Alliant Energy Seeks State Permission To Pay Less For Solar Energy From Customers

Utility Says Some Customers Have More Solar Panels Than They Need

Photo: Elliott Brown (CC-BY-NC-SA).

A public hearing was held on Thursday regarding Alliant Energy’s request to be able to reduce how much it pays customers who sell excess solar energy back to the utility.

Scott Smith is director of regulatory affairs with Alliant Energy, which provides power to customers in southern and central Wisconsin. He said that some customers have more solar panels than they need, and are taking advantage of an agreement in which the utility pays more to buy that excess energy than it would otherwise pay on the open market.

“Some customers have (their solar panel setup) appropriately-sized where it’s meeting their needs, and that’s a great thing,” said Smith. “It’s when you have an oversized system, and you have energy that you are putting back on the grid and asking utility to buy that back at a higher price.

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Smith said the result is that other customers pay more to maintain infrastructure.

A solar panel installer, however, said the monetary advantage would tip to utilities if a lower rate for selling excess solar is approved. Alarik Rosenlund, a partner with Midwest Solar Power, said long summer days create more solar energy. Summer is also when demand for energy sold by the utility is high.

“This really is all about crushing solar expansion in the state,” said Roselund. “They’re attacking solar and they’re attacking the future of solar in the state of Wisconsin because they can. We should be expanding renewable energy in the state. I’m not saying that just because I’m a solar installer but because I believe this is the right thing to do.”

Three other Wisconsin power companies are also asking the Public Service Commission to reduce what they pay their customers to buy back solar energy.