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Wisconsin utility expands green programs
1 April 2006
We Energies, Wisconsin's largest utility, is expanding its renewable energy programs while lowering the price of Energy for Tomorrow (EFT), its voluntary green power program. The initiatives play into new legislation unanimously approved last month by the Wisconsin State Assembly that will require 10% of electricity to come from renewables by 2015. The state's old minimum standard for the volume of renewables in its supply portfolio was 2.2% by 2011. "It means we'll be expanding our overall plans to get to that level," says Phyllis Dube of We Energies. "We're basically depending on wind to reach these renewables goals because nothing else can get us as much for as reasonable a price." Last year the entire state of Wisconsin added no wind power to its installed total of 53 MW. Now We Energies is about to invest $6 million on renewable energy development programs in 2006-2007 and much of that will be directed toward finding wind projects large and small. But first and foremost is the company's 180 MW, Blue Sky Green Field wind project planned for Fond du Lac County, a high-wind area near Lake Michigan. "We're applying for permissions this month," says Dube. "We expect to begin construction next year and having it in service in 2008. We'll be running the project ourselves but aren't ready to name a contractor yet." Meanwhile, the EFT purchase price was recently lowered from $0.0204/kWh to $0.0137/kWh, making it one of the lowest-cost green programs in the country. Bulk rates for larger businesses have been reduced to $0.01/kWh. At present, more than 12,000 customers participate in the company's EFT program, collectively buying more than 50 million kWh of renewable energy annually.
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