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.
196.69(1)(1) If any person destroys, injures or interferes with any apparatus or appliance owned, in the charge of or operated by the commission or its agent, the person shall be fined not more than $5,000 or imprisoned for not more than 30 days or both if the person is a public utility or an agent, as defined in s. 196.66 (3) (a), fined not more than $2,500 or imprisoned for not more than 30 days or both if the person is a director or officer of a public utility, or fined not more than $1,000 or imprisoned for not more than 30 days or both if the person is an employee of a public utility.
196.69(2) (2) Any public utility permitting a violation of this section shall forfeit not more than $5,000 for each offense.
196.69 History History: 1983 a. 53; 1989 a. 49.
196.70 196.70 Temporary alteration or suspension of rates.
196.70(1)(1) The commission, when it deems necessary to prevent injury to the business or interests of the people or any public utility in case of any emergency to be judged of by the commission, may by order temporarily alter, amend, or with the consent of the public utility concerned, suspend any existing rates, schedules and order relating to or affecting any public utility or part of any public utility.
196.70(2) (2) The commission may direct an order under sub. (1) to part of a public utility or to one or more public utilities and may prescribe when the order takes effect and for how long the order shall be in effect.
196.70 History History: 1983 a. 53.
196.70 Annotation Temporary and emergency rates may be appropriately and widely used by the public service commission when justified by the circumstances. Friends of the Earth v. PSC, 78 Wis. 2d 388, 254 N.W.2d 299 (1977).
196.71 196.71 Municipal public utility contracts. If a municipality owns a public utility and if there is no other public utility furnishing the same service, the commission, after a public hearing and determination that the municipally owned public utility cannot be operated profitably, may authorize a contract between the municipality and any person not a public utility to furnish light, power or electric current to the municipality upon terms and conditions approved by the commission. The person contracting with the municipality is not a public utility solely due to the contract with the municipality.
196.71 History History: 1983 a. 53.
196.71 Cross-reference Cross-reference: See also ch. PSC 114, Wis. adm. code.
196.72 196.72 Accidents; public utility report; investigation.
196.72(1)(1)
196.72(1)(a)(a) The commission may issue orders or rules, after hearing, requiring public utilities to record or report accidents which occur upon the public utilities' premises or which arise directly or indirectly from, or are connected with, the public utilities' maintenance or operation.
196.72(1)(b) (b) Notwithstanding any statute to the contrary, any report filed with the commission under par. (a) shall be without prejudice to the person making the report and shall be for the sole information and use of the commission and its staff. Neither the report nor its content may be made available to any other person. The report may not be used as evidence in any trial, civil or criminal, arising out of the event concerning which the report is submitted.
196.72(2) (2) The commission shall investigate any accident under sub. (1) if the commission deems that the public interest requires it. The commission shall hold the investigation in the locality of the accident, unless it is more convenient to hold it at some other place. The commission may adjourn the investigation from place to place. The commission shall give the public utility reasonable notice of the time and place of the investigation.
196.72 History History: 1983 a. 53; 1985 a. 297.
196.72 Cross-reference Cross-reference: See also chs. PSC 104 and 165, Wis. adm. code.
196.74 196.74 Electric lines; safety and interference. Each public utility and railroad which owns, operates, manages or controls along or across any public or private way any wires over which electricity or messages are transmitted shall construct, operate and maintain the wires and any related equipment in a manner which is reasonably adequate and safe and which does not unreasonably interfere with the service furnished by any other public utility or railroad. The commission may issue orders or rules, after hearing, requiring electric construction and operating of such wires and equipment to be safe. The commission may revise the orders or rules as may be required to promote public safety. If any interested party files a complaint with the commission indicating that public safety or adequate service requires changes in construction, location or methods of operation, the commission shall give notice to the parties in interest of the filing of the complaint. The commission shall proceed to investigate the complaint and shall order a hearing on it. After the hearing the commission shall order any change in construction or location or change of methods of operation required for public safety or to avoid service interference. The commission shall indicate in the order by whom the change shall be made. The commission shall fix the proportion of the cost and expense of the change, which shall be paid by the parties in interest. The commission shall fix reasonable terms and conditions related to the payment of the cost and expense.
196.74 History History: 1983 a. 53.
196.74 Cross-reference Cross-reference: See also ch. PSC 114, Wis. adm. code.
196.745 196.745 Construction and operation; safety; commission orders.
196.745(1)(1)
196.745(1)(a)(a) A person who owns, operates, manages or controls any facility for the production, transmission or distribution of gas shall construct, operate and maintain the facility in a reasonably adequate and safe manner. Except as provided in par. (b), the commission may issue orders or rules, after holding a hearing, requiring the construction and operation of the facility to be safe, and may revise the orders or rules as required to promote public safety. Except as provided under par. (b), upon complaint to the commission that a facility is unsafe, the commission may proceed under s. 196.26 or 196.28 (1). Sections 196.26 and 196.28 (1), as they apply to a public utility, apply to a person under this subsection. After holding a hearing the commission shall order any alteration in construction, maintenance or operation required in the interest of public safety.
196.745(1)(b) (b) Paragraph (a) does not authorize the commission to do any of the following:
196.745(1)(b)1. 1. Issue an order or rule regarding the construction and operation of, or proceed under s. 196.26 or 196.28 (1) against, a propane gas distribution system that is not a public utility.
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2015-16 Wisconsin Statutes updated through 2017 Wis. Act 57 and all Supreme Court and Controlled Substances Board Orders effective on or before September 12, 2017. Published and certified under s. 35.18. Changes effective after September 12, 2017 are designated by NOTES. (Published 9-12-17)