- The Joint Finance Committee of the Wisconsin legislature voted to terminate funding for the four person staff of the Citizens’ Utility Board (CUB), the state’s utility customer advocacy organization. The committee voted 12 Republicans to 4 Democrats to end the 2009 grant that pays CUB staff, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reports.
- The proposed measure also reduces reimbursement from customer monies to environmental and citizens groups for expenses incurred on behalf of ratepayers in Public Service Commission of Wisconsin proceedings on electricity rates. The bill continues reimbursement to utilities for such expenses.
- Advocates for the funding cut say it will remove $1.3 million from the state’s budget over two years. Opponents say that customer protections and reforms to utility business models and regulations supported saved customers as much as $161 million in 2014.
"If the $1.3 million isn't in the budget, then it's not going to be paid for by the ratepayers of the state of Wisconsin and I think that's a win for taxpayers," said Rep. John Nygren, according to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.
"It's ratepayers who are paying for this program," said Sen. Lena Taylor. "Why can't it be used for their voices, really when the odds are stacked against them — we all know it — when you go in front of the PSC?"
“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,” said CUB’s Executive Director and General Counsel Kira Loehr.
The defunded groups argued against the PUC’s 2014 decision allowing a 75% fixed monthly charge increase to customers by Wisconsin’s three dominant utilities.
Madison Gas & Electric Co., Alliant Energy, and We Energies say they had no part in the effort to end the intervenor compensation system.