608.251.3322 staff@cubwi.org 6401 Odana Rd., Suite 24, Madison, WI 53719

November 10, 2005: PSC Decision Gouges Ratepayers of We Energies

For Immediate Release: November 10, 2005

PSC Decision Gouges Ratepayers of We Energies

MADISON – The Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (PSC) broke its own rules when it voted today to allow We Energies to keep $52 million in extra profits instead of refunding the money to electric ratepayers.

“The Citizens Utility Board is deeply dismayed by the PSC’s decision to reward We Energies with $52 million in excess profits while ratepayers get gouged with higher and higher utility bills,” said Charlie Higley, executive director.

In February, We Energies asked the PSC for permission to increase electric rates by $115 million due to rising fuel costs. The PSC granted the increase on an interim basis in March. Today’s decision by the PSC considered whether electric rates should be raised or lowered based on a full examination of the issues raised by the interim increase.

A critical issue at stake was whether We Energies should return to ratepayers $52 million in extra profits collected from ratepayers since 2001. CUB argued that prior PSC orders required that We Energies’ excess profits should be immediately returned to ratepayers, which would help reduce the rate increases caused by higher fuel prices.

The PSC agreed with We Energies that it could keep the extra profits, even though the PSC’s decision conflicted with its own rules and decisions made in previous cases.

“The PSC bent over backwards to allow We Energies to profiteer with $52 million instead of reducing costs for customers, who face a harsh winter of higher bills for electricity and heating fuels, concluded Higley.

###

October 31, 2005: PSC Decision Means Higher Prices for SBC Phone Service

For Immediate Release: October 31, 2005

PSC Decision Means Higher Prices for SBC Phone Service

MADISON – The Citizens Utility Board is deeply disappointed by today’s decision by the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (PSC) to deregulate the prices charged by SBC Wisconsin for local phone service.

“Today’s decision by the PSC will lead to higher rates for phone service for many SBC customers,” said Charlie Higley, CUB executive director. “SBC can now drastically raise the price for phone service without fear of losing customers to competitors. The decision by the PSC will help SBC shareholders at the expense of SBC customers,” said Higley.

Last November, SBC asked the PSC to remove its decades-long oversight regarding the prices charged by SBC for basic phone service, which is simply a dial tone and the ability to make local calls, and does not include features such as long distance service, call waiting, caller identification, and other optional features. SBC claimed that prices for basic phone service would be kept in check because there was sufficient competition; if SBC charged too much for basic phone service, customers could chose another company.

CUB challenged SBC’s attempt to deregulate basic phone service. CUB argued that SBC would likely increase rates for basic phone service, even though SBC already makes a profit on providing this service. CUB provided evidence that competition does not exist for basic phone service. CUB noted that wireline competitors serve only about one quarter of residential customers in SBC’s service territory, and that many of SBC’s competitors are retreating from serving the residential market, due in part to anti-competitive decisions made by the PSC, the Federal Communications Commission, plus several pending mergers such as SBC and AT&T, and Verizon and MCI. CUB also said that alternatives to basic telephone service, including cellular phones, cable phones, and Internet-based phones, are always more expensive and are not comparable substitutes for basic phone service.

The commission rejected CUB’s concerns and sided with SBC by deciding that sufficient competition exists, and that price regulation is no longer needed. Commission Chairperson Dan Ebert said that, as a result of his decision, SBC will raise its prices for basic phone service.

“The PSC’s decision will mean that customers of SBC can expect to pay higher prices for local phone service as they pay higher prices for electricity, natural gas, gasoline, food, and other necessities,” concluded Higley.

###

October 3, 2005: CUB Supports Decision-Making Reforms at PSC

For Immediate Release: October 03, 2005

CUB Supports Decision-Making Reforms at PSC

MADISON – The Citizens Utility Board supports the draft settlement announced today between the Wisconsin Attorney General and the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (PSC) regarding secret meetings between key PSC staff and a Wisconsin-based electric utility.

The draft settlement will likely be accepted by the Public Service Commission at its open meeting on Tuesday, October 4.The draft settlement will likely prohibit communications between the executive assistants to the Commissioners and parties participating in utility rate cases and other “contested case”

proceedings while the case is pending at the PSC. “This is a victory for ratepayers,” said Charlie Higley, CUB executive director. “These changes by the PSC will help reduce the influence of the utilities on electric and gas rates and other issues that almost always cost ratepayers more money.”

Between October 7 and October 12, 2004, We Energies and several senior staff at the PSC held secret conversations and made numerous changes to a draft PSC order. It was only by accident that CUB became aware of these secret dealings. CUB blew the whistle because CUB believed these actions were unlawful and that the PSC needed to reform its decision-making processes.

The PSC has tentatively agreed that utilities may not communicate with the executive assistants of the commissioners about the merits of major cases like rate cases while those cases are pending before the PSC. The PSC has also tentatively agreed that discussions among commissioners about draft orders should take place in open meetings.

CUB commends PSC Chairman Dan Ebert and Commissioner Mark Meyer for making these important reforms. These changes will help maintain public confidence in the fairness and integrity of the PSC’s decisions, which affect every ratepayer in the state. CUB also commends the vigorous actions of Attorney General Lauthenschlager in investigating and settling this case. Without her efforts, these reforms would not have taken place.

###

August 31, 2005: Alliant Energy Ratepayers Slammed by Another Rate Hike

For Immediate Release: August 31, 2005

Alliant Energy Ratepayers Slammed by Another Rate Hike

MADISON – The Citizens Utility Board is deeply concerned about the welfare of residents and businesses that buy electricity from Alliant Energy, which today asked the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (PSC) to raise electricity rates by $41 million (about 5 percent).

“The ink has barely dried on Alliant’s most recent rate hike of $16.5 million, which was approved by the Commission on July 19, and already they are asking for more,” said Charlie Higley, executive director. “These electricity rate hikes are hammering household budgets and harming Wisconsin?s businesses,” continued Higley.

Wisconsin Power & Light, Alliant Energy’s utility subsidiary, requested the rate increase in a filing with the PSC. CUB will ask the PSC to deny the rate increase because the request appears to be based on insufficient data.

The PSC will likely make a decision on this rate increase in the next month or so.

###

August 08, 2005: CUB Fights to Stop SBC Phone Deregulation and Price Hike

For Immediate Release: August 08, 2005

CUB Fights to Stop SBC Phone Deregulation and Price Hike

MADISON – The Citizens Utility Board filed a legal brief earlier this week with the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (PSC), urging the PSC to reject SBC Wisconsin’s (SBC) attempt to deregulate and dramatically raise the rates for basic phone service.

Last November, SBC asked the PSC to remove its decades-long oversight regarding the prices charged by SBC for basic phone service, which is simply a dial tone and the ability to make local calls, and does not include features such as long distance service, call waiting, caller identification, and other optional features. SBC claimed that prices for basic phone service would be kept in check because there was sufficient competition; if SBC charged too much for basic phone service, customers could chose another company.

CUB’s legal brief criticizes SBC’s attempt to deregulate basic phone service. CUB notes that SBC said in its filed testimony that not even a $5.00 monthly increase in rates would be enough for it to price basic phone service at “competitive levels.” The retail price of basic phone service is currently regulated at $8.20 per month plus usage charges, and SBC already makes a profit on providing basic phone service.

Beyond exposing SBC’s blatant money grab, CUB rips apart the claims made by SBC that competition exists for basic phone service. CUB notes that wireline competitors serve only about a quarter of residential customers in SBC?s service territory, and that many of SBC’s competitors are retreating from serving the residential market, due in part to anti-competitive decisions made by the PSC, the Federal Communications Commission, plus several pending mergers such as SBC and AT&T, and Verizon and MCI. Therefore, SBC’s near-monopoly dominance for residential telephone service is likely to only increase in the years ahead.

CUB also notes that no other major competitor offers any type of telephone service, whether through telephone wires, wireless, cable, or the Internet, that is comparable to SBC’s basic telephone service, which is still utilized by many customers living in SBC?s service territory. At this time, alternatives to basic telephone service, including cellular phones, cable phones, and Internet-based phones, are always more expensive and frequently do not have the same level of reliability and quality.

“There is no competition for basic phone service,” said Charlie Higley, CUB executive director. “Should the PSC deregulate rates for basic phone service, SBC could drastically raise the price without fear of losing customers to competitors. Customers would be forced to pay higher prices, plunging Wisconsin back into the days when unregulated monopolies like SBC plundered its customers without public oversight,” concluded Higley.

The PSC will decide this case later this fall.

###

July 5, 2005: Nuclear Plant Sale Will Not Result In Customer Benefits

For Immediate Release: July 05, 2005

CUB: Kewaunee Nuclear Plant Sale Will Not

Result In Promised Customer Benefits

MADISON – The Citizens Utility Board (CUB) countered the claims today of Wisconsin Public Service (WPS) and Wisconsin Power and Light (WP&L) that the sale of the Kewaunee nuclear power plant would result in customer benefits.

“Every promise that WPS and WP&L made regarding the benefit to customers from the sale of Kewaunee has been broken. WPS and WP&L promised that the sale of the plant would result in a profit that would be shared with customers. Instead, the sale has resulted in a loss of at least $28 million. WPS and WP&L promised to return $193 million of decommissioning funds to ratepayers but now want to use this customer money to pay off utility debt, including the loss on the sale of Kewaunee and other nuclear costs,” said Charlie Higley, CUB executive director.

WPS and WP&L formally transferred ownership today of the Kewaunee nuclear power plant to Dominion Energy Kewaunee, a subsidiary of Dominion Resources (Dominion). When WPS and WP&L announced the sale of Kewaunee in November, 2003, they reported that a definitive agreement had been signed to sell the jointly owned 545 megawatt Kewaunee nuclear plant to Dominion for approximately $220 million. Today’s announcement that the sale closed at $191.5 million represents a loss in the originally stated value of the sale of at least $28 million.

WPS and WP&L also claimed in November, 2003 that the non-qualified decommissioning fund collected from ratepayers to dismantle the nuclear plant would be returned to customers. The $193 million in decommissioning funds were collected from customers for the specific purpose of decommissioning the Kewaunee plant. Since Kewaunee will now be decommissioned by Dominion, these funds were to be returned to customers. WPS now proposes to use the monies it collected from ratepayers to decommission Kewaunee to pay for any loss that it experiences from the sale of the plant to Dominion, and well as upwards of $35 to $45 million in replacement power costs associated with the more than four month outage this spring of Kewaunee.

“WPS and WP&L are shedding the risk of nuclear power away from their shareholders by proposing to put all the Kewaunee costs on the backs of customers,” continued Higley.

Dominion, a large, diversified energy company based in Virginia, will operate the Kewaunee power plant as an ‘exempt wholesale generator’ which means that the price of power from the plant will not be regulated by the Wisconsin Public Service Commission. The plant will be operated to generate profits for Dominion, whereas when it was owned by WPS and WP&L it was operated to insure that Wisconsin?s energy system remained reliable, and that the costs charged to customers for power from the plant were not excessive.

“If this sale isn’t overthrown by the courts, WPS and WP&L will have signed over Wisconsin’s nuclear future to an out-of-state corporation that will run Kewaunee for profit, rather than to preserve the reliability of Wisconsin’s electric system or to provide power at state regulated rates,” stated Higley.

###

June 28, 2005: Supreme Court Decision

For Immediate Release: June 28, 2005

Supreme Court Decision

MADISON – The Citizens Utility Board called today’s decision by the Wisconsin Supreme Court to support the construction of two power plants in Oak Creek a major setback for Wisconsin’s consumers and the environment.

In a 4 to 2 vote, the Supreme Court overturned a lower court’s invalidation of the construction permit issued to We Energies by the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (PSC).

“The Wisconsin Supreme Court shirked its responsibilities to protect the public interest by supporting the harm to our health, economy, and environment caused by coal-fired electricity,” said Charlie Higley, CUB executive director. “Today’s decision by the Supreme Court sends the message that the needs of utilities outweigh the needs of the public.”

The four justices that formed the majority ruled that the PSC and the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) appropriately reviewed the information presented in the proceedings at the PSC, and that the court had no reason to overrule the decisions made by these two agencies in approving the two 615-megawatt coal-fired plants to be built near Oak Creek.

Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson and Justice Ann Walsh Bradley wrote a dissenting opinion, criticizing the inadequacy of the environmental impact statement (EIS) prepared by the PSC and the DNR. Abrahamson and Bradley were concerned that the impacts on Lake Michigan that will be caused by the power plants’ cooling system were not adequately explained in the environmental impact statement, nor were alternative technologies examined. They explained that the courts have a responsibility to throw out poorly prepared environmental impact statements. They criticized the majority’s acceptance of the flawed EIS as a “whitewash.”

Although not a party to the legal challenge, CUB opposes the Oak Creek power plants because they will be too costly to consumers and damaging to the environment. If built, the $2 billion Oak Creek project will bring huge profits to We Energies while causing unacceptable damage to aquatic life in Lake Michigan by using a power plant cooling technology banned in Illinois for more than 30 years.

“Without checks by our courts, agencies like the Public Service Commission and the Department of Natural Resources will continue to approve harmful and costly power plant proposals put forward by utilities by failing to do their jobs under state and federal law,” concluded Higley.

###

June 09, 2005: CUB Fights WPS Attempt to Steal $127 Million from Ratepayers

For Immediate Release: June 09, 2005

CUB Fights WPS Attempt to Steal $127 Million from Ratepayers

MADISON – The Citizens Utility Board (CUB) will fight the attempt by Wisconsin Public Service Corporation (WPS) to keep $127 million that instead should be quickly refunded to ratepayers if the sale of the Kewaunee Nuclear Power plant is finalized.

On June 6, WPS filed an application with the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (PSC) and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) for permission to keep $127 million, which was collected from ratepayers to decommission (dismantle) the Kewaunee plant when it is retired from service. Instead of returning the money to ratepayers, WPS wants to keep it to pay for costs caused by the ongoing outage at the plant and the expected loss on the sale of the plant to Dominion Resources, an energy company headquartered in Virginia.

CUB will fight this request by WPS to keep the decommissioning money in a proceeding at the PSC to determine the electricity rates WPS will charge electricity customers during 2006. WPS has requested permission to increase 2006 electricity rates by $90 million or 11.4 percent.

In April, WPS and Wisconsin Power & Light Company (WPL) received permission from the PSC to sell the Kewaunee nuclear plant to a subsidiary of Dominion. When the Wisconsin utilities proposed to sell the Kewaunee plant, they claimed that the sale would result in a financial gain. They also sweetened the deal by promising to return decommissioning funds to ratepayers. In its order approving the sale, the PSC required the Wisconsin utilities to return the decommissioning money to ratepayers.

“WPS touted the return of this $127 million as a benefit to ratepayers and an incentive to sell the plant,” said Charlie Higley, CUB executive director. “WPS should keep its promise to return these funds to customers if the sale to Dominion is completed, rather than use the money to bail out its shareholders.”

CUB will argue that decommissioning the nuclear reactor was the only reason the $127 million was collected from WPS ratepayers, and that the money should be returned since Dominion will be responsible to dismantle the reactor if the sale is closed. CUB will also argue that the costs caused by the outage at Kewaunee may be the fault of management and should not be paid by ratepayers. In addition, CUB will argue that shareholders should pay for any loss from the sale because the utilities wanted to sell the plant, not ratepayers.

In May, CUB filed a lawsuit against the PSC to stop the sale of the Kewaunee power plant to Dominion, which would threaten the health, safety, and pocketbooks of Wisconsin ratepayers by eliminating state oversight over a nuclear power plant located in Wisconsin.

###

May 20, 2005: CUB Takes PSC to Court to Stop Nuke Sale

For Immediate Release: May 20, 2005

CUB Takes PSC to Court to Stop Nuke Sale

MADISON – Today the Citizens Utility Board (CUB) filed a lawsuit against the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (PSC) to stop the sale of a nuclear power plant to an out-of-state, unregulated energy company.

“In approving the sale, the PSC sold out Wisconsin ratepayers and accepted meaningless promises from an out-of-state company that aren’t worth the paper they’re printed on,” said Charlie Higley, executive director. “CUB is suing the PSC to ensure that the Wisconsin public maintains control and oversight over this nuclear power plant located in Wisconsin.”

The PSC approved the sale of the 540-megawatt Kewaunee Nuclear Power Plant on March 17 to a subsidiary of Dominion Resources, an energy company headquartered in Virginia. The plant is currently owned by Wisconsin Public Service Corporation (WPS) and Wisconsin Power & Light Company (WPL).

This sale would be the first time a major power plant, owned by a regulated Wisconsin utility and paid for by Wisconsin ratepayers, is sold to an out-of-state company. Allowing the sale would threaten the health, safety, and pocketbooks of Wisconsin ratepayers. The sale would also be another step toward utility deregulation, which has caused higher rates in other states.

The lawsuit was filed in Dane County. Others joining CUB on the lawsuit include the Wisconsin Industrial Energy Group, Local 2150 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, and the Municipal Electric Utilities of Wisconsin.

In approving the sale, the PSC accepted agreements that they hope Dominion will heed regarding the dismantling of the plant, the treatment of ratepayer funds to be used to dismantle the plant, and the storage of nuclear waste, among others. The lawsuit argues that these agreements are worthless, which means that Dominion can snub its promises without fear of retribution by the PSC. CUB is also concerned that, after 2013, ratepayers would lose financial benefits that would accrue if the plant was still owned by Wisconsin-based regulated utilities.

###