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. WisBusiness.com 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

the Wire e-newsletter – Winter 2017

the Wire e-newsletter
Plugging you in to the electric industry


Greetings from the Customers First! Coalition. My name is Kristin Gilkes, and I am proud to be the new executive director for the Customers First! Coalition, a group that first organized more than twenty years ago to preserve Wisconsin’s affordable and reliable electric service.

Over the past few months, the Customers First! Coalition has been engaging industry stakeholders and customers in a dialogue about “grid modernization.” While there are many definitions for grid modernization, I invite you to explore the content below and decide for yourself what grid modernization means and what potential benefits exist for customers.

Below you’ll find a column on the topic by PSCW Chairperson Ellen Nowak, who also shared her perspective at a “Power Dialogue” forum our organization hosted in November. You’ll find news coverage, links, and photos related to the event, as well. Additionally, you’ll see some exciting news about new wind generation projects that are moving forward for Wisconsin customers!

And, the best is yet to come. Our 2018 Power Breakfast will explore changing customer expectations in the context of grid modernization and new technologies. We will feature consumer advocates, industry professionals, and other stakeholders. I hope you can join us on February 8, 2018, at our Power Breakfast! Register today!

On, Wisconsin, and happy holidays!


Column: Grid Modernization – Energizing Wisconsin Forward
By Ellen Nowak, Chairperson of the Public Service Commission of WisconsinLast month I had the opportunity to speak at a Customers First! Power Dialogue event about what Wisconsin is doing in the area of “grid modernization.”  Talking about a topic that doesn’t have a universal definition can be a challenge, but there are some universal themes in the context of grid modernization. Regardless of the precise definition used, most agree that grid modernization’s core tenets revolve around the convergence of evolving customer needs and expectations, combined with the emergence of new technologies in the energy sector.Before we embark on where we should go, it makes sense to take stock of where we’ve been.  The good news is that Wisconsin has been active in many facets of grid modernization for years. One of the earliest examples is the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin’s (PSCW) authorization of Wisconsin Power & Light’s mandatory time-of-day rate tariffs in November 1976. In the past five years alone, the PSCW has approved innovative programs and tariffs for 28 different electric utilities. These include programs and tariffs related to electric vehicles, community solar projects, market based rate designs, new load market pricing rate designs, distributed energy resources special tariffs, time of use rates, fixed bills, and a renewable energy rider.  Wisconsin utilities are also upgrading their customer information systems and installing advanced metering infrastructure to allow for the implementation of these new tariffs, as well as provide critically important information for customers to make energy usage decisions. A key statistic that demonstrates these infrastructure investments is related to the penetration of advanced meters to residential customers: of the 2.6 million residential electric customers in Wisconsin, 78% now have meters than can be read remotely, and approximately 39% of residential customers have meters that have two-way communication capabilities. These advanced meters provide an improved flow of information between the utility and its customers, potentially allowing for earlier outage detection and quicker restoration of service, as well as providing customers with real-time energy usage information to make better informed usage decisions.So where do we go from here? The progress that has been made has not been achieved alone, but through the collaboration of utilities, stakeholders representing ratepayers and other interests, as well as the PSCW.  Our ability to work cooperatively on these topics as an entire industry in a regulated environment is the envy of many other states. It makes sense to take advantage of this collaborative spirit and continue to identify issues to work on together.  In this vein, the PSCW surveyed a broad array of stakeholders to prioritize grid modernization issues for Wisconsin.  Earlier this fall, the PSCW conducted a survey of the utilities and stakeholders who work most closely together on grid modernization issues, including representatives from the five largest investor owned utilities, municipal utilities, customer advocates, industrial customers, trade associations, cooperatives, and environmental groups.The survey results showed that the top five priorities for all stakeholders (in order of priority) are:
1) interconnection of customer-owned distributed energy resources;
2) identification of customers’ changing expectations, preferences, and behaviors;
3) uses and benefits of advanced meters;
4) maintaining the safety and reliability of the existing distribution system; and
5) increased electrification.Given these results, the next step is to plot a course for the PSCW to cultivate conversations around the highest priority grid modernization topics for Wisconsin’s stakeholders.  The survey has provided us with sufficient data to begin these positive conversations among stakeholders.  Our plan is to work with Customers First! and other organizations to hold meetings and informational sessions on these topics over the next several months.  The goal is to get utilities, stakeholders and the PSCW in a room together to find ways to take advantage of opportunities and identify solutions to common problems outside of contested proceedings.  We can learn from each other, informally kick around proposals, share ideas, and build on our positive working relationships, in order to be ready to address future challenges as they emerge. We aren’t starting this process with predetermined outcomes. Instead, the outcomes should be developed by utilities and stakeholders working together in this collaborative environment outside of what can sometimes be a contentious contested case environment. Constructive dialogue and engagement from all stakeholders will be key to success.I would like to thank the Customers First! Coalition for its continued support of the Commission’s grid modernization efforts. Together, we need to remain focused on what our state’s utility customers need from their utilities now and in the future so that Wisconsin’s families and businesses will not only have basic needs met, but can grow and thrive.  I look forward to meeting with many of you in the coming months as we discuss how to keep Wisconsin’s electric grid safe, reliable, affordable, and focused on the needs of Wisconsin’s utility customers.


Power Dialogue: Defining Grid Modernization
Recap of November 1 eventIn November, the Customers First! Coalition hosted a “Power Dialogue” event to discuss grid modernization and its potential benefits. In case you missed this event, please find some helpful links below:WisBusiness.com:’Still more to do’ when it comes to modernizing energy grid WisBusiness.com: The Podcast with Kristin Gilkes, executive director for the Customers First CoalitionWisconsin Eye.org: POWER DIALOGUE: WHAT IS GRID MODERNIZATION AND ARE THERE BENEFITS?Power Point: PSCW Chairperson Ellen Nowak’s Opening RemarksPower Point: Moderator Steve Kihm’s presentationCustomers First! Event Photo Album


New wind projects moving forward
Several new wind projects that will benefit Wisconsin customers recently celebrated major milestones.EDP Renewables (EDPR) and Dairyland Power Cooperative celebrated the completion of the Quilt Block Wind Farm at a joint dedication event in Darlington, Wisconsin, on Friday, November 10. EDPR owns and operates the 98 megawatt (MW) Quilt Block Wind Farm, which is located in Lafayette County. Dairyland has a power purchase agreement in place with EDPR for the entire energy output of the wind farm that will produce enough clean electricity to power more than 25,000 households in Dairyland’s rural four-state service area.Quilt Block Wind Farm is EDPR’s first operational project in the state of Wisconsin and represents a capital investment of approximately $167 million (an estimate based on the U.S. Department of Energy’s 2015 Wind Technologies Market Report). At the peak of construction in early June, the project employed approximately 250 people, and as an operational wind farm, will employ 10 full-time workers.EDP Renewables will provide a total of approximately $23 million in land payments to participating landowners and neighbors throughout the life of the project. Through a revenue sharing agreement with the state of Wisconsin, EDPR will also pay out hundreds of thousands of dollars to Seymour Township and Lafayette County each year.Wisconsin State Journal: Dairyland Power flips switch on Wisconsin’s fourth largest wind farmAlso in November, state regulators approved an application by Madison Gas and Electric (MGE) to own and operate its largest wind farm to date. The 66-megawatt (MW) wind farm will be located about 200 miles west of Madison near Saratoga, Iowa. The project advances MGE’s ongoing transition toward cleaner energy sources.
The company said the 13-square-mile site is well situated due to its strong winds and proximity to transmission infrastructure. The $107 million Saratoga Wind Farm will feature 33 turbines, standing nearly 500 feet tall.Wisconsin State Journal: MGE’s proposed Saratoga wind farm wins PSC nodBack in August, Invenergy and WPPI Energy announced an agreement that will advance plans for constructing the 132-megawatt Bishop Hill III Wind Energy Center in Henry County, Illinois.Bishop Hill III Wind Energy Center is scheduled to begin commercial operation by mid-2018 and will create more than 150 jobs during construction and up to six full-time jobs once operational. The project will generate more than $10 million in local economic development in its first 10 years of operation through tax payments, lease payments to participating landowners, and wages and benefits for employees.

WPPI Energy has entered into a power purchase agreement to buy the electricity from the facility through mid-2040 in order to serve its 51 member utilities and their customers across Wisconsin, Upper Michigan and Iowa.

Wisconsin State Journal: WPPI to add wind power with Illinois development


2018 Power Breakfast
Registration now open!The 2018 Customers First! Coalition Power Breakfast will be held in Madison on February 8, 2018, from 8 am – 11 am. We are pleased to announce that Katrina McMurrian, Executive Director of the Critical Consumer Issues Forum (CCIF) will present a keynote address focused on the topic of changing customer expectations. Look for more announcements on speakers and agenda to follow in January!Register today!


2018 Power Breakfast Registration

2018 Customers First! Coalition Power Breakfast

Thursday, February 8, 2018

8 am – 11 am

Concourse Hotel, Madison, WI

Register today! 

Registration Link: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/2018-customers-first-power-breakfast-tickets-41430386401

Printable Invite and Agenda

M-WERC Smart Grid Event

Join the Midwest Energy Research Consortium (M-WERC) for its Grid Modernization and Smart Grid event on January 25 from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. CST.

The Grid Modernization and Smart Grid event will focus on transmission technologies and advanced distribution systems as they relate to the energy industry. The event will be held at the University of Wisconsin – Madison campus at the Union South facility in the Varsity Ballroom. M-WERC Chair Ellen Nowak will kick off the event with opening remarks and an accompanying presentation.

The day will continue with the following confirmed speakers and presenters through 2:00 p.m., and lunch will be served to registered attendees:

  • Keynote Presenter – Ellen Nowak, Chair of the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin
  • Argonne National Laboratory – Guenter Conzelmann
  • Electric Power Research Institute – Mark MacGranaghan
  • Eaton Corporation – John Heath
  • Madison Gas & Electric – David Blankenheim
  • Alliant Energy – Megan Dyer
  • Xcel Energy – Deb Erwin
  • We Energies – Paul Gogan
  • American Transmission Company – David Wojtczak
  • Midwest Energy Research Consortium – Alan Perlstein
  • Wisconsin Energy Institute – Gary Radloff.

To register for this M-WERC event, visit this link..

2017 Power Dialogue

Power Dialogue: What is grid modernization…and are there benefits?
November 1, 2017 3:00 PM
Madison Club
5 E Wilson St, Madison, WI


3:00 pm – Registration

3:30 pm – Opening remarks from PSCW Chairperson Ellen Nowak

Link: Nowak Ellen Customers First Power Dialogue 11.01.17

3:45 pm – 4:45 pm – Panel: What is grid modernization…and are there benefits?

Link: Kihm-Grid Modernization Moderation

4:45 pm – 6:00 pm – Networking

Link: CFC Photo Album_ Nov 1 2017 Power Dialogue