Did a pro-energy lobbying group commit fraud to drum up artificial support for WE Energies/MGE rate increase?

A few minutes ago I wrote about the rate increase approved by Gov. Scott Walker’s Public Service Commission, a rate increase that would benefit WE Energies, which last year enjoyed record profits of $577 million at the expense of ratepayers (you & I).

In a related story, Mike Ivey of the CapTimes is reporting that a group lobbying on behalf of the rate increase may have fraudulently used the names of Wisconsin residents in order to artificially drum up support for the rate increase.

A fossil fuel industry group backing changes to Wisconsin’s electric rate structure is misrepresenting the wishes of some Madison Gas & Electric and We Energies customers in a legal filing with state regulators.

The Houston-based Consumer Energy Alliance on Oct. 7 sent the state Public Service Commission a petition with names of 2,500 electric customers statewide, claiming those consumers “believe changing the current rule will ensure that all ratepayers are treated fairly and electricity bills remain affordable.”

But it’s unclear how many of those customers actually support the proposed changes, which would raise fixed costs for residential ratepayers.

For example, Mary Frawley, who lives on Madison’s near west side, is listed on the petition as supporting the changes. But she told The Capital Times she strongly opposes the MGE plan, which would hike her monthly service fees from $10 to $19 starting next year.

Among the 2,500 ratepayers whose names may have been used fraudulently was Mike Sinicki, husband to Democratic State Rep. Christine Sinicki. In response to revelations the Consumer Energy Alliance may have fraudulently used the names of thousands of Wisconsinites, Rep. Sinicki requested Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm investigate whether any crime was committed.

Rep. Christine Sinicki's letter to MKE DA John Chisholm regarding utility rates


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