WIEG: the voice for Wisconsin’s energy-intensive businesses The Wisconsin Industrial Energy Group (WIEG) is a nonprofit trade association of large energy consumers that advocates for affordable and reliable energy. WIEG represents more than 30 of Wisconsin’s largest companies, which together employ more than 50,000 Wisconsin residents who themselves are state taxpayers and utility ratepayers. Many of these companies have electric bills of over $1 million each month; for many, these costs are among the companies’ greatest expenses.
Our companies when combined together spend over $400 million in electric bills every year. For perspective, the amount of electricity our member companies consume each year equals or exceeds the entire industrial customer base of either WPSC or WPL, and their usage totals nearly as much as all of WEPCO’s industrial electricity sales (all of the Cp class customers).
Wisconsin’s economy is at a crossroads, and in the increasingly important area of energy, WIEG is working to ensure that the state's strong manufacturing base can afford to remain in the state. Wisconsin has the most manufacturing jobs per capita in the country. It leads the nation in paper production, and ranks near the top for metal casting and food processing. Significantly, the manufacturing jobs in these and other industries pay 25% more than the average and support at least two other jobs in the community. Data from the paper industry indicates that the jobs it provides leads to as many as six other jobs in local Wisconsin communities.
Energy fuels Wisconsin's industry and Wisconsin's economy. Energy is a major cost of doing business, and its affordability can help or hinder job creation, particularly when those costs are greater than energy costs in neighboring states and other areas of the country. High energy costs directly impact the bottom line of industrial customers because, in many cases, these costs cannot be passed to downstream customers due to highly competitive business conditions. The reality today is that many large businesses can shift production to low energy-cost locations outside the state, and when they do, energy rates rise further for everyone, including the “mom & pop” small business and the low income residential ratepayer.
WIEG's efforts on behalf of large energy users has led to significant results: In 2016, Wisconsin’s investor-owned utilities requested a total increase of $54.9 million in electric and natural gas rates. WIEG intervened in these rate cases and helped the PSC turn the combined requests for rate increases to an overall rate increase of $4.7 million. That was a reduction of $50.2 million or 91% from the original requests. In the last five years, investor-owned utility rate hike requests have been reduced by two-thirds for a total of over $1 billion.
WIEG’s successes depend on the strength of its members. Please join us in our fight for more reasonable energy costs, to protect ratepayers, and preserve jobs in Wisconsin.