November 10, 2005
MADISON - The Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (PSC) broke its own rules when it voted today to allow We Energies to keep $52 million in extra profits instead of refunding the money to electric ratepayers.
"The Citizens Utility Board is deeply dismayed by the PSC's decision to reward We Energies with $52 million in excess profits while ratepayers get gouged with higher and higher utility bills," said Charlie Higley, executive director.
In February, We Energies asked the PSC for permission to increase electric rates by $115 million due to rising fuel costs. The PSC granted the increase on an interim basis in March. Today's decision by the PSC considered whether electric rates should be raised or lowered based on a full examination of the issues raised by the interim increase.
A critical issue at stake was whether We Energies should return to ratepayers $52 million in extra profits collected from ratepayers since 2001. CUB argued that prior PSC orders required that We Energies' excess profits should be immediately returned to ratepayers, which would help reduce the rate increases caused by higher fuel prices.
The PSC agreed with We Energies that it could keep the extra profits, even though the PSC's decision conflicted with its own rules and decisions made in previous cases.
"The PSC bent over backwards to allow We Energies to profiteer with $52 million instead of reducing costs for customers, who face a harsh winter of higher bills for electricity and heating fuels, concluded Higley.
The Citizens Utility Board of Wisconsin is a member-supported nonprofit organization that advocates for reliable and affordable utility service and that represents the interests of residential, farm, and small business customers of electric, natural gas, and telecommunication utilities before regulatory agencies and the courts.