Focus Funding Finalized for Renewable Energy, Biodigesters and Rural Energy Efficiency

The Wisconsin Public Service Commission (PSC) rulings from December 1st finalize several items discussed in their October meeting. PSC docketPSC Press ReleaseWSJ

Renewable Energy Incentives Increased
The Wisconsin Public Service Commission (PSC) allocated $8.6 million to renewable energy incentives to homeowners, businesses and organizations for renewable energy systems in 2017 and 2018. This represents an increase of $900,000 from unspent Focus funds added to the $7.7 million the PSC had authorized in October (see EOW News, Oct/Nov). Funding will go toward incentives to install renewable energy technologies including solar, geothermal, biogas, biomass and small wind systems.

Biodigester RFP and Inter-agency Workgroup to Explore Energy Water Nexus
Governor Walker has directed an inter-agency workgroup of the PSC, DATCP and DNR to collaborate in exploring how biodigesters can produce renewable biogas and address ground water, surface water and drinking water issues. The inter-agency group will prepare a request for proposal (RFP) with up to $20 million of Focus incentive funding for a hub-and-spoke anaerobic digester system. The RFP is slated to be released in January 2017.

Funding Rural Broadband and Energy Efficiency through Focus on Energy
The PSC ruled that a $50 voucher incentive for 100,000 rural customers to sign up for high speed internet would be paid for with $5 million from Focus on Energy. Money that utility ratepayers pay into Focus for energy efficiency and renewable energy programs will be used to help underwrite the cost of broadband, though not the cost of infrastructure (i.e. cables in the ground). Another $9 million approximately will fund energy-efficiency kits for rural households whose utilities are part of the Focus program. The kits will contain items from power strips and LED lights to rebates for smart thermostats. Smart thermostats work through internet connections to help homeowners manage energy use.