Electric Wire, Episode 27 – The Reality of Retail Choice

Madison, WI – Laurel Peltier of the Maryland Energy Supplier Reform Coalition joins the Electric Wire podcast to discuss her first-hand experience with retail choice in Maryland. Laurel helps customers decipher their energy bills and has found countless examples of customers who would be saving money if they had stayed with their regulated utility.

Laurel’s web site: https://www.energysupplierhelpdesk.org/

Laurel’s recommendation for saving money on energy bills starts with energy efficiency! Wisconsin customers can get information on energy efficiency audits and energy saving measures from Focus on Energy, here: https://focusonenergy.com/

Listen wherever you get your podcasts or watch on our YouTube channel below.

Electric Wire, Episode 26 – Taking the Industry By Storm: The First F150 Lightning EV is Here

Madison, WI – New Ford F150 Lightning owners Nick and Alicia Schmidt join the Electric Wire podcast to share some of their experiences as the first recipients of Ford’s F150 Lightning EV. We discuss EV charging, the Lightning’s infamous “frunk”, and their experience towing an Airstream behind the Lightning.

Show Notes: 

Link to NPR story on Nick and Alicia from earlier this summer: https://www.npr.org/2022/06/20/1104920656/ford-electric-f150-lightning-electric-vehicles-automakers

Listen to the episode on YouTube at the link below, or download the episode and subscribe to the Electric Wire wherever you get your podcasts!

Electric Wire, Episode 25 – Nuclear Power, Reliability & Global Weirding

Madison, WI – Andy Bochman, Senior Grid Strategist, Idaho National Lab, and Bob Stone, Business Manager, IBEW 2150, join Electric Wire podcast host Kristin Gilkes to discuss a range of issues including preserving jobs and reliability in the coal to cleaner power transition, and how Andy’s coined the term “global weirding.”

A must-listen episode that serves as a follow up to our recent conversation with Brent Ridge of Dairyland Power Cooperative about their exploration of nuclear energy.

Listen to the episode on YouTube at the link below, or download the episode and subscribe to the Electric Wire wherever you get your podcasts!


Electric Wire, Episode 24 – Nuclear Power and the Clean Energy Transition with Brent Ridge

Madison, WI – The lastest episode of the Electric Wire podcast features Brent Ridge, President and CEO, Dairyland Power Cooperative, and Phil Montgomery, former Wisconsin legislator and PSCW Chairperson discussing the future of nuclear power in Wisconsin and how new small modular reactor (SMR) technology may help facilitate the clean energy transition.



CFC Power Dialogue: A Candid Conversation about Electric Vehicle Policies

Madison, WI – The Customers First! Coalition will be hosting a Power Dialogue event on May 3, 2022, to discuss state policy questions surrounding electric vehicles and transportation issues. Speakers and panel will last from 2:30 pm – 4:30 pm at the Madison Club, followed by a networking reception. Registration is required, and details can be found below.

Event Time and Place

Tuesday, May 3, 2022; 2 pm – 5:30 pm

The Madison Club, 5 E Wilson Street, Madison, WI

Eventbrite Page/Registration Link


Event Description

Discussions about electric vehicles and policies impacting their adoption in Wisconsin have increased dramatically over the past few years, and the state now faces policy decisions that will impact the economics of electric vehicles for drivers, utility customers, and taxpayers.

We are bringing together speakers and a panel to discuss some of the biggest policy decisions facing regulators and lawmakers heading into the next budget cycle, including:

  • How should electric vehicles pay for the use of roads?
  • What role should the state and federal government play in helping facilitate electric vehicle charging infrastructure?
  • Are regulatory or statutory changes needed due to increased electric vehicle adoption?

Hear from industry and policy experts about their expectations for electric vehicles and the changing transportation landscape, including:

Opening Remarks:

Sen. Julian Bradley, Chairman, Senate Committee on Utilities, Technology, and Telecommunications


  • Joel Nilsestuen, Assistant Deputy Secretary, Wisconsin Department of Transportation
  • Josh Fisher, Director, State Affairs, Alliance for Automotive Innovation
  • Steve Baas, Executive Director, Wisconsin Transportation Builders Association
  • Deb Erwin, Director, Policy and Program Planning, Clean Transportation, Xcel Energy
  • Kathy Kuntz, Director, Dane County Office of Energy & Climate Change

Closing Remarks: 

Commissioner Tyler Huebner, Public Service Commission of Wisconsin


2:00 pm                Registration and Networking, First Floor, Madison Club

2:30 pm                Opening Remarks

3:00 pm                Panel Discussion

4:30 pm                Networking Reception

Registration and Parking Info

Registration is required via Eventbrite:

More information about parking near the Madison Club can be found here.


For questions about registration, agenda, or sponsorship opportunities, please contact Customers First! Coalition Executive Director Kristin Gilkes via email kristin (at) customersfirst.org.


Electric Wire, Episode 23: The Future of Utilities with Rebecca Ryan and Lauren Azar

Madison, WI – On the latest episode of the Electric Wire podcast, Rebecca Ryan and Lauren Azar join for a conversation about change in the energy industry and in our world. Rebecca, one of the nation’s leading futurists, discusses local and global trends that everyone should be preparing for. Lauren, one of America’s most respected utility attorneys, leads the conversation about change in the energy industry, as they answer the following questions, and more:

  • How do we get those in the utility industry to start thinking like futurists?
  • How important are governmental or industry goals to get where we want to go?
  • What does the future look like for EV’s and electrification?
  • What are the craziest changes coming by 2050 that we haven’t thought of yet?

Cari Anne Renlund, Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary of Madison Gas and Electric Co., joins Kristin Gilkes, Executive Director of the Customers First! Coalition, as co-host (and bonus guest) for a lively and inspiring conversation about the direction of the industry.

Listen to the Electric Wire, Episode 23, “The Future of Utilities with Rebecca Ryan and Lauren Azar” wherever you get your podcasts, or on our YouTube channel here: https://youtu.be/fgfVpRNS04o

Guest Bios

Rebecca Ryan is a futurist, an economist, and a gifted communicator and thought leader. She is the author of The Next Big Things: The Future of Local Government (2015), ReGENERATION: A Manifesto for America’s Future Leaders (2013), and Live First, Work Second: Getting Inside the Head of the Next Generation (2007). Her TEDx talk, Spring is Coming, was featured at the prestigious TEDxBeaconStreet in 2015. Richard Florida, author of The Rise of the Creative Class, calls Rebecca “one of the most reliable sources for CEOs and Mayors who want to attract and keep the next generation of creative workers.” Rebecca is the founder of Futurist Camp, inventor of Futures Labs, and owner of NEXT Generation Consulting, Inc. She is a faculty member and Board Chair at the Institute for Zen Leadership.

Lauren Azar’s experience as a public service commissioner, senior advisor to the U.S. Secretary of Energy, and one of America’s most respected utility attorneys make her a valuable partner in bringing new technologies to market and assisting traditional utilities as a respected advisor.

Cari Anne Renlund is Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary of Madison Gas and Electric Co., an investor-owned, community energy company in Madison, Wisconsin. She is the officer in charge of Legal and Risk Management, Safety, Sustainability and Environmental Affairs, Legislative Affairs and NERC Compliance and Generation Operations. 

Links from the Episode:

More on MGE’s 2030 and 2050 Carbon Reduction Goals:

IPCC: Sixth Assessment Report

Note from Rebecca: The Good Judgment Project (https://www.gjopen.com) makes predictions on EV penetration and MANY other things. The Good Judgment Project was founded by the author of SuperforecastingPhil Tetlock who found that regular people can learn to do foresight as well or better than trained CIA agents.

Long Bets is also does long term wagering about the future, fueled by a bunch of futurists and thought leaders. I just dropped on and Steven Pinker has a challenge about Bioterrorism.

How to Become a Cyborg from MIT Technology Review:

Electric Wire, Episode 22 – Winter Heating Costs Discussed at Capitol Briefing

Madison, WI – On February 23, 2022, several legislators invited representatives from Wisconsin’s investor-owned utilities to provide information to legislative offices at the Wisconsin State Capitol about the higher-than-average costs of natural gas heating bills this winter.

On the latest episode of the Electric Wire podcast, we share a recording of the briefing, including information provided by Bill Skewes, Executive Director, Wisconsin Utilities Association; Rich Stasik, Director of State Regulatory Affairs, WEC Energy Group; Sara Mead, Director of Gas Supply, WEC Business Services; and, Matt Vincent, Senior Manager of Energy Markets and Fuel Supply, Alliant Energy.

The presenters covered some of the key drivers of increases in heating costs this winter as they relate to natural gas, including higher demand and lower inventory.

Skewes noted that for these utilities, the natural gas provided for home heating is a pass-through expense, and utilities don’t earn a higher profit from the higher costs of natural gas that they buy on the market.

Utilities undertake various strategies on behalf of their customers to mitigate the risk of gas price fluctuations over time, including hedging strategies to allow them to purchase some gas supplies when costs are lower. The Public Service Commission of Wisconsin reviews utility activities and expenses and ultimately sets customer rates.

Listen to the Electric Wire, Episode 22, “Capitol Briefing on Winter Heating Bills,” wherever you get your podcasts, or at our YouTube channel here: https://youtu.be/BhKKjTWk3jg

Briefing Notes

Energy Information Administration: Fluctuating weather this winter has significantly affected natural gas prices…

“Natural gas prices in the United States fluctuate during the winter months due to a variety of factors, including the levels of natural gas inventories, production, consumption, exports, pipeline congestion, availability and competition with other energy sources in electricity generation, and weather.

Unusually cold winter weather events result in increased demand for space heating and may be accompanied by production disruptions (such as well freeze-offs) or natural gas infrastructure disruptions (such as compressor outages).”


We Energies: Understanding the PGA line on your bill

“Natural gas is bought and sold on the commodities market, similar to goods like oil or milk. The price we pay for the gas is the same price you pay — there is no mark up.”


Alliant Energy: Increased fuel prices likely to impact heating bills this winter

“The EIA estimates natural gas costs in the Midwest will rise nearly 50% compared to last year due to projected increases in fuel costs and the likelihood households will use more energy due to a predicted colder winter.”


Related Reading

Citizens Utility Board: Prepare for higher heating costs this winter

Wisconsin Public Radio: Wisconsin utilities warn customers may feel the pinch of surging natural gas prices this winter

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: You’re not imagining things — your energy bill has gone up. Here’s why.

Related Resources

Home Energy Plus Application

Keep Wisconsin Warm Fund


Electric Wire, Episode 21 – A Second Wind: Recycling Wind Turbine Blades

Madison, WI – The latest episode of the Electric Wire podcast features a conversation about wind turbine blade recycling with Nicholas Killen, Director, Head of Manufacturing Lifecycle Services, Regional Manufacturing AME, Vestas Blades. Commissioner Tyler Huebner of the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin joins Kristin Gilkes, Executive Director of the Customers First! Coalition, as a co-host.

The interview addresses the following questions and more:

  • How do wind turbines work and how long do they last?
  • What is the process for recycling wind turbine blades?
  • What does the recycled material become at the end of the recycling process?
  • What is the future for the recycling of blades?
  • What are the costs and benefits of recycling the blades?

Both Killen and Commissioner Huebner share what they’d do with “all the power” in the industry for the final question of the episode.

Listen to the latest episode of the Electric Wire wherever you get your podcasts, or at the Customers First! Coalition YouTube channel here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IebcxHpMf5M

The Electric Wire podcast is a monthly production of the Customers First! Coalition featuring Wisconsin energy and utilities interviews and news.



Electric Wire, Episode 20: 2021 Year-in-Review Roundtable

Madison, WI – The Year-in-Review Crew is back again this year to break down the top energy stories and ideas of 2021 on the Electric Wire podcast! Carrie Templeton, Heather Allen, Chris Hubbuch, and Matthew Spencer join to share their picks for top energy story, idea, and shock of the year, along with their predictions for 2022 and, of course, what they’d do with “all the power.”

Our Roundtable Guests

  • Carrie Templeton, Chief of Staff to Public Service Commission of WI Chairperson Rebecca Valcq
  • Chris Hubbuch, energy reporter for the Wisconsin State Journal
  • Heather Allen, Executive Director, RENEW Wisconsin
  • Matthew Spencer, Government Affairs, Madison Gas and Electric

Listen to the Electric Wire podcast, Episode 20, “2021 Year-in-Review Roundtable,” wherever you listen to podcasts, or at our YouTube channel here: https://youtu.be/UAHoSkPUh9U

Electric Wire, Episode 19: Deconstructing the Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework

Madison, WI – The latest episode of the Electric Wire podcast features Denise Bode, Partner at Michael Best Strategies, and Senior Partner, Michael Best & Friedrich LLC, deconstructing the energy provisions in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework (BIF) and the Build Back Better plan working its way through Congress.

Denise leads the federal policy practice at Michael Best Strategies with over 30 years of experience in trade association and coalition management as well as development of public policy strategies, at both the state and federal level. She has been following these landmark pieces of legislation closely as they relate to the energy industry, including transmission, smart grid, electrification, and hydrogen infrastructure provisions.

Jennifer Shilling of Dairyland Power Cooperative joins Kristin Gilkes of the Customers First! Coalition as co-host for the nineteenth episode of the Electric Wire podcast. Listen now wherever you get your podcasts or on our YouTube channel here: https://youtu.be/UbcynTIUPzM