October 2020 Webinar Series: Building Toward Zero Carbon with Grid Flexibility

Building Toward Zero Carbon with Grid Flexibility
October 14, 2020 – 11 am
What building technologies are going to be needed to propel us toward state and utility goals of net zero carbon by 2050? We will focus on grid-interactive efficient buildings and highlight specific emerging technologies that will both provide flexibility on the demand side and engage customers more with their utilities. Learn how homes and businesses will serve as a significant asset to the grid of the future.


Welcome – Tyler Huebner, Commissioner, Public Service Commission of Wisconsin


  • Scott Hackel, Director of Research and Innovation, Slipstream
  • Phil Markham, Smart Buildings R&D Manager, Southern Company
  • Rois Langner, Senior Research Engineer, National Renewable Energy Laboratory

Register here via GoToWebinar:

The Customers First! Coalition is an alliance of Wisconsin electricity providers, consumer organizations, and utility workers that work together to preserve Wisconsin’s reliable and affordable electricity. Slipstream is a mission-driven nonprofit that inspires new solutions to big energy challenges by empowering more people to adopt new practices and technologies. Our organizations are collaborating to host a series of three energy webinars to help educate and facilitate conversation among Wisconsin energy stakeholders.

October 2020 Webinar Series: Equity and Clean Energy

Equity and Clean Energy Webinar
October 6, 2020 – 11 am
Learn how states and programs in the Midwest and across the country are ensuring equitable access to clean energy technologies and programs. What is working and how can we further adopt these principles and strategies in Wisconsin?


Welcome – Rebecca Cameron Valcq, Chairperson, Public Service Commission of Wisconsin

Featured Remarks – Mandela Barnes, Wisconsin’s 45th Lieutenant Governor


  • Laura Goldberg, Midwest Regional Director, Energy Efficiency for All, Natural Resources Defense Council
  • Tony G. Reames, PhD, PE, Assistant Professor of Energy Justice, University of Michigan School for Environment & Sustainability

Register here via GoToWebinar:

The Customers First! Coalition is an alliance of Wisconsin electricity providers, consumer organizations, and utility workers that work together to preserve Wisconsin’s reliable and affordable electricity. Slipstream is a mission-driven nonprofit that inspires new solutions to big energy challenges by empowering more people to adopt new practices and technologies. Our organizations are collaborating to host a series of three energy webinars to help educate and facilitate conversation among Wisconsin energy stakeholders.

Electric Wire, Episode 1 – The Rise of Solar

The first episode of the Electric Wire is out now! Tune in at the link below, and don’t forget to subscribe to the Electric Wire wherever you listen to podcasts so you don’t miss an episode! The first episode is hosted by CFC Executive Director, Kristin Gilkes, and Matt Spencer, Government Affairs Manager at Madison Gas & Electric. The Energy Innovation Podcast Series will take the place of one of our breakfast events this year, but we’ll still be hosting a big annual Power Lunch in April! Registration information for our April Power Lunch can be found on the CFC Events Page.

Upcoming Power Lunch – Building Toward Net Zero Carbon

Update: As of March 23, 2020, the Power Lunch is POSTPONED until a later date, TBD. Check back soon for updates.

Long term energy goals call for net zero carbon emissions in the electricity sector. What role will buildings play as we decarbonize?

Join us for lunch, networking, and speakers that will get us thinking about policies to lay the foundation for decarbonizing buildings, including electrification and energy efficiency.

Register today for this exciting upcoming event!


The Electric Wire Podcast

The Electric Wire Podcast is kicking off with a six-part Energy Innovation Series, where we will interview guests from the Wisconsin energy and utility industry about the topics of solar, electric vehicles, energy storage, microgrids, wind, and smart buildings.

Search for the Electric Wire wherever you subscribe to podcasts.

You can follow @theelectricwire on Twitter to get notifications of new episodes, pictures, and other information about the podcast!

Thank you to the members of the Customers First! Coalition for sponsoring this podcast.

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 www.wiseye.org and search for “Customers First” to see all recent events.