Under the Dome :: March 8, 2019

This is a comparative summary of the 2019-21 Budget Bill with items that may be of interest to Municipal Electric Utilities of Wisconsin members. Policy items are summarized by agency.


Agency Requests (AR) | Budget in Brief (BIB) | Executive Budget (EB)
Budget Bill (SB 59/AB 56) (BB)


Office of Sustainability and Clean Energy (BIB 27, EB 45 & 440, BB 71, 134, 940)

Governor: Creates the Office of Sustainability and Clean Energy in DOA to administer energy programs.

The office is headed by a director outside the classified service who is appointed by the governor to serve at the governor’s pleasure.  Under current law, the PSC has established an office of energy innovation to administer various energy-related programs, including utility-funded statewide energy efficiency and renewable resources programs that are commonly referred to as Focus on Energy programs.  The bill transfers the administration of those energy-related programs, except for Focus on Energy programs, to the office created in the bill.

Transfers to that office certain duties of the PSC regarding state agency energy planning, energy shortage contingency planning, and administering federal energy grants.  Also, the bill requires that office to work on initiatives with specified goals regarding clean and renewable energy, innovative sustainability, and diversification of energy resources and imposes duties on the office for advising, supporting, reporting, and assisting state agencies, local governments, and private entities on clean and renewable energy.

Allows the office to provide technical assistance to governmental units that is similar to technical assistance the PSC is allowed to provide under current law, and the bill requires the office and PSC to consult with each other on that assistance.

Allows the office to require a public utility to provide energy billing and use data regarding public schools, if the office determines that the data is necessary to provide technical assistance under par. (a) in public schools, including those with the highest energy costs.

Requires the office to establish a program for making grants from the environmental fund for clean energy production research and allocates $4 million for the grant program.

Volkswagen Settlement Funds – Electric Vehicle Charging Stations (BIB 97, BB 73)

Governor: Allocates 60% of the remaining $25 million in Volkswagen emissions settlement funds to be dedicated to the replacement of public transit vehicles and 40% towards electric vehicle charging stations through the grant program administered by the Department of Administration. Under current law, moneys received under a settlement that the state received from a legal action involving Volkswagen are held in an appropriation account that limits spending to two purposes: replacement of state fleet vehicles and issuing grants for the replacement of public transit vehicles.  Under this bill, the grants may be awarded both for the replacement of public transit vehicles and the installation of electric vehicle charging stations.


Zero-Carbon Statutory Goal (BIB 96, EB 440, BB 77)

Governor: Establishes a statutory goal that all electricity produced within the state should be 100 percent carbon-free by 2050.

Utility Contributions to Focus on Energy (BIB 97, EB 441, BB 76, 940)

Governor: Allows the PSC to require investor-owned electric and natural gas public utilities to spend more than 1.2 percent of their annual operating revenues on certain energy efficiency, conservation, and renewable resource programs, which are commonly referred to as Focus on Energy programs. Current law limits the PSC’s authority by capping the required spending at 1.2 percent of the revenues on those programs.  The bill requires the PSC to submit to JCF under passive review a proposal for requiring the spending of a greater percentage on the programs.

Intervenor Compensation Grant Funding (EB 441, BB 77, 171, 940)

Governor: Increases expenditure authority for the intervenor compensation program to strengthen rate case decisions and increasing the total amount that the commission may award in grant funding to nonstock and nonprofit corporations that advocate on behalf of ratepayers from $300,000 to $500,000 annually.

High-Voltage Transmission Line Fees (EB 441, BB 77)

Governor: Requires the PSC to administer annual impact and onetime environmental impact fees paid under current law by persons granted certificates of public convenience and necessity by the PSC for high-voltage transmission lines. Under current law, DOA administers the fees. Additionally, transfers the administration and payment of environmental impact fees for high-voltage transmission lines from the Department of Administration to the commission.

Stray Voltage Program (BB 163, 171)

Governor: Provides $536,200 in each fiscal year for the Stray voltage program within PSC and DATCP.

Municipal Construction, Ownership or Operation of Broadband Facilities (EB 440, BIB 29, BB 64, 568-570 & 942)

Governor: Modifies several statutory provisions established by 2003 WI Act 278 that govern municipal entry into telecommunications and broadband, including a requirement to conduct a cost benefit analysis and hold a public hearing.  


Business Development Credit Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Incentive (BIB 91, EB 569, BB 5)

Governor: Modifies the business development tax credit to provide an additional 5 percent incentive for capital investments related to renewable energy generation or energy efficiency projects. Subject to certain limitations, current law authorizes WEDC to award tax credits to a person making an investment in a building project in this state.  The award may equal up to 5 percent of the investment.


Prevailing Wage (EB 586, BB 34, 576)

Governor: Recreates the state’s prevailing wage laws that were repealed in the 2015-17 and 2017-19 budgets, including the following provisions:

Requires that laborers, workers, mechanics, and truck drivers employed on the site of certain state and local projects of public works be paid the prevailing wage and not be required or allowed to work a greater number of hours per day and per week than the prevailing hours of labor unless they are paid overtime for all hours worked in excess of the prevailing hours of labor.

Defines “Prevailing wage rate” as the hourly basic rate of pay, plus the hourly contribution for bona fide economic benefits, paid for a majority of the hours worked in a trade or occupation in the area in which the project is located, except that, if there is no rate at which a majority of those hours is paid, “prevailing wage rate” means the average hourly basic rate of pay, plus the average hourly contribution for bona fide economic benefits, paid for the highest-paid 51 percent of hours worked in a trade or occupation in the area.

Requires DWD to conduct investigations and hold public hearings as necessary to define the trades or occupations that are commonly employed on projects that are subject to the prevailing wage law and to inform itself of the prevailing wage rates in all areas of the state for those trades or occupations, in order to determine the prevailing wage rate for each trade or occupation.  The bill contains certain other provisions regarding the calculation of prevailing wage rates by DWD, including provisions allowing persons to request recalculations or reviews of the prevailing wage rates determined by DWD.

Establishes a requirement that state agencies and local governments post prevailing wage rates and hours of labor in areas readily accessible to persons employed on the project or in sites regularly used for posting notices.

Requires a contractor that fails to pay the prevailing wage rate or overtime pay to an employee as required under the prevailing wage law be liable to the affected employee for not only the amount of unpaid wages and overtime pay, but also for liquidated damages in an amount equal to 100 percent of the unpaid wages and overtime pay.

Includes, for both state and local projects of public works, the following provisions regarding coverage, compliance, enforcement, and penalties, including a) requirements for affidavits to be filed by contractors affirming compliance with the prevailing wage law; b) record retention requirements for contractors regarding wages paid to workers and provisions allowing for the inspection of those records by DWD; c) liability and penalty provisions for certain violations; and d) provisions prohibiting contracts from being awarded to persons who have failed to comply with the prevailing wage law.

Right to Work (EB 586, BB 33)

Governor: Eliminates the state right-to-work law.  The current state right-to-work law prohibits a person from requiring, as a condition of obtaining or continuing employment, an individual to refrain or resign from membership in a labor organization, to become or remain a member of a labor organization, to pay dues or other charges to a labor organization, or to pay any other person an amount that is in place of dues or charges required of members of a labor organization.

Local Employment Regulations (EB 586, BB 35)

Governor: Repeals the prohibitions on local governments enacting ordinances regarding: (a) minimum family and medical leave requirements; (b) wage claims and collections; (c) employee hours and overtime (including scheduling of work hours or shifts); (d) required employment benefits; and (e) solicitation of a prospective employee’s salary history.

Project Labor Agreements (EB 586, BB 573)

Governor: Repeals the provisions of 2017 Wisconsin Act 3, which prohibited agreements (such as collective bargaining agreements, project labor agreements or community workforce agreements) between governments and labor organizations on public works projects.


Washington Island Electric Utility (EB 368, BB 66)

Governor: Requires DMA to pay up to $1,000,000 in each fiscal year of the 2019-21 fiscal biennium from the state disaster assistance appropriation to the Washington Island Electric Cooperative for the costs incurred for the replacement of the cables that bring electricity to Washington Island.


Energy Conservation Projects (BIB 91)

Governor: Indicated the Capital Budget will include enumeration of $75,000,000 PR supported bonds (PRSB) for 2019-21 Energy Conservation projects.  Of that amount, $25,000,000 PRSB of the enumeration will be allocated for renewable energy construction projects in state-owned facilities. These funds will be used for energy conservation projects to help state agencies and University of Wisconsin System meet their energy reduction goals and reduce utility costs. Renewable projects would include solar, wind, standby generators or geothermal enhancements to state facilities.  The achieved savings from the reduction in utility costs is used to pay the debt service payments on the bond.