News Briefs


DPC Hosts ‘Internet for All’ Discussion with Biden Administration

Two key administrators with the Biden Administration participated in a roundtable discussion at Dairyland Power Cooperative in La Crosse on Nov. 30. The topic was “internet for all,” with a focus on expanding internet access in underserved rural communities.

White House Director of Intergovernmental Affairs Tom Perez and Deputy Secretary of Commerce Don Graves hosted a conversation with education, health care, electric cooperative, and small businesses representatives to talk about how reliable internet access directly expands opportunities for their communities. The White House representatives also toured Dairyland’s new System Operations Center.

In June, the federal National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) awarded DPC a $14.89 million Middle Mile Broadband Infrastructure Grant.

Evers Signs Co-op ATV Bill into Law

Governor Tony Evers signed Senate Bill 109 into law in December, which allows electric cooperatives to operate all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) and utility terrain vehicles (UTVs) on most state highways in emergency situations, as other utilities are allowed to do. WECA advocated for the bill which will help electric cooperatives, particularly with storm restoration efforts when roads are impassable by vehicle.

Governor Evers Signs Broadband Bill

Governor Tony Evers also signed Senate Bill 325 into law, which refines the Rural Broadband Expansion Grant Program to ensure broadband expansion funds are directed to entities that will serve the areas that need it most.

“The broadband bill helps to advance a number of key items such as defining unserved broadband areas as locations not receiving 100/20 Mbps of service and ensuring that areas lacking any service are prioritized. We still fundamentally believe that fiber optic broadband is a long-term solution for all households and believe the PSC should always prioritize those services, but we respect that it’s hard to focus on only one technology. At the end of the day, we need to ensure every Wisconsinite has connectivity and this bill helps to further this goal,” said Nate Boettcher, president and CEO of Pierce Pepin Cooperative Services.

The bill allows for wireless and fixed wireless technology projects to be considered for grant funds, but only when the cost to run fiber is exorbitant. It also prioritizes projects with matching funds of at least 25% instead of 40%, as projects become more costly in more rural areas.

Proposed Law Would Tax EV Charging

State Sen. Howard Marklein (R-Spring Green) and Rep. Nancy VanderMeer (R-Tomah) are proposing two bills that they say will help the state secure federal funds to expand Wisconsin’s electric vehicle (EV) charging station infrastructure.

The first bill would exempt private businesses, such as convenience store owners, from the state law that requires they be regulated as a utility. It also includes a 3-cent per kilowatt-hour excise tax on any electricity sold through an EV charging station to help the state make up for lost gas tax revenue.

The second bill would allow the Wisconsin Department of Transportation to establish and administer a program to provide funding for EV infrastructure projects. Wisconsin is slated to receive about $78 million in federal aid, contingent on requirements included in the bill.

U.S. Commits to More Nuclear and Renewables

The 2023 UN Climate Change Conference, or COP28, was held in Dubai recently, and the United States joined other countries in committing to the next phase of transitioning to a carbon-free economy.

The United States pledged to triple renewable energy resources, and to triple nuclear energy production by 2050. The first new nuclear plant built in the United States in seven years opened in July of 2023 in Georgia after 17 years of permitting and construction.

At the summit, Special Climate Envoy John Kerry confirmed the United States is working toward “largely” eliminating fossil fuels, including coal and natural gas, from the energy mix.

WECA Relocates to Middleton

The Wisconsin Electric Cooperative Association has relocated its headquarters from leased space in downtown Madison near the Capitol Square to a newly purchased building in Middleton.

WECA President and CEO Steve Freese said the move is the result of WECA’s ongoing efforts to operate as efficiently as possible.

WECA’s new address is:
6405 Century Avenue, Suite 102
Middleton, WI 53562-2200