Madison, Wis. — Hundreds of members of Wisconsin’s unionized construction trades have submitted public comments opposing the Public Service Commission’s consideration of a policy that would allow third-party financing and ownership of renewables in Wisconsin, and would essentially lead to the deregulation of Wisconsin’s utilities.
“Third-party ownership will open Wisconsin to out-of-state companies that prioritize their profit margins over the safety and reliability of our power grid,” said Emily Pritzkow, Executive Director of the Wisconsin Building Trades Council, “We know that the business model for these types of developers primarily relies on lower-paid, lower-skilled labor. The result is a transient workforce, which has a negative impact on the construction industry, our local communities, and — when a project is not completed correctly — utility ratepayers.”
The comments put forward by members of Wisconsin’s building trades, submitted from all over the state, are more than double the number submitted by those supporting deregulation.
Workers employed by third-party solar developers — often labeled “solar installers” and hired on a temporary basis — do not participate in state or federally-registered apprenticeship programs that mandate rigorous safety training, including electrical safety. Furthermore, third-party ownership and financing would be especially harmful to low-income ratepayers, who lack the building ownership and/or financial resources to invest in private solar panels, and still must pay the fixed costs of distributing power and maintaining the rest of the state’s electrical grid.
“When solar projects are constructed at utility-scale with a skilled union workforce, the projects spur investments from local wages that are spent locally, making our communities stronger,” added Pritzkow, “Our members from across the state have spoken loud and clear. The PSC should reject these petitions and remain focused on supporting utility projects that create real and lasting economic benefits for Wisconsin and its workforce.”