Letter of credit from a financial institution or another utility;
Applicant's business characteristics, including type of business, estimated size of the utility bills, previous bill payment history, and applicant's business experience;
The financial condition of the business, as indicated in a financial statement.
The utility may accept, in lieu of a cash deposit for new or existing nonresidential service, a contract signed by a guarantor satisfactory to the utility where payment of a specified sum not exceeding the cash deposit requirement is guaranteed. The term of such contract shall be for no longer than 2 years, but it shall automatically terminate after the customer has closed its account with the utility, or at the guarantor's request, on a 30-day written notice to the utility.
On termination of a guarantee contract, or whenever the utility deems the amount of surety insufficient, a cash deposit or a new or additional guarantee may be required on a 20-day written notice to the customer. The service of a customer who fails to comply with these requirements may be disconnected on a 10-day written notice, subject to the establishment of a deferred payment agreement for the deposit.
The utility shall mail the guarantor copies of all disconnect notices sent to the customer whose account has been guaranteed, unless the guarantor waives such notice in writing.
A utility shall provide a written explanation of why a deposit or guarantee is being required for nonresidential service. The explanation shall include notice of the customer's right to appeal any deposit request or amount required under this section to the commission.
The written explanation shall also inform the customer that if, after 12 months of utility service, the deposit amount is greater than necessary based on actual consumption, the customer may request refund of the difference between the 2 amounts.
(6) REFUSAL OR INTERRUPTION OF SERVICE.
Nonresidential service may be refused or disconnected for failure to pay a deposit request, subject to the s. PSC 185.37
pertaining to disconnection and refusal of service.
(7) AMOUNT OF DEPOSIT.
The maximum deposit for a new account shall not exceed the highest estimated gross bill for any consecutive billing period selected by the utility (not to exceed 4 months). If after a 12-month period the deposit amount is shown to be greater than warranted based on actual consumption, the utility shall at the customer's request refund the difference between the 2 amounts plus interest.
Deposits for nonresidential service shall bear interest from the date a deposit is made to the date it is applied to an account balance or refunded.
The interest rate to be paid shall be subject to change annually on a calendar basis. The commission shall determine the rate of interest to be paid on deposits held during the following calendar year and notify the utility of the rate by December 15 of each year. The rate shall be equal to the weekly average yield of one-year United States treasury securities adjusted for constant maturity for the week ending on or after December 1 made available by the federal reserve board, rounded to the nearest tenth of one percent.
The rate of interest set by the commission shall be payable on all deposits. The utility shall calculate the interest earned on each deposit at the time of the refund and at the end of each calendar year. The interest rate in a calendar year shall apply to the amount of the deposit and to all interest accrued during the previous year, for the fraction of the calendar year that the deposit was held by the utility.
(9) TIME OF REFUND.
The deposit of a customer shall be refunded after 24 consecutive months of prompt payment.
(10) METHOD OF REFUND.
Any deposit or portion thereof refunded to a customer shall be refunded by check unless both the customer and the utility agree to a credit on the regular billing, or unless sub. (11)
(11) REFUND AT TERMINATION OF SERVICE.
Upon termination of service, the deposit with accrued interest, shall be credited to the final bill, and the balance shall be returned within 30 days of issuing the final bill.
An arrearage owed by a customer may be deducted from the customer's deposit under the following conditions:
Except as provided in par. (c)
, a deposit may be used by the utility only to satisfy an arrearage occurring after the deposit was made;
If the utility deducts an arrearage from a customer deposit, it may require the customer to bring the deposit up to its original amount. Failure of the customer to do so within 20 days of mailing a written request for payment is a ground for disconnection;
When a deposit is refunded to the customer, the utility may first deduct any arrearage owed by the customer, whether the arrearage arose prior to or after the date of the deposit.
PSC 185.361 History
Cr. Register, January, 1997, No. 493
, eff. 2-1-97; CR 01-033
: am. (4) (b), Register October 2001 No. 550
, eff. 11-1-01; correction in (1) made under s. 13.92 (4) (b) 7., Stats., Register July 2014 No. 703.
Disconnection and refusal of service. PSC 185.37(1)(a)
In no circumstances shall the cumulative time before notice of disconnection be less than 20 days after the date of issuance of the bill. An account may be deemed delinquent for the purpose of disconnection after such period has elapsed.
At least 10 calendar days prior to disconnection, the utility shall give a written notice of disconnection upon a form approved by the commission and which conforms to the requirements of sub. (11)
unless excepted elsewhere.
When a customer, either directly or through the commission, disputes a disconnection notice, the utility shall investigate any disputed issue and shall attempt to resolve that issue. During this investigation, utility service shall not be disconnected over this matter.
If a disputed issue cannot be resolved pursuant to s. PSC 185.39 (1)
, the utility shall inform the customer of the right to contact the commission.
Prior to disconnecting a jointly-metered property containing more than one rental dwelling unit and where service is in the property owner's or manager's name, the utility shall first make an attempt to transfer the debt to the property owner's or manager's residence or office service. If a transfer is permitted under sub. (7) (a)
the utility shall pursue available collection efforts at the owner's or manager's property prior to disconnecting the jointly-metered property.
Utility service may be disconnected or refused for any of the following reasons:
Failure to pay a delinquent account or failure to comply with the terms of a deferred payment agreement (see s. PSC 185.38
Delinquency in payment for service received by a previous account holder or customer at the premises to be served, if an account is transferred to a new account holder or customer and the previous account holder or customer continues to be an occupant of the dwelling unit to be served.
Failure to pay for an outstanding account balance with the utility owing at a previous address and for which there is no agreement or arrangement for payment and it is not in dispute but remains outstanding;
Refusal or failure to permit authorized utility personnel to read the meter at least once every 4 months where the utility bills monthly or bimonthly, or at least once every 9 months where the utility bills quarterly or less frequently than quarterly. The 4- or 9- month period begins with the date of the last meter reading;
Refusal or failure to permit authorized utility personnel access to the base meter;
Violation of the utility's rules pertaining to the use of service in a manner which interferes with the service of others or to the operation of nonstandard equipment, if the customer has first been notified and provided with reasonable opportunity to remedy the situation;
Failure to comply with Wisconsin statutes, commission rules, or commission orders pertaining to utility service;
Failure to pay costs or fees incurred by and awarded to the utility by a court of law, for pursuit of collection of bills, or failure to pay extraordinary collection charges as allowed and specified in the utility's tariffs filed with the commission;
Failure to comply with the utility's rules or if the customer uses a device that unreasonably interferes with communications or signal services used for reading meters;
A utility may disconnect utility service without prior notice where a dangerous condition exists for as long as the condition exists. Upon disconnection, the utility shall provide a written explanation of the dangerous condition.
Service may be discontinued with a written 24-hour notice for nonpayment of a bill covering surreptitious use of water.
Any one of the items under subd. 1.
or any 2. of the items under subd. 2.
shall constitute adequate verification of identity and residency, although a utility may accept other forms of verification:
Social security card, birth or baptismal certificate, or letter of identification from a social service agency or employer.
An applicant denied or refused service because of this subsection shall be informed in writing of the opportunity to dispute the matter through the commission, and shall be provided with the address and telephone number of the commission.
A public utility may disconnect residential utility service, without notice, where it has reasonable evidence that utility service is being obtained by potentially unsafe devices or potentially unsafe methods that stop or interfere with the proper metering of the utility service.
Account arrears incurred by an owner or property manager for rental residential dwelling units may be transferred, without regard to class of service, to the home or office account of the owner or property manager.
The utility shall send written notice of the planned transfer of the account arrears to the owner or property manager prior to making the transfer.
If the transferred account arrears remain unpaid, the utility may disconnect the owner's or property manager's residence or office service, provided that the utility complies with the disconnection provisions of s. PSC 185.37
Utility service may not be disconnected or refused for any of the following reasons:
Nonpayment of a delinquent account over 6 months old where collection efforts have not been made within that period of time unless the passage of additional time results from other provisions of this chapter or from good faith negotiations or arrangements made with the customer;
Failure to pay for a different type or class of utility service, except as provided by sub. (7) (c)
Failure to pay the account of another customer as guarantor of that account;
Failure to pay charges arising from any underbilling occurring more than one year prior to the current billing;
Failure to pay an estimated bill other than a bill rendered pursuant to an approved billing tariff or the customer upon request refuses to permit the reading of the meter during normal business hours;
For the intentional removal or eviction of a tenant from rental property;
The utility may not disconnect service in affected counties when a heat advisory, heat warning, or heat emergency issued by the national weather service is in effect. A utility shall make reasonable attempts to reconnect service to an occupied dwelling that has been disconnected when an occupant states that there is a potential threat to health or life that results from the combination of the heat and loss of service. The utility may require that an occupant produce a licensed physician's statement or notice from a public health, social services, or law enforcement official which identifies the medical emergency for the occupant. Upon expiration of the heat advisory, heat warning, or heat emergency, the utility may disconnect service to a property that was reconnected during this period without further notice if an appropriate payment arrangement has not been established.
If the utility is provided notice that there are extenuating circumstances, such as infirmities of aging, developmental, mental or physical disabilities, the use of life support systems, or like infirmities incurred at any age, or the frailties associated with being very young, the utility shall take these circumstances into consideration and ensure compliance with s. PSC 185.37 (10)
prior to disconnecting service.
Residential water utility service to an occupied dwelling may not be disconnected during the period November 1 to April 15 if the water service is a necessary part of a dwelling's heating system.
Notwithstanding any other provision of this section, a utility may not disconnect service or refuse to reconnect service to a residential customer if disconnection shall aggravate an existing medical or protective services emergency of the occupant, a member of the customer's family or other permanent resident of the premises where service is rendered and if the customer conforms to the procedures described in par. (b)
A utility shall postpone the disconnection of service, or reconnect the service if disconnected, for 21 days to enable the occupant to arrange for payment, if the occupant produces a licensed Wisconsin physician's statement or notice from a public health, social services, or law enforcement official which identifies the medical or protective services emergency and specifies the period of time during which disconnection shall aggravate the circumstances. The postponement may be extended by renewal of the statement or notice. During this 21 days of service, the utility and occupant shall work together to develop resources and make reasonable payment arrangements in order to continue the service on a permanent basis. Further postponements may be granted if there is evidence of reasonable communication between the utility and occupant in attempting to make arrangements for payment.
During the period service is continued under the provisions of this subsection, the customer shall be responsible for the cost of residential utility service. However, no action to disconnect that service shall be undertaken until expiration of the period of continued service. Any customer who is in this continued service category shall be admitted into appropriate and special payment plan programs the utility may offer.
If there is a dispute concerning an alleged existent medical emergency, either party shall have the right to an informal review by the commission staff. Pending a decision after informal review, residential utility service shall be continued, provided that the occupant has submitted a statement or notice as set forth in par. (b)
A utility shall not disconnect service unless written notice by first class mail is sent to the customer or personally served upon a responsible party at least 10 calendar days prior to the first date of the proposed disconnection except as provided in subs. (3)
, and (7)
. If the billing address is different from the service address, notice shall be posted at each individual dwelling unit of the service address not less than 5 days before disconnection. If access is not possible, this notice shall be posted, at a minimum, to all entrances to the building and in the lobby. The notice shall contain: 1) the date of the notice; 2) the proposed date of disconnection; and 3) that, if feasible, the occupants may apply to the utility to accept responsibility for future bills and avoid disconnection of service. Refusal or acceptance of the application for service is subject to those conditions set out in this chapter. If disconnection is not accomplished on or before the 20th day after the first notice date, a subsequent notice shall be left on the premises not less than 24 hours nor more than 48 hours prior to the disconnection unless the customer and the utility agree to extend the 20-day time period.
The utility shall make a reasonable effort to have a personal or telephone contact with the residential customer prior to disconnection. If a contact is made, the utility shall review the reasons for the pending disconnection of service, and explain what actions shall be taken to avoid disconnection.
The utility shall keep a record of these contacts and contact attempts.
When a residential customer, either directly or through the commission, disputes a disconnection notice under s. PSC 185.37
, the utility shall investigate any disputed issue and shall attempt to resolve that issue. During this investigation, utility service shall not be disconnected over this matter.
If a disputed issue cannot be resolved, the utility shall inform the customer of the right to appeal to the commission.
Disconnection notice shall be given on a form approved by the commission, and shall contain the following information:
The name and address of the customer and the address of the service, if different;
A statement of the reason for the proposed disconnection of service and that disconnection shall occur if the account is not paid, or if arrangement is not made to pay the account under deferred payment agreement, or if other suitable arrangements are not made, or if equipment changes are not made. If disconnection of service is to be made for default on a deferred payment agreement, the notice shall include an explanation of the acts of the customer which are considered to constitute default;
A statement that the customer shall communicate immediately upon receipt of the notice with the utility's designated office, listing a telephone number, if the customer disputes the notice of delinquent account, if the customer wishes to negotiate a deferred payment agreement as an alternative to disconnection, if any resident is seriously ill, or if there are other extenuating circumstances, as the presence of infants or young children in the household, the presence of aged, or persons with disabilities in the household, the presence of residents who use life support systems or equipment or residents who have mental retardation or other developmental or mental disabilities;
A statement that residential utility service shall be continued for up to 21 days during serious illness if the account holder submits a statement or notice pursuant to sub. (10)
A statement that the customer may appeal to the commission staff in the event that the grounds for the proposed disconnection or the amount of any disagreement remains in dispute after the customer has pursued the available remedies with the utility.
Service shall not be disconnected on a day, or on a day immediately preceding a day, when the business offices of the utility are not available to the public for the purpose of transacting all business matters unless the utility provides personnel which are readily available to the customer 24 hours per day to evaluate, negotiate, or otherwise consider the customer's objection to the disconnection as provided under s. PSC 185.39
, and proper service personnel are readily available to restore service 24 hours per day.
Notwithstanding any other provision of this chapter, utility service may not be refused because of a delinquent account if the customer or applicant provides, as a condition of future service a deposit or guarantee, as governed by s. PSC 185.36
, or a voucher agreement. If the guarantor has agreed to be responsible for payment of all future bills, the customer shall be notified of the billing arrangement and of the ability to reject the proposed arrangement.
PSC 185.37 History
Cr. Register, January, 1997, No. 493
, eff. 2-1-97; CR 01-033
: am. (1) (b), (2) (e) and (L), (8) (h), (9) and (11) (a), cr. (1m), (2) (am) and (8m), Register October 2001 No. 550
, eff. 11-1-01; CR 13-048: am. (2) (k), r. (2) (L) Register July 2014 No. 703, eff. 8-1-14.