Finding Your Voice – What’s Your Role in our Energy Democracy?

  • November 16, 2018
870 450 Tom Content

The new issue of Wisconsin People & Ideas magazine features an insightful look at Wisconsin’s complex energy system, breaking it down and explaining it in an accessible way.

The article and a cool online feature by the academy help to simplify the wide variety of utilities that operate in the state and how they’re structured. Importantly, the article highlights ways the public can participate in energy-decision making, with information on how consumers can take action at the PSC, with their utilities, and in their communities.

Even though the energy market is changing rapidly, it’s still a system in which customers are served by regulated monopoly utilities.  Instead of a market, utilities are regulated by the state, and that regulation is meant to serve as a proxy for a competitive market.

Sometimes the complexity can be off-putting and can make it seem like there’s no role for the public, but people can and should play an important part in deciding how utilities operate.

What’s important to emphasize is that YOU have a voice in how decisions are made. Sometimes residential and small business customers express that voice by joining CUB. That gives you a seat at the table when PSC decisions are made.

Other times, as with the Superior Water, Light & Power case that’s currently before the state PSC, you use that voice by submitting scores of public comments that are taken into account by commissioners before they make a decision.

In the Superior case, 170 comments have been filed, for a utility that serves just 15,000 customers. It’s a remarkable display of civic participation that we’d like to see happen more often across the state. The Madison Water Utility rate case is another recent example of significant citizen participation, where the 168 filed public comments had a clear impact on how the Commissioners viewed the case.

Don’t let the complexity of the utility world keep you from raising your voice. There are plenty of ways Find your voice in the energy democracy and speak out.

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Let us know what confuses you about our utility system, or what concerns you have with your particular utility. Send questions to Tom Content, CUB,