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196.24(3) (3) 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.
196.24 History History: 1975 c. 414 s. 28; 1983 a. 53; 1985 a. 182 s. 57; 1997 a. 204; 2001 a. 61.
196.25 196.25 Questionnaires.
196.25(1)(1) 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.
196.25(2) (2) 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.
196.25(3) (3) 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.
196.25 History History: 1983 a. 53; 1993 a. 496; 2011 a. 22.
196.26 196.26 Complaint by consumers; hearing; notice; order; costs.
196.26(1)(1) Complaint. In this section, "complaint" means any of the following:
196.26(1)(a) (a) 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.
196.26(1)(b) (b) A complaint specified in s. 196.199 (3) (a) 1m. b.
196.26(1)(c) (c) 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.
196.26(1m) (1m)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.
196.26(2) (2)Notice and hearing.
196.26(2)(a)(a) 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).
196.26(2)(b) (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 (c) 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.
196.26(2)(c) (c) Notice under pars. (a) and (b) may be combined. The combined notice may not be less than 10 days prior to hearing.
196.26(3) (3)Separate hearings. 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.
196.26 Cross-reference Cross-reference: See also ch. PSC 2 and s. PSC 2.11, Wis. adm. code.
196.28 196.28 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.
196.28(2) (2) 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.
196.28(3) (3) 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.
196.28(4) (4) 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.
196.28 Annotation The PSC's decision not to investigate under ss.196.28 and 196.29 was a nonreviewable, discretionary determination. Reviewable decisions are defined. Wisconsin Environmental Decade, Inc. v. PSC, 93 Wis. 2d 650, 287 N.W.2d 737 (1980).
196.30 196.30 Utilities may complain. Any public utility may file a complaint with the commission on any matter affecting its own product or service.
196.30 History History: 1983 a. 53.
196.30 Cross-reference Cross-reference: See also ch. PSC 2 and s. PSC 2.11, Wis. adm. code.
196.31 196.31 Intervenor financing.
196.31(1) (1) 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:
196.31(1)(a) (a) 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
196.31(1)(b) (b) The participation has provided a significant contribution to the record and has caused a significant financial hardship to the participant.
196.31(1m) (1m) The commission shall compensate any consumer group or consumer representative for all reasonable costs of participating in a hearing under s. 196.198.
196.31(2) (2) 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) or (2) shall be credited to the appropriation under s. 20.155 (1) (j).
196.31(2m) (2m) From the appropriation under s. 20.155 (1) (j), the commission may make grants that, in the aggregate, do not exceed an annual total of $300,000 to one or more nonstock, nonprofit corporations that are described under section 501 (c) (3) of the Internal Revenue Code, and that have a history of advocating at the commission on behalf of ratepayers of this state, for the purpose of offsetting the general expenses of the corporations, including salary, benefit, rent, and utility expenses. The commission may impose conditions on grants made under this subsection and may revoke a grant if the commission finds that such a condition is not being met.
196.31(3) (3) The commission shall adopt rules to implement this section.
196.31 Cross-reference Cross-reference: See also ch. PSC 3, Wis. adm. code.
196.32 196.32 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).
196.32(2) (2) 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.
196.32 History History: 1983 a. 53.
196.33 196.33 Depositions. The commission or any party in any investigation or hearing may cause the depositions of witnesses residing within or without the state to be taken in the manner prescribed by law for like depositions in civil actions in circuit courts. Any expense incurred or authorized by the commission in taking a deposition shall be charged to the appropriation for the commission under s. 20.155 (1) (g).
196.33 History History: 1983 a. 53.
196.34 196.34 Commission records. The commission shall keep a complete record of its proceedings before the commission or its agent in any formal investigation or hearing.
196.34 History History: 1983 a. 53; 1995 a. 27.
196.36 196.36 Transcripts and tapes.
196.36(1) (1) Transcripts. The commission shall receive into evidence a transcribed copy of the evidence and proceedings, or any specific part of the evidence and proceedings, on any investigation or hearing taken by a stenographer if the stenographer certifies that the copy is a true and correct transcript of all the testimony or of the testimony of a particular witness, or of any other specific part of the investigation or hearing, that the transcript was carefully compared by the stenographer with his or her original notes, and that the copy is a correct statement of the evidence presented and proceedings held in the investigation or hearing. The certified copy shall have the same effect as if the stenographer were present and testified to the correctness of the copy.
196.36(1m) (1m)Transcripts from tapes. The commission shall receive into evidence a transcribed copy of an audiotape or videotape of the evidence and proceedings, or any specific part of the evidence and proceedings, of any investigation or hearing that is recorded if the transcriber certifies that the copy is a true and correct transcription from the audiotape or videotape of all the testimony or of the testimony of a particular witness, or of any other specific part of the investigation or hearing and that the copy is a correct statement of the evidence presented and proceedings held in the investigation or hearing. The certified copy shall have the same effect as if the transcriber were present and testified to the correctness of the copy.
196.36(1r) (1r)Production expenses. The commission may require any party to an investigation or hearing to bear the expense of producing a transcript, audiotape or videotape that is related to the investigation or hearing.
196.36(2) (2)Copies. Upon request, the commission shall furnish a copy of a transcript under this section to any party to the investigation or hearing from which the transcript is taken and shall furnish a copy of an audiotape or videotape to any party to the investigation or hearing from which the audiotape or videotape is taken. The commission may charge a reasonable price for the transcript or tape.
196.36 History History: 1983 a. 53; 1995 a. 27; 1997 a. 27.
196.36 Cross-reference Cross-reference: See also ch. PSC 113 and s. PSC 2.29, Wis. adm. code.
196.37 196.37 Lawful rates; reasonable service.
196.37(1) (1) If, after an investigation under this chapter or ch. 197, the commission finds rates, tolls, charges, schedules or joint rates to be unjust, unreasonable, insufficient or unjustly discriminatory or preferential or otherwise unreasonable or unlawful, the commission shall determine and order reasonable rates, tolls, charges, schedules or joint rates to be imposed, observed and followed in the future.
196.37(2) (2) 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.
196.37(3) (3) 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.
196.37(4) (4) 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.
196.37 Cross-reference Cross-reference: See also ch. PSC 110, Wis. adm. code.
196.37 Annotation 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).
196.37 Annotation 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).
196.37 Annotation 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 (1982).
196.37 Annotation 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).
196.37 Annotation 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 (1993).
196.37 Annotation 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 (1994).
196.37 Annotation 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, 02-0053.
196.37 Annotation 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, 02-3163.
196.371 196.371 Rate-making principles for electric generation facilities.
196.371(1)(1) Definition. In this section, "certificate" means a certificate issued under s. 196.49 (3) or 196.491 (3).
196.371(2) (2)Application. 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:
196.371(2)(a) (a) The economic useful life of the facility.
196.371(2)(b) (b) The proposed return on equity and rate of return for the facility.
196.371(2)(c) (c) The proposed financing mechanisms for the facility.
196.371(2)(d) (d) The proposed method for determining the costs that may be recovered in rates.
196.371(2)(e) (e) 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.
196.371(2)(f) (f) Any other information specified by the commission.
196.371(3) (3)Procedure.
196.371(3)(a)(a) 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.
196.371(3)(am) (am) 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.
196.371(3)(b) (b) 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.
196.371(3)(bm) (bm) 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.
196.371(3)(c) (c) The commission may not require a public utility to apply for or accept an order under this section.
196.371(4) (4)Rules. 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.
196.371 History History: 2005 a. 7.
196.372 196.372 Railroad telecommunications service. If the commission receives a complaint that telecommunications service with any railroad, as defined under s. 195.02, is inadequate or in any respect unreasonably or unjustly discriminatory or that the service is unavailable, the commission shall investigate the same. If upon investigation the commission finds that any telecommunications service is inadequate or unreasonably or unjustly discriminatory or that the service is unavailable, it shall determine and by order fix a reasonable regulation, practice or service to be installed, imposed and observed and followed in the future.
196.372 History History: 1977 c. 29 s. 1340; Stats. 1977 s. 196.627; 1983 a. 53 s. 83; Stats. 1983 s. 196.374; 1983 a. 192; Stats. 1983 s. 196.372; 1985 a. 297 s. 76.
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2011-12 Wisconsin Statutes updated though 2013 Wis. Act 200 and all Supreme Court Orders entered before April 11, 2014. Published and certified under s. 35.18. Changes effective after April 11, 2014 are designated by NOTES. (Published 4-11-14)