Chapter PSC 185 of the Wisconsin Administrative Code contains nearly all the Public Service Commission's regulations governing water utilities. In 2010, the PSC started revising these regulations and the process is ongoing.
The PSC proposes to require water utilities to annually mail rules for deposits, deferred payment agreements, budget billing, disconnection, and dispute procedures to all residential customers. Many Wisconsin water utilities do not disconnect customers and therefore do not offer deferred payment agreements. Utilities estimated these mailings would cost $20,000 to $120,000 annually, depending on the size of the utility. Water utilities asked the PSC to allow them to post this information online.
The PSC proposes to require utilities that do not disconnect customers to offer delinquent customers a deferred payment arrangement every 15 months. Water utilities expressed concern that this would interfere with their ability to recover delinquent bills through property taxes.
The PSC proposes to make utilities responsible for thawing frozen laterals or providing water by an alternate means. Utilities would also be required to permanently resolve freezing concerns if freezing started in the utility's portion of the lateral. One water utility called these requirements an overreaction to a single year of extreme temperatures. Utilities estimated that moving shallow existing laterals would cost $1.5 to $3.3 million per utility.
The PSC wants to require utilities to bill customers within 30 days of reading meters. The current rule allows 50 days. This may be difficult for utilities with manual meter reading and bill preparation.
The PSC will offer an opportunity to comment on the content and wording of the proposed rules. You can review the draft rules here. Subscribe to docket number 1-AC-233 here for updates on the rulemaking.
Contact an expert today with questions about the PSC's ongoing rulemaking and its impact on your water system.
About the Author
Andrew J. Behm
Andrew is responsible for finding financial and management solutions for public utilities at R/M. Before joining R/M, he provided management and financial assistance to municipal water, wastewater, and energy utilities in Wisconsin and around the country, including work as an analyst at the Wisconsin Public Service Commission.