MEUW Weekly :: Oct. 27, 2020

Election day now just a week away: With just seven days until the Nov. 3 general election, MEUW’s Government Relations partners at the Kammer Group are providing insights into the contests for State Assembly and State Senate. The 2020 Election Preview boils down an abundance of data on Wisconsin’s state legislative races into a concise report on the most important races and the critical factors impacting those races. The second half of the report includes background on those candidates who are expected to win their races and be sworn-in come January 2021. Be sure to get out and vote! Watch for a recap of the election outcomes and the expected impact on municipal utilities in future communications from MEUW.

PSC bans utility shutoffs until next spring: At its regular meeting on Thursday, Oct. 22, the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (PSC) voted 2-1 to extend the moratorium on all utilities’ residential disconnections and refusal of service for nonpayment until April 15, 2021. The decision affects both water and electric utilities. Chair Rebecca Cameron Valcq and Commissioner Tyler Huebner voted to extend the moratorium and Commissioner Ellen Nowak dissented.

Utilities seeking to disconnect residential service after April 15 will be required to file disconnection plans no later than Feb. 15, 2021. The PSC will provide a format for such plans, which must include the amount(s) past due that will trigger the issuance of a disconnection notice, deferred payment agreement requirements, the amount(s) required to be paid to avoid disconnection service, and an estimate as to the number of customers that may be subject to disconnection under the plan. The Commissioners noted that municipal utilities that would like an abbreviated process to avoid a rate case filing should address that issue in their plans. Additional details and filing instructions will be provided in the coming weeks.

As a result of Thursday’s discussion, the PSC relaxed the frequency of COVID-related reporting from utilities. Information about customer arrearages and such that has recently been collected on a monthly basis will now be reported quarterly to align with the Docket 5-AF-105 reporting. The Commissioners also decided to allow utilities to continue to voluntarily waive late fees, although each utility must notify the PSC of its intent to do so.

Further information will be detailed in the written order. MEUW will continue to provide updates as needed.

Please take a minute to provide info for a Member Poll: One of MEUW’s member utilities is considering developing a cold/inclement weather policy to use for field staff during working hours. This member is interested in hearing from municipal utilities that might be willing to share any such written policy they already use. Recognizing that most utilities likely don’t have a specific policy, the question is what minimum outside temperature is generally used to determine when field staff are restricted to working indoors? And finally, does that minimum temperature take into account the wind chill factor? To share your insights, please click here.

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Make the most of that extra hour this weekend: Daylight Saving Time officially comes to an end at 2 a.m. on Sunday, Nov. 1, so remember to set your clocks back one hour.