Wednesday, August 20, 2008

WEENER, Indeed: The $100 Million Failure of Nerve

McIlheran exposes the failure of nerve at WE Energies.

An extra $100 million... will be tacked onto power bills in eastern Wisconsin, $100 million that has nothing to do with generating that power, will not be a tax.

...The not-a-tax is part of the recent settlement between We Energies, nearly done expanding its Oak Creek power plant, and two environmentalist groups that have opposed the expansion at every turn.

The greens lost repeatedly in courts and before regulators. They likely would have lost yet again had they continued to fire their one remaining weapon, a claim that We Energies errs in drawing cooling water from Lake Michigan and must instead build $400 million cooling towers. Regulators had already told the enviros to go jump in the coolant, but investors wanted certainty, so We Energies and its partners paid the greens to go away.

With your money

The settlement with the Sierra Club and Clean Wisconsin states that the utility will “request and diligently seek” to have regulators add the $100 million to power rates. It will not come from shareholders

You could connect the dots here. WE Energies also approved the execrable Wisconsin Climate Report, which (if its reccomendations are implemented) will push Wisconsin's economy back to the Stone Age. That's not a co-incidence.

Wanna have input on where your $100 million is going?

Screw you.

...unspecified good deeds related to Lake Michigan: to “address” the “impact of invasive species,” to “reduce” storm water runoff, to gussy up wildlife habitat. The projects “shall be of the type” outlined in a Department of Natural Resources’ wish list.

The projects may be nice — or not, not that you have any say — but they really don’t have anything to do with electricity, other than adding to its cost. “It’s just kind of a donation,” Martin said, by the utility, out of your pocket, to spare shareholders a small but lingering risk.

"Ratepayers" include you and me. But the single largest customer of WE Energies happens to be the City of Milwaukee, whose electric bill is a monster. Guess who pays THAT bill?

Other heavy-duty electric consumers include Roundy's Pick-N-Save, Milwaukee County and hospitals, not to mention manufacturing concerns.

Speaking of manufacturing concerns (and not off-topic): two members of the Wisconsin Climate Commission who refused to endorse the report have made changes in their Wisconsin footprint.

They closed up and left.

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