196.53 History History: 1985 a. 297; 1993 a. 496; 1997 a. 204.
196.53 Annotation This section does not violate the interstate commerce clause of the U. S. constitution. Alliant Energy Corporation v. Bie, 330 F.3d 904 (2003).
196.54 196.54 Indeterminate permits.
196.54(1)(1)Grants to be indeterminate. Every license, permit or franchise granted after July 11, 1907, to any public utility shall have the effect of an indeterminate permit subject to this chapter and ch. 197.
196.54(2) (2) Franchises made indeterminate. Every license, permit or franchise granted prior to July 11, 1907, by the state or by a municipality authorizing and empowering the grantee to own, operate, manage or control within this state, either directly or indirectly, a public utility or any part of a public utility is altered and amended to constitute and be an indeterminate permit which is subject to this chapter and ch. 197. The license, permit or franchise shall have the same force and effect as a license, permit or franchise granted after July 11, 1907, to any public utility, except as provided under s. 197.02.
196.54(3) (3) Validation of franchises and permits.
196.54(3)(a) (a) No franchise affected by sub. (2) and no indeterminate permit shall be declared invalid if:
196.54(3)(a)1. 1. The franchise or permit was not obtained by fraud, bribery or corrupt practices.
196.54(3)(a)2. 2. When the franchise or permit was granted, no officer of the municipality granting the franchise or permit was directly or indirectly interested in the franchise or permit or in the corporation obtaining the franchise or permit.
196.54(3)(b) (b) Any franchise affected by sub. (2) and any indeterminate permit is valid if:
196.54(3)(b)1. 1. The corporation having the franchise or permit, prior to surrendering of the franchise or at the beginning of its public service under the permit, in good faith has purchased or constructed any public utility, or any part of a public utility authorized by the franchise.
196.54(3)(b)2. 2. The corporation, in obtaining the franchise or permit, has substantially complied with the requirements provided by law for obtaining the franchise or permit.
196.54(4) (4) Grants after July 11, 1907; consent to municipal purchase. If a public utility accepts or operates under any license, permit or franchise granted after July 11, 1907, the public utility shall be deemed to have consented under its indeterminate permit to a future purchase of its property actually used and useful for the convenience of the public by the municipality in which the major part of it is situated for the compensation and under the terms and conditions determined by the commission. The public utility shall be deemed to have waived the right to require that the necessity of taking be established by the verdict of a jury, and any other remedy or right relative to condemnation, except any remedy or right under this chapter and ch. 197.
196.54(5) (5) Municipal purchase invalidates permit. An indeterminate permit shall be invalid if a municipality exercises its option to purchase the public utility being operated under the permit or if the permit is otherwise terminated according to law.
196.54(6) (6) Applicability. This section does not apply to a telecommunications utility.
196.54 History History: 1981 c. 390; 1983 a. 53 ss. 69 to 73; 1983 a. 192; 1993 a. 496.
196.58 196.58 Municipality to regulate utilities; appeal.
196.58(1g)(1g)In this section, “municipal regulation" has the meaning given in s. 182.017 (1g) (bm).
196.58(1r) (1r)The governing body of every municipality may:
196.58(1r)(a) (a) Determine by municipal regulation the quality and character of each kind of product or service to be furnished or rendered by any public utility within the municipality and all other terms and conditions, consistent with this chapter and ch. 197, upon which the public utility may be permitted to occupy the streets, highways or other public places within the municipality. The municipal regulation shall be in force and on its face reasonable.
196.58(1r)(b) (b) Require of any public utility any addition or extension to its physical plant within the municipality as shall be reasonable and necessary in the interest of the public, and designate the location and nature of the addition or extension, the time within which it must be completed, and any condition under which it must be constructed, subject to review by the commission under sub. (4).
196.58(1r)(c) (c) Provide a penalty for noncompliance with the provisions of any municipal regulation adopted under this subsection.
196.58(4) (4)
196.58(4)(a)(a) Upon complaint made by a public utility or by any qualified complainant under s. 196.26, the commission shall set a hearing and if it finds a municipal regulation under sub. (1r) to be unreasonable, the municipal regulation shall be void.
196.58(4)(b) (b) Notwithstanding any provision of this chapter, upon complaint by a telecommunications provider, including an alternative telecommunications utility, or a video service provider, the commission shall set a hearing and, if it finds to be unreasonable any municipal regulation relating to any product or service rendered by any such provider within a municipality or relating to the terms and conditions upon which such provider occupies the streets, highways, or other public places within the municipality, the municipal regulation shall be void.
196.58(4)(c) (c) Notwithstanding s. 182.017 (2), a municipal regulation is unreasonable under par. (a) or (b) if it requires a public utility, telecommunications provider, or video service provider to pay any part of the cost to modify or relocate the public utility's, telecommunications provider's, or video service provider's facilities to accommodate an urban rail transit system, as defined in s. 182.017 (1g) (ct).
196.58(5) (5)The commission shall have original and concurrent jurisdiction with municipalities to require extensions of service and to regulate service of public utilities. Nothing in this section shall limit the power of the commission to act on its own motion to require extensions of service and to regulate the service of public utilities.
196.58(6) (6)No public utility furnishing and selling gaseous fuel or undertaking to furnish or sell gaseous fuel in a municipality where the fuel has not been sold previously to the public shall change the character or kind of fuel by substituting for manufactured gas any natural gas or any mixture of natural and manufactured gas for distribution and sale in any municipality, or undertake the sale of natural gas in any municipality where no gaseous fuel was previously sold, unless the governing body of the municipality, by authorization, passage or adoption of appropriate municipal regulation, approves and authorizes the change in fuel or commencement of sale. No municipal regulation enacted under this subsection may be inconsistent or in conflict with any certificate granted under s. 196.49.
196.58(7) (7)
196.58(7)(a)(a) If a municipality operating a water system seeks to serve consumers of an area which is part of the municipality and in the same county, but in order to serve such consumers it is necessary or economically prudent for the municipality to install mains, transmission lines, pipes or service connections through, upon or under a public street, highway, road, public thoroughfare or alley located within the boundaries of any adjacent municipality, the municipality seeking the installation may file a petition with the clerk of the legislative body of the adjacent municipality requesting approval for the installation of the mains, transmission lines, pipes or service connections. The governing body of the adjacent municipality shall act on the petition within 15 days after the petition is filed. If the governing body of the adjacent municipality fails to act within the 15-day period, the petition shall be deemed approved and the municipality may proceed with the installations required for service to its consumers. If, however, the governing body of the adjacent municipality rejects the petition, the municipality may make application to the commission for authority to install within the boundaries of the adjacent municipality the installations necessary to provide service to its consumers. The commission shall hold a hearing upon the application of the municipality. If the commission determines that it is necessary or economically prudent that the municipality seeking to serve its consumers make the installations within the boundaries of the adjacent municipality, the commission shall promptly issue an order authorizing the municipality to proceed to make the installation. In the order, the commission may establish the manner of making the installation.
196.58(7)(b) (b) A municipality making an installation under this section shall restore the land on or in which such installation has been made to the same condition as it existed prior to the installation. Failure to make the restoration shall subject the municipality to an action for damages by the adjacent municipality. The adjacent municipality may require a performance bond from the municipality seeking to make the installation. If no agreement can be effected between the municipalities as to the amount of the performance bond, the commission shall determine the amount of the bond. If the commission issues an order authorizing an installation under this subsection, the commission shall determine the amount of the performance bond which shall be required of the applicant municipality.
196.58 History History: 1981 c. 390; 1983 a. 53; 1995 a. 378; 2013 a. 20.
196.58 Cross-reference Cross-reference: See also ch. PSC 130, Wis. adm. code.
196.59 196.59 Merchandising by utilities. Each public utility engaged in the production, transmission, delivery or furnishing of heat, light or power either directly or indirectly to or for the use of the public shall keep separate accounts to show any profit or loss resulting from the sale of appliances or other merchandise. The commission may not take the profit or loss into consideration in arriving at any rate to be charged for service by the public utility.
196.59 History History: 1983 a. 53.
196.595 196.595 Utility advertising practices.
196.595(1)(1)In this section:
196.595(1)(a) (a) “Advertising" means:
196.595(1)(a)1. 1. Printed and published material and descriptive literature of a utility used in newspapers, magazines, radio and TV scripts, billboards and similar displays.
196.595(1)(a)1m. 1m. Any material which provides information favorable to a public utility on any issue about which the utility is attempting to influence legislative or administrative action by direct oral or written communication with any elective state official, agency official or legislative employee if the practice is regulated under subch. III of ch. 13.
196.595(1)(a)2. 2. Descriptive literature and sales aids of all kinds issued by a utility for presentation to utility consumers and other members of the public, including but not limited to any material enclosed with or added to a utility billing statement, circulars, leaflets, booklets, depictions, illustrations and form letters.
196.595(1)(a)3. 3. Prepared sales talks to the public and public informational facilities.
196.595(1)(a)4. 4. Other materials and procedures enumerated by rule of the commission which promote or provide information to the public about a public utility.
196.595(1)(b) (b) “Expenditure" means any cost of advertising directly incurred by a utility and any cost of advertising incurred by contribution to parent or affiliated companies or to trade associations.
196.595(1)(c) (c) “Public utility" in this section means any public utility, as defined in s. 196.01, engaged in the transmission, delivery, or furnishing of natural gas by means of pipes or mains, heat, light, water, or power. “Public utility" does not include any cooperative association organized under ch. 185.
196.595(2) (2)A public utility may not charge its ratepayers for any expenditure for advertising unless the advertising:
196.595(2)(b) (b) Produces a demonstrated, direct and substantial benefit for ratepayers. Advertising which produces a direct and substantial benefit for ratepayers is limited to advertising which does any of the following:
196.595(2)(b)1. 1. Demonstrates energy or water conservation methods.
196.595(2)(b)2. 2. Conveys safety information on the use of energy.
196.595(2)(b)2g. 2g. Conveys health or safety information related to a water system or the use of water, including information on preventing frozen water laterals.
196.595(2)(b)2r. 2r. Identifies the public utility on public utility property or the location of public utility property.
196.595(2)(b)3. 3. Demonstrates methods of reducing ratepayer costs.
196.595(2)(b)4. 4. Otherwise directly and substantially benefits ratepayers.
196.595(2)(b)5. 5. Is required by law, administrative rule, or permit.
196.595(2m) (2m)Notwithstanding sub. (2), a public utility may charge its ratepayers for expenditures for reasonable direct communication to ratepayers that will be directly and substantially impacted by ongoing or future water public utility operations or construction.
196.595(3) (3)The commission shall make rules to carry out the purposes of and to enforce this section.
196.60 196.60 Discrimination prohibited; penalty.
196.60(1)(1)
196.60(1)(a) (a) No public utility and no agent, as defined in s. 196.66 (3) (a), or officer of a public utility, directly or indirectly, may charge, demand, collect or receive from any person more or less compensation for any service rendered or to be rendered by it in or affecting or relating to the production, transmission, delivery or furnishing of heat, light, water, or power or for any service in connection therewith, than that prescribed in the published schedules or tariffs then in force, or established under this chapter, or than it charges, demands, collects or receives from any other person for a like contemporaneous service.
196.60(1)(b) (b) A public utility or an agent that violates par. (a) shall be deemed guilty of unjust discrimination and shall forfeit not less than $100 nor more than $5,000 for each offense. An officer who violates par. (a) shall be fined not less than $50 nor more than $2,500 for each offense.
196.60(3) (3)If a public utility gives an unreasonable preference or advantage to any person or subjects any person to any unreasonable prejudice or disadvantage, the public utility shall be deemed guilty of unjust discrimination. A public utility violating this subsection shall forfeit not less than $50 nor more than $5,000 for each offense.
196.60 History History: 1977 c. 418; 1983 a. 53 ss. 77, 78, 82; 1985 a. 297; 1989 a. 49; 2011 a. 22.
196.60 Cross-reference Cross-reference: See also chs. PSC 113 and 134 Wis. adm. code.
196.604 196.604 Rebates, concessions and discriminations unlawful. No person may knowingly solicit, accept or receive any rebate, concession or discrimination from a public utility for any service in or affecting or relating to the production, transmission, delivery or furnishing of heat, light, water or power within this state or for any connected service whereby the service is rendered or is to be rendered free or at a rate less than the rate named in the schedules and tariffs in force, or whereby any other service or advantage is received. Any person violating this section shall be fined not less than $50 nor more than $5,000 for each offense.
196.604 History History: 1983 a. 53 s. 84; 1989 a. 49; 1995 a. 409; 2011 a. 22.
196.605 196.605 Telecommunications cooperatives with federal loans.
196.605(1)(1)A public utility which is a cooperative association incorporated under ch. 185 or 193 to furnish telecommunications service in rural areas on a nonprofit basis with a telecommunications utility financed in part through a loan from the United States under the rural electrification act of 1936, 7 USC 901 to 950aaa-5, as amended, may require each of its local service telecommunications patrons to deposit with the association the amount of the membership fee or other form of capital representing the proportional share of the total equity capital of the association required as a condition of federal financing. The membership fee or other form of equity capital attributable to each local service patron may be collected by the association in installments in connection with billings for service. The required deposits of equity capital shall be segregated in the billing from service charges and shall be credited when received on the membership or equity capital account of the patron.
196.605(2) (2)The amount of the membership fee or equity capital to be so required of each local service telecommunications patron under sub. (1) may be based upon reasonable classifications of service and appropriate factors relating to the cost of rendition of the service. The amounts, classifications and manner of collecting the amounts shall be subject to the approval of the commission. The commission may promulgate rules under this subsection.
196.605 History History: 1979 c. 110 s. 60 (11); 1983 a. 53; 1985 a. 297 s. 76; 1993 a. 496; 2005 a. 441.
196.61 196.61 Facilities in exchange for compensation prohibited. A public utility may not demand, charge, collect or receive from any person less compensation for any service rendered or to be rendered by the public utility in return for the furnishing by that person of any part of the facilities incident to the service. This section may not be construed to prohibit any public utility from renting any facility relating to the production, transmission, delivery or furnishing of heat, light, water, telecommunications service or power and from paying a reasonable rental for the facility. This section may not be construed to require any public utility to furnish any part of any appliance which is at the premises of any consumer, except meters and appliances for measurements of any product or service, unless the commission orders otherwise.
196.61 History History: 1983 a. 53; 1985 a. 297; 1993 a. 496.
196.625 196.625 Discrimination by telecommunications utilities. Except as provided in s. 196.63, a telecommunications utility shall receive and transmit without discrimination messages from and for any person upon tender or payment of the usual or customary charges therefor, whenever requested to do so, without regard to the character of the messages to be transmitted unless a court of competent jurisdiction finds the messages to be in violation of s. 944.21 (3). Any telecommunications utility or agent, as defined in s. 196.66 (3) (a), neglecting or refusing to comply with any of the provisions of this section shall forfeit not less than $25 nor more than $5,000 for each day of such neglect or refusal. Any director or officer of a telecommunications utility neglecting or refusing to comply with any of the provisions of this section shall forfeit not less than $25 nor more than $2,500. Any employee of a telecommunications utility neglecting or refusing to comply with any of the provisions of this section shall forfeit not less than $25 nor more than $1,000. One-half of the forfeitures recovered under this section shall be paid to the person prosecuting under this section.
196.625 History History: 1985 a. 297; 1987 a. 416; 1989 a. 49; 1991 a. 294.
196.625 Cross-reference Cross-reference: See also ch. PSC 165, Wis. adm. code.
196.625 Annotation A private person cannot commence a forfeiture action under this section and thus forcibly join the state as a plaintiff. State v. Wisconsin Telephone Co. 91 Wis. 2d 702, 284 N.W.2d 41 (1979).
196.63 196.63 Telecommunications interruption in crisis situation.
196.63(1)(1)Interruption authority. If a sheriff, a police chief or a law enforcement officer designated by a sheriff or police chief to respond in a crisis situation has probable cause to believe that a person is holding a hostage or is resisting apprehension through the use or threatened use of force, the sheriff, police chief or law enforcement officer may order a telecommunications utility to interrupt or reroute telecommunications service to or from the suspected person for the duration of the crisis situation to prevent the person from communicating with anyone other than a person authorized by the sheriff, police chief or law enforcement officer.
196.63(2) (2) Utility immunity. A telecommunications utility may not be held liable for any action it takes under sub. (1).
196.63 History History: 1991 a. 294.
196.635 196.635 Unbilled utility service. All service supplied by a public utility must be billed within 2 years of such service. No customer shall be liable for unbilled service 2 years after the date of the service unless:
196.635(1) (1)The utility made a reasonable effort to measure the service, but the customer did not allow the utility access to any device, including but not limited to a meter, necessary to measure service.
196.635(2) (2)The customer obtained the service by fraud or deception, including but not limited to theft or tampering with any device, including but not limited to a meter, necessary to measure service.
196.635(3) (3)The customer obtained the service by negligent interference by the customer or the customer's agent with equipment necessary to measure service and the interference causes service to go unmeasured.
196.635 History History: 1977 c. 62; 1981 c. 179, 391; 1989 a. 40.
196.635 Cross-reference Cross-reference: See also s. PSC 113.0924, Wis. adm. code.
196.64 196.64 Public utilities, liability for treble damages.
196.64(1)(1)If a director, officer, employee or agent of a public utility, in the course of the discharge of his or her duties, willfully, wantonly or recklessly does, causes or permits to be done any matter, act or thing prohibited or declared to be unlawful under this chapter or ch. 197, or willfully, wantonly or recklessly fails to do any act, matter or thing required to be done under this chapter, the public utility shall be liable to the person injured thereby in treble the amount of damages sustained in consequence of the violation. No recovery as in this section provided shall affect a recovery by the state of the penalty prescribed for such violation.
196.64(2) (2)The burden of proof in an action under sub. (1) rests with the person injured to prove the case by clear and convincing evidence.
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2017-18 Wisconsin Statutes updated through 2019 Wis. Act 50 and through all Supreme Court and Controlled Substances Board Orders filed before and in effect on December 6, 2019. Published and certified under s. 35.18. Changes effective after December 6, 2019, are designated by NOTES. (Published 12-6-19)