There is a national war underway on electric consumers, and Madison, Wis., is on the front lines.
Last year, Madison Gas & Electric (MGE) proposed cranking up the mandatory fixed charges on electric and gas bills. The net result would be to raise bills for low-income and elderly customers, penalize customers who save energy or go solar, and block the innovation that is sweeping through the world of energy.
The reaction was swift. Customers took to the streets to protest, and the city council lawyered up to oppose the billing scheme. But still the Scott Walker–appointed state utility commission rubber-stamped the proposals.
To get some perspective on the issue, RePower Madison, the local citizen group, asked me to look at what was happening in other cities. I lived in Madison in the late ‘90s, graduating from the LaFollette Institute with a degree in energy policy. Since then I’ve worked to promote clean energy across the country.
Two examples immediately sprung to mind: Boulder, Colo., and Minneapolis, Minn.
Boulder, named by Outside magazine as the best sports town in America, is also chock-full of energy and climate experts who work at fe... Read more