By Philip R. O’Connor Aug. 1, 2015
Wisconsin boasts many superlatives — the best cheese, beer and brats, most black bears in the lower 48, most intensely loyal football fans, nicest vacation spots and some of the most memorable politicians to ever serve in the U.S. Senate, whether La Follette, McCarthy or Proxmire.
But there is one top spot Wisconsin should relinquish. Between 1997 and 2014, Wisconsin had the highest percentage increase in average electricity prices of any state in the continental United States. The really embarrassing part is that Illinois had the lowest increase, just 15.2%, one-tenth Wisconsin’s over the 17-year period and far less than the rate of inflation.
Why the dramatic difference? Simply stated, Illinois embraced electricity competition. Wisconsin maintained monopoly regulation, with consumers paying a pretty penny for the privilege — trillions pf pennies, actually. In the six-year period 2009-2014, Wisconsin consumers paid $5.6 billion more for electricity than if they had paid the same competitive prices their Illinois neighbors paid.