Wisconsin PSC Opens Docket on Renewable Tariffs

By Paul Gipe


Wisconsin’s Public Service Commission (PSC) opened an investigation of Advanced Renewable Tariff Development on Friday, January 16, 2009. The move represents the first formal action in response to an inquiry by the Governor into policies for addressing climate change that recommended a state-wide system of feed-in tariffs.

The PSC’s investigation is also the first examination of feed-in tariffs outside of California, and is the first formal investigation of the system of feed-in tariffs like those used in Germany, France, and Spain in the USA by a regulator with rate-setting authority. Previously, California’s Public Utility Commission set a crude feed-in tariff based on wholesale costs. The California Energy Commission (CEC) has concluded a lengthy investigation of feed-in tariffs, but has no rate-setting authority.

Wisconsin’s PSC has some experience with simple feed-in tariffs, having approved tariffs for limited amounts of some technologies for a limited amount of time.

Like the CEC’s examination of feed-in tariffs in California, the PSC’s investigation is broad ranging and encompasses the technologies that should be included, the mechanism for setting the tariffs, and the possible costs of the tariffs to consumers.