PSC seeks public input on low-income affordability programs

  • June 8, 2023
870 450 Tom Content

Listening sessions in Green Bay and Milwaukee next week will enable low-income utility customers and advocates to weigh in on innovative ideas to help those struggling to make ends meet.

The Public Service Commission listening sessions will take place Monday, June 12 at the Brown County Central Library in Green Bay, and Wednesday, June 14 at two locations in Milwaukee.

The listening sessions aim to hear feedback from customers about whether existing customer assistance programs are meeting their needs, and whether they would support a new program that would enable discounts on utility bills based on one’s income level.

“Customers weighed in last fall when We Energies and Wisconsin Public Service were seeking rate hikes,” said Tom Content, CUB executive director. “With those higher rates now in place, this is a good time to hear directly from customers about what’s working, what’s not working, plus areas where policymakers interested in tackling energy insecurity should focus their efforts.”

Here’s an overview from an article last week by Karl Ebert of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

CUB recently collaborated with Xcel Energy on a proposal for a residential customer affordability program, based on percent of income concept. It’s modeled on programs already in place for Xcel customers in other states. The utility filed an application earlier this year asking for the PSC to approve the program. Details on that initiative are here, and here.

The Green Bay and Milwaukee listening sessions will take place in person and via Zoom. Here are the details:

Public Input Session for customers of Wisconsin Public Service

           When: Monday, June 12, noon to 2 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

 Where: Brown County Library, 515 Pine St., Green Bay — and on Zoom

What: Listening session to take input on potential new low-income assistance program

More info, registration info: Click here.

Public Input Session for customers of We Energies

When: Wednesday, June 14, noon to 2 p.m.

Where: Milwaukee Public Library – Washington Park Branch, 2121 N. Sherman Boulevard Milwaukee – and on Zoom

When: Wednesday, June 14, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.

Where: Neighborhood House 2819 W. Richardson Place Milwaukee – and on Zoom

What: Listening sessions to take input on potential new low-income assistance program

More info, registration info: Click here.

Here’s a bit more about what’s planned, from the PSC:

These public input sessions will facilitate dialogue between all interested parties and attendees and provide utility customers an opportunity to share first-hand perspectives that will be beneficial in the consideration of alternative low-income assistance programs, including a potential percentage of income payment pilot.

Persons with information or perspectives on low-income assistance programs are encouraged to attend the public input session in person or virtually. Public comments will be gathered at these sessions for use in the continued investigation of alternative low-income assistance programs.

Spanish and Hmong interpreters will be on hand to assist with translation.

More details about the assistance programs are available in the 6690-UI-101 case for WPS and the 5-UI-121 case for We Energies.  The PSC is also evaluating the We Energies and Wisconsin Public Service customer service programs, down payments for reconnection and the We Energies and WPS Low Income Forgiveness Tool forgiveness programs that started in 2021. Details on that are here, for customers of both WPS and We Energies.