Today, the Public Service Commission lowered We Energies’ return on equity—the profit margin built into its energy rates—from the requested 10.2% to 9.8%. It is the first time in recent memory that the commission has taken this step, and it is a recognition that unchecked energy company profits are a growing burden on customers. In their discussion today, commissioners returned again and again to the topic of energy efficiency and the urgent need for programs to help customers save energy and save on their bills. Commissioners requested more information from We Energies on the utility’s plans to help its customers save energy. A final rate order will likely be issued in the coming weeks.
It’s important to note that We Energies ignored measures that would have helped ease the burden of its rate hike on customers. The company shrugged off proposals from Clean Wisconsin and Walnut Way to implement energy efficiency programs, including a pilot program that would specifically benefit low-income customers. We Energies’ parent company made $1.3 billion in net profits for shareholders last year. It’s past time for utilities in Wisconsin to prioritize helping customers save energy over excessive profits.
We are thankful to the many people who took the time to attend public hearings and submit comments speaking out against unfair energy rates. The commission’s move today was a small but critical step that puts utility profits in the spotlight.