In February 2011, the Public Service Commission approved an economic development rate for Milwaukee Water Works, the water utility that serves the Milwaukee area. The EDR allowed the Water Works to provide special rate discounts on water service to companies that expanded their Milwaukee businesses or moved to Milwaukee from out-of-state. CUB has long opposed EDR’s because they often force residential and small business utility customers to pay higher rates to cover the discounts and subsidies given to large customers.
Because no businesses had subscribed to the EDR by spring of 2012, the Commission wanted to increase the EDR incentives. However, the City of Milwaukee wanted to stop the EDR rate offering. The Commission held a hearing on the matter in the spring of 2013. CUB intervened in support of the City’s effort to stop offering the EDR and fought to ensure that the Commission adhered to its legal process requirements regarding record evidence and hearings.
The result was that there was no support on the record for continuing the EDR, and the Commission issued an order allowing the discounted rate offer to expire in July 2013.
Waukesha Water Utility
Water Rates for 2012
On December 15, 2011, Waukesha Water Utility applied with the Public Service Commission to increase water rates by $2.3 million, or 27 percent, primarily to pay for its proposal to divert water from Lake Michigan to serve local needs.
Waukesha has yet to receive approval for the diversion from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources or the Great Lakes Compact, nor has Waukesha applied for permission to construct the project with the PSC.
CUB intervened in the case to make sure that only appropriate costs for water service are included in rates.
The PSC division administrator for water utilities issued a final decision in this case on July 10, 2012. The PSC disagreed with CUB and will allow Waukesha to increase rates by $2.3 million, or 27 percent, to cover the costs of its investigation of alternative sources of water, even though the PSC has no way to assess whether the utility’s pursuit of alternatives is reasonable.
On August 11, 2011, the PSC opened an investigation into whether Cudahy Water Utility can create a new, reduced water rate for water-intensive businesses that relocate to the city or expand within the city.
CUB and Clean Wisconsin intervened in the docket, and then Cudahy withdrew its application and is no longer seeking a new rate. Quoting PSC staff, “The Utility made this decision [to withdraw its application] after CUB and Clean Wisconsin filed to be intervenors in this case. The Utility wanted to avoid possible future expenses and negative publicity associated with the case.”
On April 29, 2011, Whitewater Municipal Water Utility submitted an application with the PSC to raise water rates by $318,000 or 23 percent.
CUB intervened in the case and argued that Whitewater’s largest customer, LSP-Whitewater LP, which owns a 285 megawatt cogeneration power plant, was trying to shift costs onto residential ratepayers.
The PSC issued its decision on November 10, 2011. The PSC agreed with CUB and did not shift costs to other customers, as requested by LSP.