United States

United States

Wisconsin new bid exceeds mandate

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Encouraged by the success of its green pricing program, Wisconsin Electric has issued a request for proposals (RFP) for up to 75 MW of renewable energy, 27 MW of which is mandated by state law. "We're obligated to have 27 MW, but decided to look for more as a potential business opportunity," says the utility's Chris Schoenherr. Proposals are due by October 1 for capacity to go on line by the end of 2000.

State law requires Wisconsin utilities to develop 50 MW of renewables by end 2001 -- and the 27 MW is Wisconsin Electric's share, says Schoenherr. The utility had issued an "open-ended" RFP for 5 MW, but replaced it with the new solicitation.

About 7500 Wisconsin Electric customers now buy green power, which is generated from hydro and biomass. It will include wind power by next summer, when Wisconsin Electric will complete its first wind plant: two 600 kW turbines, says Schoenherr. Under the green pricing program, customers pay a $0.02/kWh premium if 100% of their energy comes from renewable sources; $0.01/kWh if 50% is green and $0.005/kWh if 25% is renewable. More people chose the 25% option than the 100% option, Schoenherr notes.

The makeup of the green power will begin to change due to a memorandum of understanding Wisconsin Electric signed with environmental groups in the state, he adds. In the agreement, the utility says 75% of the green power will come from plants in Wisconsin or the Upper Peninsula. In addition, Wisconsin Electric agreed to diversify the portfolio by April 2000. At that time, a single resource will make up no more than 75% of the green power. Right now, consumers are paying the premium for a portfolio that is "heavily weighted toward hydro," says Schoenherr.

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