state can compete if they can show they intend to locate or expand the company in Wisconsin. 

Since it began in 2004, more than 4,450 entries have been received by the Tech Council and about $2.5 million in cash and services have been awarded. 

To enter, contestants must submit a 250-word abstract through the contest website. Those that advance beyond the initial round will build on their business plans though several stages. Contest categories include advanced manufacturing, business services, information technology and life sciences. 

See more contest details in the release: https://www.wispolitics.com/2022/wisconsin-technology-council-20th-annual-governors-business-plan-contest-open-for-2023-entries 

<br><b><i>Top headlines from the Health Care Report … </b></i> 

— Marshfield Clinic Health System has announced CEO Dr. Susan Turney will be stepping down next year as talks continue on a proposed merger with Essentia Health. 

And seven of the 10 UW-Madison research projects selected for Discovery to Product’s new PRIME grant program are developing health-related technologies or drugs. 

<i>For more of the most relevant news on COVID-19, reports on groundbreaking health research in Wisconsin, links to top stories and more, sign up today for the free daily Health Care Report from WisPolitics.com and WisBusiness.com.</i>

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<i>See these and other press releases: 

https://www.wisbusiness.com/press-releases/ </i>

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