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.
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 2013, Wisconsin’s investor-owned utilities requested a total increase of $116 million in base rates and fuel costs. WIEG intervened in these rate cases and helped the PSC turn the combined requests for rate increases to an overall rate decrease of $9.9 million.
• WIEG successfully sought a Real Time Market Pricing (RTMP) tariff for We Energies’ customers. In just a few years, these efforts have resulted in savings of more than $6.6 million for those WIEG members that take service under the new RTMP from We Energies. Following this win, WIEG successfully worked for the adoption of a similar tariff (New Load Market Pricing, or NLMP) for Wisconsin Public Service Company customers. Together, these two new tariffs help promote economic growth and development in Wisconsin, without shifting costs to any of the utility’s other customer groups.
• WIEG continues to aggressively challenge federal and regional costs and cost allocations. In late 2013, with other groups, WIEG filed a Joint Complaint with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, asking that it significantly reduce the tariffed return on equity allowed transmission owners within the MISO footprint. WIEG was also part of a coalition that petitioned the United States Supreme Court for review of FERC and Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals’ decisions that upheld the 100% socialization of transmission costs associated with MISO’s Multi Value Projects (MVP). WIEG also successfully worked to change the cost allocation/rate design of System Supply Resources (SSR)—from energy to demand—which has resulted in about a 20% reduction of transmission costs allocated to industrial customers.
• WIEG successfully lobbied for Act 300 this session. Act 300 will allow industrial customers to create their own Renewable Resource Credits (RRCs). This new law should help control the cost of Wisconsin’s renewable mandate and provide a new revenue stream for industrial customers that own renewable or energy displacement facilities.
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.