April 15, 2011
We Energies Customers Will Pay the Higher Cost of Hauling Coal
We Energies’ electricity customers can look forward to coughing up an additional $25 million in 2011 due to the Public Service Commission’s approval yesterday [April14] of a rate increase to cover the escalating cost of transporting coal to Wisconsin power plants.
Milwaukee-based We Energies, Wisconsin’s largest electric utility, imports coal from such distant locations as Wyoming and Pennsylvania to generate electricity. Transportation now accounts for two-thirds of the delivered cost of coal to Wisconsin.
Diesel fuel costs have jumped to approximately $4.00 a gallon this year, propelled by political unrest in the Middle East, declining petroleum output from Mexico, a weakening dollar, and other factors. We Energies’ request predated the ongoing civil war in Libya.
“While we cannot control any of those price drivers, we can more effectively cushion their effects by diversifying our energy generation mix with locally produced wind, solar, small hydro, and biogas electricity,” said Michael Vickerman, executive director of RENEW Wisconsin, a statewide organization advocating for public policies and private initiatives that advance renewable energy.
“The coal mines aren’t getting any closer to Wisconsin. Therefore we have to be serious about reducing our dependence on fossil fuels that are tied to the global oil supply picture. Now is not the time to skimp on investments in conservation and renewable energy that will help stabilize the utility bills of businesses and residents,” Vickerman said.
“Do we have the will to pursue energy policies that take us off of the fossil fuel price escalator? Doing nothing will bake these rate increases into our future without any corresponding boost to Wisconsin’s job market and sustainable energy economy.”