Solar Rooftops in Wisconsin Get Costlier as State Approves Fees

Buying a solar rooftop in Wisconsin will become a lot less affordable under fees and utility rate changes approved today for a Wisconsin Energy Corp. (WEC) unit.

State regulators today approved fees on any home or business that installs solar in the Milwaukee-based utility’s service area, said Nathan Conrad, a spokesman for the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin.

The decision came as part of a rate case that WE Energies, the largest utility in the state with about 1.1 million customers, proposed this year. It also won changes that will increase fixed electric-grid charges for everyone, and reduce the price the utility pays for some solar energy. Solar industry proponents plan to appeal the solar fee, said Bryan Miller, co-chairman of the Alliance for Solar Choice and a SunRun Inc. executive.

“This will tax solar out of existence in Wisconsin,” Miller said today in an interview. “Even their own staff disagreed with them on this new solar tariff.”

The nearly 600 customers that already have solar in the area will be spared from the new charges under a grandfather period for 10 years, Conrad said.

“The increases will only go to new solar customers, Conrad said.

WE Energies sought the higher fixed monthly charges and solar fees to offset the loss of revenue as customers go solar or become more energy efficient and buy less power from the utility, said spokesman Brian Manthey.

‘‘When our customers produce power, they pay less for the fixed costs of the grid,’’ Manthey said in an interview yesterday. ‘‘Solar is coming down in cost and it should be able to walk on its own.’’


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