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Co-op Leaders Lobby in D.C.

More than 30 leaders from 11 Wisconsin electric cooperatives were among the 1,200-plus electric co-op leaders nationwide who gathered in Washington, D.C., in April for NRECA’s 2024 Legislative Conference. They met with the state’s congressional staff to advocate for reliable, affordable electricity.

During the in-person meetings, Wisconsin’s co-op leaders talked about challenges with the EPA’s power plant rule, asked legislators to protect USDA funding designed specifically for energy innovation, and to safeguard rural electric infrastructure by rejecting new regulations on cooperative utility poles.

Participating in NRECA’s 2024 Legislative Conference were representatives from Adams-Columbia Electric, Bayfield Electric, Central Wisconsin Electric, Dunn Energy, East Central Energy, Eau Claire Energy, Jackson Electric, Oakdale Electric, Pierce Pepin Cooperative Services, Polk-Burnett Electric, Riverland Energy, and Dairyland Power.


EPA Power Plant Rule Draws Lawsuits

The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) and a coalition of 23 states filed separate lawsuits in the U.S. Court of Appeals against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for the power plant rule it issued in April.

The rule is aimed at significantly reducing carbon emissions, and requires coal plants with at least 15 years of operating life left to use carbon capture and sequestration, a developing technology that is not currently used on a utility scale, by 2032 or shut down. Shorter-running coal plants must be able to co-fire with natural gas.

NRECA called the rule “unlawful, unreasonable, and unachievable” and filed a lawsuit against the EPA.

The rule would have a major impact on Dairyland Power Cooperative’s JPM coal plant near Alma, which is not near a pipeline and would need major infrastructure investments to continue operating.


Court Reverses Third-Party Solar Approval

The Dane County Circuit Court recently released a ruling on a challenge to the Public Service Commission’s (PSC) decision to approve a petition by Vote Solar to allow a single case of third-party solar financing, opening the door to unregulated entities selling electricity in violation of state law.

In the ruling, the court largely sides with the Wisconsin Utilities Association (WUA), which brought the lawsuit. Wisconsin’s electric cooperatives joined WUA in opposition of the Vote Solar petition, arguing the move would allow solar companies that sell or lease solar panels to charge buyers by kilowatt hour or the energy they use, with no oversight, no consumer protections, no investment in power infrastructure, and no consideration of how it would impact the grid.


Broadband Subsidy Ends

The federal Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP), which provides a monthly internet subsidy of $30 to $75 for eligible households, has run out of funds. The FCC launched the $14.2 billion program as many lower-income households struggled to pay for internet during COVID, and more than 23 million households were enrolled.

Efforts by President Joe Biden and other lawmakers to continue funding the program were unsuccessful, so as of April, those enrolled in the program will no longer receive the credit. The FCC stopped accepting new applications for ACP in February.


Evers on U.S. Climate Alliance Exec Committee

Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers has been selected by a coalition of peers to serve in a leadership role for the U.S. Climate Alliance, which he has been a member of since 2019.

Evers’ work on the executive committee is expected to build on his administration’s efforts and help advance equitable solutions to environmental challenges facing the state and nation.

The goal of the U.S. Climate Alliance is to secure a net-zero future in America by advancing state-led, high-impact climate action solutions and achieving the goals of the 2015 Paris Agreement to combat climate change.


Court Rules in Favor of Cardinal-Hickory Creek

The 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals lifted a preliminary injunction blocking construction of the final stretch of the Cardinal-Hickory Creek Line, clearing a major hurdle for the project which is now in the final stretch. This comes less than a week after U.S. District Judge William Conley upheld the injunction preventing Dairyland Power Cooperative and ITC Midwest from finishing the last mile of a power line between Iowa and Wisconsin.

The line allows more than 160 renewable energy projects to access the grid. Construction of the final stretch has been on hold for more than two years, pending court challenges and inflating the project cost from $492 to more than $600 million.


RESCO Cuts Ribbon on New Warehouse

The Rural Electric Supply Cooperative (RESCO) officially cut the ribbon in celebration of the grand opening of its new 40,000-square-foot warehouse and office space in the town of Stanley. This is the co-op’s eighth warehouse site, and its location is expected to help better serve Wisconsin electric co-ops in the region, especially with response times following severe weather and storms. At a cost of $7-8 million, this is RESCO’s largest capital investment in the cooperative’s 87 years.

The new facility sits on 15 acres, giving the cooperative the ability to expand its operations as needed. The amount of square footage—both indoor and outdoor—will allow RESCO to expand its growing product inventory levels, and enable it to deliver the materials, supplies, and equipment to members faster.

The site also includes office space and a large training room.

Clark Electric Cooperative is the electric provider for the new facility.

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