No Rate Hike Please: WE Energies Rate Case WPSC Docket No. 5-UR-110

No Rate Hike Please: WE Energies Rate Case WPSC Docket No. 5-UR-110

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Dear Community Stakeholders,​

Walnut Way is getting involved in a case where WE Energies is seeking to raise gas and electric rates for residents in Milwaukee and Lindsay Heights. The case is before the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin, an agency which must approve utility’s rate hikes.

Along with other allies, Walnut Way is calling attention to the impact of higher rates on low-income residents of the Milwaukee area. We are seeking equity and fairness, to ensure residents don’t get priced out of their homes and can enjoy the health and economic benefits of renewable energy and energy efficiency.

"Inequities are the result of institutionalized racism and other forms of harm across multiple overlapping systems (e.g. education, housing, health care, the fossil fuel industry, food systems, transportation, financial systems, etc.), with compounding impacts over time. For this reason, a systems view of the problem and an ecosystem approach to solutions is crucial to progress. Communities of color bear disproportionate burdens in terms of energy utility costs, housing instability, access to health care, technology, healthy food, transportation, and more."  The aggregate impact of these issues make it difficult for the Southeast Wisconsin region to progress both economically and socially.​

In this current "rate adjustment" process, the energy affordability and efficiency data for low-income and BIPOC ratepayers will reveal a lack of targeted place-based capital investment and several insuperable disparities in contrast to other utility customer classes and demographics, especially when examined by race, zip code and census tract. 

With knowledge of these geographically exclusionary capital investments and the current "rate design" equity and fairness contradictions, WE Energies, legally bound by a "duty to serve," and being committed to decarbonization and energy affordability for all Milwaukee ratepayers, is obligated to:

  • Acknowledge marginalization 
  • Assert a sustainable vision for engagement
  • Articulate a developmental process
  • Assess participation efforts (inside the utility)
  • Account for sustained action 

African American wellbeing in Milwaukee is among the lowest in the nation.  WE Energies operations are linked to the social determinants of health for Milwaukee’s BIPOC community.  Partnering with WE Energies to help reduce energy burden for low to middle-income ratepayers in Milwaukee is our ultimate goal.​

​As a partner, energy burdened ratepayers must be afforded the resources to experiment, innovate and adapt co-created solutions with the utility to reduce CO2 emissions, and catalyze the local economy through targeted investments in affordable housing, workforce development, entrepreneurship and education.

As a result of an agreeable settlement, WE Energies will:

1. Establish annual funding commitment from WEPCO Shareholders to make targeted investments in energy affordability and efficiency for energy burdened, low income, and BIPOC ratepayers.

2. Co-create solutions with most vulnerable ratepayers, including local community and economic development stakeholders to reduce CO2 emissions in targeted communities, through direct investments in affordable housing, workforce development, entrepreneurship and education.

3. Co-create an inclusive cross sector stakeholder group to govern over settlement objectives and financial resources.

Respectfully,

Antonio A. Butts

Executive Director

Walnut Way Conservation Corp

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