Energy 2050 Power Lunch Scheduled for August 27 in Madison

MADISON – The Customers First! Coalition will host a Power Lunch in Madison on August 27, 2019, featuring futurist Rebecca Ryan and utility industry leaders, including Jeff Keebler, Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of Madison Gas & Electric, and John Larsen, Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of Alliant Energy. An agenda can be found below.

Interested individuals, legislators, staff, and members of the media can register at the following link: 

Energy 2050 Power Lunch Agenda
August 27, 2019 – Madison Concourse Hotel, 1 W Dayton Street, Madison, WI 53703

11:00 am – 11:45 am – Registration and Networking

11:45 am – Lunch Seating and Welcome Remarks from State Representative Adam Neylon (R-Pewaukee) and State Representative Amanda Stuck (D-Appleton), both members of the Assembly Energy and Utilities Committee and the Wisconsin Future Caucus.

12:10 pm – Keynote from Rebecca Ryan – Trained as a futurist and an economist, Rebecca helps clients see what’s coming.

1:00 pm – Break

1:15 pm – Industry Executives Discussion, moderated by Rebecca Ryan, featuring Jeff Keebler, Chairman, President, and Chief Executive Officer of Madison Gas and Electric and John Larsen, Chairman, President,  and Chief Executive Officer of Alliant Energy.

2:00 pm – Event Concludes

Please direct any questions about the Power Lunch to Customers First! Coalition Executive Director Kristin Gilkes at 608-286-0784 or

Energy 2050 Power Lunch

2050 – it’s the year that states and utilities are using to set goals for our energy future. But what will the world really look like when today’s kindergartners are 36 years old and sending their own kids to school?

We’ll address that question and so much more at our Energy 2050 Power Lunch, when the Customers First! Coalition hosts one of the world’s leading futurists, Rebecca Ryan.  Ms. Ryan’s opening keynote will take us inside Fortune 1000 companies, med-tech, the U.S. Military, and NATO to see what futures are emerging, the role of utilities in enabling or disabling them, and what those futures teach us about how to prepare for 2050.

After the keynote, Ms. Ryan will sit down with industry executives for a can’t-miss panel about carbon reduction, affordable electricity, and their bets for the world in 2050.

Energy 2050 Power Lunch Agenda
August 27, 2019 – Madison Concourse Hotel
1 W Dayton Street, Madison, WI 53703

11:00 am – Registration and Networking
11:45 am – Lunch Seating, Welcome, and Keynote
12:45 pm – Break
1:00 pm – Industry Executives Panel
2:00 pm – Event Concludes


Column: Electric Vehicle charging infrastructure investments have many benefits

Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are signaling their interest in investments for Wisconsin’s publicly-available electric vehicle, or “EV,” charging infrastructure. The Customers First! Coalition applauds these efforts because of the broad benefits the investments could have for citizens across the state.

Earlier this week, Assembly Republicans, led by Rep. Adam Neylon (R-Pewaukee), unveiled an Earth Day plan which would create “Clean Energy Corridor Grants” to drive investment in EV charging infrastructure along Wisconsin’s most traveled highways and connect them with similar corridors in neighboring states. The Governor’s Executive Budget also recommends EV charging infrastructure investments, with funding for both plans coming from VW settlement funds awarded to the state to mitigate excess emissions from Volkswagen diesel vehicles. Settlement terms dictate the funds—which are not coming from taxpayer dollars—be used for efforts to reduce emissions, which the current plans would accomplish. The plans call for investment in infrastructure only—EV drivers would still pay to charge their vehicle as they travel.

Greater EV adoption, facilitated by the proposed infrastructure investments, could actually help keep electricity rates down for all electric utility customers.  As more cars, buses, and fleets begin to electrify, they will drive electricity sales that help utilities spread their fixed costs over a greater number of purchased units. A February 2019 Synapse Energy report in California concluded, “Our analysis indicates that, from 2012 through 2017, EVs in California have increased utility revenues more than they have increased utility costs, leading to downward pressure on electric rates for EV-owners and non-EV owners alike.”

Electric Vehicle proliferation is gaining steam in Wisconsin and nationally. EV registrations across the nation doubled from 2017 to 2018. As registrations and associated electricity use go up due to this trend, it’s important to note that EV drivers are helping the state’s finances and contributing to the transportation fund. Utilities and electric cooperatives are assessed via the state’s utility gross revenues tax, which is deposited into the state’s general fund. This means that as electricity sales grow, so do contributions to the general fund. Electricity is also subject to the sales tax in warmer months. In 2018, the state began collecting an additional annual registration fee on EV drivers that is deposited into the transportation fund to help pay for roads.

Another shared benefit of EVs is cleaner air. EVs are responsible for about half of the carbon emissions as a typical gasoline-fired vehicle, and their environmental benefits will continue to grow as utilities transition their generation fleets to cleaner fuel sources. Because of the dramatic decline in the cost of utility-scale renewable energy over the past decade, this clean energy transition is a reality for utilities, who have set steep carbon-reduction goals over the next few decades.

Urban and rural drivers, as well as fleet and transit managers, should know that EVs typically cost about half as much to fuel as gasoline-fired vehicles. Using “eGallons,” the U.S. Department of Energy helps drivers calculate the cost of fueling a vehicle with electricity compared to a similar vehicle that runs on gasoline. In Wisconsin, the average cost of a gallon of gas is $2.56. By comparison, an “eGallon” is $1.27, based on average retail electricity rates in the state. Drivers also save on maintenance costs, as oil changes become a thing of the past.

Drivers and vehicle buyers can get all these benefits from electric vehicles right now. But to kick the adoption of electric vehicles into a higher gear, we need to make sure people can drive electric all across Wisconsin and have plenty of places to refuel their vehicles on longer trips. Typical driving range for a fully-charged EV can vary between 100-300 miles. Investments in EV charging infrastructure, now proposed by Wisconsin lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, will go a long way towards helping drivers feel comfortable their vehicle will work for long-distance travel and could help encourage greater EV adoption rates.

With significant potential benefits in store statewide, it’s no wonder EV charging infrastructure investments are being discussed. Our Customers First! Coalition is encouraged by the progress being made towards these investments and we support the inclusion of EV charging infrastructure funding in the final version of the state budget.

Kristin Gilkes is the executive director of the Customers First! Coalition.

Game Changers Power Breakfast Presentations

Thanks to all who attended the 2019 Game Changers Power Breakfast! Below you will find links to download presentations from the event.

2019 Power Breakfast Presentations

Wisconsin Eye will be posting coverage of the 2019 Power Breakfast. Search the Wisconsin Eye web site for “Customers First” to see the Game Changers Power Breakfast and all of our past events.

2019 Power Breakfast – Game Changers

The energy industry is changing rapidly. Attend the 2019 Power Breakfast and learn more about industry game changers from experts in the areas of energy storage, renewable energy, electric vehicles and electrification.

Customers First! Coalition
2019 Power Breakfast
Tuesday, February 19, 2019
Madison Concourse Hotel

Register here!


Go Electric! Power Lunch Recap

Electric vehicles and electrification were the hot topics at the September 5, 2018, Go Electric! Power Lunch at the Madison Concourse Hotel. Over one hundred and twenty attendees were on hand to hear from a variety of distinguished speakers.

Public Service Commission of Wisconsin Chairman Lon Roberts kicked off the luncheon with introductory remarks focusing on the rapidly changing auto industry and the impacts of increasing electrification on the power grid; as well as drawing attention to some of the benefits of electric vehicles, such as emissions reductions and the potential to keep rates down for all customers.

The “Going Electric in Wisconsin” panel was moderated by former Department of Administration Secretary Scott Neitzel, who reminded the audience of the history and naming of the Customers First! Coalition over twenty years ago.

Maria Redmond of the Office of Energy Innovation gave an overview of the status of EVs, including several initiatives happening in other states and regions, such as EV corridors.

Debbie Branson of Madison Gas & Electric gave an overview of the utility’s offerings to customers such as the Charge @ Home program.

Lorrie Lisek of Wisconsin Clean Cities highlighted the groups work with Midwest Evolve to help educate auto dealers about electric vehicles and encouraged attendees to participate in Ride and Drive events.

Jeff Springer of Dairyland Power Cooperative spoke about a new fast charging station grand opening in Tomah, WI and the great benefits of EVs for rural drivers as well as new opportunities for farmers to turn to beneficial electrification to improve operations.

Jake Oelke of WPPI energy highlighted time of use rates and their potential to help EV drivers charge at off-peak hours.

One audience question inquired about the taxation of electricity as a fuel source. Electricity sales, including the electricity used to fuel vehicles, have always been taxed via the utility gross receipts tax, which is deposited into the state’s general fund. There is a new, additional $100 annual fee, passed as part of the 2017-2019 state budget, on all EV registrations, which is deposited into the state’s transportation fund. Other questions included whether gas stations and convenience stores will continue to be viable in an all-electric transportation sector. Panelists agreed these stations will continue to play a role despite the changing fuel mix, which will include CNG and other fuel types as well as electricity.

The policy-makers panel featured two legislators, Rep. Mike Kuglitsch (R-New Berlin) and Rep. Mark Spreitzer (D-Beloit), who spoke about game-changers in the energy and transportation sector; including autonomous vehicles, electric vehicles, battery storage, and renewable energy.

Folders for attendees contained materials about utility EV offerings and upcoming events, as well as a resolution passed by the National Association of State Utility Consumer Advocates regarding suggestions for appropriate consumer protections as EV adoption increases.

A full rebroadcast of the program is available on Wisconsin Eye here. Go to and search for “Customers First” to see all recent events.

Go Electric! Power Lunch – Sept 5, 2018

Go Electric! at the Customers First! Coalition Power Lunch on September 5, 2018 at the Madison Concourse Hotel. Find out more about the benefits of “efficient electrification” – replacing direct fossil fuel use with electricity in a way that reduces overall emissions and energy costs. Efficient Electrification holds significant potential benefits for Wisconsin customers, utilities, and environmental advocates alike.

Registration begins at 11:30 am, with a program running from noon – 2 pm.

Following the program, we are partnering with Wisconsin Clean Cities to host an electric vehicle Ride & Drive outside the Concourse.

Register using the link below!

2018 Power Breakfast Recap

Nearly 100 Power Breakfast attendees were on hand to hear more about changing customer expectations in the energy industry on February 8, 2018.

We were proud to kick off the event by showing an introductory video about the Customers First! Coalition, our members, and our mission. We hope you’ll take a few minutes to watch it online and share it via Facebook or Twitter. You can also view more feedback about the video and event via the Twitter Moment, “2018 Power Breakfast.”

Keynote speaker Katrina McMurrian presented about the process used at the Critical Consumer Issues Forum to reach consensus between regulators, consumer advocates, and utilities on timely energy issues. For example, CCIF has published guiding principles on grid modernization (download report), meeting customer needs (download report), and connecting “smart” communities (download report). See Ms. McMurrian’s Power Breakfast power point presentation here.

Two panel presentations focused on customer feedback and changing policies. The Customer Feedback Panel included Kathy Kuntz of Cool Choices, Max Christman from Sustainability at UW-Health,  and Don Peterson from Madison Gas and Electric. The panel was moderated by Kristy Nieto of the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin. provided a summary of the panel presentation from the energy provider’s prospective, which you can read here: “MGE stepping up efforts to understand what customers want.”

The policy-makers panel featured Public Service Commission of Wisconsin Commissioner Mike Hubesch (@PSCWisconsin) and State Representative Katrina Shankland (@RepShankland), moderated by Brian Rude of Dairyland Power Cooperative, one of the Customers First! Founding members. Huebsch and Shankland discussed their views on affordable energy, renewables and energy efficiency, and regulation. Both shared their belief that effective utility regulation in the state helps protect Wisconsin customers.

Attendees also enjoyed plenty of networking opportunities with those interested in the energy industry. In our post-event survey, eighty-seven percent of respondents thought they were extremely or very likely to attend a similar event in the future.

We hope you’ll join us at a future event! Stay in the loop about future programming by joining our mailing list.

Customers First! Coalition Introduction Video

Power Breakfast Agenda

Our annual Power Breakfast is on Thursday, February 8, 2018. See the agenda below!

Power Breakfast Agenda

Thursday, February 8, 2018; 8 am – 11 am
Madison Concourse Hotel, Madison, WI

8:00 am – 8:30 am     Registration and buffet breakfast seating

8:30 am – 8:40 am     Welcome and CFC Video    

                                    Kristin Gilkes, Executive Director, Customers First! Coalition

8:40 am – 8:50 am     Opening Remarks and Speaker Introduction

                                    Ellen Nowak, Chairperson, Public Service Commission of Wisconsin

 8:50 am – 9:30 am     Keynote: “Changing Customer Expectations”

Katrina McMurrian, Executive Director, Critical Consumer Issues Forum

9:30 am – 9:45 am     Break 

9:45 am – 10:30 am   Customer Feedback Panel  

Moderator: Kristy Nieto, Assistant Division Administrator, Division of Water, Telecommunications, and Consumer Affairs, Public Service Commission of Wisconsin


Kathy Kuntz, Executive Director, Cool Choices

Max Christman, Sustainability at UW-Health

Don Peterson, Assistant Vice President – Strategic Products and Services, Madison Gas and Electric

10:30 am – 11 am      Policy-Makers Panel

Moderator: Brian Rude, Vice President, External and Member Relations, Dairyland Power Cooperative


Mike Huebsch, Commissioner, Public Service Commission of Wisconsin

Rep. Katrina Shankland, Member, Joint Committee on Finance