TAX REFORM BILL – HOW WILL IT BENEFIT THE RATEPAYER?

The recently enacted Tax Reform Bill will, among other things, reduce the corporate income tax rate from a maximum of 35 percent to a flat rate of 21 percent for tax years beginning after 2017. On January 10, 2018 the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (PSC) issued a request that each utility provide comments on how it proposes to implement changes resulting from the Tax Reform Bill for the benefit of ratepayers. The PSC estimates that the utilities will over collect from customers between $190 and $198 million, because the rates customers are currently paying are based on the revenue requirement at the higher tax rate. All of the Wisconsin utilities, along with consumer groups have submitted initial comments. The comments from the utilities suggest a variety of alternative approaches including: customer bill credits, use of savings for capital improvements, addressing the issue in future rate cases, and reducing pre-existing deferred balances. The consumer groups advocated for returning the savings in the form of a bill credit. The commission is currently considering various alternatives and has not yet issued a final order.

LEGISLATORS SUGGEST ALTERNATIVES TO POWER LINE

Two Wisconsin lawmakers are calling on state utility regulators to examine the likely effects of a proposed high-voltage transmission line between Madison and Dubuque, Iowa.  Republican Rep. Travis Tranel of Cuba City and Republican Rep. Todd Novak of Dodgeville have asked the Wisconsin Public Service Commission to study possible alternatives before approving the Cardinal-Hickory Creek line.  American Transmission Co., ITC and Dairyland Power will work to build the 102-mile line, which is estimated to cost $500 million. The costs would be shared by consumers in 15 states and one Canadian province. Wisconsin customers would pay for about 15 percent of the cost. The 345-kilovolt line would be the third transmission project in western Wisconsin since 2015.

ATC Receives Approval from PSC for Transmission Line

On January 12th, American Transmission Company received approval from the Public Service
Commission of Wisconsin to construct an approximately 4.2 mile, 345,000-volt Riverside
Transmission Line Project. The project will consist of a double-circuit transmission line from a
planned new substation near the Alliant Energy West Riverside Energy Center to an existing
345-kV transmission line in the Town of Beloit.

The line is needed to connect the expanded West Riverside Energy Center to the electric
transmission grid. The West Riverside Energy Center will include a natural gas-fueled
generating station with an integrated solar installation.

“The ordered route is made up of segments from the two routes that ATC submitted to the PSC,”
said ATC Project Manager Mark Sanzenbacher. “The anticipated project cost is approximately
$42 million.”

The planned in-service date of the line is 2019.

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.

« Older Entries