News Briefs


Pierce Pepin Lobbies for State Support of Reading Program

Pierce Pepin Cooperative Services (PPCS) Communications Coordinator Liz Gunderson traveled to Madison to testify before the Assembly Committee on Children and Families in support of grants for national reading programs such as the Dolly Parton Imagination Library. Assembly Bill 741 would require the Department of Children and Families to establish a grant program to reimburse nonprofit organizations for 50% of the cost of providing books (up to $10,000 total) to young children under the program.

PPCS became an affiliate of the program in August 2021, providing free monthly books to more than 1,200 children in its service area.

Gunderson testified that “The hardest part of my job coordinating the program is having to deny a child who lives outside our territory,” and said she hopes this law will help expand the program to other areas.

NRECA Joins Push for Grid Investment

The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) joined the National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) and other groups in urging Congress to spend $1.2 billion to expand and strengthen capacity of the grid and to boost the supply chain for distribution transformers. The coalition wants the repurposed supplemental funding included in upcoming negotiations of the Senate Energy and Water Development Appropriations Bill for Distribution Transformer and Grid Components.

“Using this supplemental funding to accelerate the manufacturing of distribution transformers and other grid components will help electric co-ops keep the lights on and meet future energy needs of 42 million Americans,” NRECA CEO Jim Matheson said.

Changes come to the PSC

Public Service Commission (PSC) of Wisconsin Chairperson Rebecca Cameron Valcq announced plans to leave the Commission last month, just days before the state Senate voted to reject the appointment of Tyler Huebner. The shake-up opened up two positions on the three-member commission.

In rejecting Huebner, Senator Julian Bradley (R-Franklin) argued that he overstepped his legal authority by pushing for income-based utility rates.

Governor Tony Evers named Commissioner Summer Strand, who he appointed to the PSC in March of 2023, to serve as PSC chair. The Senate voted in favor of this action.

Evers appointed Kristy Nieto, a division administrator for energy regulation and analysis at the PSC, to fill Huebner’s spot.

EV Charging Legislation Clears Committee

Legislation aimed at expanding Wisconsin’s electric vehicle infrastructure with the help of federal funds unanimously passed a committee. The law includes clarifications that are necessary for the state to tap into more than $78 million in federal funds, including the requirement that chargers sell power by kilowatt-hour.

The legislation must be passed and signed by March 31 to receive the federal funds.

Pollution Down in 2023, Driven by Energy Sector

Greenhouse gas emissions dropped 1.9% in 2023, according to a preliminary report released by the independent Rhodium Group. While the decline is a “positive step,” analysts say it is not enough to meet President Joe Biden’s goal of cutting emissions 50% from pre-industrial levels by 2030.

Clean electricity is the main driver of the decline, as U.S. power-sector emissions fell by 8% percent in 2023 compared to 2022. Transportation emissions increased by 1.6%.

The Rhodium Group report say the U.S. needs to average a 6.9% emissions reduction every year from 2024 through 2030 to meet Biden’s goal.

New EV Rebates Available

The new federal EV incentive, offering up to $7,500 off the price of a new electric vehicle, is now in effect. The previous incentive was a tax credit, but this offer allows buyers to take advantage of the savings at the time of purchase.

The Clean Vehicle Tax Credit offers buyers up to $7,500 toward a new electric, hydrogen, or plug-in hybrid vehicle, and up to $4,000 for a used one. Most buyers in households with earnings of $300,000 or less are eligible for the credit, which applies to cars that cost no more than $55,000 and trucks and SUVs with a sticker price of up to $80,000. To be eligible, used EVs must be at least two years old and priced at $25,000 or less.