Republican Candidates: Adopt Policies that Promote Conservation
Energy conservation is a hot topic. Nearly everywhere you go people talk about curbing energy consumption and reducing greenhouse gases. Nearly everywhere, that is, except here in Madison, where our borough government relies upon high electric-utility profits to pay our borough’s bills. In Madison, the more electricity people use, the more money the borough collects to pay for its expenditures. Twenty percent or more of our borough’s non-utility expenditures are paid for by the hefty profits that our electric utility collects from Madison’s electric users.
Madison mayoral candidate Rob Catalanello, Councilman Pat Rowe, and Madison Utility Advisory Committee member Kathy Dailey have stated that our borough’s financial reliance upon energy consumption is a disincentive to any energy conservation efforts. The candidates believe that in the twenty-first century, Madison needs a significant energy paradigm shift. Our town needs to adopt energy policies that will foster energy conservation, not stifle it!
Stop Rewarding Heavy Electric Use
Madison has owned and operated its own electric utility for over a hundred years. Although our town does not generate its own electricity, Madison owns the equipment at the substations within the borough, plus the utility poles, wires, and other electric-distribution infrastructure that serves all electric users (commercial, industrial, educational, governmental, and residential) within Madison. Our electric utility purchases electricity at bulk negotiated rates from electricity generation companies. The utility receives that electricity at its substations and then distributes it to Madison consumers.
Madison’s electric utility sends each customer a monthly bill for their prior month’s energy usage, as measured in kilowatt-hours (kWh), and at rates that are set by Madison’s Borough Council. It sets rates for different classes of customers based on the amount of energy the customer typically consumes: the more electricity a customer uses, the lower the electric rate for that particular user. With Madison’s current rate structure, those who use the most electricity pay the least per kWh—by a lot. This rate structure obviously rewards heavier consumption.
Catalanello, Rowe and Dailey believe that the electric utility’s profits should be “decoupled” from energy consumption. Without this decoupling, it will be very difficult to achieve success with any clean-energy initiatives or make progress toward any clean-energy goals.
At minimum, the candidates propose lowering electric rates for lower-consumption users. They also suggest that council establish rate schedules that reward users who achieve measurable reductions in their energy consumption over time.
Encourage Renewable Energy and Distributed Energy Resources
The candidates feel that Madison should take steps to encourage deployment of renewable energy and distributed energy resources (DERs) within the borough, especially those resources that will benefit the environment. DERs can reduce Madison’s reliance on power generated by centralized power plants and help the town to capture energy that might otherwise be wasted. Combined heat and power systems, for example, promote efficiency by producing both electricity and useful heat from a single energy source.
Increasing the use of local energy sources has the added benefit of decreasing the distance that electricity needs to travel between its source and its eventual destination. This shorter travel distance will eliminate or reduce line loss (the energy that gets wasted or “lost” during its transmission and distribution), making the overall power grid more efficient.
To encourage deployment of DERs within Madison, the candidates emphasize that our borough’s electric-distribution circuits and other infrastructure must be open to DERs from varying sources—a distributed energy resource may be owned by the utility, a customer of the utility, or another private entity. Some examples of commonly deployed DERs in distribution grids today include combined heat and power systems, rooftop solar arrays, hydropower, biomass generators, wind turbines, fuel cells, and battery storage. The Republican candidates state that they will work to better ensure Madison’s electric utility is in a position to say yes to DER interconnection requests as often as possible.
Establish a Community Solar Program
Solar panels have increasingly appeared on homeowners’ roofs in Madison. These homeowners not only realize environmental benefits from their rooftop arrays but also measurable financial benefits. If you lease retail space or rent an apartment in town you cannot take advantage of these benefits because rooftop solar panels aren’t usually an option for renters. The benefits of solar energy should be within reach of all Madison’s electric ratepayers. The candidates advocate for establishing a community solar program (CSP)—a shared renewable energy plant—wherein those users who wish to subscribe to Madison’s CSP would pay a monthly subscription fee and receive a credit on their electric bill in return. This type of community solar solution could be owned and operated by the borough, the electric utility, or by a private entity; the program’s solar generation facility would not necessarily need to be located within Madison.
Modernize Madison’s Power Distribution Grid
To better ensure Madison is ready to meet new energy policy goals, the team emphasizes that we must take a proactive approach to modernizing our electric-distribution facilities. With each coming year, our electric utility will be asked to address a growing number and variety of distribution-connected DER requests. Madison’s electric utility personnel will need the proper equipment and technology to process and study these requests so they can efficiently and effectively manage their workflow and meet customers’ expectations. To provide electric customers with the necessary information and tools to enable their energy choices, our borough’s electric utility will need an integrated, modern electric-distribution system and an intentional and methodical integrated-distribution plan.
Help Customers Manage Electric Usage
Madison’s electric utility has been installing smart meters in many homes and businesses throughout the borough. Councilman Rowe champions this effort, and candidate Dailey applauds this important first step toward helping customers to manage their own electric usage. Initially, all the benefits of smart meter deployment will be to the utility’s advantage, but eventually, customers will be able to use advanced metering to monitor their consumption in real time. Real-time feedback creates data and awareness, which better enables consumers to make more informed choices about their energy usage. And with knowledge comes the power to manage one’s usage more efficiently in service of both the environment and one’s budget. Further, the Republican candidates are especially enthusiastic about offering “demand-response” programs to commercial and residential customers. Demand-response programs—aka time-of-use pricing—promote energy efficiency by encouraging customers to curtail energy use during peak-demand hours. Smart meters installed throughout the borough will make it possible for Madison’s electric utility to offer these types of programs, saving both the user and the utility money during times when electricity costs are highest.
Catalanello, Rowe and Dailey: Forward-Thinking Leaders
Planning the future of our community involves establishing policies in all areas that reflect the values of Madison taxpayers. Catalanello, Rowe and Dailey believe that Madison’s current energy policies do not adequately do this or support the vision taxpayers’ have for their families, businesses, and for themselves. The Republican candidates emphasize that they have the willingness, knowledge and professional experience to research and resolve complex matters like this one, and that is why they have offered to be your independent voices on council. They have proven that they’re willing to question the status quo whenever they believe it isn’t best-serving Madison’s significantly taxed community.
Please visit the Catalanello for Mayor website at https://www.robformadison.com/ and the Rowe/Dailey website at www.Madison2019.com for more information about their campaigns.. And follow them on Facebook @Rob4MadisonMayor and @VoteForRoweDailey to find out when they’ll be out and about meeting voters.
Photo Caption: Council candidate Kathy Dailey, Councilman Pat Rowe & mayoral candidate Rob Catalanello discuss the need for Madison to encourage energy conservation through new policies and technologies.