Fri March 8, 2013
SC Johnson Makes Case For Better Renewable Energy Incentives
SC Johnson says a pricing change would encourage more firms to install renewable energy systems.
The consumer products giant recently installed two large wind turbines at its largest factory, just outside Racine. Company sustainability officer Kelly Semrau says the plant is now off the electric grid powered by utilities like We Energies.
“The good news is we're going to save $500,000 per year because we’re generating our own electricity. Now, We Energies may not be happy about that, but that's a savings that really matters when you're in business.”
Not every company has the cash laying around to put up wind turbines, but Semrau says more companies might make their own investments in renewables like wind, solar and biogas with some help from state government.
“We need really good state policies around green energy that better [incentivize] business to invest.”
Semrau says one change to make is to increase the rate that utilities pay to buy back a renewable generator's excess power. She says SC Johnson is not trying to get other ratepayers to subsidize the companies. But state Public Services Commission electric division administrator Bob Norcross says when utilities do make power buybacks, the electricity is generally more expensive.
“It's incentive for that technology development, but it does tend to come at a higher cost. The commission wants a balance between the two.”
But SC Johnson says it has been talking to state lawmakers about issues like the buyback rate for renewable-generated power.