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Dear Wisconsin Legislator 

Runaway Capital Utility Spending 1998-Present
A Simple Way to Better Alternatives

        Prior to 1998, every time a Wisconsin utility wanted to build a new a power plant or expansion transmission line, utilities were required to prove to Wisconsin electric customers that their dollars would not be better spent on energy efficiency and local renewable power. In 1998, the PSC reasoned the process of producing head to head comparisons of costs and benefits for electric customers and decision makers to examine could be by-passed.

        Seventeen years later, one can examine the official U.S. Department of Energy records for Wisconsin and observe how a modest investment in energy efficiency would have saved billions in lieu of unnecessary utility expansion. 

        From 1998 to 2015, our actual requirements for electricity grew a record low 11% while the PSC permitted utilities to increase available power generation a record 42%-- more than twice the reserve amount utilities have traditionally considered sufficient. Data

        Had Wisconsin been directed - by spending analysis - to make small boosts in energy efficiency (a path many states chose) our use today could be the same as it was in 1998. This reduction would have saved 1.6 years of electricity and associated CO2 emissions. At documented Focus on Energy program benefit rates, the alternative $870 million over 17 years in rebate pools would have delivered more than $3 billion in energy savings and more than $10 billion in economic job creation. Electricity rates would have risen minimally.  Data

        The course Wisconsin took had very different impacts. Borrowing words from the PSC, Wisconsin’s “continuing spending cycle” on power plants and expansion transmission lines pushed rates up 25 percentage points compared to the national average and also doubled mandatory facility fees penalizing low income households and families who practice conservation. Data

       Electric customers have started paying off billions in debt for seven high capacity “expansion” transmission lines that, clearly, did not lower rates and emissions as builders promised. And, as too few policy makers understand, the resulting “system charges” for the un-needed generation and transmission capital dramatically lower the price utilities pay for locally-produced power. These avoidable, negative impacts from long-term, high interest, payments for utility capital will burden our energy economy for decades adding additional challenges for Wisconsin businesses.

 A Simple Measure to Restore Cost-Benefit Analysis

        Fortunately, common sense analysis can be restored with a corrective measure the PSC can take. Eight Wisconsin legislators have collaborated with five municipal governments and drafted precise language to improve the agency’s application requirements for high-capacity transmission lines to ensure that applicants and PSC staff conduct the same type of cost-benefit analysis done before 1998.

        More than twenty of your constituents have co-signed this letter urging you to join lawmakers submitting their personal letters to the PSC commissioners in time to affect the potential PSC review of yet another high capacity transmission proposal, Cardinal Hickory Creek, potentially stretching from Madison to Dubuque, Iowa.

        Wisconsin’s share of the long-term debt for regional transmission expansion projects is already averaging more than $400 million per year—eight times the amount we currently invest in residential energy efficiency. Underscoring the need to act now regional utilities are eyeing as many as five more high capacity lines for western and northern Wisconsin.

        Electricity use is flat, we have a robust electrical system, there is over-abundance of power in all states and Wisconsin electric customers truly deserve results for the disproportionate expense we assume. Nationally and here in Wisconsin, community solar facilities are being created to remove load from transmission substations significantly prolonging their lifespans and avoiding very costly, long-term capital debt.  Facilities that are or will become suitable for community solar support exist in communities of all sizes across our state. Your request to the PSC emphasizes “right-sizing” of our electrical needs to save, rather than add billions in coming decades. It is clearly time to renew cost-benefit analysis of all energy investment options.

        Thank you for taking time to add your personal reasons in support of the specified improvements to the PSC’s application requirements. We look forward to tracking progress with you.

        Undersigned constitutes / voting addresses. 

        Associated links:
        Sen. Erpenbach/ Rep. Considine’s joint Letter to PSC:
        Sen. Shilling letter to PSC  (samples)
        120 WI Municipal Resolutions asking For Cost-Benefit Analysis
        Dane County Resolution Asking For Cost-Benefit Analysis of
             Non-Transmission Alternatives

Citizens Climate Lobby Governing Board Chair ROSS ASTORIA


Thursday, July 27, 2017, 7pm
Report on NY Reforming Energy Vision 
Developments & Discussion


        We are happy to announce that Professor Ross Astoria will be making a presentation via conference call and shared materials concerning his tracking of developments in the New York Reforming Energy Vision (REV) initiative.  In 2014, the NY PSC ordered that $200 million be invested in local efficiency, load management, solar and micro-grid solutions to eliminate the need for a $1 billion transmission upgrade.  The emphasis on end-user and community investments is ripe for development considering the increasing number of applicable, older transmission facilities across Wisconsin and the U.S.  A professor of political science and law at the University of Wisconsin-Racine Kenosha, Ross is also at work developing n a handbook on energy activism . He is the group leader for the CCL’s Racine-Kenosha chapter, and liaison to the office of Speaker of the House Paul Ryan.

       Meeting business to include organizing energy efficiency and solar outreach efforts in collaboration with the  Leg-Up Loan Program, scheduling future meetings in the Cardinal Hickory Creek impact area and reports. 

        Join us, in-person at 6 pm at Organic Valley Headquarters, One Organic Way, La Farge, WI 54639 [directions] or email to receive phone conference and presentation materials.  



Driftless Area Land Conservancy 

Saturday, July the 15,  3:30 - 6:30 pm
White Oak Savannah
4352 State Road 23  Dodgeville, WI

        Join us for  food, information, music and fun as we learn about ways to help save electric customer dollars, CO2 emissions and the priceless beauty of and  the Driftless landscape. Event sponsored by the Driftless Area Land Conservancy. More info.  



Conservation & Efficiency
Contest  Launched

Five  $100 Prize Categories

        According to 2014 World Energy Council data, the CO2 footprints of the industrial and commercial sectors in the U.S. are on par with other countries. Our world-leading per capita CO2 binge rests squarely on us, the residential sector. 

        SOUL’s Wisconsin Meter Watch has proven that average households can cut their CO2 footprints 30% using conservation tips and no more than $50 in minor improvements. This change is equivalent to installing cutting CO2 emissions equivalent to installing 6-8 solar panels. Read more.

        Contest categories for 2017-2018 Wisconsin Meter Watch Participants who start use of tracking sheet by October 1, 2017:

  • Improve your skills and achieve the biggest percentage reduction in electricity use for the month of May 2018 compared to May 2017 of all participating WI Meter Watch trackers.
  • Achieve the largest kWh reduction in electricity use for the month of May, 2018 compared to May, 2017 of all participating trackers.
  • Share a success story about teaching someone significantly younger or older than you about ways to conserve electricity.
  • By October 1,2017 enlist another WI household with high electricity use based on the May 2017 kWh consumption to join the WI Meter Watch and track their use for at least 6, continuous months. The person who enlists the qualifying house with the highest May 2017 usage wins. 
  • Discover and share an innovative, effective, no-cost electricity saving trick that never occurred to you before.






Co-Sign letter to your
State Lawmakers

Ask your state legislators to join Rep. Dave Considine, Sen. Jon Erpenbach, Sen. Jennifer Shllling, Rep. Sondy Pope  and others in urging the Public Service Commission of WI to require transmission developers and subsequent;y PSC staff to provide compre-hensive cost-benefit analysis of non-transmission alternatives in the application process. Click here to co-sign a letter like letter in this newsletter.
Are You Exploiting the Powers of your Household?

Been a while since you sized up your household energy use?  Discover clever, low-cost ways to become a 21st Century Load Defector to save money, slash emissions and live with cleaner conscience. 

 If your household electric bill is greater than 700 kilowatt hours, per month, it's likely you can make significant improvements. Learn more about the energy and emission savings tips and email SOUL for your personalized, online tracking sheet to record your monthly progress. See CONTEST  tor households tracking use frm  May 2017 to May 2018. Must sign-up and start tracking by October 1, 2017.   P
hoto credit: The Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies and the Wisconsin Historical Society)

Utilities Pursue Fleet of Cost-Masked Transmission Expansions

As applications for high-capacity transmission proposals are denied or stall out across the land, midwest, for-profit utilities continue to probe chances for dozens of new transmission line additions across North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Iowa.Illinois, Arkansas, Missouri, Louisiana and Texas,  More than 65 new projects. many hopeful of acquiring regional cost-sharing status have been received through MISO's submission process as of March. Read more
20th Century Utility Assumptions Failing Ratepayers in 21st Century

Article by  David Roberts explaining causes for skyrocketing cost increases and unwitting liabilities utilities are bringing upon electric customers as they refuse to embrace cost-effective solutions. Companion article  by Roberts' provides an overview of New York State's Reforming the Energy Vision (REV) program in which the NY PSC ordered utilities to apply $200,000 towards energy efficiency, local power and load management instead of spending $1 billion upgrading an older substation. See also Sept 2016 progress report on the initiative.


"Choosing the Electric Avenue"


Mon., June 10, 12 Noon

John Farrell, director of the Energy Democracy Initiative at the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, will be Patty Peltekos' guest on a “A Public Affair” talking about ILSR’s recent report “Choosing the Electric Avenue—Unlocking Savings, Emissions Reductions, and Community Benefits of Electric Vehicles.” and how communities are coming up with their own ways to meet the goals of the Paris Climate Accord.  Call-in questions or comments at 608-256-2001; Twitter: @WORTtalk; Facebook:; or email:  You can access the program in the archive for one week at
LIFETIME MEMBERSHIP to support ratepayer energy investment priorities is only $5!  Membership numbers are especially important when SOUL intervenes in utility cases and seeks funding for engineers and other experts.  Consider two or more memberships for your family. Donations above the $5 fee are tax deductible. Join online here or mail a check to SOUL of Wisconsin, PO Box 146, La Farge, WI 54639 
Copyright © 2017 Wisconsin Energy Awareness Initiative, All rights reserved.

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