Third-party financing eliminates the relatively high upfront costs associated with customer-sited renewable energy projects. Through leases or power purchase agreements (PPAs), third-party financing makes ‘going solar’ an affordable option for low to middle-income homeowners, houses of worship, government agencies, and nonprofits. Two petitions have been filed at the PSC seeking rulings to clarify the issue of third party-financed renewable energy generation serving individual customers behind their meters. Favorable rulings on these petitions will ensure that Wisconsin residents and businesses have access to the same financing tools as those in twenty-eight other states with clear third-party financing policies.
Currently, Wisconsin case law allows for third-party financing of energy projects, but some electric utilities have denied interconnection to installations that would have been owned by third parties. They contend that such installations should be regulated as public utilities, even though they are designed to supply energy to only one entity: the host customer. In our view, a business that installs and operates energy equipment on a customer’s property for that customer’s exclusive use should not be regulated as a public utility.
PSC affirmation for third-party financing is essential to spreading the benefits of clean energy to all Wisconsin utility customers. If the PSC does accept these petitions, there will be an opportunity for anyone to submit comments on the petition to let the PSC know your position on the question.