We Energies Rate-Freeze Plan Wins Regulatory Approval

We Energies and Wisconsin Public Service Corp. won final state regulatory approval for a proposal to freeze business and residential rates for two years in what the company calls its response to complaints from industrial customers that electric rates in Wisconsin are too high.

The public utility companies owned by WEC Energy Group Inc. filed a proposed settlement in April to avoid the cost and effort of a full review by the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin.  At the time, the companies said 21 industrial customers signed statements backing the rate proposal.

The rate freeze adds two years to an existing two-year flatrate period that runs through 2017. The settlement also makes permanent cheaper wholesale rates that large industrial customers pay for expanded use of power from We Energies. The Public Service Commission has approved a draft order approving the company proposal for 2018 and 2019. The commission in August had voted to support the plan from the WEC Energy companies.

The PSC draft order determined that freezing We Energies base rates through 2019 was reasonable and in the public interest. The order also states that it’s reasonable to authorize We Energies to
extend and expand the market-based pricing for electric service at large commercial and industrial customers.

A WEC Energy spokeswoman said company executives are pleased with the commission’s action.

PSC Approves Brown County Bioenergy Project

The Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (PSC) has approved a conditional $15 million Focus on Energy grant to BC Organics, LLC, for an innovative bioenergy system in Brown County. The system will produce renewable natural gas from dairy farm manure and other waste. The project will reduce the need to landspread raw manure, protect sensitive groundwater and surface waters in northeastern Wisconsin and provide positive economic benefits to participating farms.

At the direction of Governor Walker, the PSC, Department of Natural Resources, and the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection collaborated to develop a request for proposals (RFP) on innovative anaerobic digester systems that could produce renewable energy, remove nutrients from manure, protect water quality, and reduce pathogens.

BC Organics was recommended unanimously by the evaluation team comprised of expert staff from the PSC, DNR, DATCP, UW-Madison and Focus on Energy. BC Organics must obtain all of the necessary state and local regulatory approvals before construction may begin and includes an odor control plan designed to minimize impacts on neighboring landowners.

The consortium consists of 24 members led by Wisconsin based Dynamic Concepts (Waukesha), along with WEC Energy Group (Milwaukee), US Biogas LLC (Plymouth), and BioStar  Organics, among other Wisconsin based firms.

The project’s proposed location is northeast of Holland, near Green Bay, and is co-located with a proposed landfill owned by Brown County.  It has commitments from nine Wisconsin farms with over 22,000 animal units, with the capability to expand to include additional farms in the future. The facility is expected to begin operations by January 1, 2019.

The project involves the construction of multiple anaerobic digesters with capability to produce renewable natural gas (RNG) from manure and food waste, and eventually landfill gas. The estimated energy output of 5.7 million therms is equivalent to the home heating needs for 7,600 Wisconsin homes. The RNG will be injected into the interstate natural gas pipeline system for use
as a heating and transportation fuel.

ROBERTS APPOINTED PSC COMMISSIONER

Gov. Scott Walker recently announced that Department of Financial Institutions (DFI) Secretary Lon Roberts will replace current Public Service Commissioner Phil Montgomery whose term on PSC ends next month. Montgomery had served 12 years in the Wisconsin Assembly before his six-year term on PSC.  Roberts, Montgomery’s replacement, was a partner and president at a law firm in Wausau and served as chair of the State of Wisconsin Investment Board before becoming DFI secretary in February 2016.

SETTLEMENT REACHED…

IN ALLIANT ENERGY’S RIVERSIDE ENERGY CENTER CASE

Alliant Energy’s plans to build a combined cycle natural gas-fueled generating facility near Beloit, WI, took a major
step forward as the company reached settlement with two key intervenors in the case, We Energies and Wisconsin
Public Service Corporation. The agreement creates mutual opportunities for the parties to invest in joint-ownership
generation projects and contemplates a joint-development agreement for renewable resources among other items.
Alliant Energy has filed the agreement on the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin’s (PSCW) website in docket no.
6680-CE-176.

“We’ve been able to work cooperatively with our neighboring utilities to find a solution that makes sense for energy
customers across Wisconsin,” said Patricia Kampling, Alliant Energy Chairman, President and CEO. “Along with
the modernized Riverside Energy Center, we believe this agreement will help control energy costs for Wisconsin
customers for years to come.”

Alliant Energy filed for regulatory approval of the proposed 650 megawatt natural gas-fueled plant with the PSCW in
May 2015. Technical hearings before the PSCW began December 21, 2015.

PSC Approves New Transmission Project and Rebuild


The Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (PSC) has approved a new electric reliability transmission line project near the Village of Eden, Wisconsin. At an open meeting, the commissioners agreed on the need for the Creekview Interconnection Project and approved the north route proposed by ATC in its application filed earlier this year.

“This 138,000-volt transmission line will support the low-voltage distribution system in the region by connecting to a new We Energies substation,” according to Barbara Mikolajczyk, ATC project manager.

The project was announced in Spring 2014 and includes a new We Energies substation, called Creekview, located on the north side of County Highway F, east of Greenway Road, and a new, 9-mile, 138-kV transmission line to provide service to the new substation.

The new transmission line will be co-located with an existing 345-kV line. The estimated project cost is $25 million to $26 million. A more refined cost estimate will be included in the PSC’s final order for the project, which is anticipated to be issued within the month. Construction is projected to begin in Fall 2016, with an in-service date of January 2018.

The PSC has also issued an order to rebuild a 14-mile, 138-kV transmission line in southeastern Wisconsin. The St. Martins-Edgewood-Mukwonago Rebuild Project runs from the St. Martins Substation in Franklin to the Edgewood Substation in Big Bend and continues on to the Mukwonago Substation in Mukwonago.

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