If the commission finds that any measurement, regulation, practice, act or service is unjust, unreasonable, insufficient, preferential, unjustly discriminatory or otherwise unreasonable or unlawful, or that any service is inadequate, or that any service which reasonably can be demanded cannot be obtained, the commission shall determine and make any just and reasonable order relating to a measurement, regulation, practice, act or service to be furnished, imposed, observed and followed in the future.
Any public utility to which an order under this section applies shall make such changes in schedules on file under s. 196.19
to make the schedules conform to the order. The public utility may not make any subsequent change in rates, tolls or charges without the approval of the commission.
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
It is not unreasonable or unjustly discriminatory for a municipal public utility to adopt application, deposit, disconnection, or collection rules and practices that distinguish between customers based upon whether the customer owns or leases the property that is receiving utility service where the possibility exists for any unpaid bills of a tenant to become a lien on the property that is receiving utility service.
A water public utility may fund all or a portion of the cost of providing financial assistance under s. 196.372
using revenue collected from charges applied to retail customers receiving service from the water public utility in the same city, village, or town in which the property for which the financial assistance is provided is located.
See also ch. PSC 110
, Wis. adm. code.
In the absence of statutory authority, the PSC may not fix rates to be applied retroactively. Algoma, Eagle River, New Holstein, Stratford, Sturgeon Bay & Two Rivers v. PSC, 91 Wis. 2d 252
, 283 N.W.2d 261
(Ct. App. 1978).
Allowing a utility to charge present ratepayers for a storm damage casualty loss that occurred in a prior year did not constitute retroactive rate making. Wisconsin Environmental Decade, Inc. v. PSC, 98 Wis. 2d 682
, 298 N.W.2d 205
(Ct. App. 1980).
The PSC has authority to shift the cost of excess generating capacity to shareholders if the excess capacity was imprudently acquired or is not useful in serving the public, but there must be a reasoned determination that ratepayers should not bear the cost. Madison Gas & Electric Co. v. PSC, 109 Wis. 2d 127
, 325 N.W.2d 339
A utility's failure to pay taxes under protest may constitute “imprudence" and may reasonably affect a rate-setting decision. Wisconsin Public Service Corporation v. PSC, 156 Wis. 2d 611
, 457 N.W.2d 502
(Ct. App. 1990).
The PSC has authority to order a utility to refund compensation collected in violation of filed tariffs. GTE North Inc. v. PSC, 176 Wis. 2d 559
, 500 N.W.2d 284
The PSC's imposition of a penalty for imprudent administration of a coal acquisition contract was impermissible retroactive rate-making. Wisconsin Power & Light v. PSC, 181 Wis. 2d 385
, 511 N.W.2d 291
Sub. (1) is not implicated when a refund is ordered for reasons other than the PSC's determination that rates for services already provided were not reasonable. Sub. (2) authorizes the PSC to order a refund of a rate that the utility believed was included in a tariff, but the PSC concluded was not, and of a rate that the utility believed was properly filed with the PSC but the PSC concluded was not. CenturyTel of the Midwest-Kendall, Inc. v. PSC, 2002 WI App 236
, 257 Wis. 2d 837
, 653 N.W.2d 130
Once a rate or practice is determined to be unlawful, or once a charge is determined to be a practice that is unlawful, it is subject to the remedial authority of sub. (2). Under CenturyTel
, sub. (2) provides the PSC authority to order a refund. Wisconsin Bell, Inc. v. Public Service Commission, 2004 WI App 8
, 269 Wis. 2d 409
, 675 N.W.2d 242
Rate-making principles for electric generation facilities. 196.371(2)
A public utility that proposes to purchase an electric generating facility or that applies for a certificate for the construction of an electric generating facility may apply to the commission for an order specifying in advance the rate-making principles that the commission shall apply to the public utility's recovery of the capital costs of the facility, including the purchase price and any necessary modifications or improvements to the facility at the time of the purchase, in future rate-making proceedings. In applying for an order under this section, a public utility shall describe the public utility's proposal for the recovery of such costs, including all of the following:
The proposed return on equity and rate of return for the facility.
The proposed financing mechanisms for the facility.
The proposed method for determining the costs that may be recovered in rates.
Any other proposals or information regarding the recovery of the costs that the public utility determines are necessary for providing certainty to the public utility, investors, and ratepayers in future rate-making proceedings.
Any other information specified by the commission.
The commission shall conduct a hearing on an application for an order under this section. The commission may hold the hearing in conjunction with a hearing, if any, on the application for the certificate or the commission may hold a separate hearing on the application for the order. If the public utility has applied for a certificate for the facility, the commission shall determine whether to deny an application for an order or to issue an order no later than the date that the commission takes final action on the application for the certificate. If the public utility has not applied for a certificate, the commission shall determine whether to deny an application for an order or to issue an order no later than 180 days after the commission determines that the application for the order is complete using the method and deadlines specified under s. 196.491 (3) (a) 2.
The commission may issue an order if the commission determines that the order will provide a sufficient degree of certainty to the public utility, investors, and ratepayers with respect to future recovery of the facility's capital costs and that the order is otherwise in the public interest.
The commission shall specify in an order under this section a deadline at least 60 days after the date of issuance of the order for the public utility to notify the commission in writing about whether the public utility accepts or waives acceptance of the order. If the public utility does not make the notification by the deadline specified in the order, the public utility is considered to have waived acceptance of the order.
If the public utility accepts the order, then, in all future rate-making proceedings regarding the public utility, the order shall be binding on the commission in its treatment of the recovery of the capital costs of the facility that is subject to the order and the commission may not consider the order or the effects of the order in its treatment of the recovery of any other cost of the public utility.
If the public utility waives or is considered to have waived acceptance of the order, the commission shall withdraw the order and consider the capital costs of the facility in all future rate-making proceedings in the same manner as the commission considers capital costs for which no order has been issued under this section.
The commission may not require a public utility to apply for or accept an order under this section.
The commission shall promulgate rules for administering this section, including rules specifying the information that must be included in an application for an order under this section.
History: 2005 a. 7
Financial assistance for lead-containing customer-side water service lines. 196.372(1)(a)
“Customer-side water service line” means the portion of a water service line owned by a property owner.
“Financial assistance” means a grant, loan, or combination thereof.
“Utility-side water service line” means the portion of a water service line owned by a water public utility.
(2) Financial assistance.
A water public utility may provide financial assistance to the owner of a property to which water utility service is provided for the purpose of assisting the owner in replacing customer-side water service lines containing lead if all of the following are satisfied:
The city, town, or village in which the water public utility provides utility service to the property has enacted an ordinance that permits the water public utility to provide the financial assistance and requires each owner of a premises located in the city, town, or village that is serviced by a customer-side water service line containing lead to replace that customer-side water service line.
The utility-side water service line and the water main pipe that are connected to the customer-side water service line meet one of the following conditions:
The lead-containing portion of the utility-side water service line or water main pipe is replaced at the same time as the customer-side water service line is replaced.
A water public utility seeking approval under sub. (2) (c)
shall submit to the commission an application that includes a description of the proposed financial assistance, a description of the method for funding the financial assistance, a description of the customers served by the water public utility that would be eligible for financial assistance, and any other information relevant to the action requested by the commission.
Upon receipt of a complete application, the commission shall investigate the application. The investigation may be with or without public hearing. If the commission conducts a public hearing, the public hearing shall be upon such notice as the commission may require.
If a hearing is held on an application, the commission shall take final action on the application within 180 days after the commission issues a notice of hearing on the application. The chairperson of the commission may extend the time period for an additional 180 days for good cause. If the commission fails to take final action within the initial 180-day period, or the extended 180-day time period, the commission is considered to have granted its approval.
If a hearing is not held on an application, the commission shall take final action on the application within 90 days after the commission issues a notice opening a docket on the application. The chairperson of the commission may extend the time period for an additional 90 days for good cause. If the commission fails to take final action within the initial 90-day period, or the extended 90-day time period, the commission is considered to have granted its approval.
Except as provided in subds. 2.
, if the commission finds that the actions described in the application are not unjust, unreasonable, or unfairly discriminatory, it shall grant its approval in writing.
The commission may not approve an application under subd. 1.
unless the application satisfies all of the following conditions:
Grants that are provided as financial assistance to an owner are limited to no more than one-half of the total cost to the owner of replacing the customer-side water service line containing lead.
Any loan provided may not be forgiven by the water public utility or the municipality.
The commission may not approve an application under subd. 1.
unless the application satisfies one of the following conditions:
If the water public utility intends to provide financial assistance as a percentage of the cost of replacing the customer-side water service line containing lead, that percentage is the same for each owner in a class of customers.
If the water public utility intends to provide financial assistance as a specific dollar amount, that dollar amount is the same for each owner in a class of customers.
History: 2017 a. 137
Water heater thermostat settings. 196.373(1)(a)
“Periodic customer billing" means a demand for payment of utility services by a public utility to a residential utility consumer on a monthly or other regular basis.
“Residential utility consumer" means any individual who lives in a dwelling which is located in this state and which is furnished with a utility service by a public utility. “Residential utility consumer" includes, but is not limited to, an individual engaged in farming as defined under s. 102.04 (3)
At least annually every public utility furnishing gas or electricity shall include in its periodic customer billing a statement recommending that water heater thermostats be set no higher than 125 degrees Fahrenheit in order to prevent severe burns and unnecessary energy consumption.
History: 1987 a. 102
Energy efficiency and renewable resource programs. 196.374(1)(b)
“Commitment to community program" means an energy efficiency or load management program by or on behalf of a municipal utility or retail electric cooperative.
“Customer application of renewable resources" means the generation of energy from renewable resources that takes place on the premises of a customer of an energy utility or municipal utility or a member of a retail electric cooperative.
“Energy efficiency program" means a program for reducing the usage or increasing the efficiency of the usage of energy by a customer or member of an energy utility, municipal utility, or retail electric cooperative. “Energy efficiency program" does not include load management.
“Energy utility" means an investor-owned electric or natural gas public utility.
“Large energy customer" means a customer of an energy utility that owns or operates a facility in the energy utility's service area that has an energy demand of at least 1,000 kilowatts of electricity per month or of at least 10,000 decatherms of natural gas per month and that, in a month, is billed at least $60,000 for electric service, natural gas service, or both, for all of the facilities of the customer within the energy utility's service territory.
“Load management program" means a program to allow an energy utility, municipal utility, wholesale electric cooperative, as defined in s. 16.957 (1) (v)
, retail electric cooperative, or municipal electric company, as defined in s. 66.0825 (3) (d)
, to control or manage daily or seasonal customer demand associated with equipment or devices used by customers or members.
“Ordered program" means an energy efficiency or renewable resource program that an energy utility commenced on or after January 1, 2001, under a commission order issued on or after January 1, 2001, and in effect before July 1, 2007.
“Renewable resource" means a resource that derives energy from any source other than coal, petroleum products, nuclear power or, except as used in a fuel cell, natural gas. “Renewable resource" includes resources deriving energy from any of the following:
Fuel cell technology that uses, as determined by the commission, a renewable fuel.
“Renewable resource program" means a program for encouraging the development or use of customer applications of renewable resources, including educating customers or members about renewable resources, encouraging customers or members to use renewable resources, and encouraging the transfer of new or emerging technologies from research, development, and demonstration to commercial implementation.
(2) Energy efficiency and renewable resource programs.