CUB Helped Save Ratepayers $161 Million in 2014

In 2014, CUB cut $161 million out of utility bills by intervening in more than two dozen cases before the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin.

CUB fought excessive utility rate increase requests and unneeded utility construction projects. CUB hammered out agreements that reduced utility rate increases by tens of millions of dollars and set earnings caps on utility profits - if certain utilities exceed their authorized profit margin, money flows back to customers!

CUB fought the shocking proposals by numerous utilities to increase the monthly fixed customer charge for electric and gas utility services and continues to battle to ensure that customers receive quantifiable monetary benefits if Wisconsin Energy Corporation’s proposed $9.2 billion take-over of Integrys is approved.

Below are summaries of a select sample of cases CUB intervened in before the PSC in 2014. Each case is identified by a “docket number,” which is included in the title of each case summary. You can view most of the documents submitted in each case, including CUB’s expert testimony and legal briefs, by entering the docket number on the PSC’s website, http://psc.wi.gov

 

We Energies Rate Case for Test Year 2015 (5-UR-107)
CUB helps save $149 million

CUB started off the year by hammering out an agreement that slashed $107 million from We Energies’ customer rates in 2015. Following months of negotiations, CUB (along with other stakeholders) entered into a settlement agreement with We Energies drastically reducing the 2015 forecasted revenue requirement by cutting  electric costs by $82.6 million; WE-GO natural gas costs by $8.2 million; Wisconsin Gas costs by $15.3 million; and steam costs by $1.4 million.

CUB also raised issues regarding the costs and revenues associated with We Energies operation of the Presque Isle power plant (PIPP) that were not part of the settlement agreement during the rate case technical hearings before the PSC. In December, 2014, the Commission issued an order agreeing with CUB that 2015 costs and revenues associated with PIPP should be deferred, reducing We Energies’ electric revenue requirement by an additional $41.9 million!

 

WPSC Rate Case for 2015 (6690-UR-123)
CUB helps cut WPSC utility bills by $11.5 million!

In April 2014, Wisconsin Public Service Corporation (WPSC) filed an application with the PSC to increase electric rates by $76.8 million in 2015, an 8% increase. WPSC also requested authority to increase the monthly residential electric connection fee from $10.40/month to $25.00/month, a shocking increase of 140%.

CUB filed testimony with the PSC stating that WPSC’s proposal to increase the residential connection fee should be denied because it would destabilize price signals to consumers for reducing energy usage, disproportionately increase bills for the utility’s smallest residential customers, and exacerbate the subsidization of larger residential customers’ costs by these lower-usage customers. CUB’s recommendation to the PSC was that there should be no increase approved for the monthly electric connection fees for residential and small business customers.

CUB further argued that WPSC should not receive $9 million of ratepayer payments for non-executive employee incentive compensation programs, and that it should not collect costs for new computer software that the company couldn’t justify in its filing. 

In December 2014, the Commission issued its order approving an electric rate increase of $24.6 million, a 2.5% increase ($52.2 million less than WPSC originally requested); denied ratepayer recovery of $9 million for employee incentive compensation programs; reduced costs for new computer software by $2.5 million, and increased the monthly residential electric connection charge to $19/month.

 

WPL Rate Case, 6680-UR-119, and Fuel Case for 2015 (6680-FR-107)
CUB helps negotiate two year rate freeze and utility earnings cap; saves customers millions!

Early in 2014, CUB and other stakeholders began negotiations with Wisconsin Power and Light Company (WPL) regarding its electric and natural gas rates for 2015 and 2016. The negotiations resulted in WPL agreeing not to increase electric and natural gas base rates in 2015 and 2016.

In addition, WPL agreed to the continuation of an earnings cap put in place in a prior settlement. This means that if WPL over-earns during 2015 and 2016 profits will be shared with customers! Also, WPL agreed to not increase its electric monthly fixed customer charge for residential customers. The Commission approved the settlement in July, 2014. 

CUB also contested WPL’s plan to increase fuel costs for 2015. CUB cross examined witnesses at the PSC hearing and submitted legal arguments opposing WPL’s request to accelerate recovery of $13.5 million of fuel costs that it under-collected from customers in 2014 and opposed $581,000 of WPL’s requested fuel cost increase for 2015.

In December 2014, the Commission issued an order agreeing with CUB’s request to not allow WPL to accelerate collection of $13.5 million of under-collected 2014 fuel costs, and to disallow $581,000 in unreasonable 2015 fuel costs.