In a victory for solar advocates in Wisconsin, today a Dane County Circuit Court judge overturned fees on customers with solar installations in We Energies’ service territory.

The ruling was the result of an appeal filed by The Alliance for Solar Choice and Renew Wisconsin.

It invalidated part of the Wisconsin Public Service Commission’s December 2014 approval of We Energies’ rate case, which also included increased fixed charges and other provisions that advocates say have undermined the development of distributed solar in the state.

The groups argued that the new fee specifically on people with solar installations was “discriminatory,” and that We Energies had not provided proof that such fees were necessary to make sure those customers paid their “fair share” for upkeep of the grid.

“This is a critical victory for Wisconsin electricity customers that sends a signal to utilities everywhere trying to stop solar competition,” said TASC spokesperson Amy Heart in a statement.

TASC has also filed a similar appeal in Hawaii.

“After three years of constant attacks from monopoly utilities, not a single state has stopped rooftop solar,” she said. “Hawaii will be reversed for the same reason that Wisconsin was reversed today – trying to bail out utilities from rooftop solar competition without conducting a study of the costs and benefits of solar.”

We Energies spokesman Brian Manthey said in an emailed statement that “we are reviewing our options” in light of the ruling.

“We believe sufficient information was provided for the [Public Service] Commission to include a demand charge on customer generation,” the statement continues. “It should be noted that the judge did not remand or vacate any other portion of the Commission’s order and other than the demand charge, the new tariffs for customer-owned generation will go into effect as planned January 1.”

Kari has written for the Energy News Network since January 2011. She is an author and journalist who worked for the Washington Post's Midwest bureau from 1997 through 2009. Her work has also appeared in the New York Times, Chicago News Cooperative, Chicago Reader and other publications. Based in Chicago, Kari covers Illinois, Wisconsin and Indiana as well as environmental justice topics.

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