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We Energies Drops Plan to Tax Solar Customers After Massive Public Outcry

We Energies Reaches Agreement with RENEW Wisconsin in Response to Concerns

Tuesday, Jul 16 2019

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Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C.and MILWAUKEE, WI  – Today, RENEW Wisconsin and We Energies announced that We Energies will drop its plans to tax its customers who own their own solar panels. The proposal would have forced people who have invested in solar energy to pay extra fees and was widely seen as an attempt to monopolize the solar industry. The proposal was met with strong, swift opposition from businesses and elected officials, as well as thousands from across Wisconsin. The announcement to drop this misguided proposal comes less than a week after the Milwaukee Common Council unanimously passed a resolution committing the city to going carbon-free and creating a City-County Task Force on Climate and Economic Equity.

In response, members of the Wisconsin Solar Coalition issued the following statements:

“Wisconsinites continue to demand that our utilities move off of coal to 100% clean energy. We’re happy to see We Energies listening to the community and dropping their plans to add new barriers to solar in Wisconsin. We hope this is just the first step and we urge We Energies to move forward by retiring its coal plants, investing in more clean energy, and increasing incentives for customers to reduce their energy use and install solar panels,” said Elizabeth Ward, Program Coordinator for the Wisconsin branch of the Sierra Club.

“SEIA is proud of its role in this result. WEPCO’s proposed charge was discriminatory, unjustified, and harmful to customers. With the charge withdrawn, our members can get back to the business of growing Wisconsin’s budding solar industry, strengthening the investment in the State’s economy that comes with it, and creating jobs in Wisconsin,” said Nakhia Morrissette, Regulatory Counsel & Midwest Regional Director for the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA).

“We are very encouraged by We Energies’ decision and we thank We Energies for taking a step towards the future. 350-Milwaukee encourages We Energies to continue to take bold steps toward renewable energy because time is running out,” stated Julie Enslow of 350-Milwaukee.

“The Racine Dominicans are pleased the WE Energies has listened to the outcry from the public and has withdrawn its unjust and unnecessary proposed solar tax. We continue to advocate the change to 100% renewable energy for all utilities that currently burn dirty coal,” said Sister Janet Weyker of the Racine Dominicans.

“I’m very proud of all of the people who organized this movement to defeat the solar tax, and I’m grateful that We Energies has seen the light on this important issue,” stated Fabi Maldonado, Racine County Board Supervisor. “Our future is in clean energy and the new green jobs that come with it.”

“Solar energy has clear benefits for our health and environment, and we should be rewarding people who choose to install rooftop solar, not penalizing them with an unnecessary tax. We are pleased We Energies has dropped their proposed rooftop solar tax, and we will continue to encourage utilities to make clean energy an easy and affordable option for Wisconsin energy customers,” said Jon Drewsen, Communications Director for Clean Wisconsin.

“Solar energy for all is a moral, ethical and environmental justice issue. Wisconsin Faith Communities for Equitable Solar demand the right to access solar power based on guiding principles rooted in our collective values of justice, equity and inclusion,” said Huda Alkaff, Founder and Director of Wisconsin Green Muslims and Coordinator for Wisconsin Faith Communities for Equitable Solar. “As a member of the Wisconsin Solar Coalition that strongly opposes the solar tax, we stand for a just transition to an equitable 100% renewable energy future.”

"It's great to see We Energies is hearing the demand for clean energy. We will continue to support efforts that prioritize the health of our people and our planet," said Jeff Oeth of Bright Green Milwaukee.

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About the Wisconsin Solar Coalition:

At the beginning of May, We Energies filed a proposal at the Public Service Commission that would impose a significant surcharge on customers who own solar power systems. This new surcharge could slow down solar development in the state and is widely seen as an effort to throttle customer use of clean energy. We Energies introduced this proposal despite publicly acknowledging a need to expand solar energy in its territory. We Energies proposed a similar surcharge back in 2014, which was ultimately struck down by the courts. More information can be found at wisolarcoalition.com. The Wisconsin Solar Coalition is a growing alliance of nonprofits, businesses and individuals.

About SEIA®: 

Celebrating its 45th anniversary in 2019, the Solar Energy Industries Association® is the national trade association of the U.S. solar energy industry, which now employs more than 242,000 Americans. Through advocacy and education, SEIA® is building a strong solar industry to power America. SEIA works with its 1,000 member companies to build jobs and diversity, champion the use of cost-competitive solar in America, remove market barriers and educate the public on the benefits of solar energy. Visit SEIA online at www.seia.org.

Media Contacts: 

Morgan Lyons, SEIA's Senior Communications Manager, mlyons@seia.org (202) 556-2872

Miranda Ehrlich, miranda.ehrlich@sierraclub.org, (612) 998-2758

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