April 15, 2015
MADISON — Today, the Joint Finance Committee voted to approve a proposal that reduces and outright eliminates funding sources for consumer organizations like CUB that represent and fight for customer interests in utility rate cases and other Public Service Commission proceedings. “CUB has helped deliver billions of dollars in savings for Wisconsin utility customers. Gutting CUB will leave Wisconsin’s residential and small business utility ratepayers without an advocate fighting on their behalf” stated Kira Loehr, CUB’s Executive Director and General Counsel.
Since 2008 CUB has helped Wisconsin utility consumers save nearly $3 billion. In 2014 alone CUB helped eliminate $161 million from utility bills and intervened in more than two dozen Public Service Commission proceedings. The billions of dollars in unnecessary increases would have not only increased utility bills of residential customers, but all Wisconsin utility consumers, business and industry included.
The legislative move was unexpected. As recently as December 2014, the Public Service Commission said that “CUB is one of the Commission’s most active intervenors, providing professionalism to all the cases in which it participates,” and that “CUB’s participation before the Commission has been exemplary.”
“The irony is astonishing. Utilities are allowed to bill customers for the costs of highly paid attorneys and consultants whose sole purpose is to increase rates by millions of dollars, and now modest funding to professional organizations that fight against excessive utility rates stands to be eliminated,” said Loehr.
Many state governments have an office of consumer advocate for the purpose of representing consumer interests in matters involving utility service, Wisconsin does not. For the past 35 years CUB has filled that role for residential and small business ratepayers.
“CUB’s work has provided a tremendous return for Wisconsin. Eliminating its funding and silencing the voice advocating for consumers will allow utilities to vastly increase their profits at the expense of all Wisconsin customers.” concluded Loehr.
The Citizens Utility Board of Wisconsin is a member-supported, nonprofit organization that advocates for reliable and affordable utility service. CUB represents the interests of residential, farm, and small business customers of electric, natural gas, and telecommunication utilities before the Legislature, regulatory agencies, and the courts.