The Wisconsin Public Service Commission (PSC) regulates Wisconsin water utilities. You can’t avoid it.

PSC approval is required before utilities can change rates. The PSC has specific rules it must follow prior to making decisions during its application review process [Source].

Getting Answers

The PSC funnels questions through its consumer affairs staff via the utility inquiries phone line: 608-266-3766 and email. The process works well for questions about customer interaction but is clunky for legal, accounting, and engineering questions. PSC staff can be a good resource for smaller water utilities looking for expert help.

Depending on the question, you may be able to find answers quicker on the PSC website. The accounting reference manual provides useful guidance and answers regarding accounting.

Increasing Rates

The PSC’s simplified rate increase process quickly and easily gives you a small rate increase. Find out if you’re eligible here.

A full water rate application takes longer and requires more information. The PSC is exacting in requiring complete applications and may reject incomplete applications. A full application typically requires a month or two to prepare before submission and six months for the PSC to process after submission.

Submit your water rate application in the first half of the year to speed the PSC’s process. The sooner the better once you have the previous year’s financial results. The PSC gets busier starting in July. After Halloween, the PSC gets jammed up with energy rates and holidays.

Construction Authorization

Water utilities need PSC approval for some capital projects. In the past two or three years, the PSC changed its review to be more exacting. If you have not applied for construction authorization recently, the PSC’s data requests and review criteria may surprise you.

Capital projects that cost more than $300,000 generally, but not always, require PSC approval. Some smaller projects may require PSC approval. Find more information here. A heads-up email to PSC engineer Mark Williams early in your project may avoid a surprise later.

Conclusion

Navigating PSC regulation requires preparation, planning, and a lot of patience. But sometimes the PSC can be a valuable tool in your toolbox to solve problems.

Contact an expert today for more information.


About the Author

Andrew J. Behm

Andrew J. Behm
Financial Analyst

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.

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