Retail Energy Suppliers Call for Regulators to Investigate Electricity Competition's Benefits for Wisconsin Consumers

September 17, 2012

Wisconsin

HARRISBURG, PA — The nation’s leading organization representing competitive energy suppliers is calling for the Wisconsin Public Service Commission to open a formal proceeding to consider the demonstrated benefits competition in electricity can provide the state’s consumers and economy.

“We urge the Commission to take the steps necessary to move toward a competitive electric market that will best ensure choices, new jobs and innovation for Wisconsin,” the Retail Energy Supply Association said in comments filed with the Commission. “Effectively competing is how virtually all industries operate, and this should be no different in the provision of electricity.”

RESA’s comments are in response to the Commission’s stated concerns about escalating electricity costs in Wisconsin, and that rising electricity costs threaten Wisconsin’s economic competitiveness.

“Many ratepayers have expressed their anger and frustration publicly and directly to the Commission about utilities raising rates during a time when they are using less in order to reduce their energy costs,” the Commission said in its most recent Biennial Strategic Energy Assessment. The Commission should “investigate ways to mitigate energy rate increases to ensure Wisconsin remains competitive in a global marketplace,” the energy assessment stated.

In its comments, RESA noted that Wisconsin over a decade ago had considered restructuring its industry to promote electricity competition, but state policymakers opted to retain traditional monopoly price regulation for utilities. But the experience of neighboring states that undertook competitive reforms demonstrate that Wisconsin should reconsider monopoly regulation.

“Competitive markets provide customers with the means of actively controlling their energy costs through access to innovative products and services not available under the traditional monopoly-protected price-regulated model,” RESA said in its comments urging the Commission “to carefully consider and engage in further examination of whether electric industry restructuring and the introduction of competition can help the State of Wisconsin meet its future energy needs.”

In undertaking the investigation, RESA recommended the Commission delve into a variety of issues and solicit comments and recommendations from interested parties, with the goal of making recommendations to policymakers on whether electric industry restructuring and the introduction of competition should be considered as a means for meeting the future energy needs of Wisconsin electric consumers.

“The economic viability of Wisconsin businesses should continue to be a top priority as well as ensuring the people of the state are afforded the benefits only retail electric choice can provide,” RESA said. “As such, access to non-discriminatory competitively priced electricity is another key measure the state can undertake to ensure that not only the creation and preservation of jobs improves, but also the retention of key businesses that exist today within the state are maintained.”

Among the benefits cited by RESA, the filing noted innovative products and services tailored to meet customer’s needs, resources, budget requirements, environmental or sustainability initiatives, and price hedging strategies. These products can be individually customized to meet the business goals, risk appetite, and needs of all types of consumers, RESA said.

Customers can choose fixed-price contracts or purchase electricity at prices that reflect the ups and downs of the wholesale power market. Competitive suppliers offer products that allow customers to actively take control of their energy usage through energy efficiency and demand response programs that allow them to actively participate in the wholesale power market and earn payments for helping the grid operator maintain reliability. Competitive markets provide ready access to renewable “green” electricity supplies and other similar products, and competitive markets have enhanced power grid reliability by driving efficiency and innovation, RESA said.

“Competition in electricity markets fosters innovation, clean energy solutions, jobs and competitive rates, and enables customers to shop for innovative energy management solutions and helps lower costs and preserve jobs,” RESA said.

Specifically, RESA cited the experience of Illinois and Ohio, two nearby states with industrial economies that adopted competitive reforms in electricity as Wisconsin stayed with entrenched monopoly regulation. Once high-cost states, residents and businesses in Illinois and Ohio now enjoy among the lowest electricity rates in the Midwest as Wisconsin electricity costs have escalated to the point of creating economic competitiveness concerns. “Wisconsin has certainly embraced measures to advance competition in the natural gas and telecommunications industries and now is the time to do so with electricity,” RESA declared.

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About RESA

The Retail Energy Supply Association (RESA) is dedicated to promoting and sustaining vibrantly competitive electricity markets for the benefit of consumers. RESA’s members include: Champion Energy Services, LLC; ConEdison Solutions; Constellation NewEnergy, Inc.; Direct Energy Services, LLC; Energetix, Inc.; Energy Plus Holdings LLC; Exelon Energy Company; GDF SUEZ Energy Resources NA, Inc.; Green Mountain Energy Company; Hess Corporation; Integrys Energy Services, Inc.; Just Energy; Liberty Power; MC Squared Energy Services, LLC; Mint Energy, LLC; NextEra Energy Services; Noble Americas Energy Solutions LLC; PPL EnergyPlus, LLC; Reliant; Stream Energy; TransCanada Power Marketing Ltd. and TriEagle Energy, L.P.. For more information about RESA please contact Tracy McCormick, Executive Director at (717) 566-5405.

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About RESA

Together with our members, we play a critical role in educating key stakeholders and are active in support of or opposition to bills that affect competitive electricity markets, consumers, and RESA initiated legislation.

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