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"But it raises the question of why we allow a for-profit company to have an energy monopoly over one-third of our state's population in the first place."

We Energies has been a long-standing monopoly in certain areas of Wisconsin, serving as the primary electricity and natural gas provider for many residents. This monopoly, while heavily regulated, has allowed We Energies to profit substantially from their exclusive control over energy provision in the state. The company's profits have often come at the expense of consumers and the environment.

In an age where renewable energy technologies are becoming increasingly accessible and cost-effective, the state's reliance on a single, profit-driven utility company seems outdated and restrictive. Despite the growing availability of alternative energy sources like solar power, wind energy, and hydropower, Wisconsin remains tethered to We Energies.

This exclusive relationship with We Energies not only limits the state's energy options but also inhibits potential improvements in quality of life. Energy plays a significant role in nearly every aspect of daily life, from heating homes to powering businesses. By diversifying energy sources and removing the profit motive from the equation, Wisconsin could potentially enhance the reliability of its energy supply, lower energy costs for consumers, and reduce the environmental impact of its energy use.

"Indeed, thanks to pioneering Wisconsin progressives who were leery of vesting enormous control in private monopolies and allowing them to enjoy big guaranteed profits, many Wisconsin communities formed their own gas and electric companies.

There are still 81 municipally owned utilities in the state serving more than 300,000 customers. They're owned by the citizens of New Glarus to the residents of Manitowoc, from Tommy Thompson's hometown of Elroy to the upstate community of Spooner.

All belong to a statewide consortium known as Municipal Electric Utilities of Wisconsin, which helps coordinate the power production and administration of the locally owned nonprofits."

Moreover, We Energies' monopoly hinders the state's ability to fully harness the potential of renewable energy technologies. With a diversified energy sector, Wisconsin could invest in a variety of renewable energy projects, creating jobs, stimulating economic growth, and advancing the state's environmental sustainability goals.

Listen here to Gale Klappa

We Energies 2/2024 - Earnings Call -

Unfortunately, the current energy landscape in Wisconsin is not conducive to these advancements. We Energies' monopoly and its focus on profit-making have stifled innovation and restricted the state's energy future. Until this changes, Wisconsin will remain shackled to a single energy provider, missing out on the benefits that a diversified, forward-thinking energy sector could bring to Wisconsin.

Think of Wisconsin's energy future like a train on the tracks. The destination? A clean, sustainable 2050. But recently, We Energies has proposed to divert this train, swapping our coal plants for natural gas. It's like trading your old gas-guzzling car for a slightly less thirsty one, when the goalpost is a zero-emissions electric vehicle.

Sure, natural gas might seem like a step forward from coal, but it's still a fossil fuel. It's like trying to win a marathon by walking; you're moving, but not fast enough to reach the finish line in time.

The scary part? Once we've invested billions in these conversions, there's no going back. It's like buying a ticket for a one-way trip that takes us further away from our destination.

But here's the good news: the train hasn't departed yet. By speaking up now, we can keep Wisconsin on track towards a clean, renewable energy future. Let's not let our state take the slow lane when we have the opportunity to speed ahead.

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