Public Service Commissioners accept utilities’ plans for managing arrears: At its regular meeting on April 8, the three-person PSC discussed the large past-due balances that have accumulated during the pandemic and specifically addressed the Arrearage Management Plan filings utilities were required to submit earlier this year. MEUW had submitted comments to the PSC on this matter. In their discussion, the Commissioners accepted all the arrearage plan filings that had been submitted and addressed three points:
- The Commission decided (2-1) to take no action related to customer outreach. While all three Commissioners recognized the importance of the utilities reaching out to their customers to inform them of the state and federal assistance programs that are available to pay for utility arrearages, the Commissioners had no interest in directing utilities to use one type of outreach method because each utility is in a different position. They also recognized that PSC staff already work with utilities on implementing customer outreach strategies and innovative payment plans. Commissioner Tyler Huebner dissented and expressed dismay that some municipal utilities were seeking 50% down payments in their Deferred Payment Agreements, suggesting they look to the methods the investor-owned utilities are using.
- The Commission decided (3-0) to direct PSC staff to develop an expedited process to assist utilities with applying to the Commission for tariff change requests.
- The Commission decided (2-1) to direct utilities to work with PSC staff to evaluate the ongoing impact of customer arrears on utility finances. The Commissioners are also interested in understanding what impact available federal dollars will have on arrearages and asked that this be included in the regular quarterly reports utilities are required to submit as part of the COVID-related dockets. Commissioner Ellen Nowak dissented, suggesting the additional order point was unnecessary. The next round of quarterly reporting is due in July.
MEUW will continue to monitor developments and provide updates as necessary. News coverage of the PSC’s decisions can be found here.
April 18th is a day to show appreciation for lineworkers: National Lineman Appreciation Day has been celebrated officially since 2013. Commemorated by a Resolution in the United States Senate, April 18th is set aside each year to express appreciation for the men and women who put their talents to work as electrical line workers.
Together, MEUW member utilities employ more than 300 lineworkers across Wisconsin, and we plan to use social media to recognize the hard-working folks who commit themselves to their customers and communities. Utilities are encouraged to share photos of their line crews that we can post and share on MEUW’s Facebook and Twitter pages. Send the pictures to email@example.com to help us recognize Wisconsin’s public power lineworkers.
April 29th Electric Operations Expo is an event you won’t want to miss: MEUW plans to hold an outdoor event with breakout sessions, a large trade show, equipment demonstrations, and a lot of networking on Thursday, April 29, at the Sauk County Fairgrounds in Baraboo. The 2021 “Electric Operations Expo” is being held in partnership with the Wisconsin Electric Cooperative Association (WECA) and Wisconsin Utility Suppliers Association (WUSA).
The Expo promises to be a worthwhile event for anyone who works in or supports the electric utility industry. Employees from municipal and cooperative utilities at all levels have already registered to attend. Apprentices, journeymen, foremen, lead linemen, engineers, superintendents, managers, and others are sure to enjoy the opportunity to network with one another and also engage with suppliers and other industry partners.
The event will begin at 8:30 a.m. and conclude by 2 p.m. Green Bay Packers Hall of Famer Mark Tauscher will be the keynote speaker after lunch. Graduating apprentices who would typically have been celebrated at the January banquet will be recognized, and MEUW’s Safety Achievement Awards for 2020 performance also will be presented. Full details and registration information is available here.
Nominations for MEUW Board of Directors due by end of this week: MEUW is currently accepting nominations for interested individuals to serve on the association’s Board of Directors for a two-year term beginning May 14, 2021. This year’s election will be for Directors and Alternate Directors in odd-numbered districts. The Nomination Form and additional information is available here. The deadline to nominate someone is Friday, April 16.
Sign up now for 91st Annual Conference: Public power leaders from across the state will gather in Manitowoc for MEUW’s 91st Annual Conference happening Aug. 11 to 13. The conference features a number of special guest speakers, a wide variety of breakout sessions, numerous opportunities to network, and the chance to celebrate our municipal utilities’ achievements.
Commssioner Tyler Huebner, the newest member of the three-person Public Service Commission (PSC), has recently been added to the program agenda. He will speak on Thursday morning, Aug. 12, and take questions from the audience. There will be nine breakout sessions to enable attendees to choose a topic most relevant to their role. Details about each of the breakouts as well as the full program agenda are available on the conference website here. The “early bird” registration rate (a savings of $30 per person) is valid through Aug. 1.
Nominations now being accepted for MEUW Honors and Awards: Throughout its 92-year history, MEUW has proudly recognized individual contributions and achievements toward advancing public power through awards presented at the Annual Conference. We are currently accepting nominations in a number of categories. Full details are available at MEUW.org/awards. To nominate someone from your utility or community, please complete the nomination form and submit it by June 30. Those nominations submitted by the deadline that meet specific criteria will be reviewed by the Awards Committee. Awards will be presented at MEUW’s Annual Conference in August.