United States

United States

A special case

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Wisconsin is the only one of the seven states to have introduced a Renewables Portfolio Standard law without deregulating its electricity market. Retail competition has not been authorised and the utilities are still rate-regulated. This gives the Public Service Commission (PSC) greater powers, making the Wisconsin requirement more like the renewables mandates on utilities in Minnesota and Iowa.

Credit trading and credit banking for "excess" renewables sales are among the provisions of the Wisconsin RPS, but it will be up to the PSC to implement credits as a comprehensive accounting system. The fact that the RPS applies to fully regulated utilities, however, is likely to reduce gaming possibilities if a comprehensive system is not adopted. Court action is required to impose penalties of between $5000 and $500,000, depending on "gravity" of violation, but "violation" is not defined. If interpreted to mean failure to comply over an entire year, the penalty could be far less than the cost of compliance for a large utility like Wisconsin Electric. Also, the court may consider "whether a violation ... is due to circumstances beyond the violator's control." The PSC, however, is in a position to close the loophole.

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