CUB: Good Day for Utility Customers, Bad Day for Wisconsin Power & Light

More Information:
Charlie Higley,
direct: (608) 251-3322 x. 14
cell phone: (608) 843-6996

MADISON – Today the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (PSC) agreed with the arguments put forward by the Citizens Utility Board (CUB) and rejected the request by Wisconsin Power & Light (WPL) to increase its rates by $9 million.

In a separate action, the PSC also agreed with CUB and rejected the request by WPL to disconnect customers during the winter (November 1 to April 15) for failure to pay their utility bills.

In December 2004, WPL, a utility subsidiary of Alliant Energy, Inc., filed a request with the PSC to increase rates by $9 million to cover increased costs for fuel used to produce electricity. CUB intervened in the case, arguing that WPL’s request violated the rules used by the PSC that determine whether utilities can recover increased fuel costs.

“In rejecting this rate increase, the PSC did the right thing,” said Curt Pawlisch of Cullen Weston Pines & Bach, attorney for CUB. “Granting WPL’s rate increase would have clearly been unlawful both as contrary to PSC rules and as retroactive ratemaking,” continued Pawlisch.

In August 2004, WPL asked the PSC for permission to disconnect customers during the winter for failing to pay their electric bills, even though current regulations prohibit the disconnection of customers from electric and gas service during the winter except under certain conditions. These rules were established in 1984 to protect the health and safety of utility customers during the coldest months of the year. CUB intervened in this case and argued that utilities should not be allowed to disconnect customers during the winter.

“The decisions made today by the Public Service Commission will protect the health and safety of WPL ratepayers, as well as their pocketbooks,” said Charlie Higley, CUB executive director.