Wisconsin solar tax reversal applauded by industry

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A decision made by a circuit court judge in Wisconsin late last week to reverse proposed charges for solar panels has been applauded by the US solar sector.

Last Friday Dane County Circuit Court judge Peter Anderson announced that he had reversed a decision made by the Wisconsin Public Service Commission in December last year which added a fee to customers of utility We Energies that installed solar panels.

Anderson said the Public Service Commission had not provided enough evidence to support the move, which has been subject to substantial criticism since it was announced.

US trade industry groups The Alliance for Solar Choice (TASC) and Renew Wisconsin lodged an appeal against the decision in January this year and last week’s decision brings an end to a nine-month case.

Amy Heart, senior manager of public policy at Sunrun, said the news amounted to a “critical victory” that would send a “signal to utilities everywhere”.

“After three years of constant attacks from monopoly utilities, not a single state has stopped rooftop solar.

“We Energies will again try to eliminate competition from solar energy. Thousands of Wisconsinites made today’s reversal possible by contacting their elected officials. TASC thanks each of these citizens for making their voices heard. We will need each of their voices once again to fight utility attacks on solar choice,” she said.

TASC is also contesting a similar move made by the State of Hawaii as well as a separate move to end the state’s net metering programme to new customers, which was announced last month.

The decision has again been roundly criticised and Heart is confident TASC will again be successful in court. “Hawaii will be reversed for the same reason that Wisconsin was reversed today – trying to bail out utilities from rooftop solar competition without conducting a study of the costs and benefits of solar,” she added.

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