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Utility claims state panel overstepped its bounds by lobbying for green mandates

The electric utility for northeast Wisconsin says a state panel overstepped its bounds by making the firm lobby legislators for a renewable energy mandate.

A document which sets new electric rates for Wisconsin Public Service of Green Bay also said the utility should support a plan to have 25 percent of all power become renewable sources by 2025.

The utility was part of Gov. Jim Doyle's Task Force on global warming, which endorsed the new standard last year.

But state Assembly Republican Phil Montgomery of Ashwaubenon says it doesn't mean the utility supports a specific bill that hasn't been written yet.

And he says it's wrong to make the company support legislation as a condition for raising its electric rates.

A utility attorney says it gives the appearance that the state is interfering with the utility's free speech rights.

It's not a totally done deal. The state's Public Service Commission will take final action on the rate request next month.

Industries which oppose the 25 percent renewable energy mandate say the state commission is clearly overreaching.

Montgomery opposes the 25 percent rule, saying it would result in higher electric costs. He favors a smaller mandate to begin sooner.