For solar energy in Wisconsin, the last 24 months have been nothing short of electrifying. After the best-year-ever in 2015 led by installations on businesses and homes, 2016 started with a jolt when La Crosse-based Dairyland Power Cooperative committed to 14 large projects scattered across the full length of western Wisconsin. About half of these projects will be fully operational by the end of February, and the remainder before July. Projects by Alliant Energy, Bayfield Electric Cooperative and Madison Gas & Electric delivered the next pulse of sun-generated power. Their installations span the state from Iron River near Lake Superior in the north to Beloit by the Illinois border in the south. Large arrays placed on 16 Wisconsin stores owned by national retailer Target also contributed to the ongoing surge of solar generation.
A recent ruling by Iowa regulators has the clean-energy community worried that nearly a half-million customers in the state could find solar power to be financially unworkable as a result.
Fifty-four days after Michigan lawmakers agreed on comprehensive and widely praised energy reforms, the Republican legislator now steering energy policy discussions in the state House announced he’s ready to take a scalpel to the new laws.
Ohio added more than 1,000 jobs in the solar energy field last year and remains one of the top 20 states for employment in the industry, according to a new report. But the situation isn’t as sunny as it could have been, in the view of some company leaders in the state.
Minnesota’s largest utility this spring will offer businesses and ratepayers the opportunity to buy shares of power directly from two renewable energy sources.
A plan floated by Minnesota lawmakers to exempt rural electric cooperatives from virtually all regulatory oversight would allow these utilities to restrict development of local solar power, even where their member-owners support renewable energy. Legislation introduced last month and working its way through the state’s House (HF234) and Senate (SF141) would put co-op boards themselves, rather than the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC), in charge of resolving customer disputes over rates and other policies. Disguised as “local control,” the measure undermines the objective role of the Commission as a mediator between cooperatives and their members. Co-ops provide electricity across greater Minnesota, and have in recent years come under fire as sharp opponents of distributed solar generation. Customer have complained about outsize fees for having rooftop solar – sometimes masked as other charges, like for a new meter.
As interest grows in developing Michigan agricultural land for solar energy, some farmers may have to choose between keeping tax incentives for preserving farmland or leasing their property to solar developers.
Bills in the Minnesota legislature gaining bipartisan support would prohibit state regulators from overseeing fixed charges paid by distributed generation customers of cooperatives and municipally owned power companies.
A new report aims to persuade Minnesota legislators that clean energy is a strong part of Minnesota’s economy.
A pair of bills now before the Nebraska legislature would provide a new potential funding source for community solar projects, and mandate that utilities allow community solar projects initiated by their customers.