The State Of WPPI
Because New Richmond’s municipal electric utility is a member-owner of Wisconsin Public Power Inc., every member of the community has a stake in how our organization is faring. Therefore, it is a pleasure to summarize my recent annual meeting “State of WPPI” address to members.
I am pleased to report that WPPI remains focused and on course to meet its twin objectives: first, to secure and maintain a long-term, diverse and reliable portfolio of power supply resources for our members’ long-term electric needs; and second, to help our member utilities provide excellent service to customers at lower rates than other utilities.
To meet these objectives, WPPI’s most important challenge is the continued development of new power supply resources and strong support for Wisconsin’s effort to strengthen the state’s transmission grid. We are aggressively developing a variety of options, including wind and other renewable resources, as well as participation in new state-of-the-art clean coal projects.
A top priority for WPPI, New Richmond, and all of New Richmond utilities’ customers must be becoming much more efficient users of electricity. We all waste energy. New power plants are very expensive. Fuel prices have risen dramatically and are likely to stay high. The least expensive way to keep electric bills down for the long-term is to conserve and use electricity much more wisely. To protect our environment for our children and grandchildren and keep Wisconsin’s economy competitive, energy efficiency must become a primary focus of our state’s energy policy. We all must do our part. WPPI’s members have the opportunity and the duty to become models of efficiency.
The utility of the future should be dedicated to helping customers manage their uses and therefore their bills, improving productivity with lowering consumption. Saving energy will be just as important to our future as building new generation. It costs far less to save a kilowatt than it does to build a kilowatt of capacity as part of a new, large power plant.
This is an area in which WPPI is committed to lead by example. Last year, we challenged ourselves to reduce energy use at WPPI’s headquarters in Sun Prairie by 10% in two years. Eighteen months later, we’ve achieved a reduction of 15%. Now we will shoot for 20%.
To increase our commitment to protecting our environment, controlling costs and keeping electric bills down over the long-term, I will ask WPPI’s board of directors to substantially increase funding for energy efficiency and conservation programs in member communities in 2006. We will also challenge our members to lead their communities by example.
At the same time, WPPI will proceed to develop new state-of-the-art power plants and increase our proportion of owned resources. We borrowed $240 million in 2005 at a very attractive interest rate to fund our share of Wisconsin Electric Power Company’s Elm Road Generating Station project. I am happy to report that this project — the largest private construction project in the history of Wisconsin — is on schedule and under budget.
We remain committed to working hard to be a valuable asset to New Richmond and its community-owned utility.
Roy Thilly is the CEO of Wisconsin Public Power Inc., a regional power company serving 44 municipalities that operate electric utilities. These community-owned utilities purchase all of their electric requirements from WPPI and supply power to more than 165,000 customers in Wisconsin, Iowa and Michigan. New Richmond Utilities is a member-owner of WPPI.