The utility may accept, in lieu of a cash deposit for new or existing commercial or farm 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. The term of such contract shall be for no longer than 2 years, but it shall automatically terminate after the commercial or farm customer has closed its account with the utility, or at the guarantor's request on 30 days' written notice to the utility.
On termination of a guarantee contract, or whenever the utility deems the amount of surety insufficient, a cash deposit or a new or additional guarantee may be required on 20-day written notice to the customer. The service of a customer who fails to comply with these requirements may be disconnected on 10 days written notice, subject to the establishment of an installment payment agreement.
The utility shall mail the guarantor copies of all disconnect notices sent to the customer whose account he or she has guaranteed, unless the guarantor waives such notice in writing.
The utility may require an existing commercial or farm customer to furnish a deposit if the customer has not made prompt payment of all bills within the last 24 months, or if the customer has the ability to pay for the utility service but, during the cold weather disconnection rules period, had an arrears amount incurred during that period that was 80 days or more past due.
When the utility requests a deposit of an existing commercial or farm customer, the customer shall have 30 days to provide the deposit, guarantee, or to establish an installment payment agreement.
A utility shall provide a written explanation of why a deposit or guarantee is being required for commercial or farm service. 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.
The utility shall inform the customer at the time a deposit is provided that if, after 12 months of utility service, the deposit amount is greater than necessary based on actual consumption, the customer may request refund of the difference between the 2 amounts.
Refusal or interruption of service.
Commercial or farm service may be refused or disconnected for failure to pay a deposit request, subject to the rules pertaining to disconnection and refusal of service.
The maximum deposit for a new commercial or farm account shall not exceed the highest estimated gross bill for any 2 consecutive billing periods selected by the utility. If after a 12-month period the deposit amount is shown to be greater than warranted based on actual consumption, the utility shall at the customer's request refund the difference between the 2 amounts, plus interest.
Except as provided in par. (c)
, the maximum deposit for an existing commercial or farm account shall not exceed the highest actual gross bill for any 2 consecutive months within the preceding 12 months 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 bill for any 4 consecutive months within the preceding 12-month review period, as determined by the utility.
Deposits for commercial or farm service shall bear interest from the date a deposit is made to the date it is applied to an account balance or refunded.
The interest rate to be paid shall be subject to change annually on a calendar basis. The commission shall determine the rate of interest to be paid on deposits held during the following calendar year and notify the utilities of the 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 the 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.
Time of refund.
The deposit of a commercial or farm customer shall be refunded after 24 consecutive months of prompt payment.
Method of refund.
Any deposit or portion thereof refunded to a commercial or farm customer shall be refunded by check unless both the customer and the utility agree to a credit on the regular billing, or unless sub. (13)
Refund at termination of service.
Upon termination of commercial or farm service, the deposit, with accrued interest, shall be credited to the final bill and the balance shall be returned within 30 days of issuing the final bill.
An arrearage owed by a commercial or farm customer may be deducted from the customer's deposit under 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.
If the utility deducts an arrearage from a customer deposit, it may require the customer to bring the deposit up to its original amount. Failure of the customer to do so within 20 days of mailing a written request for payment is a ground for disconnection.
When a deposit is refunded to the customer, the utility may first deduct any arrearage owed by the customer, whether the arrearage arose prior to or after the date of the deposit.
The provisions of subs. (3)
are not applicable to deposits or guarantees made in connection with the financing of extensions or other equipment.
PSC 113.0403 History
Cr. Register, July, 2000, No. 535
, eff. 8-1-00; CR 02-027
: am. (4) (b), Register December 2002 No. 564
, eff. 1-1-03.
The utility is required to offer deferred payment agreements only to residential accounts and may offer such agreements to other customers.
Every deferred payment agreement entered into due to the customer's inability to pay the outstanding bill in full shall provide that service will not be discontinued if the customer pays a reasonable amount of the outstanding bill and agrees to pay a remaining outstanding balance in installments.
For purposes of determining reasonableness in sub. (2)
, the parties shall consider the customer's ability to pay, including the following factors:
Any other relevant factors concerning the circumstances of the customer, such as household size, income and expenses.
A utility may require a written deferred payment agreement with the customer's signature. A written agreement offered by a utility shall state immediately preceding the space provided for the customer's signature in at least 12-point boldface print,
“RIGHT OF APPEAL
If you are not satisfied with this agreement, DO NOT SIGN IT.
You have the right to suggest a different payment agreement.
If you and the utility can not agree on terms, you can ask the public service commission to review the disputed issues.
If you sign this agreement, you agree that you owe the amount due under the agreement.
Signing this agreement does not affect your responsibility to pay for your current service."
A utility that does not require a written deferred payment agreement shall communicate to the customer all points listed above except for the signature when making the arrangement with the customer. A utility must send written confirmation of a deferred payment agreement upon customer request. The commission may require a utility to use written deferred payment agreements.
A delinquent amount covered by a deferred payment agreement shall not be subject to a late payment charge if the customer meets the payment schedule required by the agreement.
A special payment agreement entered into by the customer and the utility through the utility's early identification program shall be given the force and effect of a deferred payment agreement for purposes of late payment charges.
If a utility customer has not fulfilled the terms of a deferred payment agreement and there has not been a significant change in the customer's ability to pay since the agreement was negotiated, the utility may disconnect utility service pursuant to disconnection of service rules, ss. PSC 113.0301
and shall not be required to negotiate a subsequent deferred payment agreement prior to disconnection.
Payments made by a customer in compliance with a deferred payment agreement shall first be considered made in payment of the previous account balance with any remainder credited to the current bill.
If a deferred payment agreement cannot be reached because the customer's offer is unacceptable to the utility, the utility shall inform the customer in writing why the customer's offer was not acceptable.
PSC 113.0404 History
Cr. Register, July, 2000, No. 535
, eff. 8-1-00.
PSC 113.0405 Meter readings and billing periods.
Readings of all meters used for determining charges to customers shall be scheduled no less frequently than once every two months. Utilities may offer quarterly or semiannual meter-reading plans to customers who elect such an option. An effort shall be made to read meters on corresponding days of each meter-reading period cycle. The meter-reading date may be advanced or postponed not more than 5 days without adjustment of the billing for the period. Bills for service shall be rendered within 40 days from the reading of the meter except as may be otherwise specifically authorized by the commission. The utility may permit the customer to supply the meter readings on a form supplied by the utility, or by telephone or electronic mail, provided a utility representative reads the meter at least once each 6 months and when there is a change of customer. The utility shall make reasonable efforts to read the meters of customers whose meters require access to a residence and who cannot be available during normal business hours.
PSC 113.0405 History
Cr. Register, July, 2000, No. 535
, eff. 8-1-00.
Each bill, including the customer's receipt, provided by Madison Gas and Electric Company, Northern States Power Company, Superior Water, Light and Power Company, Wisconsin Electric Power Company, Wisconsin Power and Light Company, Wisconsin Public Service Corporation, or their successors, shall show for each meter the following information:
The customer name, billing address and service address, if different from the billing address.
For residential customers in multi-unit buildings, current meter identification information or number and account number.
The rate schedule under which the bill is calculated including the itemized calculations of the rate schedule component including, but not limited to, such items as customer charge, energy blocks, demand charges, minimum bills and all other billing factors necessary for the customer to check the calculation of the bill.
Clear itemization of the amount of the bill for the present billing period, any unpaid balance from previous billing periods and any late payment charges.
A statement that the utility will, upon customer request, provide the information and assistance necessary for the customer to evaluate fuel consumption and conservation.
Upon receiving such request in par. (a) 15.
, the utility shall provide consumption and degree day information by billing periods for at least the last year and information and instructions needed by the customer to make consumption comparisons and evaluate his or her conservation efforts.
Bills rendered without an actual meter reading shall be specifically marked as estimated.
Each bill, including the customer's receipt rendered by electric utilities not included in par. (a)
, shall show the present and last preceding meter readings, the date of the present reading, the number of units consumed, the class of service if other than residential and the rate schedule under which the bill is calculated. In lieu of including the rate schedule on the bill the utility may, whenever a rate change becomes effective or at least once a year, supply each customer with the schedule of rates at which the bills are calculated and any other rates that might be applicable. Such a schedule shall be written in clear and direct language in no smaller type than 10-point type. Bills rendered at rates requiring the measurement of a number of different factors shall show all data necessary for the customer to check the calculation of a bill. All monthly adjustment clause factors necessary for a customer to check the calculation of the bill shall be included on the monthly bill. Minimum and estimated bills shall be distinctly marked as such. Estimated bills are bills rendered without actual meter readings.
The utility may include on the utility service bill charges to the customer resulting from other services, materials, or work provided by the utility as a result of commission-approved conservation and alternative energy programs and, with the consent of both the customer and the utility, merchandise and service repair work charges. The charges shall be listed individually on the bill and the customer shall be permitted to include such payment in his or her payment for electric utility service. Any partial payments shall be applied first to the amount due for utility service and the remainder to the other charges.
Costs or fees incurred by and awarded to the utility by a court of law, for pursuing bill collection through other agencies, such as small claims courts, or extraordinary collection charges as allowed and specified in the utility's tariffs filed with the public service commission, may be included on the utility's service bill. Such tariffs shall be established on the basis of rate case proceedings or generic proceedings to establish the reasonableness of such charges.
The commission may authorize the utility to make late payment charges to a customer's utility service bill that is not paid in full within 20 days following issuance of the bill and for utility service that has been obtained by diversion around or tampering with the metering of the account. The late payment charge may be either a one-time charge as provided in par. (h)
or a monthly charge as provided in par. (i)
. The utility shall receive approval from the commission of the method it desires to use and shall not change methods without commission approval.
If the utility is authorized to make a one-time late payment charge, such charge shall comply with the following requirements:
The bill shall clearly indicate the amount of the late payment charge and the date after which the late payment charge shall be applied.
Except as provided in par. (i) 8.
, late payment charges shall be applied no sooner than 20 days after the date of issuance of the bill.
The amount of the late payment charge shall be 3% of the bill, except a minimum charge of $.50 shall apply. The charge shall not exceed 1% per month (12% per annum) for forbearances occurring primarily, for personal, family or household purposes where the only charge is a late charge.
Late payment charges shall be applied to all customer classes and rate classifications.
A late payment charge shall be applied only once to any given amount outstanding.
If a customer disputes a bill for utility service or portion thereof and does not pay the disputed bill in full within 20 days following issuance of the bill, the late payment charge shall be applied only to that portion of the disputed bill later found to be correct and payable to the utility.
Bills issued for utility service previously unbilled because of meter diversion or tampering with the proper metering of the account may include a late payment charge when issued.
If the utility is authorized to make monthly late payment charges, such charges shall comply with the following requirements.
The amount of the charge shall be no more than 1% per month and shall be filed with and approved by the commission before it can be applied. The charge shall not exceed 1% per month (12% per annum) for forbearances occurring primarily, for personal, family or household purposes where the only charge is a late charge.