196.642(1)(1)In an action to collect the outstanding balance on a customer's account, a court may award a public utility furnishing gas or electricity 3 times the amount of that portion of the outstanding balance incurred after October 31 and before April 16 if all of the following conditions are met:
196.642(1)(a) (a) The customer's payment on any portion of the outstanding balance incurred after October 31 and before April 16 is 80 or more days past due.
196.642(1)(b) (b) The customer's quarterly household income exceeds 250 percent of the income poverty guidelines for the nonfarm population of the United States as prescribed by the federal office of management and budget under 42 USC 9902 (2) during a calendar year quarter in which any portion of the outstanding balance incurred after October 31 and before April 16 is billed.
196.642(1)(c) (c) The customer exhibited an ability to pay the portion of the outstanding balance incurred after October 31 and before April 16 when billed.
196.642(1)(d) (d) The public utility includes with the first billing statement for any portion of an outstanding balance incurred after October 31 and before April 16 a written notice informing the customer that a court may award the public utility 3 times the amount of that portion of the outstanding balance incurred after October 31 and before April 16 if the customer's payment on any portion of that amount is 80 or more days past due, the customer exhibited an ability to pay that amount and the customer's household income exceeds a threshold level.
196.642(2) (2)The finder of fact shall consider all of the following factors to determine if a customer exhibited an ability to pay:
196.642(2)(a) (a) Size of the outstanding balance.
196.642(2)(b) (b) Customer's payment history.
196.642(2)(c) (c) Period of time the balance is past due.
196.642(2)(d) (d) Customer's reasons for the outstanding balance.
196.642(2)(e) (e) Customer's household size, income and expenses.
196.642(3) (3)The finder of fact may consider other relevant factors concerning a customer's circumstances to determine if a customer exhibited an ability to pay.
196.642(4) (4)Nothing in this section prevents a public utility in an action to collect the outstanding balance on a customer's account from seeking damages other than damages that meet the conditions under sub. (1), but the treble damages provision applies only to damages that meet the conditions under sub. (1).
196.642 History History: 1989 a. 40.
196.643 196.643 Public utility service to rental dwelling unit.
196.643(1)(1)Responsible party. When a customer terminates service to the customer's rental dwelling unit, a public utility shall make reasonable attempt to identify the party responsible for service to the rental dwelling unit after the customer's termination. If a responsible party cannot be identified, the public utility may give the owner written notice by regular or other mail of the public utility's intent to hold the owner responsible for service to the rental dwelling unit. The owner shall not be responsible for service if the public utility does not give the notice under this subsection or if, within 15 days after the date the notice is mailed, the owner notifies the public utility of the name of the party responsible for service to the rental dwelling unit or notifies the public utility that service to the rental dwelling unit should be terminated and affirms that service termination will not endanger human health or life or cause damage to property.
196.643(2) (2) Joint metering. If gas, electric or water service is measured jointly for 2 or more rental dwelling units, the owner shall maintain the account for gas, electric or water service in the name of the owner or in the name of the agent responsible for the collection of rent and the management of the rental dwelling units.
196.643(3) (3) Notifications; electric service.
196.643(3)(a) (a) If requested by the owner of a rental dwelling unit and authorized by the tenant residing in the unit as provided in par. (b), all of the following apply to the public utility that provides electric service to the tenant:
196.643(3)(a)1. 1. The public utility shall notify the owner in the same manner as the tenant of any pending disconnection of service to the unit that is due to nonpayment of past due charges.
196.643(3)(a)2. 2. The public utility may provide information about the status of a disconnection described in subd. 1. to the owner by telephone.
196.643(3)(b) (b) A public utility or owner may obtain from a tenant the authorization required under par. (a), except that an owner must obtain the authorization in a separate written document.
196.643(4) (4) Resumption of service. No public utility may require the owner of a rental dwelling unit to provide proof of eviction or other evidence that a tenant has vacated the unit as a condition for providing or resuming public utility service to the unit if the service is placed and maintained solely in the owner's name.
196.643 History History: 1989 a. 40; 2017 a. 317.
196.643 Cross-reference Cross-reference: See also s. PSC 113.0802, Wis. adm. code.
196.645 196.645 Rate changes.
196.645(1)(1)The commission, upon complaint or upon its own motion, may proceed to investigate and determine whether a public utility's rates should be changed by reason of a change in the cost of an energy, commodity or service resulting from a change in charges for the energy, commodity or service if:
196.645(1)(a) (a) The rates of the public utility are based on the cost of the energy, commodity or service furnished to the public utility which the public utility furnishes or distributes to its consumers; and
196.645(1)(b) (b) The charges for the energy, commodity and service are regulated by an authority of the federal government and the federal authority has prescribed the change in charges.
196.645(2) (2)The commission may make a change in rates under sub. (1) effective as of the effective date of the order of the federal authority prescribing the change in charges.
196.645(3) (3)Notwithstanding ss. 196.60 (3) and 196.604, the commission may determine and require payment by the public utility to its consumers of any sums which the public utility received from the consumers subsequent to the effective date of its order under this section and which are in excess of the rates prescribed by the commission under this section.
196.645 History History: 1983 a. 53.
196.645 Cross-reference Cross-reference: See also ch. PSC 110, Wis. adm. code.
196.645 Annotation This section does not authorize the use of an excessive earnings test to determine whether a refund received by a utility when its wholesaler's rate was lowered is to be distributed or retained. Algoma, Eagle River, New Holstein, Stratford, Sturgeon Bay & Two Rivers v. PSC, 91 Wis. 2d 252, 283 N.W.2d 261 (Ct. App. 1978).
196.65 196.65 Penalties relating to information and records.
196.65(1)(1)An officer of a public utility shall be fined not less than $100 nor more than $2,500, or an agent, as defined in s. 196.66 (3) (a), shall be fined not less than $100 nor more than $5,000 or an employee of a public utility shall be fined not less than $100 nor more than $1,000 for each offense if the officer, agent or employee does any of the following:
196.65(1)(a) (a) Fails or refuses to fill out and return any questionnaire required under this chapter.
196.65(1)(b) (b) Fails or refuses to answer any question in any questionnaire required under this chapter.
196.65(1)(c) (c) Knowingly gives a false answer to any question in any questionnaire required under this chapter.
196.65(1)(d) (d) Evades the answer to any question in any questionnaire required under this chapter, if the answer is within his or her knowledge.
196.65(1)(e) (e) Upon proper demand, fails or refuses to exhibit to the commission, the chairperson of the commission, or any commissioner or any person authorized to examine it any record of the public utility which is in the possession or under the control of the officer, agent or employee.
196.65(1)(f) (f) Fails to properly use and keep the system of accounting prescribed by the commission.
196.65(1)(g) (g) Refuses to do any act in connection with the system of accounting prescribed by the commission when so directed by the commission or its authorized representative.
196.65(2) (2)A penalty of not less than $500 nor more than $5,000 shall be recovered from the public utility for each offense under sub. (1) if the officer, agent or employee of the public utility acted in obedience to the direction, instruction or request of the public utility or any general officer of the public utility.
196.65(3) (3)
196.65(3)(a)(a) In this subsection, “agent" means an authorized person who acts on behalf of or at the direction of a telecommunications provider. “Agent" does not include a director, officer or employee of a telecommunications provider.
196.65(3)(b) (b) An officer of a telecommunications provider shall be fined not less than $100 nor more than $2,500, an agent of a telecommunications provider shall be fined not less than $100 nor more than $25,000 or an employee of a telecommunications provider shall be fined not less than $100 nor more than $1,000 for each offense if the officer, agent or employee does any of the following:
196.65(3)(b)1. 1. Fails or refuses to fill out and return any questionnaire required under s. 196.25 (3).
196.65(3)(b)2. 2. Fails or refuses to answer any question in any questionnaire required under s. 196.25 (3).
196.65(3)(b)3. 3. Knowingly gives a false answer to any question in any questionnaire required under s. 196.25 (3).
196.65(3)(b)4. 4. Evades the answer to any question in any questionnaire required under s. 196.25 (3).
196.65(3)(b)5. 5. Upon proper demand, fails or refuses to exhibit to the commission, or any person authorized to examine records, any record of the telecommunications provider which is in the possession or under the control of the officer, agent or employee.
196.65(3)(c) (c) A telecommunications provider shall be fined not less than $500 nor more than $25,000 for each violation under par. (b) if the officer, agent or employee of the telecommunications provider acted under the direction or request of the telecommunications provider or any general officer of the telecommunications provider.
196.65(3)(d) (d) After notice and hearing, the commission may order a telecommunications utility to cease provision of interconnection or access services to a telecommunications provider who has violated par. (b).
196.66 196.66 General forfeiture provisions.
196.66(1)(1)General forfeiture; failure to obey. If any public utility violates this chapter or ch. 197 or fails or refuses to perform any duty enjoined upon it for which a penalty has not been provided, or fails, neglects or refuses to obey any lawful requirement or order of the commission or the governing body of a municipality or a sanitary commission or any judgment or decree of any court upon its application, for every violation, failure or refusal the public utility shall forfeit not less than $25 nor more than $5,000.
196.66(2) (2) Each day separate offense. Every day during which any public utility or any officer, agent, as defined in sub. (3) (a), or employee of a public utility fails to comply with any order or direction of the commission or to perform any duty enjoined by this chapter or ch. 197 shall constitute a separate and distinct violation under sub. (1). If the order is suspended, stayed or enjoined, this penalty shall not accrue.
196.66(3) (3) Considerations in setting forfeitures.
196.66(3)(a) (a) In this subsection, “agent" means an authorized person who acts on behalf of or at the direction of a public utility. “Agent" does not include a director, officer or employee of a public utility.
196.66(3)(b) (b) A court imposing a forfeiture on a public utility or an agent, director, officer or employee of a public utility under this chapter shall consider all of the following in determining the amount of the forfeiture:
196.66(3)(b)1. 1. The appropriateness of the forfeiture to the volume of business of the public utility.
196.66(3)(b)2. 2. The gravity of the violation.
196.66(3)(b)3. 3. Any good faith attempt to achieve compliance after the public utility, agent, director, officer or employee receives notice of the violation.
196.66(4) (4) Treble maximum forfeitures.
196.66(4)(a)(a) If an act or omission causes death or a life-threatening or seriously debilitating injury, and is subject to a forfeiture proceeding under this chapter, the maximum forfeiture that may be imposed shall be trebled.
196.66(4)(b) (b) If a public utility fails to comply with any rule, order or direction of the commission after actual receipt by the public utility of written notice from the commission specifying the failure, the maximum forfeiture under sub. (1) shall be $15,000.
196.66 History History: 1981 c. 390; 1983 a. 53; 1989 a. 49.
196.665 196.665 Unlawful combinations, trusts.
196.665(1)(1)The state may take possession of any dam maintained under a permit granted under s. 31.06 or 31.08 by proceedings instituted by the commission if the dam:
196.665(1)(a) (a) Is owned, leased, trusteed, possessed or controlled in any manner that makes it form a part of or in any way effect an unlawful combination.
196.665(1)(b) (b) Is controlled by any combination in the form of an unlawful trust.
196.665(1)(c) (c) Forms the subject of any contract or conspiracy to limit the output of any hydraulic or hydroelectric power derived from the dam.
196.665(2) (2)In proceedings under this section, the members of the commission shall be appointed to act as receivers during a period of time to be determined by the court.
196.665 History History: 1983 a. 53.
196.67 196.67 Warning signs.
196.67(1)(1)Any person constructing, operating or maintaining an overhead electrical supply line with a voltage of 6,000 or more between conductors or between conductors and the ground shall place warning signs from 4 to 6 feet above the ground, upon all poles or other structures supporting the line.
196.67(1m) (1m)If it determines that it is necessary for public safety, the commission, by order or rule, may apply sub. (1) to any person constructing, operating or maintaining an overhead electrical supply line with a voltage of 2,000 or more.
196.67(2) (2)The commission shall establish standards for warning signs on overhead electrical supply line poles and structures.
196.67(3) (3)A public utility or an agent, as defined in s. 196.66 (3) (a), violating this section shall be fined not less than $50 nor more than $5,000 for each offense. A director or officer of a public utility violating this section shall be fined not less than $50 nor more than $2,500 for each offense. An employee of a public utility violating this section shall be fined not less than $50 nor more than $1,000 for each offense.
196.67 History History: 1979 c. 171; 1983 a. 53, 238; 1989 a. 49; 1993 a. 246.
196.675 196.675 Unlawful for carriers and public utilities to employ assistant district attorneys or judicial officers.
196.675(1)(1)No common carrier operating within this state and no public utility, except a municipal public utility, may retain or employ an assistant district attorney or any person holding a judicial office.
196.675(2) (2)If any assistant district attorney or any person holding a judicial office violates this section, the assistant district attorney's or judge's office shall be deemed vacant.
196.675(3) (3)This section does not apply to circuit or supplemental court commissioners.
196.68 196.68 Municipal officers, malfeasance. If any officer of a municipality which owns or operates a public utility 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 omits, fails, neglects or refuses to perform any duty which is enjoined upon him or her and which relates directly or indirectly to the enforcement of this chapter and ch. 197, or if the officer omits, fails, neglects or refuses to obey any lawful requirement or order of the commission or any judgment or decree of a court upon its application, for every such violation, failure or refusal the officer shall forfeit not less than $50 nor more than $2,500.
196.68 History History: 1981 c. 390; 1983 a. 53; 1989 a. 49.
196.69 196.69 Interference with commission's equipment.
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2017-18 Wisconsin Statutes updated through 2019 Wis. Act 20 and through all Supreme Court and Controlled Substances Board Orders filed before and in effect on November 11, 2019. Published and certified under s. 35.18. Changes effective after November 11, 2019, are designated by NOTES. (Published 11-11-19)