On the commission's own motion or upon complaint filed by the consumer, the commission shall have jurisdiction to take administrative action or to commence civil actions against telecommunications utilities or providers to enforce this section.
The commission may, at its discretion, institute in any court of competent jurisdiction a proceeding against a telecommunications utility or provider for injunctive relief to compel compliance with this section, to compel the accounting and refund of any moneys collected in violation of this section or for any other relief permitted under this chapter.
Unfair trade practice enforcement.
Upon receipt of a notice issued under s. 100.208
, the commission may order a telecommunications provider to cease offering the telecommunications service that creates the unfair trade practice or method of competition.
Upon a finding of a violation of this section by the commission, any person injured because of a violation of this section by a telecommunications utility or provider may commence a civil action to recover damages or to obtain injunctive relief.
Upon request of the commission, the attorney general may bring an action to require a telecommunications utility or provider to compensate any person for any pecuniary loss caused by the failure of the utility or provider to comply with this section.
Alternate dispute resolution.
The commission shall establish by rule a procedure for alternative dispute resolution to be available for complaints filed against a telecommunications utility or provider.
Sub. (4) does not grant the public service commission the right to sue a utility for forfeitures on its own behalf and on behalf of individual citizens to enforce rights granted to them by other provisions of chapter 196. PSC v. Wisconsin Bell, Inc. 211 Wis. 2d 751
, 566 N.W.2d 496
(Ct. App. 1997), 96-3038
No public utility may charge, demand, collect or receive more or less compensation for any service performed by it within the state, or for any service in connection therewith, than is specified in the schedules for the service filed under s. 196.19
, including schedules of joint rates, as may at the time be in force, or demand, collect or receive any rate, toll or charge not specified in the schedule.
History: 1983 a. 53
See also chs. PSC 113
, Wis. adm. code.
Utility service for victims of misappropriated identifying information. 196.23(1)(1)
If an individual uses personal identifying information of another individual, without the authorization or consent of the other individual, to apply for and receive service from a public utility and, as a result, the individual whose personal identifying information was used without authorization or consent is unable to obtain service from the public utility, the utility shall provide service to that individual if all of the following apply:
The individual furnishes the public utility an affidavit indicating that to the best of the individual's knowledge his or her personal identifying information was used by another individual, without the authorization or consent of the affiant, to obtain the utility service.
The individual furnishes the public utility a copy of a law enforcement agency report, based on the individual's report to the law enforcement agency of the use by another individual of his or her personal identifying information without authorization or consent to obtain utility service.
The individual otherwise qualifies to receive the service from the utility.
A public utility may contest the accuracy of an affidavit or report furnished by an individual under sub. (1) (a)
by petitioning for a summary investigation under s. 196.28 (1)
. If a petition is filed, the commission shall conduct a summary investigation. If a hearing is held under s. 196.28 (2)
and the commission determines that the conditions of sub. (1) (intro.)
have not been met, the public utility is not required to provide utility service under this section to the individual.
History: 2003 a. 36
Agents of commission; powers. 196.24(1)(1)
For the purpose of making any investigation with regard to any public utility the commission may appoint, by an order in writing, an agent whose duties shall be prescribed in the order.
In the discharge of his or her duties, an agent appointed under sub. (1)
shall have any inquisitional power granted to the commission and the power of a supplemental court commissioner to take depositions under s. 757.675 (2) (b)
The commission may conduct any number of investigations contemporaneously through different agents, and may delegate to any agent the authority to take testimony bearing upon any investigation or at any hearing. The decision of the commission shall comply with s. 227.46
and shall be based upon its records and upon the evidence before it, except that, notwithstanding s. 227.46 (4)
, a decision maker may hear a case or read or review the record of a case if the record includes a synopsis or summary of the testimony and other evidence presented at the hearing that is prepared by the commission staff. Parties shall have an opportunity to demonstrate to a decision maker that a synopsis or summary prepared under this subsection is not sufficiently complete or accurate to fairly reflect the relevant and material testimony or other evidence presented at a hearing.
If a public utility, other than a public utility that is a telecommunications provider, receives from the commission any questionnaire, the public utility shall respond fully, specifically and correctly to each question. If a public utility is unable to answer any question, the public utility shall give a good and sufficient reason for its failure. Every answer by a public utility under this section shall be verified under oath by a manager of the public utility and returned to the commission at its office within the period fixed by the commission.
If required by the commission, a public utility, other than a public utility that is a telecommunications provider, shall deliver to the commission the original or a copy of any map, profile, contract or engineer's report and any other document, book, account, paper or record with a complete inventory of all its property, in such form as the commission directs.
If a telecommunications provider receives a questionnaire from the commission, the telecommunications provider shall respond specifically, correctly and fully to each question that relates to a matter over which the commission has jurisdiction. If a telecommunications provider is unable to answer any question, the telecommunications provider shall give a good and sufficient reason for its failure. Answers shall be verified under oath by a manager of the telecommunications provider. A completed questionnaire shall be returned to the commission within the time period specified by the commission.
Complaint by consumers; hearing; notice; order; costs. 196.26(1)(1)
In this section, “complaint" means any of the following:
A complaint filed with the commission that any rate, toll, charge, or schedule, joint rate, regulation, measurement, act, or practice relating to the provision of heat, light, water, or power is unreasonable, inadequate, unjustly discriminatory, or cannot be obtained.
A complaint by a party to an interconnection agreement, approved by the commission, that another party to the agreement has failed to comply with the agreement and that does not allege that the failure to comply has a significant adverse effect on the ability of the complaining party to provide telecommunications service to its customers or potential customers.
Investigation of complaint.
If any mercantile, agricultural, or manufacturing society, body politic, municipal organization, or 25 persons file a complaint specified in sub. (1) (a)
against a public utility, or if the commission terminates a proceeding on a complaint under s. 196.199 (3) (a) 1m. b.
, or if a person files a complaint specified in sub. (1) (c)
, the commission, with or without notice, may investigate the complaint under this section as it considers necessary. The commission may not issue an order based on an investigation under this subsection without a public hearing.
Prior to a hearing under this section, the commission shall notify the public utility or party to an interconnection agreement complained of that a complaint has been made, and 10 days after the notice has been given the commission may proceed to set a time and place for a hearing and an investigation. This paragraph does not apply to a complaint specified in sub. (1) (b)
The commission shall give the complainant and either the public utility or party to an interconnection agreement which is the subject of a complaint specified in sub. (1) (a)
or, for a complaint specified in sub. (1) (b)
, a party to an interconnection agreement who is identified in a notice under s. 196.199 (3) (b) 1. b.
, 10 days' notice of the time and place of the hearing and the matter to be considered and determined at the hearing. The complainant and either the public utility or party to the interconnection agreement may be heard. The commission may subpoena any witness at the request of the public utility, party to the interconnection agreement, or complainant.
Notice under pars. (a)
may be combined. The combined notice may not be less than 10 days prior to hearing.
If a complaint is made under sub. (1m)
of more than one rate or charge, the commission may order separate hearings on each rate and charge, and may consider and determine the complaint on each rate and charge separately and at such times as the commission prescribes. The commission may not dismiss a complaint because of the absence of direct damage to the complainant.
See also ch. PSC 2
and s. PSC 2.11
, Wis. adm. code.
Summary investigations. 196.28(1)(1)
If the commission believes that any rate or charge is unreasonable or unjustly discriminatory or that any service is inadequate or cannot be obtained or that an investigation of any matter relating to any public utility should for any reason be made, the commission on its own motion summarily may investigate with or without notice.
If, after an investigation under sub. (1)
, the commission determines that sufficient grounds exist to warrant a hearing on the matters investigated, the commission shall set a time and place for a hearing. A hearing under this section shall be conducted as a hearing under s. 196.26
Notice of the time and place for a hearing under sub. (2)
shall be given to the public utility and to such other interested persons as the commission considers necessary. After the notice has been given, proceedings shall be had and conducted in reference to the matter investigated as if a complaint specified in s. 196.26 (1) (a)
had been filed with the commission relative to the matter investigated. The same order or orders may be made in reference to the matter as if the investigation had been made on complaint under s. 196.26
This section does not apply to rates, tolls or charges of a telecommunications cooperative, an unincorporated telecommunications cooperative association, or a small telecommunications utility except as provided in s. 196.205
The PSC's decision not to investigate under ss. 196.28 and 196.29 [now s. 196.28 (2) and (3)] was a nonreviewable, discretionary determination. Reviewable decisions are defined. Wisconsin Environmental Decade, Inc. v. PSC, 93 Wis. 2d 650
, 287 N.W.2d 737
Utilities may complain.
Any public utility may file a complaint with the commission on any matter affecting its own product or service.
History: 1983 a. 53
See also ch. PSC 2
and s. PSC 2.11
, Wis. adm. code.
Intervenor financing. 196.31(1)(1)
Except as provided in sub. (2m)
, in any proceeding before the commission, the commission shall compensate any participant in the proceeding who is not a public utility, for some or all of the reasonable costs of participation in the proceeding if the commission finds that:
The participation is necessary to provide for the record an adequate presentation of a significant position in which the participant has a substantial interest, and that an adequate presentation would not occur without a grant of compensation; or
The participation has provided a significant contribution to the record and has caused a significant financial hardship to the participant.
The commission shall compensate any consumer group or consumer representative for all reasonable costs of participating in a hearing under s. 196.198
Compensation granted under this section shall be paid from the appropriation under s. 20.155 (1) (j)
and shall be assessed under s. 196.85 (1)
, except that, if the commission finds that the participation for which compensation is granted relates more to a general issue of utility regulation rather than to an issue arising from a single proceeding, the cost of the compensation may be assessed under s. 196.85 (2)
. Any payment by a public utility for compensation under this section assessed under s. 196.85 (1)
shall be credited to the appropriation under s. 20.155 (1) (j)
The commission may grant no more than $100,000 annually in compensation under this section to the consumer advocate, as defined in s. 196.315 (2) (a)
The commission shall adopt rules to implement this section.
See also ch. PSC 3
, Wis. adm. code.
Consumer advocate funding. 196.315(1)(1)
Legislative statement of intent and purpose.
It is in the public interest that there be an independent, nonpartisan consumer advocate for residential, small commercial, and small industrial energy utility customers of this state and that the advocate be sufficiently funded by those customers to allow for the representation and protection of their interests before the commission and other venues. All actions by the advocate funded under this section shall be directed toward such duty.
“Consumer advocate" means the body created under s. 199.04 (1)
, dissolved under s. 199.17
, and reorganized as a nonstock, nonprofit corporation under ch. 181
“Energy utility" means an investor-owned electric or natural gas public utility.
Annually, within 60 days after a budget under sub. (5)
is approved, each energy utility shall pay to the consumer advocate the amount specified under sub. (5) (e)
. In any year, the total of all amounts required to be paid by energy utilities to the consumer advocate under this subsection may not exceed $900,000.
The funds provided under par. (a)
may not be used for any of the following:
Defraying the cost of participating in proceedings involving the rates or practices of municipal utilities and no other public utilities.
The consumer advocate shall retain all relevant records supporting its expenditure of funds provided under par. (a)
for 3 years after receipt of the funds and shall grant the commission access to the records upon request.
The commission shall ensure in rate-making orders that an energy utility recovers from its residential, small commercial, and small industrial customers the amounts the energy utility pays under sub. (3) (a)
The commission shall apply escrow accounting treatment to expenditures required under this section.
The commission shall review the budgeting and expenditure of funds provided to the consumer advocate under sub. (3) (a)
Annually, by a date specified by the commission, the consumer advocate shall file for the commission's approval an annual budget as approved by the consumer advocate's board of directors. The commission may request additional information from the consumer advocate related to the budget, and may consider any relevant factors, including existing operating reserves and actual costs in prior years compared to the budgets approved by the commission.
The commission shall approve a budget filed under this subsection if the commission determines it is consistent with sub. (1)
and covers the reasonable annual costs of the consumer advocate, including salaries, benefits, overhead expenses, the maintenance of an operating reserve, and any other cost directly or indirectly related to representing and protecting the interests of residential, small commercial, and small industrial energy utility customers. The commission may approve the budget with such conditions and modifications as the commission determines are necessary.
If the commission fails to take final action under par. (c)
within 60 days after a budget is filed with the commission, the commission is considered to have approved the budget that was submitted by the consumer advocate.
Subject to sub. (3) (a)
, the total amount of the approved budget shall be paid to the consumer advocate by the energy utilities. Each energy utility's share of the total amount shall be based on the energy utility's proportionate share of the total number of residential, small commercial, and small industrial customer meters reported by energy utilities under s. 196.07 (1)
History: 2021 a. 24
Witness fees and mileage. 196.32(1)(1)
Any witness who appears before the commission or its agent, by order, shall receive for the applicable attendance the fees provided for witnesses in civil cases in courts of record, which shall be audited and paid by the state in the same manner as other expenses are audited and paid under s. 885.07
, upon the presentation of proper vouchers sworn to by such witnesses and approved by the chairperson of the commission. Fees paid under this section shall be charged to the appropriation for the commission under s. 20.155 (1) (g)
No witness subpoenaed at the instance of parties other than the commission may be compensated under this section unless the commission certifies that the testimony of the witness was material to the matter investigated.