New Walker Appointee Teamed Up With AFP To Support Solar Energy Cost Hikes

February 19, 2015

This week, Bloomberg Politics dubbed Scott Walker the “King of Kochworld.” The article chronicled his deep and long-established ties to the Koch brothers’ network and their support for the ultra-conservative makeover he’s given the state of Wisconsin. It’s a love affair that could pay big dividends for Walker, as he looks to become the beneficiary of a large chunk of the eye-popping $889 million they’ve promised to spend this cycle.

Well, Walker is living up to his regal title. This week, his administration announced a number positional of shakeups, including the appointment of a gentleman named Scott Neitzel to run Wisconsin’s Department of Administration. According to the Wisconsin DOA website, their ultimate goal is to “offer Wisconsin residents the most efficient, highest-quality state government services possible.”

But in Neitzel’s previous role, as an executive at Madison Gas and Electric, he was hardly fighting for his new constituents. Instead, Madison Gas and Electric was teaming up with Americans For Prosperity, fighting to protect profits for Big Oil and petrochemical companies like Koch Industries at the expense of solar energy users. The coalition was pushing for legislation to hike fees and increase regulations on customers who produced their own solar power.

From personnel moves to policy pushes, Scott Walker’s motives are clear — the only constituents he’s looking out for are the ones he reigns over in Kochworld.


2015: Walker Appointed Scott Neitzel To Run Wisconsin’s Department Of Administration. According to Wisconsin State Journal, “Gov. Scott Walker announced a number of changes in the ranks of his top administrators Monday, including the replacement of state Department of Administration Secretary Mike Huebsch with former Madison Gas & Electric executive Scott Neitzel.” [Wisconsin State Journal, 2/17/15]

Scott Neitzel Served As The Senior Vice President For Madison Gas And Electric Beginning In 1997. “Scott Neitzel most recently served as Senior Vice President for Madison Gas and Electric Co. (MG&E) Neitzel joined MGE in 1997.” [Fox 6 Now, 2/16/15]

2014: Madison Gas And Electric Sought To Force Solar Energy Producers To Pay More

Madison Gas And Electric Sought To Force Solar Energy Producers To Pay Higher Fees


Madison Gas And Electric Under Neitzel Tried To Double Fee Paid By Customers And Raise Fee By 600 Percent By 2017; Neitzel Called Fee Jump “Fair And Transparent. According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, “The state’s smallest investor-owned utility, Madison Gas & Electric Co., this month sought permission to double its fixed charge in 2015, from $10.44 today to nearly $22 a month for a typical residential customer. Over time, the utility initially proposed to boost customers’ non-energy charges to $68 by 2017. MG&E, whose customers pay the highest rates in the state, believes the change is about making utility pricing ‘fair and transparent,’ said Scott Neitzel, senior vice president. But customer backlash to the proposal, as well as opposition by regional and national environmental groups, prompted the utility to retreat Friday from its initial proposal. Instead of more than doubling, the fixed charge for MG&E customers would rise to $19, an 82% jump.” [Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 6/29/14]

Utilities In Wisconsin Proposed Rate Changes To Force Solar Customers To Pay More. According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel,“ Utilities have moved to dramatically change the way their customers for electricity are billed. The companies want to pay less to customers that generate solar power from their rooftops, and they want to shift a greater portion of a customer’s monthly bill to a fixed charge rather than a charge that fluctuates each month depending on how much power is used by the home or business. The fixed charges, they argue, should pay for everything not tied to the energy cost itself – including the cost of substations and poles, transformers and power lines. Critics say higher fixed charges will discourage customers from conserving energy and open another door for utilities to higher profits.” [Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 6/29/14]

Madison Gas And Electric Sought Increased Regulation On Solar Energy Producers

2014: Madison Gas And Electric Sent Letter To State Regulators Requesting Business With Solar Panels Be Subject To Same Regulation As Public Utilities.  According to the Daily Reporter, “A letter sent by Madison Gas and Electric Co. to state utility regulators has renewable-energy advocates worried that territorial disputes might eclipse the expansion of solar energy in Wisconsin. The Madison-based company sent the letter Dec. 23 to the state Public Service Commission, which regulates public utilities, raising questions over whether companies that use solar panels and similar devices to generate electricity for the benefit of others should be subject to the same rules that govern public utilities. The letter does not name a project but references a situation involving third-party ownership of electrical generation equipment.” [Daily Reporter, 1/3/14]

  • Neitzel: Purpose Of Letter Was To Force Regulators To Consider Effects Of Private Solar Panels On Ratepayers.According to the Daily Reporter, “Scott Neitzel, MG&E senior vice president, said the real purpose of the letter was to get regulators to consider the effects that large energy systems owned by third parties could have on ratepayers. He said customers’ utility bills cover the expense of energy and the construction and maintenance of the electrical grid. [Daily Reporter, 1/3/14]

Michael Vickerman Of RENEW Wisconsin: Policy Was Designed “To Keep The Menace Of Solar Away From Their Customers. ” According to the Daily Reporter, But Michael Vickerman, program and policy director for the environmental group RENEW Wisconsin, said the letter could have been written in response to only one project: solar arrays added to the roofs of four public buildings in the city of Monona. He said the installation, meant to help the city reach its goal of increasing its generation of renewable energy by 25 percent by 2025, is the only third-party-owned generation system in MG&E’s electrical service area. […] ‘This is eventually the kind of firewall they hope to build this year,’ Vickerman said, ‘to keep the menace of solar away from their customers.’” [Daily Reporter, 1/3/14]

American For Prosperity Supported The Solar Rate Changes

David Fladeboe, State Director, Americans For Prosperity – Wisconsin: Solar Customers ”Should Have To Pay Their Fair Share For The Grid That They Use As Much, If Not More, Than The Rest Of Us.” According to a memo by David Fladeboe obtained via Americans For Prosperity, “Solar customers also rely on the grid to sell electricity they don’t need back to their local utility. Again, they need access to the energy grid to do that – and they should have to pay their fair share for the grid that they use as much, if not more, than the rest of us.” [David Fladeboe – Americans For Prosperity, 9/15/14]

Fladeboe Argued That Costs Of Building And Maintaining Grid Meant That Customers Using Less Power Should Pay More. According to a memo by David Fladeboe obtained via Americans For Prosperity, “The costs associated with delivering electricity to power homes and businesses are much more than just the amount of energy consumed. There is an entire infrastructure in place to deliver that energy, ranging from the grid itself (transmission lines, substations, distribution lines, poles and meters) to the billing, maintenance and customer service departments of utilities. These utility investments are needed to reliably supply energy to all customers—regardless of a customer’s energy usage. They’re especially critical in the aftermath of bad storms that leave customers without power.” [David Fladeboe – Americans For Prosperity, 9/15/14]

Americans For Prosperity Sponsored An Article On Supporting Higher Fees For Solar Energy Users. [Right Wisconsin, 9/15/14]

Paid for by American Bridge 21st Century Foundation