Appointment of interim directors.
Election of directors.
Corrupt practices and conflicts of interest.
Corporation to be nonpartisan.
This chapter may be cited as “The Citizens Utility Board Act".
History: 1979 c. 72
The purpose of this chapter is to promote the health, welfare and prosperity of all the citizens of this state by ensuring effective and democratic representation of individual farmers and other individual residential utility consumers before regulatory agencies, the legislature and other public bodies and by providing for consumer education on utility service costs and on benefits and methods of energy conservation. Such purpose shall be deemed a statewide interest and not a private or special concern.
History: 1979 c. 72
As used in this chapter:
“Board" means the board of directors of the corporation.
“Campaign contribution" means a gift, subscription, loan, advance or deposit of money or anything of value, made for the purpose of electing a candidate to the board; or a contract, promise or agreement, express or implied, whether or not legally enforceable, to make any campaign contribution; but does not include the value of services provided without compensation by individuals who volunteer a portion or all of their time on behalf of a candidate or political committee, or the use of real or personal property and the cost of invitations, food, and beverages, voluntarily provided by an individual to a candidate in rendering voluntary personal services on the individual's residential premises for candidate-related activities if the cumulative value of the activities to the individual on behalf of any candidate does not exceed $100 for any election.
“Campaign expenditure" means a purchase, payment, distribution, loan, advance, deposit, or gift of money or anything of value, made for the purpose of electing a candidate to the board; or a contract, promise, or agreement, express or implied, whether or not legally enforceable, to make any campaign expenditure; but does not include the use of real or personal property and the cost of invitations, food, and beverages, voluntarily provided by an individual to a candidate in rendering voluntary personal services on the individual's residential premises for candidate-related activities if the cumulative value of the activities by the individual on behalf of any candidate does not exceed $100 for any election.
“Class A utility" means any gas, electric or water utility with annual total gross operating revenues of $2.5 million or more or any telecommunications utility with annual total gross operating revenues of $1,600,000 or more on November 29, 1979.
“Corporation" means the citizens utility board.
“Director" means any member of the board.
“District" means a corporation district, the boundaries of which are congruent with the boundaries of the congressional districts in the state.
“Immediate family" of a person means the person's spouse and legal dependents.
“Member" means any person who satisfies the requirements for membership under s. 199.04 (1)
“Periodic customer billing" means a notice required by law or an invoice listing charges submitted to a residential utility customer on a monthly or other regular basis by a public utility to whom the corporation furnishes an enclosure under s. 199.10
. “Periodic customer billing" does not mean any promotional or informational literature, invoice listing charges for any other person or any enclosure which describes current or future service charges.
“Political committee" means any committee, club, association or other group of persons which makes campaign expenditures or receives campaign contributions during the year before an election of the board.
“Public utility" means any person, except a town, village, city or sanitary district, who owns, operates, manages or controls any plant or equipment or any part of a plant or equipment, within the state for the production, transmission, delivery or furnishing of heat, light, water, telecommunications service or power either directly or indirectly to or for the public. “Public utility" includes any person engaged in the transmission or delivery of natural gas for compensation within this state by means of pipes or mains. “Public utility" does not include a cooperative organized under ch. 185
for the purpose of generating, distributing, or furnishing electric energy to its members only, or a cooperative organized under ch. 185
for the purpose of furnishing telecommunications service to its members only.
“Residential utility consumer" means any individual who lives in a dwelling which is located in this state and which is furnished with a utility service by a public utility. “Residential utility consumer" includes, but is not limited to, an individual engaged in farming as defined under s. 102.04 (3)
“Utility service" means electricity, natural gas, water and telecommunications service supplied by a public utility.
Citizens utility board: formation and membership. 199.04(1)(1)
There is created a nonprofit public body corporate and politic to be known as the “Citizens Utility Board". Any residential utility consumer at least 18 years old who has contributed at least $3 but not more than $100 in membership fees to the corporation in the preceding 12 months shall be a member of the corporation. A member may resign from membership at any time.
Notwithstanding any other provision of this chapter or any other provision of law, if the corporation does not receive contributions from at least 1,000 citizens of this state within 5 years of November 29, 1979, and if the corporation does not receive at least $10,000 within 5 years of November 29, 1979, the corporation shall be dissolved.
History: 1979 c. 72
The creation of the citizens utility board is constitutional. 69 Atty. Gen. 153.
The board legally dissolved and reorganized as a non-stock, non-profit corporation. 75 Atty. Gen. 168
Powers and duties. 199.05(1)(a)
Represent and protect the interests of the residential utility consumers of this state. All actions by the corporation under this chapter shall be directed toward such duty.
Inform, insofar as possible, all residential utility consumers about the corporation, including the procedure for obtaining membership in the corporation.
Make available to all residential utility consumers information on utility service costs and on benefits and methods of energy conservation.
The corporation shall have all the powers necessary or convenient for the effective representation and protection of the interests of residential utility consumers and to implement this chapter, including the following powers in addition to all other powers granted by this chapter:
To make, amend and repeal bylaws and rules for the regulation of its affairs and the conduct of its business; to adopt an official seal and alter it at pleasure; to maintain an office; to sue and be sued in its own name, plead and be impleaded; and to make and execute contracts and other instruments necessary or convenient to the exercise of the powers of the corporation.
To employ such agents, employees and special advisers as it finds necessary and to fix their compensation.
To solicit and accept gifts, loans or other aid in order to support activities concerning the interests of residential utility consumers, except that the corporation may not accept gifts, loans or other aid from any public utility or from any director, employee or agent or member of the immediate family of a director, employee or agent of any public utility and except that after the first election under s. 199.12
the corporation may not accept from any individual, private corporation, association or partnership in any single year a total of more than $1,000 in gifts. Under this paragraph, “aid" does not mean payment of membership fees under s. 199.04
To intervene as a party or otherwise participate on behalf of residential utility consumers in any proceeding which affects the interests of residential utility consumers.
To represent the interests of residential utility consumers before legislative bodies and other public bodies, except that no director, employee or agent of the corporation may engage in lobbying without first complying with subch. III of ch. 13
and any other statute, administrative rule or other regulation relating to lobbying.
To seek tax exempt status under state and federal law.
History: 1979 c. 72
The corporation shall be managed by a board to be composed as follows:
Two directors shall be elected from each district under s. 199.12
. A director shall represent the interests of the residential utility consumers of his or her district and of the state. A director shall have one vote on the board. The term of office of a director elected under this subsection shall be 3 years except as provided under par. (b)
. No director may serve more than 2 consecutive full terms.
Of the directors first elected to the board, one-third, each from a different district, shall serve for a one-year term; one-third, each from a different district, shall serve for a 2-year term; and one-third plus any remaining number, each from a different district, shall serve for a 3-year term. The directors first elected to the board shall take office when certified as elected by the interim board under s. 199.12 (7) (e)
. The interim board of directors shall designate the length of the first terms under s. 199.11 (2) (g)
A director shall be a resident of the district he or she represents and a member of the corporation. No person who is a director, employee or agent or who is a member of the immediate family of a director, employee or agent of any public utility is eligible to be a director. No director may hold any elective position, be a candidate for any elective position, or be a state public official as defined in s. 19.42 (14)
The board shall hold regular meetings at least once every 3 months on such dates and at such places as it may determine. Special meetings may be called by the president or by a majority of the directors upon at least 5 days' advance written notice. A majority of the directors shall constitute a quorum. A majority vote of the directors present shall determine any question. If the vote is a tie vote, the question shall fail. A summary of the minutes of every board meeting shall be distributed to all public libraries in the state.
A director may not receive any compensation for his or her services but shall be reimbursed for wages actually lost in an amount not to exceed $50 per day and for necessary expenses, including travel expenses incurred in the discharge of duties. The board shall establish standard allowances for mileage, room and meals and the purposes for which such allowances may be made and shall determine the reasonableness and necessity for such reimbursements. The board shall include the schedule of such standard allowances in the annual report under s. 199.07 (4) (d)
Directors and employees eligible to disburse funds shall be bonded. The costs of such bonds shall be paid by the corporation.
The members of a director's district may file a petition for recall of the director no sooner than 6 months after his or her election and not later than 6 months prior to the end of the director's term of office. To be valid the petition shall have the valid signatures of at least 33 percent of the vote cast in the director's district in the last preceding director election. The signatures may not have a date which is less than 60 days before the date of filing.
Upon receipt of a valid petition under par. (a)
, or if a vacancy occurs under s. 199.12 (7) (g)
, the board shall set a date for a special election for the district for the purpose of electing a director to serve out the term of a director subject to recall or vacating a position and shall so notify every member. The election may not be less than 4 months nor more than 6 months after such notification. An election under this section shall be conducted under s. 199.12
A director subject to recall may become a candidate in an election under this section. A director subject to recall shall continue to serve until the board certifies a candidate elected under s. 199.12 (7) (e)
History: 1979 c. 72
Duties of directors.
The board shall have the following duties:
To establish the policy of the corporation regarding appearances before regulatory agencies, legislative bodies and other public authorities, and regarding other activities which the corporation has the authority to perform under this chapter.
To employ an executive director under s. 199.075
who shall have the following powers and duties, subject at all times to the direction and supervision of the board:
To implement the policy established by the board under sub. (1)
To employ and discharge employees of the corporation.
To supervise the offices, facilities and work of the employees of the corporation.
To have custody of and maintain the books, records and membership rolls of the corporation under this chapter.
To prepare and submit to the board annual and quarterly statements of the financial and substantive operations of the corporation, and financial estimates for the future operations of the corporation.
To attend and participate in meetings of the board as a nonvoting director.
To file annually with the board a current financial statement which includes the information required under s. 199.12 (4)
To exercise such other powers and perform such other duties as the board delegates.
To hold an annual meeting of the membership on a date and at a place within the state to be determined by the board under s. 199.08
Quarterly statements of the financial and substantive operations of the corporation.
An audit of the corporation's books at least once each fiscal year. The audit shall be by a certified public accountant.
An annual report of the corporation's financial and substantive operations. The corporation shall prepare the report at the close of the corporation's fiscal year and shall distribute the report to each member and to each public library in the state.
An annual report on the past and projected activities and policies of the corporation. The corporation shall present the report to the membership at the annual membership meeting.
To establish and make available to the public a written policy on the availability and distribution of all records required to be kept by the corporation under this chapter.
To carry out all other duties and responsibilities imposed upon the corporation and the board under this chapter.
To establish a policy on consumer education concerning utility service costs and benefits and methods of energy conservation by any of the following methods, without limitation because of enumeration:
Presentation of energy conservation training sessions open to the public.
Preparation and dissemination of newsletters and other informational material on utility service costs and energy conservation.
Installation and advertisement of a toll free telephone line service to answer citizen inquiries on utility service costs and energy conservation.