Declaration of policy.
The public service commission of Wisconsin recognizes that there are many citizens of the state who, because of incomes, infirmities of aging, developmental or mental disabilities or like infirmities incurred at any age, or the frailties associated with being very young, need protection from cold weather disconnections. This section is intended to provide that protection as enumerated below. It is the further intent of the public service commission that these rules be used as guidelines to identify those customers who are not covered by sub. (4)
. For households subject to disconnection under this section, any disconnection permitted by this chapter during the cold weather period defined below shall be made only as a last resort, after all other legal means of recourse have been attempted and proven unsuccessful.
This section applies to disconnections for nonpayment of utility service which provides the primary heat source or energy source affecting the primary heat source to residential dwelling units occurring during the period November 1 to April 15 in any year for all occupied residences.
Customer requested termination.
With regard to customer-requested termination of service at an unoccupied residence, the utility may rely on verification by the owner or the owner's agent that the residence is unoccupied, provided that the utility visits the premises at the time of disconnection and verifies that the premises are not occupied. The utility shall keep a written record of the utility determination that the premises are unoccupied.
Conditions for disconnection.
A utility may disconnect only those households whose gross quarterly incomes are above 250% of the federal income poverty guidelines and where health and safety would not be endangered because of the infirmities of age, developmental or mental disabilities or like infirmities incurred at any age or the frailties associated with being very young, if service were terminated or not restored.
The burden of proof that a household is eligible for disconnection as defined in sub. (3)
shall be the responsibility of the utility.
The utility, as part of its filing with the public service commission pursuant to sub. (12) (b)
, shall include how it will verify the household's income and situation.
Prior to and again at the time of disconnection of service, a utility representative shall meet personally with a responsible, adult member of the household to discover any circumstances which deserve special attention, such as medical problems or disabilities.
The utility shall maintain a record of all contacts with the household from the time that notice of pending disconnection is first given.
A utility shall provide its emergency after-hours telephone number to all households scheduled for utility service disconnection.
Customer and occupant service information.
Prior to disconnection, a utility shall inform the household of the availability of deferred payment agreements, budget billing and in the case of a noncustomer occupant, the option of accepting responsibility for future bills.
No disconnection on certain days.
A utility may not disconnect service to an occupied dwelling on a Friday, Saturday, Sunday, holiday or on a day when utility personnel are not readily available to the occupant 24 hours per day to negotiate restoration of service.
Third party contacts.
If the household has previously requested that a specific third party be notified before disconnection, the utility shall contact that third party prior to disconnection of service.
The utility shall designate by November 1 each year one or more executive employees who will be responsible for final approval of the disconnection of utility service and notify the commission, in writing, of the name, title and contact number of the person or persons so designated. The designated employee shall certify on a form approved by the commission that all appropriate code provisions have been met prior to authorizing disconnection. For investor-owned utilities with 30,000 or more customers, the designated person shall be an employee with at least the position of vice president. For investor-owned utilities with fewer than 30,000 customers, the designated employee shall be the utility president. For a municipal utility the designated employee shall be either the general manager or chairperson of the governing board. A utility may designate an employee to act in the absence of the above-listed personnel because of illness or vacation.
The utility shall report each disconnection of service to an occupied dwelling by facsimile transmission, if available, or telephone to the consumer services bureau of the public service commission by 3:30 p.m. the same day the disconnection takes place.
If a utility intends to make any disconnection of service to occupied dwellings under the provisions of this section, it shall each year, prior to making any disconnections, file procedures for review and receive approval by order of the public service commission describing how it intends to identify the occupied dwellings subject to disconnection. If within 60 days of submission the commission has not, by order, approved the procedures, the procedures shall be considered disapproved.
By the end of the work day following the day of disconnection, the utility shall make an in-person visit to the occupied dwelling to check on the household's wellbeing and to ensure there is no danger to human health or life. The utility shall again inform the household of the availability of deferred payment or budget billing agreements, shelter assistance and in the case of a noncustomer occupant, the option of accepting responsibility for payment of future bills. If the utility or its representative observes a danger to human health or life due to the disconnection, the utility shall immediately restore service.
The utility may request that the visit required under par. (a)
be made by a representative of a city health department, local health and social service agency, local law enforcement agency, or similar authority, but ultimate responsibility for the visit shall remain with the utility.
The utility shall submit for approval by commission order copies of its written internal procedures for implementing this section and any materials used in training its employees to carry out these rules. If within 60 days of submission the commission has not, by order, approved the internal procedures, the procedures shall be considered disapproved. The utility shall review these procedures annually and update the files procedures when appropriate. A utility which does not disconnect occupied residences for nonpayment during the winter period is not required to file such procedures.
PSC 113.0304 History
Cr. Register, July, 2000, No. 535
, eff. 8-1-00.
PSC 113.0305 Customer-requested termination of service.
With regard to customer-requested termination of service at an unoccupied residence, the utility may rely on verification by the owner or the owner's agent that the residence is unoccupied, provided that the utility visits the premises at the time of termination of service and has no reason to believe that the premises are occupied. If the premises appear to be occupied, the utility shall follow the procedures set out in s. PSC 113.0301 (10) (b)
PSC 113.0305 History
Cr. Register, July, 2000, No. 535
, eff. 8-1-00.
PSC 113.0401 Schedules to be filed with commission.
The schedules of rates and rules to be filed with the commission by the utility shall be classified, designated, arranged and submitted so as to conform to the requirements of current tariff or rate schedule circulars and special instructions which have been and may from time to time be issued by the commission. Provisions of the schedules shall be definite and so stated as to minimize ambiguity or the possibility of misinterpretation and shall include, together with such other information as may be deemed pertinent, the following:
All rates for service with indication for each rate of the type and voltage of service and the class of customers to which each rate applies. There shall also be shown any limitations on loads and type of equipment which may be connected, the prices per unit of service and the number of units per billing period to which the prices apply, the period of billing, the minimum bill, method of measuring demands including method of calculating or estimating loads or minimums and any special terms and conditions applicable. The discount for prompt payment or penalty for late payment, if any and the period during which the net amount may be paid shall be specified.
By municipalities, but without reference required to any particular part thereof, the voltage at which service will be supplied and the type of service (direct current or single- /or polyphase alternating current).
Forms of standard contracts required of customers for the various types of service available.
If service to other utilities, to electric cooperatives, or municipalities is furnished at a standard filed rate, either a copy of each contract or the standard contract form together with a summary of the provisions of each signed contract. The summary shall show the principal provisions of the contract and shall include the name and address of the customer, the points where energy is delivered, rate, term, minimums, load conditions, voltage of delivery and any special provisions such as rentals. Standard contracts for such sales as that of energy for resale, street lighting, municipal athletic-field lighting and for water utilities may be filed in summary form as above outlined.
Copies of special contracts for the purchase, sale, or interchange of energy.
List of villages, cities and unincorporated communities where urban rates are applicable and towns in which service is furnished.
The list of service areas and the rates shall be filed in such form as to facilitate ready determination of the rates available in each municipality and in such unincorporated communities as have service at urban rates. If the utility has various rural rates, the areas where the same are available shall be indicated.
Extension rules for extending service to new customers indicating what portion of the extension or cost thereof will be furnished by the utility; and if the rule is based on cost, the items of cost included.
Type of construction required if in excess of the standards required by the Wisconsin state electrical code.
Specification of such portion of service as the utility furnishes, owns and maintains, such as service drop, service entrance cable or conductors, conduits, service entrance equipment, meter and socket. Indication of the portions of interior wiring such as range or water-heater connection, furnished in whole or in part by the utility and statement indicating final ownership and responsibility for maintaining equipment furnished by utility.
Statement of the type of special construction commonly requested by customers which the utility allows to be connected and terms upon which such construction will be permitted, with due provision for the avoidance of unjust discrimination as between customers who request special construction and those who do not. This applies, for example, to a case where a customer desires underground service in overhead territory.
Rules with which prospective customers must comply as a condition of receiving service and the terms of contracts required.
Rules governing the establishment of credit by customers for payment of service bills.
Rules governing the procedure followed in disconnecting and reconnecting service.
Notice by customer required for having service discontinued.
Rules covering temporary, emergency, auxiliary and stand-by service.
Rules covering the type of equipment which may or may not be connected, including rules such as those requiring demand-limiting devices or power-factor corrective equipment.
PSC 113.0401 History
Cr. Register, July, 2000, No. 535
, eff. 8-1-00.
A utility may not require a cash deposit or other guarantee as a condition of new residential service unless a customer has an outstanding account balance with any Wisconsin electric utility or cooperative which accrued within the last 6 years and for which there is not agreement or arrangement for payment being honored by the customer and at which time the request for new service remains outstanding and not in dispute, as defined in s. PSC 113.0407
. To request a deposit under this section, utilities must comply with requirements in sub. (2)
A deposit under this section shall not be required if the customer provides the utility with information showing that his or her gross quarterly income is at or below 200% of federal income poverty guidelines.
A utility shall inform the customer of his or her right to enter into a deferred payment agreement for payment of the deposit amount and of his or her right to appeal any deposit request or amount required under this section to the public service commission.
The utility shall inform the customer that in lieu of cash deposit or guarantee, an applicant for new residential service who has an outstanding account balance accrued within the last 6 years with the same utility shall have the right to receive service from that utility under a deferred payment agreement, as defined in s. PSC 113.0404
, for the outstanding account. A customer who defaults on the deferred payment agreement may be required by the utility to furnish a deposit.
A utility may accept, in lieu of a cash deposit for new or existing residential service, a contract signed by a guarantor satisfactory to the utility whereby payment of a specified sum not exceeding the cash deposit requirement is guaranteed, or whereby the guarantor accepts responsibility for payment of all future bills. If the guarantor accepts responsibility for payment of future bills, the utility shall notify the customer in writing of the agreement and of the customer's right to refuse such an agreement. The term of the contract shall be for no longer than one year, but it shall automatically terminate after the residential customer has closed his or her account with the utility, or on the guarantor's request upon 30 days' written notice to the utility.
Upon termination of a guarantee contract, or whenever the utility deems the guarantee insufficient as to amount of surety, a cash deposit or a new or additional guarantee may be required upon 20-day written notice to the customer. The service of any customer who fails to comply with these requirements may be disconnected upon 10 days' written notice.
The utility shall mail the guarantor copies of all disconnect notices sent to the customer whose account has been guaranteed, unless the guarantor waives such notice in writing.
A utility may require a cash deposit or other guarantee as a condition of residential service if any of the following circumstances apply.
The utility has disconnected the customer's service within the last 12-month period for violation of the utility's filed rules or for nonpayment of a delinquent service account not currently in dispute.
Subsequent credit information indicates that the initial application for service was falsified.
The customer has the ability to pay for the utility service but, during the cold weather disconnections rules period, had an arrears amount incurred during that period that was 80 days or more past due. The utility may request a deposit under this section even if the customer's service has not been disconnected.
A new residential customer accrues charges for electric service that become 60 days or more past due within the first 8 months of service.
A deposit under this section shall not be required if the customer provides the utility with information showing that his or her gross quarterly income is at or below 200% of the federal income poverty guidelines.
When the utility requests a deposit of an existing residential customer, the customer shall be informed of his or her right to provide the deposit, guarantee, or to establish a deferred payment agreement. The customer shall be given 30 days to provide the deposit, guarantee, or enter into a deferred payment agreement for the deposit amount.
A utility shall provide a written explanation of why a deposit or guarantee is being required for a residential account. The explanation shall include notice of the customer's right to appeal any deposit request or amount required under this section to the public service commission.
Reasonableness of deposit
. When requesting a deposit from a residential customer, the utility shall consider the customer's ability to pay in determining the reasonableness of its request, including the following factors:
Any other relevant factors concerning the circumstances of the customer, as household size, income and expenses.
The maximum deposit for a new residential account shall not exceed the highest estimated gross bill for any 2 consecutive billing periods selected by the utility.
Except as provided in par. (c)
, the maximum deposit for an existing residential account shall not exceed the highest actual gross bill for any 2 consecutive months within the preceding 12 month review period, as determined by the utility.
If, during the cold weather disconnection rules period, a customer had an arrears amount incurred during this period that was 80 days or more past due and had the ability to pay for utility service, the deposit may not exceed the highest actual gross bills for any 4 consecutive months within the preceding 12 months review period, as determined by the utility.
Refusal or disconnection of service.
Residential service may be refused or disconnected for failure to pay a deposit request subject to the rules pertaining to disconnection and refusal of service, as provided in s. PSC 113.0301
Deposits for residential accounts shall bear interest payable from the date a deposit is made to the date it is applied to an account balance or is refunded.
The interest rate to be paid shall be subject to change annually on a calendar year basis. The commission shall determine the rate of interest to be paid on deposits held during the following calendar year and notify utilities of that rate by December 15 of each year. The rate shall be equal to the weekly average yield of one-year United States treasury securities adjusted for constant maturity for the week ending on or after December 1 made available by the federal reserve board, rounded to the nearest tenth of one percent.
The rate of interest set by the commission shall be payable on all deposits. Utilities shall calculate the interest earned on each deposit at the time of refund and at the end of each calendar year. The interest rate in a calendar year shall apply to the amount of the deposit and to all interest accrued during the previous year(s), for the fraction of the calendar year that the deposit was held by the utility.
The utility shall refund the deposit of a residential customer after 12 consecutive months of prompt payment.
The utility shall not continue to require a cash deposit for a residential account unless a deposit is permitted under the provisions of sub. (4)
Method of refund.
Any deposit or portion thereof refunded to a residential customer shall be refunded by check unless both the customer and the utility agree to a credit on the regular billing, or unless sub. (14)
Refund at termination of service.
On termination of residential service, the utility shall credit the deposit, with accrued interest, to the customer's final bill and return the balance within 30 days of issuing the final bill.
An arrearage owed by a residential customer may be deducted from the customer's deposit under any of the following conditions:
Except as provided in par. (c)
, a deposit may be used by the utility only to satisfy an arrearage occurring after the deposit was made.