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Solar energy is taking a significant step forward as Xcel
Energy, the nation’s leading utility provider of wind
energy, has announced plans to create Wisconsin’s largest
community solar garden program. As part of Solar*Connect
Community, Xcel Energy plans to purchase up to three
megawatts of electricity from community solar arrays, the
first two megawatts of which are planned for Eau Claire and
La Crosse counties.

Xcel Energy Works to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Xcel Energy is working hard to reduce carbon dioxide
emissions and is now the first U.S. utility to verify and
register all of its greenhouse gas emissions data with
The Climate Registry for seven consecutive years. The
company’s emissions reporting validates Xcel Energy’s
more than 20 percent reduction in carbon dioxide
emissions in the last decade.

“Xcel Energy pledged to begin reducing emissions in 2005,
well before many other utilities in the country. Setting a
standard to accurately measure these emissions was the
first step in fulfilling our commitment,” said Frank Prager,
Vice President, policy and federal affairs for Xcel Energy. “As
a founding member of The Climate Registry, we contributed
significant expertise and helped develop the protocol for
counting emissions in the electric power sector which
ultimately helped us verify that we are meeting our goals.”
Xcel Energy achieved Climate Registered™ status by
successfully measuring and reporting the company’s
emissions from 2005 to 2011. The scope includes both
direct and indirect greenhouse gas emissions associated
with providing utility energy service as well as emissions
that are considered optional to report under TCR’s best-
in-class Electric Power Sector Protocol.

In addition to TCR, Xcel Energy reports its emissions to
local, state and federal entities and provides the information
publicly in the Carbon Disclosure Project and the company’s
annual Corporate Responsibility Report. Xcel Energy is on
track to achieve a 30 percent reduction in carbon dioxide
company-wide by 2020 from 2005 levels.  The company’s
clean energy strategy includes increasing the use of
renewable energy and energy efficiency programs as well
as modernizing and retiring plants.

Xcel Energy Named No. 1 Wind Provider for 11th Consecutive Year

For the 11th consecutive year, Xcel Energy has been named the
country’s top utility wind energy provider by the American Wind
Energy Association, a national trade association. For more than a
decade, Xcel Energy has led the nation in providing wind energy
to its customers.

“Xcel Energy is proud to have grown the use of clean, emissions-
free wind energy at a reasonable cost for customers. Our wind
portfolio is second to none,” according to Ben Fowke, Chairman,
President and CEO of Xcel Energy.

In 2014, wind energy made up about 16 percent of the
company’s energy supply. Currently, Xcel Energy has 5,794
megawatts of wind power in its portfolio, enough to meet the
energy needs of nearly 2.9 million homes. According to a new
AWEA report, Xcel Energy is the first US. utility to exceed
5,000 megawatts of wind.  Only nine countries in the world,
in addition to the states of Texas, Iowa and California, have
more than 5,000 megawatts of wind capacity.

Xcel Energy Proposes Wisconsin’s Largest Community Solar Program

Thousands of Xcel Energy customers in western and northern
Wisconsin could now have a choice for accessing locally sourced
solar energy through a program proposed to the Public Service
Commission of Wisconsin. If approved, Solar*Connect Community
would become the largest community solar energy program in
Wisconsin. Under the program, Xcel Energy would purchase up to
three megawatts (3,000 kilowatts) of electricity from local
community solar arrays in the company’s service area in western
and northern Wisconsin. Customers would in turn subscribe for
capacity to meet their desired solar energy needs and receive a
monthly credit for their subscription.
“Our customers are increasingly interested in solar energy and
in helping support projects right here in Wisconsin,” said Mark
Stoering, President, NSP-Wisconsin, an Xcel Energy company.
“Solar*Connect Community gives all of our customers an option
to access locally sourced solar using the most advanced and
efficient technologies available,” he said.

Wisconsin Governor Includes Windmill Study in Budget

Governor Scott Walker has included $250,000 in his
2015-2017 State Budget to study health issues related to
wind energy systems. In the past, the Wisconsin Wind
Siting Council, an advisory group to the state’s Public
Service Commission, has reported that some individuals
residing in close proximity to wind turbines perceive
audible noise and find it annoying.

Rooftop solar companies profit from your loss



Solar panels are installed on a house in Ixonia in this Wisconsin Journal Sentinel file photo.


Journal Sentinel Files

By Bob Seitz

Nov. 6, 2014 7:07 p.m.

I have great respect for former state Rep. Mark Honadel and the service he has provided his community and the state. I am proud to call him a friend. So, when I saw the questions he raised in a recent op-ed, I thought they deserved a straightforward answer.

I can understand the confusion over the rate fairness proposals from Wisconsin utilities. The rooftop solar industry has spent big money trying to make someone else the enemy so it can keep profiting from freeloading on the electric system.

The insidious part of the campaign from the rooftop solar industry is that it attempts to motivate those least able to pay their electric bills to fight for the most regressive subsidy of the wealthy that I am aware of.

Make no mistake, the last thing the rooftop solar industry nationwide wants is a level playing field and free competition. Its profits come from selling generally well-off customers on the benefit of leaving someone else holding the bag for its costs. If you aren’t among the few who can afford to buy its product, you are among the many who pay.

In simple terms, here’s how it works. Most of your electric bill — roughly 75% — goes to cover the cost of getting the energy to your home and ensuring reliable energy is available to every customer 24/7. This includes the cost of the transmission lines on the huge poles and towers that move energy to the area, the distribution lines that carry it to your house, the line workers who maintain and restore power, the power plants, the substations and other workers and assets that cost money whether or not an individual is buying electricity. These “fixed costs” are the cost of having electricity available whenever we need it.

The “variable costs” are the costs related directly to your actual electric consumption. Fuel is the largest variable cost.

Today in Wisconsin, the vast majority of your bill is based on usage. This was fine when people purchased all of their power because everyone shared in paying for the fixed costs of the system.

Now, people who own a house that can accommodate a rooftop solar panel and have the extra money to install one can balance the electricity they buy when they need it against the energy they sell when they have too much. They still rely on the utility to have power ready whenever they need it and expect their utility to buy their extra electricity through those same lines whenever they have it, but they pay little toward the fixed cost of the system.

If wealthy customers can afford to get out of paying their true cost, who pays? You and I pay their bill, and the rooftop solar company uses that subsidy to increase its profits.

The neighbor who can afford the panels gets a lower bill, the rooftop solar company gets subsidized profits and you get stuck with the bill.

That’s why the rate fairness plans put forward by We Energies and other Wisconsin utilities make sense. If everyone pays his or her fair share of the fixed cost of having electricity available when needed, no one will be stuck with someone else’s bill. By lowering the variable rate for the electricity you use to match the increase in the fixed charge, the overall charge to consumers is not increased by these fairness plans. What does change is that the rooftop solar customers will have to pay for their portion of the cost of having electric service available to them instead of passing that cost on to you.

If the rooftop solar industry needs these subsidies to sell its product, it should be transparent about the subsidy it is seeking and try to openly increase it to increase the industry’s sales. The industry should try to make the case to taxpayers that high-income homeowners need greater government subsidy so it can sell more units, instead of hiding the subsidy that delivers its profits on the electric bills of others.

Bob Seitz is executive director of Wisconsin Utility Investors Inc.

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