2010 Wisconsin Code
Chapter 196. Regulation of public utilities.
196.49 Authorization from commission before transacting business; extensions and improvements to be approved; enforcement of orders; natural gas.


196.49 Authorization from commission before transacting business; extensions and improvements to be approved; enforcement of orders; natural gas.




(ag) In this subsection, "public utility" does not include a telecommunications utility.


(am) No public utility not legally engaged in performing a utility service on August 1, 1931, in any municipality may commence the construction of any public utility plant, extension or facility, or render service in such municipality directly, or indirectly by serving any other public utility or agency engaged in public utility service or otherwise, unless the public utility has obtained a certificate from the commission authorizing it to transact public utility business.


(b) This subsection applies only to a public utility which was not legally engaged in performing a public utility service on August 1, 1931, in a municipality and which proposes to commence construction or render service in the municipality. If there is a public utility engaged in similar service in operation under an indeterminate permit in the municipality, ss. 196.495 and 196.50 apply.


(2) No public utility may begin the construction, installation or operation of any new plant, equipment, property or facility, nor the construction or installation of any extension, improvement or addition to its existing plant, equipment, property, apparatus or facilities unless the public utility has complied with any applicable rule or order of the commission. If a cooperative association has been incorporated under ch. 185 for the production, transmission, delivery or furnishing of light or power and has filed with the commission a map of the territory to be served by the association and a statement showing that a majority of the prospective consumers in the area are included in the project, no public utility may begin any such construction, installation or operation within the territory until after the expiration of 6 months from the date of filing the map and notice. If the cooperative association has entered into a loan agreement with any federal agency for the financing of its proposed system and has given written notice of the agreement to the commission, no public utility may begin any construction, installation or operation within the territory until 12 months after the date of the loan agreement.




(a) In this subsection, "project" means construction of any new plant, equipment, property or facility, or extension, improvement or addition to its existing plant, equipment, property, apparatus or facilities. The commission may require by rule or special order that a public utility submit, periodically or at such times as the commission specifies and in such detail as the commission requires, plans, specifications and estimated costs of any proposed project which the commission finds will materially affect the public interest.


(b) Except as provided in par. (d), the commission may require by rule or special order under par. (a) that no project may proceed until the commission has certified that public convenience and necessity require the project. The commission may refuse to certify a project if it appears that the completion of the project will do any of the following:


1. Substantially impair the efficiency of the service of the public utility.


2. Provide facilities unreasonably in excess of the probable future requirements.


3. When placed in operation, add to the cost of service without proportionately increasing the value or available quantity of service unless the public utility waives consideration by the commission, in the fixation of rates, of such consequent increase of cost of service.


(c) The commission may issue a certificate for the project or for any part of the project which complies with the requirements of this section, or the commission may attach to the issuance of its certificate such terms and conditions as will ensure that the project meets the requirements of this section. The issuance of a certificate under this section shall not be a condition precedent to the exercise of eminent domain under ch. 32.


(d) A telecommunications utility is not required to obtain commission certification before beginning a construction project.


(4) The commission may not issue a certificate under sub. (1), (2), or (3) for the construction of electric generating equipment and associated facilities unless the commission determines that brownfields, as defined in s. 560.13 (1) (a), are used to the extent practicable.




(a) No public utility furnishing gas to the public in this state may construct, install or place in operation any new plant, equipment, property or facility, or construct or install any extension, improvement, addition or alteration to its existing plant, equipment, property or facilities for the purpose of connecting its properties and system to a source of supply of gaseous fuel for sale to the public which is different from that which has been sold previously, or for the purpose of adapting its facilities to use the different kind of gaseous fuel unless the commission certifies that the general public interest and public convenience and necessity require the connection to or use of the different fuel. No public utility may substitute natural gas or a mixture of natural and manufactured gas in lieu of manufactured gas for distribution and sale to the public unless it has obtained from the commission a certificate that the general public interest and public convenience and necessity require the substitution.


(b) Proceedings for a certificate under par. (a) shall be commenced by petition to the commission in a form prescribed by the commission, furnishing such information as the commission by rule or order prescribes. The commission shall prescribe the form of notice, to whom the notice shall be given, and how notice shall be given.


(c) A petition under par. (b) may include one or more municipalities, may be made by one or more public utilities as a joint petition, by any other interested person or by a public utility and any other interested person. The commission may direct the consolidation, separation or consideration of separate petitions as it deems necessary or expedient to a prompt hearing and disposition of the issue.


(d) Upon the filing of a petition under par. (b), notice of hearing on the petition shall be given by the person filing the petition by publication of a class 2 notice, under ch. 985, or by mailing or personal service, as the commission directs by the order under par. (b). Notice under this paragraph shall be given at least 2 weeks prior to hearing on the petition. Proof of notice shall be filed as directed by the commission.


(e) The commission, with or without an order, prior to or during any hearing under this subsection, may frame and prescribe special issues and limit the issues or the nature and extent of proof so as to avoid unnecessary duplication. The commission, with or without an order, may proceed with the hearing as to part of a petition under par. (b) as it may find desirable to a full but speedy hearing upon the petition.


(f) The commission may accept as presumptive evidence in a commission proceeding the facts found in findings and orders of the federal energy regulatory commission or any federal agency having jurisdiction as to the availability of adequate supplies of natural gas, the adequacy or sufficiency of equipment and facilities to be employed in the delivery or storage of natural gas for any public utility, and any similar findings or determinations affecting the seller or person furnishing natural gas to any public utility and material to the ultimate determination of the issues in the proceeding. The commission may accept and take judicial notice of its own files and records, including all proceedings and the evidence therein which it finds to be material and relevant. The commission shall give notice of the taking of judicial notice under this paragraph prior to the conclusion of final hearings upon any proceeding so as to give interested parties the right to object to acceptance of the evidence or to contradict the evidence by other competent evidence.


(g) A certificate granted under par. (a) shall be authorized by an order following a hearing. The order shall contain any condition or limitation which the commission deems necessary or practicable, including, but not limited to, exceptions or regulations as to specific communities or public utilities, provision for protection of employees under existing labor contracts, as well as other employees, so as to avoid unemployment, regulations for accounting for expenses for change-over to the use of natural gas where necessary and to the extent necessary, provision for amortization of any expenditure or other items, and any other regulation, condition and limitation which the commission considers necessary in the public interest.


(h) The commission by order may extend a certificate under par. (a) to more than one public utility or municipality. The commission may prescribe different conditions and regulations for each public utility or municipality if the commission deems the different conditions and regulations necessary to carry out the purposes of this section.


(i) In making a determination under this section, the commission shall consider all appropriate factors affecting the public interest, including, but not limited to, when the substitution of natural or a mixture of natural and manufactured gas is involved, the likelihood of substantial rate reduction from the substitution and the effect of the substitution upon employment, existing business and industries, railroads and other transportation agencies and facilities, upon conveniences, economies and savings to consumers, upon existing gas utilities and their ability to continue to serve the public and upon the state, any of its political subdivisions or any citizen or resident of the state.


(6) If the commission finds that any public utility has taken or is about to take an action which violates or disregards a rule or special order under this section, the commission, in its own name either before or after investigation or public hearing and either before or after issuing any additional orders or directions it deems proper, may bring an action in the circuit court of Dane County to enjoin the action. If necessary to preserve the existing state of affairs, the court may issue a temporary injunction pending a hearing upon the merits. An appeal from an order or judgment of the circuit court may be taken to the court of appeals.

196.49 - ANNOT.

History: Sup. Ct. Order, 67 Wis. 2d 585, 775 (1975); 1977 c. 187; 1979 c. 110 s. 60 (9); 1983 a. 53; 1985 a. 60; 1993 a. 496; 1995 a. 227; 2003 a. 89; 2007 a. 227.

196.49 - ANNOT.

Cross Reference: See also chs. PSC 112, 113, 114, 133, and 162, Wis. adm. code.

196.49 - ANNOT.

There is no hearing requirement for the issuance of a certificate authorizing service. Adams-Marquette Electric Cooperative v. PSC. 51 Wis. 2d 718, 188 N.W.2d 515 (1971).

196.49 - ANNOT.

The "public" in sub. (3) (b) includes all electric consumers in the state, not only the ratepayers of the utility seeking authorization. Wisconsin Power & Light Co. v. PSC, 148 Wis. 2d 881, 437 N.W.2d 888 (Ct. App. 1989).

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