A renewable energy group wants more big electric utilities in Wisconsin to take a shine to solar power.
The growth of wind farms in Wisconsin is slowing, but solar power use by homeowners and some companies, while still relatively small, continues to increase. Michael Vickerman of Renew Wisconsin says solar could get a boost if big Wisconsin power companies either build their own solar installations or buy solar from other providers. Vickerman says a power company in the state of Georgia has just made a big commitment to solar.
"Georgia power is going to add 210 megawatts of solar power over the next couple years. In Georgia, they convinced the public service commission down there this is a good thing."
Milwaukee-based We Energies (WEPCO) says it tried to get a smaller solar project approved in a recent rate case as part of a legal settlement over the Oak Creek power plant, but the Wisconsin Public Service Commission (PSC) said no. PSC electric division administrator Bob Norcross says that commissioners ruled that the solar units would have been too costly to meet state renewable energy targets.
"There were also cheaper renewable options, such as wind, that WEPCO could accomplish the same thing at a lower price."
WEPCO spokeswoman Cathy Schulze says her company has put out a request for proposals for others to build more renewable energy units.
Vickerman is skeptical about that effort...and says the utility inflated the price of the solar units the PSC rejected.